From the outside, the building appears small and unassuming, but the folks behind Trace Brewing have big plans for 4312 Main St., in Bloomfield.
The 5,800-square-foot space boasts cathedral ceilings, exposed brick and large, glass block windows that bathe the site in natural light. The brewery is expected to open in September.
The structure was built in 1910 as a brass and bronze foundry. Over the years, it morphed into a film developing studio and a punk rock concert venue called The Shop. That history will be incorporated into the décor.
“Every piece of wood or drip of paint tells a story,” says Dave Kushner, co-founder of Trace Brewing. “There’s even a set list written on the wall. They made industrial products here and later it served as a community space. We’re combining those two elements.”
Guests will not only be able to see and smell the 10-barrel brewing system, they can chat with Head Brewer Brandon McCarthy while he works to churn out more beer.
“We’re more like a small-batch brewery,” McCarthy says. “If you like beer at all there will be at least one thing that is on your wavelength.”
Those 21 and over who have an interest in a beer-making career can sign up for Trace’s vocational program. No brewing experience is necessary, just a burning passion for liquid gold. The six-month, paid internship, which is a mix of coursework and hands-on learning, already has 18 applicants. To start, Trace will only accept one student at a time. In an effort to diversify the brewing industry, they’re looking for folks who don’t fit the status quo. Women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community are encouraged to apply.
Participants will earn $15 an hour as they learn trade secrets from experts who have decades of combined experience in the brewhouse, the back of the house and behind the bar. Locally, the team has ties to Church Brew Works, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Cinderlands Beer Co., Dancing Gnome, Four Points Brewing and Strange Roots Experimental Ales.
In addition to traditional suds-making techniques, students (and customers) can spend time in the koelschip room, where a large, metal tub is used to make Belgian-style, spontaneously fermented beer. Orchestrating this unique brewing technique is Zack Colton, Trace’s self-proclaimed Head of Funk. Watching the process is easier than explaining it, says Colton, who studied alongside masters of the craft in Europe. Most recently, he honed his skills at Strange Roots in Gibsonia.
The wild beer will age in wooden bourbon and wine barrels. There are 32 of the receptacles separating a small lounge area from the main room.
The space, which will include interior design by Epic Development, offers options for customers. You can belly up to the bar, select from 16 drafts on tap and shoot the breeze with General Manager Katie Rado, a veteran bartender from Rivers Casino on the North Shore and Spirit in Lawrenceville.
If you want something more private, you can head to one of the intimate nooks located throughout the building. There’s also a large patio with tiered, concrete banquettes that looks more like a Greek theater than a German biergarten.
Beer isn’t the only beverage that will be available at Trace Brewing; the business will feature a coffee and espresso bar serving Redhawk Coffee products. The plan is to open at 8 a.m. daily to cater to the caffeine-loving crowd. Grab-and-go eats from local purveyors will be sold, too.
Just as the building served different purposes over the last century, the name Trace Brewing might mean different things to visitors. “In here, you can trace the passage of time,” Kushner says, casting his gaze around the cavernous room. “People can interpret the name in their own way.”