Residents will have to wait to taste the beer, but a glimpse was provided Wednesday of what Beaver Dam’s new brewery will look like.
The Beaver Dam Landmark Commission approved elements of the renovation at 301 S. Spring St. for the future Ooga Brewery, owned by Jim and Ruth Metz. The founders of the animal supply company Animart intend to open their new venture in December.
The commission has authority over certain changes made to downtown properties. The owners will remodel the storefront with a new color scheme, windows and overhead doors, exterior materials, etc.
The site once housed the Flynn Motors used car dealership, and auto shop and the new brewery will channel its past, right down to the name (as in the sound an old car horn would make). The building’s exterior look will be updated and modernized but is not going to substantially change. There will be doors that open from above where cars used to pull into the shop.
There will be a truck sculpture with hops growing out of it in season and lights shining onto it. Ruth Metz also revealed the brewery will not really focus on food.
“There’s really not room. We’re hoping for lots of neighbors to have food that they can order” and people can bring over, she said. “We might do minimal. There’s no commercial kitchen.”
Jeff Scanlan, who is heavily involved with the home-brewing community, was hired as brewer at Ooga. He is the founder of the Wort Hogs Home Brew Club in Sun Prairie and has won awards for his personal brews.
The project has been pitched as a way to help revitalize downtown. The empty pavement in front of the old auto shop will become the beer garden with a view of the downtown water tower, which is due to be repainted.
The state’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation provided a $126,100 grant to help jump-start the brewery.
The owners of Ooga Brewery also requested the committee recommend offering $5,000 in grant funds from the city for downtown redevelopment. However, the committee tabled the request to seek clarification about whether the project would be allowed to draw on multiple grant sources, per city policy.
The city also announced over the summer plans to apply for a similar grant from the state for another downtown project.