Tapping into the industry: Columbus couple opens brewery in north side industrial park

COLUMBUS — Beer and football run through the veins of the Krempel family.

For half a decade, Louis “Lou” Krempel has spent hours in his kitchen at home, blending ingredients and brewing the best beer recipes for his family and friends to enjoy.

“After we’d been brewing for a while, our beers got pretty tasty,” Krempel, 55, said. “We would always take our beers to family functions, parties with friends. They ask, ‘Can I buy this?’ or ‘Why aren’t you selling this?’ That really planted the seed for looking down the road and thinking about the possibilities of owning our own brewery.”

The idea of creating some sort of environment where people could enjoy Krempel’s beer beyond his kitchen always floated around in the back of his mind, but it was never anything beyond a dream — at least until Krempel decided to make it a reality.

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Martha Krempel, Lou’s wife, still remembers the day her husband mentioned the idea of opening a brewery to her.

“When he told me he wanted to do this, I was like, ‘Really?’” Martha Krempel, 54, said. “I was shocked when he said he wanted to do this. It’s the first business we’ve ever owned. This is our first entrepreneurial endeavor ever.”

Lou Krempel had already created more than a dozen beer recipes, just inside the comfort of his own home. What he needed was a place to market and sell his unique concoctions. From a lemon IPA to a chocolate breakfast stout, there’s something on tap for every pallet.

First, the couple needed to find a location with three-phase electricity that could power their 10-barrel system. Martha Krempel said there weren’t many options on the market that offered the space they needed and the required electrical minimum.

During their search, the property at 830 Depot St. arrived on the market. CMR Electric, Inc., located just around the corner on Commerce Drive, purchased the property and handed the Krempels the key to the structure on closing day.

“It was really perfect timing for us,” Martha Krempel said. “We looked anywhere from Edinburgh all the way down U.S. 31 and all over Columbus. This one really fit us.”

A large garage door on the back side of the building faces U.S. 31, making for a perfect advertising opportunity, Martha Krempel said. Now, the garage door displays the company’s logo in large print: Hog Molly Brewing Co.

Hog Molly is a term, among football buffs, for an offensive lineman, the same position that both Lou Krempel and his son, Matt, played during their football careers. Walk through the doors of Hog Molly Brewing Co., and the walls, decorated with football memorabilia, will reflect the family’s favorite sport.

Better yet, the football theme opened up even more possibilities for beer names, like “Remember the Tartans Scottish Ale,” “2-a-Days Session Lemon IPA” and “Ankle Breaker Amber,” Lou Krempel said.

But as fitting as the name is, finding a name was not an easy task, Martha Krempel recalled.

“We had some ideas. Some of those were already taken. Others didn’t seem to ring a bell with us,” she said. “The water in Columbus is perfect for especially dark beers, and we knew that. We were looking for a name that had something to do with water, aquifer or local rivers, something like that, but they were all taken.”

The Krempels’ son, more than once, had suggested “Hog Molly,” but the idea was always thrown aside until they realized just how perfect it fits the family.

The family traveled often between 2009 and 2014 to watch Matt play college football for Northern Illinois University, which meant lots of tailgating and stops at local breweries.

“We would stay the night wherever those cities were and got into the habit of going to local places,” Martha Krempel said. “That was when craft beers were really starting to boom, 2009 into 2014. We really fell in love with the whole atmosphere and the creativity of the beers. Any place we went that had the opportunity to go back and see their brew house, we went. He (Lou) was soaking in all this information.”

When Matt graduated college and the Krempels’ twin daughters, Tessa and Mara, left the house to go to college, Lou Krempel turned his home kitchen into a brewery, first using home draft kits and eventually transitioning to his own recipes, ordering grain, hops and malts of all kinds.

Being among other big name breweries in town like 450 North Brewing Co., ZwanzigZ and Upland Brewing Co., Lou Krempel said he wanted to contribute to the local craft beer scene.

Their original intentions were never to open a taproom, but instead to focus primarily on keg sales to local restaurants and stores, given both Martha and Lou Krempel work full-time at Analytical Engineering, Inc. — Martha as a purchasing agent and Lou, an engineer.

Lou Krempel said the location, inside a northside-Columbus industrial park, was a good fit when they originally planned to focus mostly on beer production. As they inched closer to opening and people learned what the Krempels were doing, excitement grew and the couple placed more emphasis on the taproom than they originally had planned to.

Martha Krempel said one challenge that comes with the location is not being on a beaten path for people who are searching out a restaurant or brewery. It takes a little extra work to market the business.

“The taproom was a second thought but it’s really been a huge source of advertisement and confirmation that his product is good,” she said. “We’ve been very humbled by the amount of people that have come out and are truly impressed with the beer. We’ve had a lot of comments about the feel of the taproom. A lot of times craft beer is more about the experience than it necessarily is about the beer. We think we have both.”

What makes Hog Molly Brewing Co. different from area breweries is its take on food. The Krempels make it clear that they’re not in the restaurant business, which is why they offer several take-out options from local restaurants and food trucks. Visitors can also bring their own food into the taproom to enjoy while they drink a beer.

“We’re not restaurant people. The others here are,” Lou Krempel said. “They have an integral restaurant in their brewpub. I think that’s a little twist on the whole brewpub concept is bring your own food if you’d like, we’ll have a food truck outside — that give you a lot of variety that you can have with your beer. It gives you flexibility.”

Eventually, the couple said they would love to see Columbus become a craft beer destination for folks from all over the Midwest to travel to and try the array of beer that the city has to offer.

“The craft beer society is super close,” Martha Krempel said. “They’re all very supportive of each other. There’s no sense of competition. The more opportunity there is here, the more businesses here are like that, the more opportunity there is for everybody. We’re excited about possibly being a part of that.”

Brewing is a passion of the Krempels, Lou Krempel said. As much as he enjoys brewing the beer though, Hog Molly Brewing Co. is about so much more than beer — “it’s about having a place where people can come and have a good time, enjoy themselves, drink some good craft beer and visit with other people who have similar interests.”

“It’s not just drinking a beer,” Lou Krempel said. “It’s an experience.”

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Hog Molly Brewing Co. hours

Friday: 4 to 10 p.m.

Saturday: Noon to 10 p.m.

The brewery will be closed Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 for the holidays. It will open again on New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and New Year’s Day, noon to 10 p.m.

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Hog Molly Brewing Co., 830 Depot St., is owned and operated by Louis "Lou" and Martha Krempel of Columbus. The brewery current offers six rotating taps varying from ales to stouts to IPAs.

The company is primarily a wholesale distributor of its own brews, delivering to local bars and restaurants across the state.

Learn more at hogmollybrewing.com.