Elyria brewery keeps operations small-scale

ELYRIA — For Aaron Schickel and Howard Ross it’s all about quality, not quantity.Schickel, 40, and Ross, 47, operate the Franklin Brewing Company, a small-scale local business devoted to producing quality beer.The business partners have known each other for several years, played in bands together and are slowly introducing their stouts, pale ales, Kölsch-style ales and Belgian wit-style beers to craft-brew enthusiasts in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties.Schickel, who works for a trucking company, said brewing started as a hobby.“I’ve been doing home brewing for a little over 10 years now,” Schickel said. “I got a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas one year and it took off from there.”Schickel, who said he has always enjoyed a good beer, began experimenting with different styles and drifting away from products made by large-scale domestic breweries.He began researching all things brewing, buying recipe books, spending time at the library learning about the process and piecing together equipment.Today, Schickel’s garage has no room for a car — it has been transformed into a state-of-the-art brewery complete with grain storage, milling equipment, coolers for kegs, barrels for brewing and carbonation equipment.Schickel said he has come a long way from the days of mixing up ingredients in a Mr. Beer kit.“Before I knew it, I was designing my own recipes and here I am all these years later,” he said.Enter Ross, a long-time salesman working in the printing industry, who has an affinity for craft brews. The two former bandmates teamed up, came up with a name, logo and beers based on United States founding father Benjamin Franklin, and the Franklin Brewing Company was born.“Benjamin Franklin was a small business owner,” Schickel said. “Today, I think he would be just like us — trying to grow and make things happen.”Ross, who said he was first introduced to craft beers after playing a gig at the Odeon in the Flats, likes the experimental nature of brewing and drinking a product that actually has taste.“I was always experimental enough in my taste to try different craft beers,” Ross said. “When Aaron started brewing, and eventually came to me with plans to go commercial, I already knew what craft beers were all about.”Craft beer drinking requires a willingness to try something new, Ross said, and Franklin Brewing carries that concept into the four main beers they produce.There’s America’s Gold, a Kölsch-style ale light in color that even the most die-hard domestic lovers can find common ground with. Richard’s Pale Ale is an amber pale ale with a sweet, malt profile and citrus, wood bite. Anthony’s Afterwit is a Belgian wit-style beer that pours light in color with an aroma that imparts citrus. And for dark beer fans, there is Milk Street, a stout that smells of roasted malt with hints of chocolate.Franklin Brewing beers aren’t too far off the map with overwhelming hoppy flavors, Schickel said, or tastes that will scare a Miller or Bud fan away.“We want to give people something they can really sit down and enjoy,” Schickel said. “If they like one, they’re going to want two or three.”The duo, producing 42-45 gallons every time they brew a batch, distributes to Pier W and World of Beer in Lakewood, Stampers and Gunselman’s Tavern in Fairview Park, Basil’s Grill and Tavern in Elyria and The Rail locations in Fairlawn, North Olmsted and Canton.They also deliver to retail locations including Minotti’s in Bay Village and Avon, Zip Thru Dive Thru’s in Amherst, Elyria, North Ridgeville and North Olmsted, and have plans to distribute to a large chain grocery store.“We both have full time jobs and we can’t delve into it the way we’d like to,” Schickel said. “If we can devote more time to it, we will grow.”Schickel and Ross are covering business costs and seeing small profits.“We’re at the point where we have steady business, but it’s a matter of being able to keep up,” Schickel said. “The last thing I want to do is tell a customer they have to wait a month.”Small breweries, which Schickel said were the norm before prohibition, are now making a comeback and Franklin Brewing is there with the movement.“It’s nice to see the little guys are slowly coming back,” he said. “Not only that, but the local community is really getting behind us.”
For more information on the Franklin Brewing, call 216-262-5110 or visit their Facebook page.

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