The city of Clermont recently approved variance requests bringing Clermont Barn Brewery one-step closer to opening.  I had the opportunity to speak with owner Darren Johnson regarding the new brewery, which is scheduled to open early in 2018 on Desoto Street in downtown Clermont.

Tablet:  Can you briefly tell me the story of how the idea of owning a brewery got started?

Darren: My wife Karen “McGuire”, a 3rd generation Clermontian, and I purchased a building in downtown Clermont a few years ago with the idea of using it as an event venue. After several months of design/planning realized the building was in too bad of shape to make it work financially. I had tinkered with the idea of a brewpub before but did not pursue it. A few months passed and I was introduced to Kevin Henshaw that wanted to open a Brewpub in Clermont and from that day in March, we decided to move forward with the project.

Tablet:  Have you brewed beer as a hobby or commercially?

Darren: No, but Karen and I have owned and operated three bars/restaurants one in Clermont called the Clermont Pier house from 2000-2005. I have lived in Clermont for 25 years and my wife has lived here her entire life and we wanted to be a part of the downtown redevelopment (and we really need a fun place to hang out)

Tablet:  Do you have partners involved in the venture?

Darren: Yes, Kevin Henshaw has lived in Clermont for 12 years and is a professional wakeboarder that has traveled the world with his profession. Fortunately for me, one of his passions is Beer! Kevin’s’ wife Cassidy is opening an upscale bridal boutique “The Grey Collective” in downtown Clermont on Montrose street the end of June. Kevin will oversee all beer operations for the CBB and I will oversee the food and entertainment operations.

Tablet:  How big is the building?

Darren: Approximately 4000 sq. ft.

Tablet: Was it difficult to convert to a brewery?

Darren: Extremely, the existing building is in bad shape and it looks like we may be tearing it down and putting up a new building.

Tablet: Can you briefly describe how it will be configured?

Darren: The Clermont Barn Brewery will be a casual service brewpub comprised of a 10BBL brew house featuring 8-12 in house brews with an emphasis on organic, artisanal, healthier, lighter beers with Florida influences. We really want to appeal to the healthy lifestyle customer, families, and athletes. And of course, if you just like a killer cold beer we’ve got those folks covered too. In addition to our beer offerings we will have a diverse wine list (both of our wives are winos) for the non-beer drinkers. Our food offerings will be centered around our wood fired pizza oven serving artisanal thin crust pizzas, fresh hand crafted salads and weekend BBQ menu.

Tablet:  How many Vats will you have on premises?

Darren: It’s a 10BBL brew house

Tablet:  When do you plan to open? 

Darren: 1st quarter of 2018

Tablet:  What are the days/hours that CBC will be open? ex. Is a 7-day operation?

Darren: 7 days 11:30 am-11pm.

Tablet:  Will there be food, entertainment?

Darren: My background of 35 years is planning mega events(parties) for the Fortune 500 and live entertainment is one of my passions. We will have a wide variety of live entertainment offerings throughout the week at the CBB.