Kornel Martyniuk and his wife Christina stand in front of their brewing equipment in their remodeled garage.
by Dave Warner
It sounds like the beginning of one of those typical jokes you hear, but in truth, it’s the beginning story of how Lock 17 Brewing got its start.
Kornel Martyniuk and his wife Christina just started brewing their first batches of beer in their new brewery in Little Falls on Miltary Road. He works for the railroad, and she is a chemistry teacher for the Little Falls School District.
The couple owns a house on Petrie St that they rent out and Kornel has considered himself a Little Falls resident since 2004. Their current house on Military Rd is the house that Christina grew up in. “This is our super tempory setup,” said Kornel. “We figure that when we grow out of this place, this area that we have created will be a pretty nice workshop for someone.”
According to him “I’ve been waiting for the perfect building in Little Falls to kind of fall in our lap. But, I’m not sure that we’re ready for that just yet, as we have a ton of money tied up in our equipment and we’re just getting started.”
Right now, what the couple is doing is brewing their mix in the garage, which has been converted to handle all the equipment and electrical needs of a micro-brewery. “We’re just trying to get everything up and running,” he said.
Brew days are a very science-filled day with recipes and making sure quantities are correct. “The first couple of batches that we’ve tried we’re making sure how the new equipment works and that we understand what we should be doing,” said Kornel. “Our first batch went really well.”
Carbonation was a little lower than it should have been on that first batch, but they’ve adjusted their mixture to fix that issue. “Most of the beers we’re brewing aren’t super carbonated anyway, but I think we missed it just a bit,” he said.
The ale that they are making takes 6-7 hours to brew, then it takes another 9-10 days to ferment. Once that happens, there is a conditioning period that takes an additional 1-2 days.
The couple has been talking about doing a micro-brewery for a couple of years. However, they had heard that someone else was starting one in Little Falls, so it went on the back burner for a bit.
“In our heads, though we thought this is something we’ve wanted to do, so let’s just do it,” he said.
The couple ended up doing the research, reading books, and talking to friends who had done it. Kornel had also been brewing small batches for years at home.
“We were trying to figure out how to start this and keep our jobs. We both have fathers that are ready to retire and they were potentially ‘free’ to help us. They both said as long as they get free food and samples, they were ready to go, so we decided to do it,” said Kornel.
The couple found out there was a nano-brewery convention and they went to it in Burlington VT. “We got a really nice deal on our equipment. Basically, everything you need turn-key for a one-barrel system,” Kornel stated.
They have three 50 gallon kettles, but the final product will end up being about 35-40 gallons from each brewing session. They still don’t have a name for the beer as well. “We have about 30 different names – different names for different styles of beer. Whatever feels right is what we’re going to go with,” he said.
Initial plans call for them making arrangements to sell their beer to local bars and restaurants. They’re starting with New England type IPA’s as their first types of beer. “People go nuts over those and they drive hours to go get them,” said Kornel.
He also said that they are developing a huge market for the beer that they are going to brew. “There’s a very big beer craze right now. We’ve also talked to Eric at Copper Moose and he’s going to carry some of our beer. He sampled our first batch and said it was very very good,” stated Kornel. “He said we nailed it.”
Christina said “We’re going to distribute a lot. We’ve talked with people like Eric, Ruggiero’s, the Newport Tavern, the Miner’s Table and others.”
They also plan on working with Mike George who is opening up the Ironrock Brewing Company on Mill St when it comes to ordering supplies. “When he gets to brewing and we get into the full swing of brewing, we’re going to try and order together to save on shipping and get quantity discounts. You can save a lot on even a bag of grain when you do that,” said Kornel.
“If you order a pallet of something, you end up maybe saving 5-6 dollars per bag, plus the split on the shipping,” he said.
“We don’t know how fast we’re going to grow, so that’s the scary and exciting thing at the same time,” stated Christina.
“Basically, we’re going to see where the wind takes us and see how this goes,” said Kornel. “To bring something like this to Little Falls makes us super proud.”