AUBURN — Green shag has given way to wood and steel at 132 Genesee St., where The Good Shepherds Brewing Co. will hold a grand opening Friday, April 6.
Owner and brewer Garrett Shepherd held the soft opening Saturday, March 17. It was a few days shy of one year since he bought what's known as the Goss Building and relocated his brewery to its first floor, where clothing store PBJ on the Corner operated until 2012. Being St. Patrick's Day, the soft opening perfectly demonstrated why Shepherd moved, he said Friday. Many of his customers that day stopped in because they were bar-hopping at his new neighbors, like Parker's or A.T. Walley. They wouldn't have even seen the old Good Shepherds on Loop Road, which opened in 2014.
Though it's more visible, the new brewery has the same atmosphere as the old one, Shepherd said. He described it as modern but cozy, industrial but rustic. The cold steel of its chair legs and beams are balanced by warm wooden surfaces, including a community table that seats 16 and a bar with the curvy edge of raw lumber. And above each of the two 12-tap draft towers is a lattice window with four crest patterns. Shepherd found them in the basement, he said, and installed them so customers can see his brew room. The patterns evoke his shield logo, he added, so they're a perfect fit.
"It exceeded my expectations," Shepherd said of his new space. "Everything came out quite well."
Shepherd has a few final touches left: He wants to add some damping material to the walls and ceiling to reduce the echo, and he wants to mount a new chalkboard display for the beers he has on tap. In the summer, after some scheduled work on his Genesee Street sidewalk, Shepherd plans to install an awning with signage and secure a cafe permit so he can seat customers outside. And though serving food is a possibility, Shepherd said, for now he's encouraging customers to bring fare from nearby restaurants into his taproom. He carries menus for Parker's and others.
Behind the bar, Shepherd continues to brew with a 2.5-barrel system. He's added a glycol temperature control system, two 5-barrel fermenters and a 5-barrel brite tank. Along with his new walk-in cooler, which is 15-by-15 feet compared to his previous 6-by-6 one, the new equipment will help Shepherd raise production, he said. Last year, he brewed between 600 and 700 barrels.
In 2007, there were just over 1,500 breweries in America. In 2017, that number passed 6,000.
Shepherd recently brewed his fourth batch on the new system. Because he couldn't brew for the few weeks it took to move his equipment, he's currently riding out a shortage. Before long, though, Good Shepherds beer will be flowing from its 24 taps — as will Good Shepherds cider, which Garrett can now make because he recently obtained a farm brewer's license. The license will also allow him to serve beer, wine and spirits from New York producers. He's partnering with Izzo's White Barn and CJS Vineyard & Aurelius wineries, he said, and plans to add house cocktails to his menu.
Shepherd said he doesn't expect to be hindered by the farm brewery license requirement that he use a rising amount of state-sourced ingredients. As much as 50 percent of his malt and hops come from producers like 1886 Malt House in Fulton and Skaneateles Hop Farm, he estimates. And though Shepherd has established his brewery as an equal-opportunity one for styles, serving Scotch ales and pilsners alongside India pale ales and stouts, he's lately been "having a lot of fun" with the New England IPA — the same hazy style as Prison City Pub & Brewery's Mass Riot.
A version of Shepherd's There Is No Spoon New England IPA with Galaxy hops will join several other special beers at Friday's grand opening: a sour dry-hopped with Centennial from Heifer Hops in Skaneateles, a sour brown ale, a sour featuring raspberries from Shepherd's garden, and a porter aged on caramel, peppers and chocolate. Trio The Primates will play at 7 p.m.
After the grand opening, Shepherd will focus on brewing. He wants to get his beer back on tap at the places that poured it before his move, including Moondog's Lounge in Auburn, Oak & Vine at Springside in Fleming, The Gould Hotel in Seneca Falls, Finger Lakes on Tap in Skaneateles and Boathouse Beer Garden in Ovid, for which Shepherd also contract-brews. He needs the "breather" before he starts renovating the rest of the Goss Building in at least a few months, he said. He plans to rent the second floor as commercial space and the third as apartments.
Until then, Shepherd will be in the brew room and behind the bar of the new Good Shepherds. He still sees it as "a neighborhood bar" — it just happens to be in a new, more visible neighborhood.