Craft brewery in Kent set to open in late October


North Water Brewing Co. building, located at 101 Crain Ave. 

Mason Lawlor Reporter

Located at 101 Crain Ave. near downtown Kent, North Water Brewing Co. will open its doors later this month.  

The craft brewery lies near the Lake Road intersection, next to Tree City Feed and Kent Cycle.  

Don Schjeldahl, founder of the DonSchjeldahlGroup and part-owner of the brewery, said they are still on track to do a “soft open” this fall, with a “grand opening” sometime next spring.   

“Construction is 99% complete and we’re about three weeks away from opening,” Schjeldahl said. “Right now we’re just waiting for last minute items, like a certificate of occupancy, doors on restrooms, liquor licensing and some furniture.” 

Schjeldahl, along with head brewer Rob Vitarella, took over an industrial building previously held by an auto body shop called Knapp’s Collision. The craft brewery will sit on the northwest corner of Kent’s Mill District.  

“We’re next to the bike trail, running along the Cuyahoga River,” Schjeldahl said. “It’s really an exciting location.” 

Vitarella wants to provide customers with unique, flavored craft beer tastes. 

“This is a hobby that I’ve always wanted to perfect,” Vitarella said.  “It’s been years since we even started talking about this, and now we’re finally getting it started. It’s honestly been so stressful trying to get everything set up though.”  

Although their original plan was to open around Labor Day, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed those plans slightly.    

“The only thing we’ve had trouble with is a shortage of building materials during (COVID-19), but it hasn’t really changed how we’ve been working,” Schjeldahl said.  

However, they remain focused on bringing a fresh drinking experience to downtown Kent.  

“Our vision for this building is a casual place to come hang out and have beers right next to downtown,” Vitarella said.  “It’s sort of a coffee shop vibe.”  

Although they will not yet be preparing food at the building, they do plan to offer a small food menu, along with food trucks.    

However, North Water Brewing Co. takes pride in what it calls its “artisanal ales and lagers, using premium ingredients and time-tested brewing processes.”  

North Water Brewing Co. will brew many styles of craft beers, including dark beers like Porter and German-style lagers like Helles, as well as Vitarella’s personal favorite, Red IPAs.  

The goal is to introduce younger customers to what Vitarella calls the “refined” taste of craft beer compared with traditional alcoholic beverages, while appealing to well-experienced lovers of artisanal beer.  

North Water Brewing Co. will be the second craft brewery in Kent, following MadCap Brew Co., which opened in 2011.  

Mason Lawlor covers the City of Kent. Contact him at [email protected]


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