Collin Castore and Travis Spencer started developing Born Brewing Seventh Son Brewing about three years ago.
“Travis started homebrewing a little on the side and he kept needling me with the idea that we should start a brewery,” said Castore. “So I took some classes at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and started to research it.”
Castore and Spencer added Jen Burton, who co-owns the North Market’s Barrel & Bottle with Castore, as a third partner about a year later. The three have been friends since middle school.
“I think we all have a lot of different good qualities that we can bring to the business, and we all get along,” said Castore.
Castore has also co-owned popular beer bar Bodega for over seven years, which is what he cites as the spark for his interest in the industry.
“Craft in general is this really interesting, really popular part of the drinking world right now that I’ve really grown to love,” he said. “Aside from drinking beer, I just love the whole business of it especially the people… I’ve never been in a business where people are so apt to help each other rather than just try to get ahead.”
The brewery-formerly-known-as-Born had a change of name when they discovered that Budweiser holds a trademark on “Born Small Town” for its Rolling Rock brand, and since Anheuser-Busch (now owned by InBev) has sued craft breweries over smaller things, they opted to change their name.
“We could have chosen to fight it, but it didn’t seem like we wanted to start off our business in the middle of a legal battle,” said Castore. “But we had become really attached to the Born name, we loved it, and it worked on so many levels.”
The new name, Seventh Son, originates in folklore, where such a son is believed to be a lucky and gifted child.
“Our first beer was always going to be an American Strong Ale that was around seven percent [ABV]… and the seventh batch we brewed was ‘the one,’” said Castore.” And ‘Seventh Son’ worked with the name ‘Born,’ but now that we’re the Seventh Son Brewery it’s officially the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son, so it’s even luckier.”
The other initial offering from Seventh Son will be the folklore opposite of a seventh son: “Black Sheep”, a foreign stout. Within the first two years they hope to expand to offer 4-6 regular styles brewed in their 15bbl system. Seventh Son and Black Sheep will be available in bottles by July on a small scale using a small two-head bottling system.
They also have a smaller test brewing system to try out experimental brews. Running the brewery operation is Colin Vent, a foodie-turned-brewer with a particular sense for flavor combinations (and the Sous Chef at DeepWood) and Vlad Ponomarev, who has worked with large-scale production breweries like Dogfish Head and Greenpoint Beer Works.
“Columbus is this really great synthesis, taking the best part of the east coast and the best part of the west coast and making it uniquely midwestern, and that’s what we’re hoping to do with our beer,” said Castore.
Castore and Burton said that the Division of Liquor Control has been very helpful navigating Ohio’s sometimes antiquated laws that govern alcohol production and distribution. It probably also helps that their other business partner, Travis, is a lawyer. They said their biggest challenges have been figuring out an investment structure that made sense, and dealing with city codes.
“The brewery part of it is definitely a major aspect of it, but we also added an event space which has taken the planning to more of a restaurant type level in terms of coding and some of the permitting, which has made it a little bit trickier of a situation,” said Castore. “And also, since we’re in the Short North, a historic neighborhood, that’s adding another layer of complexity.”
The brewery will be located at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Fourth Street. The plan is to have an outdoor space (roughly 5500 sq ft) that will include plenty of parking, a spacious patio and, eventually, a community garden and food truck court. Inside (another 5500 sq ft) there will be two event spaces that can each accommodate about 75 people, a bar area, and ample room for the actual brewing equipment.
Burton said they chose the location for its convenience for downtown commuters, and for the neighborhood’s potential.
“We want people on the way home from work to be able run in and grab a growler for dinner,” she said. “I just think this neighborhood is great too, but it’s just been so stagnant except for Michelle with [St. James Tavern] – she’s been a true pioneer.”
Seventh Son is planned to be fully open by early June. And even if for some reason they’re unable to serve their own beer by then, Burton says they will open as an event space in the interim, and she will serve you a CBC IPA or an OYO martini from behind the bar.