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MILLERSBURG -- The former Farmer Hub building at 25 N. Clay St., which once produced award-winning newspapers, is now producing award-winning beer.
After more than a year, thousands of dollars worth of renovations and improvements, Millersburg Brewing Co. is ready to start production in its new facility.
Millersburg Brewing Co. set up its new electronic canning system in the old Holmes County Hub building after purchasing the building last November, and after gutting the inside, added a new drainage system in the floor, new electric system and several other improvements to the building.
Bill Baker, owner of Millersburg Brewery, gave guided tours of the new facility recently, explaining the canning process, and as of Friday, Nov. 11, the brewery was approved by the state to start canning.
"Just in this building, we have a lot of man hours we didn't account for, but in cash, we're probably going to have around $40,000 just in repainting, putting drains in the floor, heating and rewiring," Baker said.
They blocked off a few old windows, had to install a new door and some other state required improvements, such as a handicapped accessible bathroom and door off the parking lot.
"The (canning) equipment and everything before we get done with it all, will be about $180,000 in here," Baker added. "Once everything gets worked out, we hope to do four cannings a month. But we can do twice that much with the equipment we have. This is state-of-the-art equipment.
Everything that was being packaged Nov. 11 was already sold, and there were many other orders on top of these.
"We are going from canning two beers to immediately canning four, but we're going to work on six," Baker said. "The grocery stores (Krogers, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods) they want four of our beers, not just one."
French Ridge, Lot 21, Panther Hollow and Bag's Red are the first four beers the Millersburg Brewery is going to be putting out at the stores.
And that doesn't include Doc's Scotch Ale, the brewery's gold medal-winning effort at this year's American Beer Festival in Denver.
"I can't tell you how many kegs have been ordered and we haven't even started," Baker said. "This is kind of fun now. We've been drug by the horse by one stirrup for about a year and a half, but now we hope to turn that around. We hope to get back in the saddle and ride like we mean it."
There were some growing pains suffered Nov. 11 as the kinks were worked out getting the timing down along the production line, which starts with a self-loading pallet that sends empty cans down the conveyor belt. They are cleansed then filled with beer, capped, labeled and packaged and carted away when the pallet is full.
Master brewer Marty Lindon says of the new automated canning line in the old Hub building, "It's a process.
"It's a pretty cool process, fairly automated," Lindon added. "The new facility will enable us to more than double our production of beer in the next eight to 12 months."
Baker said they were trying to figure out how many people they will need for each canning.
"We are already exceeding what we did with the mobile canner," he said. "And we're experimenting as we go."
Baker added that when it came time to purchase products for the canning process, he had to buy for five or six cannings, not just one. "We're talking semi-loads of stuff," he said. "But, like Donald Trump said, 'I think we're going to win.'"
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.