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AUBURN — Scott and Michelle DeLap are looking forward to their Next Chapter.

The Auburn natives will open the Next Chapter Brewpub inside Genesee Center in May, they told The Citizen. The craft brewery and restaurant will be located next to Thirsty Pug Craft Beer Market.

Overseeing the beer will be Scott. A graduate of Southern Cayuga High School, he moved to Rochester with Michelle shortly after they married. His fascination with craft beer began there in the late '90s, when he was working for Eastman Kodak's information technology department. At the time, the High Falls area included an Empire Brewing brewpub with "the best fish fry in town," he said.

The DeLaps later moved to Stamford, Connecticut, when Scott took a job as director of IT for French liquor producer Pernod Ricard, owner of the Absolut vodka and Jameson whiskey brands. While traveling and promoting those brands, Scott said, he developed a passion for bartending and mixing drinks. Then, a little more than a year ago, he and Michelle started homebrewing.

Michelle, meanwhile, has many relatives who worked at Auburn restaurants. She helped out at Newcomb's Tavern, which her brother-in-law owned, and Hofbrau, where her grandmother was a cook. After marrying Scott, Michelle stayed home with their three children, but worked part-time at restaurants. She's waitressed, hostessed and even managed a few Dunkin' Donuts locations, she said.

Recently, Scott and Michelle got the urge to return home to be with their family, they said. But it was also their family who inspired what Scott and Michelle would do back in Auburn.

Having a daughter and several other relatives with wheat allergies led Scott to experiment with gluten-free beers, he said. Though some breweries make them, he continued, they're "not really available." And that's why one of the Next Chapter Brewpub's featured beers will be gluten-free. Scott also plans to brew non-alcoholic beer there, he said.

With a 3-barrel system, Scott will also brew standards like India pale ales and a dunkelweizen (a dark German wheat beer) that's "popular in my circle," he said. But he's eager to experiment. By finding niches, Scott continued, the Next Chapter can fit comfortably into the area's growing craft beer scene alongside Prison City Pub & Brewery and The Good Shepherds Brewing Co.

"We're not here to compete directly. We don't think we could keep up with the big boys in town," he said. "But certainly there's room for other types of beers they don't get involved in."

As for food, Next Chapter will start with paninis and hors d'oeuvres, Michelle said. From there, menu plans include wood-fired pizzas, which will have their own gluten-free, dairy-free and other allergy-sensitive options. Both the food and the beer will be locally sourced as much as possible, she and Scott said: Whether it's meat, cheese or a guest beer on tap, it'll come from nearby.

The DeLaps are excited for their Genesee Center location, where they began construction weeks ago. The brewpub will be surrounded by the Auburn Schine Theater, which is being restored, and Auburn Public Theater, which will soon undergo a $1.2 million expansion. The Equal Rights Heritage Center will also be a short walk away down South Street, they noted.

"We're pretty happy with our location," Scott said. "I think we got a pretty sweet spot."

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen.