The old bank building on the corner of Division and Main streets on the East Troy Village Square will be the home of East Troy Brewery. Work is underway and the owners, Ann and Ted Zess, say they are looking at opening the brew pub on July 1, 2018. (Tracy Ouellette photo)

East Troy Brewery moves from vision to reality

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

In what owners Ann and Ted Zess are calling a “community project” plans for a brew pub in the old FirstMerit Bank building on the East Troy Village Square are solidifying with a target opening date of July 1, 2018.

“We’re moving forward,” Ann Zess said. “Ted and I own the building and we’re the starting construction process; we’ve hired an architect and we’re working on getting the building ready for the brewery.”

She said the project has been a passion of hers and her husband’s for at least five years, if not longer.

“I’ve always thought that location, that historical building, would be the perfect spot for a brew pub,” Ann Zess said. “The history of that building is so special and we want to add to that.”

The goal of East Troy Brewery is to locally source as much of the products used in the brewery and restaurant as possible, Ann Zess said.

“Our main focus is going to be craft beer and wine, and potentially craft liquor if possible, with all of it locally sourced,” she said. “We’ve already talked to farmers about getting the grains and hops, we have so many excellent resources in the area for this.”

She said they’ve also had discussions with local cheesemaker Ron Henningfield and East Troy’s Hometown Sausage Kitchen, among others.

“That’s how we want to source our products,” Ann Zess said. “That’s were Ted and I come from, what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years in the community. That’s our passion and we’re hoping other investors will have that passion. This is a community group project that we hope will inspire others.”

The Zesses also own Allan Integrated Control Systems Inc. in East Troy and are active members of the East Troy Area Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations and municipal boards. Ted Zess is president of the East Troy Community School District Board of Education and Ann Zess is an East Troy Village Board trustee.

While the Zesses are hoping for some more local investors to join in, they are not waiting for that to happen as they move forward.

“We have the plans and are working on the building,” Ann Zess said. “We’ll have the tanks for the beer visible from the windows facing the square and we’re going to have a mini-museum inside about the building’s history.

“Ted’s been over at the Historical Society researching the history and collecting hundreds of photos of the building. The vault is still there and we’re keeping that – it’s so cool.”

The building will also have two apartments above the brew pub and James R. Taylor and Sons is another one of the local businesses working on the project with the Zesses, Ann Zess said.

At the moment, the Zesses said they are working on obtaining all the permits, federal and state, which will be needed to open the business. Ann Zess said they have a brewer already in line to create the craft beers and wines and they are looking for a chef and a general manager.

“We have so many plans for the brewery,” Ann Zess said. “We’re going to have tours and events and things like home-brewing classes at our 15 home-brewer stations.

“We want this to be a destination so more people can see what a great place East Troy is and all it has to offer.”

For more information, contact the Zesses at 262-642-7800.


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