ALLIANCE – The definition of “Aeonian” is “perpetual or ever-lasting.” While the owners of Aeonian Brewing Co. in Alliance want their business to stand the test of time, they point out that their building already has a long history.
Aeonian, which opened March 31 in the center of Alliance, is owned by Brandon Benson and Dr. Dean Economous, both of Salem.
The two had been looking for a place to open a brewpub for a while before realizing the potential of the 140-year-old structure at 120 W. Chestnut St. that they had both driven by many times over the years.
Located just south of the intersection of East State Street (U.S. Route 62) and South Union Avenue (state Route 183), Aeonian features a 3,000-square-foot tasting room with a fireplace and seating for over 100. There is also a bar, a balcony with windows that overlook the brewing operations, and a large wooden deck that merges with the indoor seating when the glass garage doors are opened on warm days.
The brewpub, which is surrounded by a massive parking lot, offers a menu that specializes in burgers, wraps and salads.
As head brewer, Benson presides over the 15-barrel system. The 33-year-old has spent his entire adult life working in breweries.
Before launching Aeonian, he was the head of brewing operations at Thirsty Dog Brewing in Akron. “I started on the bottling line and made my way up,” he says.
Aeonian currently has seven of its beers on tap: Hop Swindler, a hazy New England IPA; Opa!, a witt beer; Uno Max pale ale; Summer Illusion hefeweizen; Stark Contrast stout; Bantam session IPA; and Sawgrass, a saison.
The bar also has a small selection of California wines.
Aeonian’s tap system can accommodate 12 beers, and Benson’s goal is to always have at least 10 ready to pour.
All of their beers can be purchased to go in growlers. Cans will soon be available.
“Our canning line should be up and running by the end of May,” Benson says.
Benson and Economous gave their building a head to toe makeover, with a sleek stone, wood and glass décor in the tasting room. Benson would not disclose the amount of their investment.
With the company name in large letters at the top of the building and visible from East State Street, Aeonian Brewing already looks like a landmark in the center of town.
The building has a history. From its inception it housed a feed mill. In more recent years, it was home to a landscaping goods store. It sat empty for at least a year before being purchased by the Aeonian owners.
“We are the fourth owners of this building,” Benson says. “At least part of it is 140 years old. We’re told that Mount Union College’s first classes were in this building.”
The southern edge of the campus of The University of Mount Union, as it’s now known, is still just a stone’s throw away.
Benson and Economous, who were friends before they became business partners, knew what they wanted in a building but it took them a while to find it.
“We were looking all over,” Benson says. “We wanted to find a good property where we could do everything we wanted to do. We had a checklist of what we needed for brewing and what we wanted to accomplish, and where we wanted to be. We had both driven by this place but had never stopped. We had never seen it from the back but as soon as we did. We saw it had the potential for what it is now.”
The name Aeonian is part of its lure and also a mission statement.
“It’s different enough where people ask about it,” Benson says. “But it also means a lot to us as far as what we want to do here. We want to be here a long time.”
As brewpubs continue to pop up, customers have become more educated. “They’ve drank good beer and that’s what they’re looking for,” he says.
Benson is confident that folks will find Aeonian’s beer, food and atmosphere to their liking. “We’re passionate beer people,” he says.
Pictured at top: Interior view of Aeonian Brewing in Alliance shows the fireplace and deck area.