by Elizabeth Coady
Laura Lacy bought her boyfriend Todd a beer-making kit for his 30th birthday in 2010. Four years later, Todd became her husband. When they got married, the couple held their wedding reception at Yards Brewing on Spring Garden Street.
Eight years later, beer-making is now a professional calling for the couple. The duo are literally getting in on the ground floor of the burgeoning $12 million Wayne Junction Redevelopment Project at 137 Berkely St., future home of Attic Brewing.
“We love this neighborhood,’’ said Laura, 36. “That was really the thing … We’re really committed to building a great business in Germantown.’’
The couple will transform 6,000 square feet in a building that formerly housed a pencil factory into a 10-barrel taproom serving Germantowners and commuters from the nearby Wayne Junction Septa station. Their ”first priority is to gain a strong local following in Germantown,” they say in a pitch to investors. “Our neighbors are diverse in age, ethnicity and income level.’’
Midwesterners by birth, the Lacys met while they both worked for the National Park Service at Valley Forge in 2005. “I had no plan to stay in Philadelphia,’’ said Laura, who hails from Orland Park outside of Chicago. “It was definitely supposed to be temporary.’’
Best-laid plans aside, Laura eventually signed on with H&M, and Todd, a native of Colorado, landed a gig as a ranger at the Independence National Historic Park. The couple planted roots in Germantown, and though they left the city for Delaware County for a few years, they were pulled back to the city and bought a house in their historic neighborhood.
Restless for a change after working 11 years at the clothing retailer and wanting to launch a business, Laura decided to found the craft brew taproom. There are no plans to sell beer to retailers but rather serve them up inside the new space that will hold a 44-foot-long bar.
The couple decided to open their own company in 2016. Laura bought a book on opening a brewery and began working and volunteering at area breweries. She’s put stints in at Boxcar Brewing, 2SP Brewing, Dock Street Brewing, Deer Creek Malthouse and Love City Brewing to learn about the business.
Startup costs for Attic will be about $1 million, an amount which gives Laura only slight pause. “I couldn’t live always wondering, ‘What if?’’’ Laura said. “I said let’s go for it.’’
Some of the startup costs are being raised through the micro-investment site, WeFunder.com. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, where cash donations are sought, investors here get a return on their money. The fundraiser is open through Sept. 9. As of 7 p.m. last Sunday, the Lacys had raised $86,661 of their targeted $150,000 figure.
The Lacys are promising a return of 1.5 times on investments. The minimum investment is $100. A $250 investment will net you “Super Fan Swag, including an Attic Brewing Co. t-shirt, sticker and logo pint glass with your first beer on us!’’ says the site.
A $25,000 investment will let you design and brew your own beer that will go on tap at the brewery, plus a “party with an open tab for 25 friends and family!”
The brewers promise the taproom will be a “place where EVERYONE is welcome, where employees receive fair pay and benefits and where we work hard to produce the best beer we can!’’
The couple now essentially run a small-batch brewery in the first floor of their Germantown home, where they brew batches of “hot sugary liquid’’ fermented into craft beers and served at area events for promotion and taste-testing.
“It’s chaotic and crazy,’’ Laura said. “ … It’s not ideal, for sure. We’re very excited that this time next year we won’t have to do this.’’
Each beer batch is recorded on a recipe card listing what barley grain, water quantity and any added special flavoring used. Laura included the herb pineapple sage growing in the backyard in a recent batch. Depending on when they’re added, hops can either deepen the flavor or enhance the aroma, she said.
The couple “attend five to 20 events a month to just get our names out there,’’ said Laura, who will oversee day-to-day operations as her husband retains his ranger job. “We really appreciate it when customers can give us feedback,’’ she said.
Opinions on sourness, bitterness and body are all welcomed. Among their staples are the cream ale “Illiado,” the IPA “Unbounded” and the brown ale “Bloodhound.”
Before they owned their house, the couple brewed beer for fun in their attic apartment on Duval Street, hence the name “Attic Brewing.” Weavers Way is using their craft brews to make sausages with the Bloodhound Brown Ale, and the Lacys will offer beer samples at the co-op’s “First Friday” event in Chestnut Hill on Aug. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Laura’s heady about her prospects. The worst-case scenario is that they end up living in the basement of her in-laws’ Colorado house, she jokes.
To invest in Attic Brewing, visit https://wefunder.com/attic.brewing.company