The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 1:00 am

Michigan man taps Bluffton to make beer


People love a good story, and there have been some interesting tales that have been told about why Chris Bryant moved to Bluffton.

After all, there has to be a reason that he left a resort town in Michigan for the city of 10,000 about 30 miles south of Fort Wayne.

“I have heard all kinds of rumors but the one that I like best is that I'm in witness protection,” Bryant says with a laugh.

But the truth is that Bryant wanted to escape the long, harsh winters of northern Michigan, where the annual snow total surpasses 100 inches. He also wanted to pursue his love of brewing beer and turn it into a business.

Michigan is home to an established, thriving craft beer scene. According to the state's tourism board, it ranks No. 5 in the country for the number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs.

After researching different areas, even seriously considering North Carolina, Bryant moved to Bluffton in 2018 with the goal to open a brewery. He realized that dream this summer, when he opened the doors to Parlor City Brewing Co., 212 Market St.

Bryant's venture is considered a nanobrewery, meaning that the beer is brewed in small batches – three barrels or fewer. He brews on a one-barrel system, the smallest anyone would want to brew for public sale.

“I brew often and a lot because it is such small batches,” Braynt says. “It allows me to mix it up and brew, basically, on a whim.

“If I want to brew something different, I can do that.”

Parlor City offers a variety of styles, straddling the line between beers that are perfect for someone just trying craft beer to those that are exciting for the experienced beer fan.

There are IPAs, stouts and sour ales.

Retro Stereo is a brown ale that has some roasty flavors that are good for new and experienced craft beer drinkers.

“It surprises people that something that has that kind of color is as easy to drink as a Coca-Cola,” Bryant says.

Halo is a cream ale that has a low hop bitterness with a good portion of corn, making it a good beer for everyone. The beer is also a prominent ingredient in the brewery's beer cheese dip, which is served with pretzel breadsticks.

Bryant, who was a professional chef most of his career, says he is dabbling in a little bit of food with plans to expand the menu.

There has been a sandwich feature, which he changes every couple of weeks, in addition to the pretzel breadsticks with beer cheese. There's also complimentary hard pretzels.

“(The brewery) has filled a need that Bluffton was certainly ready for,” Bryant says. “We have had a lot of community support. Our mug club is very well supported with local members.”

Nota adding truck

Cam Kaminski and Jacob Koczergo do not have a real baseline to measure success for their business.

The chefs opened Bistro Nota on Calhoun Street in August 2019. And soon they went from opening up to the winter season and then to trying to operate in a pandemic.

Customers went from excited to dine at a new spot downtown, to bundling up and then to not eating out.

While they hoped for take-home meals to be a significant part of their business, the chefs probably didn't anticipate that it would be 80% of their sales – if not more.

“We're seeing such a change in (dining habits) that we thought it might be advantageous to bring the food to the people,” Kaminski says.

Bringing food to the people? Yes, you read that correctly. The Bistro Nota team is dipping its toes in the food truck scene.

The decision to take their meals on wheels was relatively quick.

Kaminski and Koczergo saw that Bo Gonzalez posted the Bravas truck for sale. It was equipped with everything they needed and would allow for a quick turnaround.

Right now, Kaminski is working on a decorative wrap for the truck but anticipates it will be ready for private events this fall.

The truck menu will likely include sandwiches on Bistro Nota's fresh bread and fried items, as well as some familiar items from the bistro menu.

Additional details will be shared when they do a big reveal of the truck.

Online ordering will be available for the truck.

Around town

Don Hall's Factory Restaurant, 5811 Coldwater Road, has extended its Sunday hours. The restaurant will now be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Other hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Friendly Fox, 4001 South Wayne Ave., has opened its dining room for four tables. Reservations are required; call 745-3369. The patio is still first-come, first-served.

• Spicy McNuggets will arrive at McDonald's restaurants today. This is the first flavor change to the classic Chicken McNuggets in the U.S. since their 1983 debut.

• A new Domino's store has opened inside Walmart at 10420 Maysville Road.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email or call 461-8304 at least two weeks before event or desired publication.

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