Bradenton's first brewery Motorworks opens Wednesday

cschelle@bradenton.comJanuary 22, 2014 

BRADENTON -- By mid-afternoon Tuesday, every seat at Motorworks Brewing's bar was full as fans experienced Bradenton's first brewery before it opens to the general public Wednesday.

"People are dying to see what's in here, and now's their chance," Denise Tschida said Tuesday, taking a break between a packed lunch crowd and another wave of customers filling the bar.

Motorworks, 1014 Ninth St. W., will open to the general public from 11 a.m. until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Motorworks is the first of three Bradenton breweries expected to open this year (Darwin's and Little Giant still to come), but the brewery is still being installed. Twenty-foot-tall stainless steel tanks serving as fermenters were delivered Tuesday for the brewery. The staff won't say how long it'll be before beer is flowing from tanks to glasses, but Motorworks also has 26 craft beer taps plus 60 to 80 choices of bottles and cans from around the world under the direction of head brewer Bob Haa Jr.

The name Motorworks is appropriate for the building and the family.

The 1920s building, home to a Hudson car dealership in the '50s, and to other brands through the years, retains an industrial car shop feel. Touches of its history will be rolled out over the next year.

The Motorworks logo is an homage to the Hudson hood ornament, too. A vintage big-block Corvette motor sits next to the patio, and the owners and construction crews found plenty of memorabilia in the building, including a 1923 newspaper discovered in the wall, which will be displayed in the bar.

The Tschidas have racing in their blood, so it's appropriate the family bought a former car dealership building. Frank Tschida raced Sprint cars and is a designer, having transformed other historic buildings.

While the inside feels like a shop featuring some hard-to-find beers, the outside is just as intriguing.

The beer garden, centered around a 100-plus-year-old tree, is set up for socializing and events. Amenities include a three-hole putting green, corn hole, bocce ball green, room for life-sized Jenga blocks, space for a stage to accommodate live music in the future and a projector to show the big game.

"One of the best things we have to offer is all these fun games in a 12,000-square-foot beer garden and a 3,500-square-foot taproom that's much larger than what other breweries offer," said Barry Elwonger, Motorworks marketing manager.

Because Motorworks is Bradenton's first brewery, the staff is ready to educate customers. When patrons readying to imbibe first come to Motorworks, staff will hand them a card with instruction for tasting beer and a score sheet.

The server will educate the customer on the beers served, and if they're not much for beer, go through options for wine and liquor to find something they'll enjoy, Elwonger said. Each staff member went through a two-week beer school on what's being offered and how to describe the beers for customers. They even learned what specific beer glass should be used with each brew.

A flight is a good way to start to get acquainted with the four beers being brewed at Motorworks -- porter, Belgian Golden Strong, Kolsch Style and IPA, Elwonger said.

"A lot of time people associate beer with just the yellow fizzy stuff, and they don't really know what all a beer can be. It's a very complex thing," Elwonger said. "There's so many styles and flavors and tasting notes, and we really take pride in educating our consumers so they can see why we love it because we're passionate and we care."

Danielle Hamilton came to Motorworks with her father, Curtis Hamilton, and his friend, Troy Warren, to be among the first to try out the new beer, each finding their own favorites and ones that don't quite please the palate.

"I haven't tried the IPA yet, but I don't like IPAs, so I don't know if I'm going to try it," Danielle Hamilton said, laughing. "I like fruit beers. I'm not a real beer drinker, so I like wheat beers and fruit beers and ones that are very light."

Warren, a seaman, said he's stumbled upon a microbrewery or two while docking at ports around the country. While some might be impressed with the atmosphere, Warren is focused on the suds.

"I don't really care as much about the ambiance. For me it's all about the beer," Warren said.

In between beer education, customers can peek through a window to see the brewery construction come along, play arcade games or sit back and listen to music. If you're looking for food, Motorworks staff can also take food orders, which will be provided by food trucks or Charisma Café. (Offerings from The Traveling Kitchen start at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday)

If Tuesday is any indication, Motorworks has found its niche in Bradenton.

"I'm just all smiles because I'm delighted that people are coming, photographing, there are tourists here," Denise Tschida said. "And this is just day one."

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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