Baker to boast new microbrewery

The old east side Washington school is taking on a new life.


Staff Writer

Josh Cuppy was delighted to discover the original partition already prepared to install window glass. The glass will be used as a viewing area between the pub and the distillery.

The old east side Washington school is taking on a new life.

Over the past few months the school’s new owners, Josh Cuppy and Dave Stevens, have been working to build their dream of establishing a microbrewery in Baker.

Stevens, whose family purchased the old school building in 1999, had been using it as a warehouse for Baker Furniture but he dreamed about using the building as a separate business.

A number of years ago, Stevens became interested in brewing his own beer. He graduated from making beer from a kit to setting up his own distillery in his garage. When new friend, Cuppy, shared the same hobby, it didn’t take long before they shared the same dream of opening up a microbrewery.

While the two friends have been working on their dream for the past few years, the public began to take notice when a new 820 square foot deck was constructed on the front of the building, just a few months ago.

Behind the scenes, the two young entrepreneurs were hard at work wrangling state and federal permits and renovating the inside of the building.

“Renovating a building is like renovating a house on steroids,” Cuppy exclaimed.

After many months of working on the inside of the large building, it has become more spacious, as a few walls have been opened up.

Josh Cuppy was delighted to discover the original partition already prepared to install window glass. The glass will be used as a viewing area between the pub and the distillery.

One discovery Cuppy made was between the first and second classrooms in the building he came upon a hidden foldable partition. It had been covered up with corkboard and a semi-permanent wall. Once he discovered it and uncovered it, the partners were excited: The partition at one time was probably used to transition the two classrooms into one spacious auditorium for community school events. The doors looked as though they once sported glass in the many-framed openings.

The partition will now be fitted with new glass windowpanes and used to provide an opening between the seated pub area and the brewery production room. This will offer the public an opportunity to watch as the beer is being brewed.

The ceilings have also taken on their original grandeur boasting 13 feet tall ceilings after Cuppy removed the low suspended ceilings. This allows the space an airy feel.

Other renovations the two made included updated electrical, new heating and cooling systems, new bathrooms, handicap doors, paint and, eventually, new flooring throughout, which was identified as one of the biggest challenges.

The entire school had been outfitted with industrial carpeting that was glued down to the original hardwood floors. After many attempts to find a way to remove the glue off the hardwood, the partners decided to hire a professional to come in and restore the flooring to its natural beauty.

Cuppy and Stevens say they have been mindful and striving to maintain the integrity of the old school building, with both realizing that many local people attended school there as children and have fond memories of the place.

Not only have the two been working on renovating a school, but they have also gone to school, with their business in mind; they’ve learned how to perfect their brewing skills by attending a Brewery Emergence Course in Bloomfield, Colo.

The four-day workshop — that Cuppy described as “a hot shot course” — taught all aspects of opening a brewery. Besides learning the fine art of brewing, they also met people from around the country with varying degrees of brewing experience.

“They have become go-to people and associates,” Stevens said.

The new owners said they are pleased with their progress and how the new business is shaping up.

“Our goal is not to open another bar in Baker,” Cuppy said, “we hope to distribute quality beer, the best product around. We want to actually distribute our beer to many of the local establishments.

“Our mission is to establish a community based business that hopes to work within the community to spotlight the positive activities within Baker.”

Playing on the charm of the schoolhouse, they have decided to name their new business the Old Skool Brewery. Although this playful spelling is any teacher’s nightmare, it helps to share a part of Baker’s rich history.

The brewery, which is at the head of the class in charm, already has a following of people who are anxious for its completion. Many previous students and curious travelers have stopped in to ask what the old school is being repurposed for. They have shared that they are eager to visit the new establishment, reminisce old school memories while enjoying a mug of the best-brewed beer in town.

“The Pub/Brewery is already a new destination for Baker,” Stevens said.

Cuppy and Stevens are anticipating an opening date of late Jan. 2017. Read The Times for the latest developments.


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