COLUMBIANA, OH – The owners of Ill Will Brewing Co. bear no animosity toward anyone. They just like to have a good time when it comes to being in a bad mood.
“Some people go out to have a beer because they want to have a good time,” says Brian Lalama, who co-owns the brewpub with Ryan Gray. “But some go because they are not having a good time. Their job isn’t perfect or it’s their relationships. That’s what we’re playing to.”
The brewpub, which will open Oct. 16, is part of the ever-growing Firestone Farms residential and retail development in Columbiana. It sits across state Route 14 from TownCentre.
The theme may be all in the name of fun, but Lalama says it also reflects the owners’ personalities.
“We’re both a little cantankerous as it is,” he explains. “But it’s intended to have fun with things that are unpleasant, like spotty Wi-Fi or baggage fees on an airline. We’re not necessarily celebrating it, but we are having fun with the miserable.”
The brewpub will have eight beers on tap at all times. Most brewpubs put some thought into pairing their offerings with food. At Ill Will, the beer is paired with your mood.
“I wrote the menu to pair with the reason you ordered the beer,” Lalama says. “If you’re a man with early balding, you might order Spite. I also have Unfriended, so if you’re in the mood to scrub your friends list, order away.”
The English language, he notes, has an “absurdly large” number of words that mean “[ticked] off.”
Ill Will is on the site of the Harvey S. Firestone family homestead, in the southeastern quadrant of the crossroads of state routes 14 and 7. Inside a barn built in 1936, it retains the timbers on the walls and ceiling but has otherwise been renovated with modern touches. One example is that Ill Will’s beer list will be on electronic monitors and not the chalkboards that have become ubiquitous in brewpubs.
Lalama and Gray will use the monitors to drive home their theme in a humorous way by adding animation. Next to one beer, for example, is a video clip that shows a golf ball rolling straight toward the cup only to rim out.
Ill Will is the first joint business venture for Lalama and Gray and also the first brewery for the Columbiana natives. They have invested $250,000 in equipment, including a half-dozen seven-barrel fermenters and six massive cooler tanks from which fresh beer will flow directly to the taps.
“We’re the second brewery in the country to use this system,” Lalama says.
Ill Will will have a seating capacity of nearly 200, with more seating in an outside courtyard. It will employ eight.
One piece of technology that sets Ill Will apart is its reverse osmosis water purification system.
“It’s what makes us unique,” Lalama says. “It removes all mineral and chemical composition from the water.”
Pictured: Ill Will Brewing will have eight beers on tap, say owners Brian Lalama and Ryan Gray.