A little over two years ago a business idea involving beer and the community began to form in the minds of husband and wife team Mike and Chelsey Ziolkowski. Fast forward to the beginning of June and Bradley Brew Project, which has evolved from their initial vision, opened its doors and the couple opened their arms to the Bradley Beach community.
THE BREWING BEGINNING
“Mike used to be a home brewer before we started this business and I used to run craft beer bars so we kind of put our heads together and came up with this concept of opening just a small, community focused brewery where you can come with your family, friends,” explained Chelsey.
Bradley Brew Project is split evenly between the couple with Mike doing the brewing with some input from Chelsey while she runs the tap room and tasting room.
“Right where that wooden floor ends and the cement begins,” he joked. “There’s a little bit of gray overlap, but I stick to the cement and she sticks to the wood. That’s how we make it work.”
When creating this community driven brewery, the couple was keen on having it be a place that welcomes both beer and brewery lovers as well as people who don’t know a thing about beer.
“Our whole focus with this brewery is just having people try new stuff or get introduced to the brewery world,” said Chelsey. She compares it to a winery in the way that you can go to a winery knowing nothing about wine, but through the tastings and the way it’s explained, you end up loving it.
It was that same notion she wanted to bring to Bradley Brew Project “so we really focus on our customers and making sure we tell them what’s in the beer, hearing what they have to say, what they think of the beer,” she said. “And it just makes for a fun conversation and people start really enjoying the beer once they start learning about it.”
INSPIRED AND APPROACHABLE
“So, when you look at our mantra, our vision for the brewery, we have a tagline called ‘Inspired and approachable’,” said Mike, explaining all of the beers are inspired by an experience or encounter that may be an event, a trip, a person or even some really cool fruit they enjoyed.
According to Mike, there is a line of beers, as well, known as “Influences,” which is specifically geared toward honoring somebody and the first three lines are for their kids.
Mike’s passion for beer and brewing is clearly evident through the time and thought put into every one of Bradley Brew’s brews. It’s not that they need to create an IPA or a Stout explained Mike Ziolkowski. It goes much deeper than that.
And it’s that same thought and care that goes into the crafting of the beer that is front and center in the serving of the beer as well. The couple expressed how when they have the time to talk to the customers they will go into the story of the beer and why it was given its name.
“The approachable part is and we kind of noticed this over the [opening] weekend because we got some feedback from folks is that a lot of our beers are easier to consume for a lack of a better word and so the ingredients that we use, the yeast strains that we use, some of our processes create much more softer and approachable beers,” he said.
BEERS, BOARDS, GAMES
The brewery offers four house style beers that they try to keep on tap at all time. According to Mike Ziolkowski, Unicorn Girls is a hazy pale ale, which was their best seller on opening weekend and is a 5.3 percent pale ale. Their 5.5 percent Pilsner is called This is Hard, but Making Beer is Fun, which is a simple beer with simple beerlike ingredients that are 100 percent organic.
Their IPA called Can I Put the Hops In? Is a 7 percent American IPA, which is their sort of soft approach towards IPAs and the 4 percent Session Stout is called Cleaning, Doing Laundry and Making Beer.
The way the beers are named are another example of the community focused, close-knit type of business that is solely owned by the couple. According to Mike Ziolkowski, their five-year-old twin girls have been saying all kinds of funny stuff over the past three to four years. They decided they would make pretty good beer names and started writing them down.
“So now we have a list of like 100 things, that they’ve said and they’ve now named every single beer in here,” he said. The couple, laughing, shared a story of how one of their daughters came downstairs once with her arms stuck in her shirt and she was crying saying I can’t see my elbows, and they decided that would make a great beer name. And there’s more where that came from.
In addition to the four styles that are house beers, there are six taps that are rotational or limited that get pushed in and out. For guests who want to try a variety of beers, the brewery offers 5 oz. samplers that can be enjoyed in a flight.
They worked with a local woodmaker who crafted custom made flight boards, that are different from your typical flight board. For the flight boards a house flight is offered where you get a 5 oz. pour of each one of the four house style beers or you can pick any one of the beers on tap and create your own custom flight. Flip over your flight card and play the games on the back like a crossword and tic tac toe.
With the couples enthusiastic passion of their business and the community involvement and excitement, the Bradley Brew Project has been off to a booming start. Moving forward the couple plans on hosting different events and live entertainment.
The brewery offers something completely new for the town of Bradley Beach and after the summer craziness subsides, they want to make sure the locals are enjoying the establishment as well.
“We’ll have a chance to talk to our customers, we’ll have a chance to become friends with the locals that live here in the area and we’re also looking forward to becoming that kind of place for people to go to,” said Mike Ziolkowski.