Business bubbling over at McConnelsville brewery

Dean Ponchak pours a Dirty Girl Coffee Stout in his newly opened Old Bridge Brewing Company in McConnelsville last week. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

McCONNELSVILLE — One week open, and the newest addition to the Morgan County seat has been met with patrons as young as 9 months and as old as 90 filling, with social distance, tables and the bar top.

“We’ve had whole families come in, they ordered pizza, or Saturday had the food truck,” said Jennifer Ponchak, co-owner of the Old Bridge Brewing Company.

“This may have been our best night yet,” added Dean Ponchak, brewmaster and husband of Jennifer after the venue began to calm Thursday evening.

The couple, along with their two sons, converted the former car sales showroom at the corner of West Main Street and North Third Street into a brewery and event venue.

“We decided to go ahead and get open once we worked out the space with the (coronavirus) health restrictions,” Ponchak explained. “And that opening Friday, Saturday, Sunday we were busy the whole time.”

The outdoor patio fills with patrons at the Old Bridge Brewing Company each evening since it opened last weekend in McConnelsville. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Coronavirus has necessitated present enforcement of “pick a seat and stay with it,” she noted.

“But for the most part people have complied, we only had to give a few gentle reminders,” Jennifer explained. “And that makes sense, people haven’t seen their friends in so long and they’re excited to come out and be here.”

For the opening weekend, the couple brewed not only their four large batch staples which patrons also saw throughout the week (an IPA, two lagers and a coffee stout) but also tested out eight additional small-batch specialty flavors.

“And all of those were well received, we ran out of them so we’ll get those into the rotations again as we brew,” said Dean. “People really seemed to appreciate the Juniper Ale, too, having a gluten-free option. I’ll have that back in a few weeks.”

Other options that made their debut included a red ale, maple brown ale, Paw Paw Saison, apple Saison, rhubarb seltzer, raspberry seltzer, Belgian Trippel, rye Saison and a pilsner.

Social distancing and masked servers allowed for the Old Bridge Brewing Company to serve a full house, including the event room, Thursday in McConnelsville. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Then Wednesday, as the couple took a breather in the morning to restock and orient after the first day off (Tuesday the brewery is closed) Dean focused his attentions on the next offering to come.

“I’m sending this to get tested in the lab, I don’t want to put out there that we have a non-alcoholic beer unless I’m sure that’s exactly what we’ve accomplished,” he said.

That attention to detail continues throughout the venue, with tables sporting the charcuterie offerings the brewery provides in-house, with the converted car wash turn table refinished with a wooden tabletop below a converted rowboat in the event room and even with the concrete slap bar top, made by the couples’ sons.

“It’s beautiful what they’ve done, I’ll have to make many more trips up this way,” said Billy Burkhart, of Marietta, as Thursday evening closed out with a new IPA in hand.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

The Old Bridge Brewing Company, now open in McConnelsville, has partnered with four of the town’s restaurants; the Chatterbox Tavern, Dip & Sip, El Palenque and Maxwell’s Pizza, for delivery in the new brewery. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)


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