AUBURN — Scott and Michelle DeLap have turned the page on their Next Chapter — but they're still in the process of writing it.
The Auburn natives opened their Genesee Center brewpub Aug. 10. And though they're currently just serving beer made by Scott and a few other area breweries, as well as some New York state wine, the nearly finished space is giving patrons a promising glimpse of what else is to come. Designed to evoke the atmosphere of a speakeasy, Next Chapter Brewpub features tufted leather couches near a fireplace, black ceiling tiles with silver laurel wreaths, a live edge wooden bar and more cozy, but classy touches. The DeLaps worked with architect Mike Palmieri on the design.
"It's a bit more elegant, without going over the top," Scott said at the brewpub Tuesday as the DeLaps' dog, Diamond, snoozed on one of the couches.
Surrounding the fireplace is a bookcase whose contents follow a theme of next chapters: The DeLaps' Connecticut license plate, pictures and newspaper clippings of their families, books they found in the Genesee Center basement. There are also a few shelves of books that patrons can borrow so long as they replace them with another, like a little free library. Scott said a drop box for books will be installed outside the brewpub. TVs will be mounted on the walls soon, just in time for football season, and board games will be available for the times when it's up to patrons to entertain themselves.
In that living room setting, Next Chapter will serve paninis, meat and cheese plates, and other light fare beginning in September, the DeLaps said. Around January, they plan to add wood-fired pizza. As the menu changes, they continued, so will the brewpub's staff, hours and maybe even its layout. They'll hire a short-order cook and more bartenders, and possibly add lunch hours and additional seating. They also want to source local coffee, and are working with the city to lay concrete over some mulched sections of Exchange Street so they can add 15 outdoor café seats.
Next Chapter's beer, however, won't change so drastically. When the brewpub opened Aug. 10, making it Cayuga County's sixth brewery and downtown Auburn's third, it poured five of Scott's beers: watermelon wheat, kölsch, pale ale, New England-style India pale ale and blueberry ale. Scott brews the beers using five 3-barrel tanks. Each can host every step of the brewing process, from mashing and boiling to fermenting and even serving, though Scott is learning to keg his beer instead. He also plans to make saisons, cream ales, stouts and porters, as well as pumpkin this fall.
AUBURN — Scott and Michelle DeLap are looking forward to their Next Chapter.
Scott would like to make more difficult styles like sours and lagers, but further down the line. His limited space also rules out barrel-aging, he said. Besides, Scott wants to keep Next Chapter's beers below 6-percent alcohol by volume. The blueberry ale, which is 6 percent, is as boozy as they're going to get. Many of those first beers, he continued, will become staples at the brewpub. That's partly because Scott is brewing with food pairings in mind. He already plans on having pumpkin muffins or half-moon cookies to go with his pumpkin beer at October's annual Gobble 'n' Go event.
But it won't be until September that another Next Chapter staple appears: gluten-free beer. Because Scott uses his equipment to mill other grain, he needs to buy gluten-free grain pre-milled so as to avoid contamination. And sourcing that type of grain from New York state producers has been challenging, he said. He's working with 1886 Malt House in Fulton for his other grain needs.
The brewpub's future will also be written by forces around it, such as Auburn Public Theater's new café next door, and the Equal Rights Heritage Center slated to open this fall. Those forces are partly why the DeLaps opted to focus the design of Next Chapter around its outdoor Exchange Street entrance, they said, and not the indoor one from the Genesee Center atrium.
"We can't be happier about the location we've chosen," Scott said. "To come into downtown into this particular spot and be part of what's happening is pretty cool."