It’s been many months in the making, but The Original 40 brewpub is very close to opening. The brainchild of the owners of the nearby U31 Bar, it is scheduled to debut in soft-open form the second week of June, following a few friends-and-family and industry training nights. When it does, it will have a distinct look and feel that Steve and Patricia Billings spent a great deal of time realizing with Tijuana-based firm Duhagon Design.
“The first generation of breweries did not need to focus on décor and atmosphere. Patricia and I both come from hospitality backgrounds and felt it was important to implement,” says Steve. “I have so many friends whose wives won’t come to breweries. We wanted to create a fresh, clean and inviting atmosphere that was equally inviting to males and females. We are also excited about utilizing the brewery to achieve diversified employment in the industry. Of course, it is equally owned by my wife, and it is currently led by a female general manager, Sarah Devine.”
The kitchen is the charge of executive chef Luke Johnson, a veteran of fine dining and, most recently, Cutwater Spirits, who is taking a reserved, compact approach with The Original 40’s menu. That bill of fare is split into four sections: snacks, shareables, soups and salads, and shareable entrees. The draft menu can be viewed here. Meanwhile, the brewpubs 24 taps will feature a mix of beers meant to pair with the cuisine.
“There are so many things we are incredibly excited about with this project,” says Steve. “One, of course, is great beer. This is a brewery first and a restaurant second. We will sacrifice anything we need to in order to create amazing beer. As a matter of fact, we dumped a 15-barrel batch down the drain because we didn’t think it was perfect.”
“The plan is to always have a diverse cross-section of styles, with the staples on all the time, and new beers and old favorites cycling through,” says head brewer Chris Gillogly. “For example, we’ve brewed a helles lager, a German-style pilsner, a Hefeweizen, brown ale, dry stout, but we’ve also brewed a hazy IPA, and a huge pastry stout with Lion Bars and a ridiculous amount of vanilla and cacao nibs. We’ll be doing plenty of one-offs, small batches, and collabs as well, thanks to the one-barrel pilot system that’s on the way, which also happens to be the size of an oak barrel.”
Three collaboration beers have already been completed with local companies Creative Creature Brewing, Horus Aged Ales, and Pure Project Brewing. Creative Creature and Pure Project both contributed their elbow grease for hazy IPAs, while the Horus Aged Ales collab is the aforementioned pastry stout, a portion of which is now aging in a Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey barrel.
The Original 40 is located at 3117 University Avenue. Once it opens, its days and hours of operation will be 3 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.