Charleston book store owner plans to open state's newest micro - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Charleston book store owner plans to open state's newest microbrewery

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Ryan Heastings, brewer with the Charleston Brewing Co., stands next to a boil kettle where he is making ale. Ryan Heastings, brewer with the Charleston Brewing Co., stands next to a boil kettle where he is making ale.

Ann Saville found that her book store in downtown Charleston met its goal of being a place where people could gather, not just run in, buy a book and run out.

So why not tap into that need and bring a British-style pub and microbrewery to the capital city, she thought.

That dream and long process to bring it to reality meet the public next month when Charleston Brewing Co. opens its doors.

"It's almost ready," she said March 18. "We brewed the first one today. It will be three weeks before it's drinkable. That's when we'll open."

Huntington Bank recently featured Charleston Brewing Co. in an announcement that it had reached its goal of lending $4 billion to small businesses in six states.

More than 24,000 small businesses, including 800 in West Virginia, obtained loans over the past three years, helping to jump start hiring in Huntington's markets, which stretch from West Virginia to Michigan.

Steve Steinour, Huntington's president, chairman and CEO, said, "Huntington was one of the first banks during the economic downturn to commit to increased small business lending. We made the commitment after listening to business owners who needed loans to navigate the weak economy, while investing in their businesses' future growth. We also hired more than 150 additional business bankers to work with businesses and take a second-look at loan applications to make certain nothing was missed in determining their qualifications for a loan."

The bank also offered turnaround lending for small businesses. With this portion of the program, a business that had a long history of success, but suffered losses during the recession, could obtain a turnaround loan if they had several quarters of profitability and reasonable projections for future growth.

Saville said finding the money to bring her dream to reality was a rough road.

"I developed a business plan for the brew pub. Everywhere I went, all the banks thought my business plan was great and they wished they could finance it," she said.

"I thought, well, Huntington took a risk on me. Huntington decided I had a good track record with Taylor Books. They did a little research, too, and decided they could do it through a Small Business Administration loan, which is a bit tedious."

Saville said she borrowed $600,000 from Huntington and invested some of her own retirement money to get Charleston Brewing off the ground.

Brew pubs are popular elsewhere in the United States, and there are several in West Virginia, she said. But her plan included a restaurant where everything is made from scratch, including bread and sausage, and banks shy away from restaurant startups, she said.

This week, several people working on various phases of construction and startup were on the property installing walls, getting equipment running or, in the case of Ryan Heastings, brewing the first batches of beer.

Monday's batch was an Indian pale ale. Tuesday's run was of another variety of ale. The pub can make 240 gallons at a time.

"It's one of the great things in life that's simple but at the same time incredibly complex," Heastings said as he described the process of moving liquid and solid materials through several tanks for the different parts of the brewing process.

Saville said the pub will seat 15 at the main bar and up to 100 at table seats. It will make its own bread and its own sausage. It will cure its own hams and make its own bacon, she said. There will be dart boards, but "there will be no TV in the place," Saville said.

The target market will be the young professionals who live and work in and near downtown Charleston, but Saville said older patrons of her book store have been asking about the opening date, too.