Open for business: First month a success at brewery
Melody Gentry eases into a high-back bar stool and bellies up to the bar. In between sips of water, she writes on a legal pad, adding to a growing list of chores she hopes to accomplish by day’s end.
It’s been nearly two weeks since Melody and her husband, Dusty, opened Not Lost Brewing Co. at 229 S. Main St., and she’s a little drained. But it’s a good kind of tired. The couple’s brew pub is new to Ottawa’s downtown scene, and so far, business is booming.
“The reception has been very positive,” Melody said. “Multiple people have told me how much they like it and really like the beer. Everyone has been really positive, and glad we’re here.”
March 16 marked the first official day of business. It was also the final day of the Big-12 Championship basketball tournament. Customers packed the brew pub to watch the tournament on one of two big-screen TVs and sample a selection of handcrafted beers.
The next day was just as busy as St. Patrick’s Day revelers helped make up the standing-room only crowd. And with March Madness in full swing, customers continue filling the brew pub.
The couple started brewing beer more than four years ago, and in that time, produced more than 30 varieties in their Ottawa home. To test out their products, the two competed in area craft beer competitions and offered their brews at regional beer festivals.
Knowing they had a winning formula, the Gentrys made the leap from home-brewing to leasing the former home of Primitive Treasures and turning it into a brew pub. That was last fall. Months later, the newly remodeled space features an open layout with seating available at the bar or at tables located near the entrance. Table seating varies from smaller, bar-height tables and stools with enough room for two, to larger tables accommodating up to six guests. Large wooden barrels are located opposite the bar area where customers can mingle. There’s also a small stack of board games available for customers.
The space also features glossy, wood-planked floors, warm golden lighting and a sleek, shiny bar Dusty made by hand.
The beer menu constantly rotates at Not Lost, and so the same beers are not always on-tap. However, Melody anticipates keeping customer favorites like Kolsch, a light, crisp German ale, and Kanook IPA, an Indian pale ale with locally sourced hops, on-tap year-round. Other varieties currently featured include a blackberry milkshake IPA, a kiwi sour ale, a chocolate milk stout and two guest taps.
A few seasonal beers will be offered throughout the year, such as a pumpkin porter and an Oktoberfest brew for the fall. An Irish ale featured during opening weekend already sold out. Beers are brewed on-site in small batches, so once a certain variety runs out, it can take up to two to three weeks to produce more, she said. On Monday, Dusty worked in a rear room of the building, where he brewed additional batches to keep up with demand.
Nearby, a stack of kegs stood in a corner of the room, a reminder of how well business has been so far. First-timers unsure of which beer to order can opt for a flight of four, sample-size beers. All flights feature the same varieties and are presented in wooden holders shaped like one of the 50 states. Single, four-ounce sample sizes are also available.
A small selection of Miami County-produced Night Hawk wines as well as assorted Kansas-made bourbons, whiskeys and agave liquor are also available.
“We’re simply offering hard liquors as an option, but it’s not a fully stocked bar,” she said.
Though the brew pub isn’t offering growlers — containers used to transport beer — owners hope to have 16-ounce cans available later this year.
“Growlers don’t have a long shelf-life, but with cans, you can prefill them and have them ready to go to serve customers,” she said.
Ottawa-based Angry River Barbecue has teamed up with Not Lost Brewing Co. to offer smoked menu items and sides. The menu offers an ever-changing variety of smoked items from wings, ribs and street tacos to sliders, nachos and burgers. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available including cold-brew coffee, blueberry-lavender kombucha and fruit-flavored soft drinks, which can be ordered alone or teamed up with ice cream for a creamy milkshake.
Melody said there’s also plans to periodically feature music on Sundays as well as other events, such as hosting a pop-up shop for The Ampersand Vinyl, of Lawrence.
A Night Hawk winery tasting event is planned from 5-8 p.m. April 12. There’s also plenty of merch, including T-shirts, hoodies, glassware, magnets and stickers available for purchase.
Not Lost Brewing is open from noon-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday. Families are welcome. Make sure to check out Not Lost’s Facebook page for more information on menu items, featured brews and upcoming events.