During the 790 West Minneola Avenue ground-breaking ceremony on August 26, 2017, Bill Downs, owner of Suncreek Brewery told those present that once he spoke with Economic Development Director Shannon Schmidt about the Downtown Master Plan and met with its developer Paul Fallman about the building and plans for the project, he was committed and, “The stars aligned”.
The planning and construction of the multi-use split level brewery with three businesses wasn’t an easy project. It has taken nearly a year to bring the vision to reality. The three businesses referred to are Savoree, specializing in hand-crafted salads and sandwiches; Michael’s Ali Coal-Fired Pizza, serving artisan pizza, wings and sandwiches and, of course, Suncreek Brewery, offering a full range of specialty beers.
In just a few weeks the long-anticipated businesses at 790 Minneola will open their doors to the public.
Suncreek Brewery: Bill Down’s first home brewing experiment was way back in 1997 and the original idea for a brewery was envisioned in 1999 just before he moved to Florida with his wife Sheila. She told me some of his initial experiments weren’t very good. However, after 21 years of experimentation and tasting, Suncreek Brewery beers are rated well above average.
I recently spoke to Bill about the brewery and what we should expect.
TABLET: Has a soft opening date been set? What about the date of the grand opening. Any BIG plans?
Bill: We’re shooting for early August for a soft-opening. Once we do have a solid date for a grand opening, we’ll let everyone know of ‘the plan’. I put quotes around ‘the plan because it makes it seem more impressive, mysterious and exciting!
TABLET: Will Michael’s Ali Coal-Fired Pizza and Savoree have their openings on the same dates as Suncreek Brewery?
Bill: Yes, that’s the goal.
TABLET: Do you have any stories that you’d like to share about the development of Suncreek Brewery or did everything go according to plan so far?
Bill: Building a brewery is tough. Building a two-story brewery/taproom is tricky – everything has a consequence. For the most part, it has been a great experience. Of course, we could have done without the delays but they seem inevitable with commercial projects – especially one like this when you combine three independent businesses under one roof. With all that said, I guess we should consider ourselves lucky to be where we are! As far as going to plan, I’m on version 5B right now but I think this one will hold through to opening.
TABLET: Tell me a little about what you’ll be offering, such as, how many beers will you have on tap? Will you be serving food? Will there be drinks other than beer?
Bill: I’ll leave it to Michael’s Ali and Savoree to fill the readers in on their menus, but I know that Michael Ali’s plan is to incorporate some of our beers in their recipes. During the soft-opening, we hope to offer 2-3 different beers while we get our brew house on its feet. Every few weeks, 1 to 2 more beers will be added and work up to 10-12 of our own beers along with a few ‘guest taps’ from other Central Florida breweries.
We also plan on wine on tap and by the bottle, cider and craft soda. We’ll also get started on our barrel program with planned fall/winter releases, first to our Founders Club members and then to everyone else. We’re excited about barrel aging and hoping to have several releases going forward into 2019. Our Bourbon Barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout “Bear Boozled” was a big hit at festivals last year and we can’t wait to bring it to Clermont.
TABLET: What are your hours of operation?
Bill: We’re still considering hours of operation and subject to change but presently, Monday-Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm; and Friday – Sunday, 11 am – midnight.
TABLET: Is Suncreek working with Michael’s Ali and Savoree so business hours and days sync?
Bill: Yes, but most nights, I don’t think Michael’s Ali and Savoree will hang-out as late as us.
TABLET: Are there future plans/a vision once the brewery is opened,?
Bill: Of course! Once we’re open we’ll have some announcements on the planned expansion but for now, we want to keep our eye on the prize and get Phase 1 done.
I can’t wait to sip a cold beer on a hot day. Hope to see you there.