WILMINGTON — Valley Craft Ales is bringing beer, pizza and lodging to the former Old Red Mill Inn.
“It’s going to be a vibe,” said Justin Maturo, co-owner of Valley Craft Ales.
Brian Holt, his wife Chrystal Holt, Maturo and two friends purchased the building in early August. Brian and Chrystal own 1a Coffee Roasters and co-own Starfire Bakery, both in Wilmington.
Maturo previously worked at Snow Republic Brewery in West Dover, where he built up the business to include a kitchen and a restaurant. He and fellow brewer Travis Charlow are taking what they learned at Snow Republic to turn the Old Red Mill Inn into another brewpub/restaurant.
The plan is to open the original taproom to the public in October for “phase one.” Maturo said the taproom will eventually become the brewery.
His group will continue the tradition of offering lodging at the inn. Altogether, the inn has 26 rooms. Holt anticipates they will be renovated in blocks of about six at a time. Also, the owners might consider designating some units for workforce housing.
Another project envisioned would turn the real estate office that was part of the inn building into a provision shop. Maturo said he wants to bring authentic Italian deli offerings to the Deerfield Valley.
Brian Holt and Maturo consider themselves “huge foodies.”
Maturo took Holt to Pepe’s Pizza and Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, Conn.; then Holt got a pizza oven at his home. Ever since, they’ve been doing “R&D,” or research and development.
Altogether, Holt counted 18 consecutive Saturdays of pizza making. He estimated more than 200 pies have been baked.
Pizza nights started out with a small group of people before it attracted some attention via Instagram posts and grew to upwards of 50. Attendees were invited to bring toppings or contribute in some way.
“We were doing 14 pies a weekend,” Holt said. “It was crazy.”
Holt described the New Haven style, known as apizza, as having a thin crust. He expects a pizza oven for the business to arrive in three weeks.
Having prepared a menu for sandwiches at his previous job, Maturo feels pizzas are easier to get creative.
“It’s just dough, cheeses and the toppings,” he said. “It’s peasant food but it also can be very [expletive] fancy.”
Brewing up a good time
Valley Craft Ales will have lagers, pilsners, India pale ale and porters. With the beers, Maturo isn’t into packing too much ABV or alcohol by volume into each. He wants to keep that figure lower for "more approachable beers."
Chrystal said she wants guests to come to enjoy the experience — not to get drunk. Maturo noted how historic the building is, having been built in 1828 and being in a downtown location on North Main Street.
A lounge area will be used for guests to gather and work. Other updates to the former Old Red Mill Inn include fresh coats of paint and new lighting fixtures.
BrewBilt Manufacturing in California is building the brewhouse.
“We’re very dead set on it being American made,” Maturo said.
Through research, Brian found that about 95 percent of brewhouses are fully made and welded in China. He said some places have had “pretty horrific experiences” with the facilities built overseas.
Jef Lewis, owner of BrewBilt, is working closely with Valley Craft Ales on the local project. He also is helping to advise on permitting for the brewery.
Needed are local and state approvals. On Sept. 19, the project will go before the Wilmington Development Review as it requires a change of use to add the brewery.
Valley Craft Ales already has cans for sale in more than 30 places in Vermont. For now, the beers are being brewed in Connecticut at Overshores Brewing Co. Maturo, who began his brewing career in Connecticut in 2013, said he has a relationship with the brewers and owners there.
Overshores is using Maturo and Charlow’s recipes and the Valley Craft Ales team has gone to the facility to can the beer. If not for the partnership, Holt said, the local group would have needed to wait until their brewhouse arrives.
”One of our favorite spots
”When Brian and Chrystal were looking for a place to house their coffee business back in 2018, they made an offer on the Old Red Mill Inn. It didn’t pan out, Brian said, but “this place has always been one of our favorite spots.”
“Everyone has memories of this place,” he said, listing off local residents who worked in the restaurant at the inn when they were younger and are now well known in the business community.
His group also wants to bring back Jerry’s Deck, paying homage to Jerry Osler with the outdoor area for hanging out. He and his wife Sheila Osler owned the inn since 1988 and also called the space Jerry’s Deck Bar & Grill.
With all the new businesses in Wilmington, Maturo sees a bright future.
“There’s a lot going on,” he said. “In the next three to five years, this place should be pretty hip.”