“Any day now.”
Those words were then followed up with the admission that they were “delivered with a hint of sarcasm.”
Indeed, it’s been a long road for the owners of the fledging Jarfly Brewing Company to get to this point, but the payoff is on the horizon.
But while one of the partners behind Somerset’s first microbrewery, Daniel Stroud, may be speaking somewhat satirically about the opening date for Jarfly — there isn’t one being set as of yet — he’s confident that the doors will open this summer, offering one more attraction here in Pulaski County for visitors and locals alike.
The first time a Commonwealth Journal reporter spoke to Stroud and business partner Delaney Stephens about the brewery was last December. At that time, both men knew the fulfillment of their dream was still a ways off, with lots of work do be done on the old Goldenberg Furniture building, where renovations had recently started.
Not long afterward, however, Stroud contacted the interviewer to let him know there had been a snag concerning the then-chosen brand identity of the business. There was an agreement that a story should probably be held off on for the time being.
“Trademark disputes are becoming more and more common with breweries opening every day, over 4,000 now across the U.S.,” said Stroud.
The reemergence has been as the Jarfly Brewing Company, and Stroud and Stephens were able to move on from there. The name has a special meaning, particularly given the time and struggle the two have gone through to make their dream a reality.
“We wanted to identify our brewery with a name that people could associate with home,” said Stroud. “Through studying folk etymology, we found ‘jarfly’ — an Appalachian common name for the cicada. The metamorphosis of the cicada, a creature that spends up to 17 years underground before emerging, sprouting wings and joining in flight and song with thousands of companions — it’s a magical thing, and in a lot of ways, it parallels with the transformation our building has experienced over the past century. Jarfly is our way of putting wings on the historical Goldenberg’s space.”
Goldenberg Furniture was a fixture on the Somerset Fountain Square for 150 years before closing in 2009. The large storefront entrance facing Main Street has been turned into a nightspot following the 2012 vote to serve alcohol in Somerset, and before that was a Cajun food restaurant; the smaller space connected with the facility on West Mt. Vernon Street has sat empty until now.
It felt like the perfect downtown spot to make the leap once it became clear to Stroud and Stephens that this is what they really wanted to do.
“Delaney and I started talking about this as a business plan ... in February of 2014,” said Stroud. “I started brewing beer 11 or 12 years ago, right around the time I moved out of my parents’ house. It was something for Dad and I to do together, that’s what first got me into making beer.”
It’s not just a hobby — it’s a moneymaker.
“It’s been a great economic boost all over the state,” he noted. “It’s definitely noticeable as something that can make a difference economically and culturally in smaller towns.”
Stephens said that brewing had been big before Prohibition, and has made another big boom in recent years. With a changing cultural face in downtown Somerset, he and Stroud wanted to be a part of that.
“I’ve always been a craft beer lover since the time I was able to legally drink, but a lot of smaller towns — not just in Kentucky, but all over the nation — are seeing a renaissance in the craft beer industry,” he said. “We’re seeing a big surge in Kentucky, not just in Lexington and Louisville but especially in smaller towns. It’s exciting to see that. People are already centered around the ‘shop local, buy local’ movement, and this really ties into that.”
Jarfly will feature three flagship brews to start out with: a dry hopped session IPA (or India Pale Ale), Kentucky Common Ale, and a coffee stout infused with locally roasted coffee. The Kentucky Common Ale has a particularly interesting pre-Prohibition regional history, noted Stroud.
“It originated in this state, and had roots over by the Ohio River,” he said. “A lot of people who worked by the river at the turn of the century drank Kentucky Common Ale. We actually found brew records from around 1922. We got hold of handwritten brew logs and crafted a modern recipe to kind of bring that beer back to life.”
“It’s not too hoppy or overpowering. People who might not traditionally be a craft beer drinker can drink this beer. It’s an easy-drinking beer,” added Stephens. “This will be a beer for everybody. And obviously the IPA type of beer is really popular, but a lot of people out there don’t like the IPA, so this is a great introductory beer for people who aren’t used to that.”
He noted that over time, they’ll likely be developing new types of beer, small-batch recipes, and if they’re successful, they’ll be worked into the regular schedule.
“We’ll be able to refine that over time,” he said.
Not only will the beer be brewed on site, but people can come in and hang out and drink it there. The space will feature several attractive and interesting pieces, including the stainless steel fermentation and conditioning vessels and a very old (as in 1930s), very large safe leftover from the Goldenberg days which will sit behind the bar and store glassware and merchandise, with the opened doors for distributing beer.
“It’s interesting, because we have several different classifications,” Stroud told the Commonwealth Journal last December. “There are a lot of microbreweries out there, and you also have brew pubs, a combo restaurant and brewery. We have to go through the federal permitting process, and because we’re such a small operation, we’re technically classified as a brew pub, but we’ll be a microbrewery. We’ll be brewing on the premises, so when you walk into the business, the first thing you’ll see is an actual brewery, with the tanks, fermenters, kettles, and serving vessels. People will be able to drink out beer in the same place it’s produced.
“A typical bar has a distribution channel that bring kegs into the bar that they can tap in and serve,” he added. “We’re working from raw ingredients of grains, water, hops and yeast, crafting beer from those.”
Stroud mentioned on Friday that the state ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) office had issued Jarfly approval to brew, and that will start this coming week.
“It’ll still take a few weeks before we are ready to open, but ‘any day now’ is closer to reality,” he said.
For more information about Jarfly and for updates on its official opening date, visit facebook.com/JarflyBrewing, or on Instagram at jarflybrewing.
“Giving people a place to come down and enjoy a beer together is wonderful,” said Stroud. “There’s something about when people enjoy a beer together, the union around that seems to be really strong. When you can go talk something over with someone over a beer, it’s just a great way to bring people together.”