Hop Notch Brewing brings enthusiasm

Jan 31, 2024 at 12:55 pm by Observer-Review

Jeff Klossner, Hop Notch Brewery
BY Karen Gadiel
Walk into Hop Notch Brewery at 2471 Hayes Road, a little up Montour Falls’ east hill, in a renovated 1950s dairy barn, and you’re politely greeted by Brewski, whose owner, Jeff Klossner calls him “The Ambassador of Joy.” The happy, young, part-golden retriever goes everywhere with Jeff, who on a Thursday afternoon was setting up spool tables for the weekly Trivia Night, when up to 19 teams might show up. Wednesdays are for cornhole tournaments; on Tuesday, the space is re-configured for darts.
There’s idealism and young energy in the air. Players and spectators might also be there for the homemade pizza, Hop Notch brews or hard cider, regional wines, or cocktails. Frequent visitors might want to join the Mug Club (already sold out for 2024) or purchase Hop Notch “merch.”  At one end of the bar, an untouched glass of beer will be set before a chair reserved to honor those who are unable to be present because their service in the military, as first responders, or in one of other helping professions keeps them occupied elsewhere. A collection box near the chair holds money donated for veterans’ services.  
Jeff, who turned 27 a few days ago, has owned the former Heavily Brewing Company for about 18 months—not coincidentally, Brewski’s age. Trained as an electrical engineer, he helped finance his college education by starting two businesses he ran, with employees, as a student. One was a food truck business with 10 employees and three trucks, one of which he manned when he was not in classes. He says he wanted to own a brewery for years, ever since neighbors of his family’s dairy farm near Waverly opened Diversion Brewing. He watched, fascinated, as they built their business. Diversion Brewing now has an outlet in downtown Montour Falls.
After college, he worked in a variety of fields, often several concurrently. He renovated and flipped houses, residing in the unfinished houses so he could spend more time working on them; he became a realtor, worked as an electrical engineer, taught others about business and consulted for new start-ups. When a real estate colleague pointed him to the former Heavily Brewing Company location, which had closed some years earlier and was still looking for a buyer, the chance to seize his dream felt right.
Then he met Taylor Trenchard, a local brewmaster, when he complimented one of his beers. They spent some time adapting and updating the four-barrel vats with other bits that were left behind, bought or made.  For successful beer-brewing, Taylor explains, everything has to be kept exceptionally clean – “Not just clean enough to eat off of,” he says. “Clean enough for an operating room.”
Taylor is most interested in recreating the classic beer styles, “Blonds, lagers and pilsners,” he says, but he also likes trying creative takes on the brew’s versatility. Gluten-free beer, an experimental peanut-butter-chocolate porter customers have asked him to do again and fruit beers have appeared on the menu, with a rhubarb/cherry beer planned for the summer of 2024.
Jeff’s focus is building the business and expanding its reach, which includes sponsoring sports teams because giving back to the community is one of his core values. “I feel like we only get so much time on the planet,” he says. “There are so many great people who don’t get a chance to see how great they are.” And, he adds, investing in people begins a ripple effect in the community. “If I can make an impact on somebody else, then they can make an impact.”
The actual brewery and game space take up only a relatively small part of the original barn. “Come see this!” Jeff invites. Past the area where beer magic is made, there’s a spacious loft under the barn’s gambrel roof he intends to turn into a wedding venue and event space.  Possibly, as the brewery end of things continues to expand, some of the space will accommodate an expansion of that area as well.  It’s probably safe to say a great deal of the time and effort invested in it will be Jeff’s. When windows are added, the space will boast an amazing view across downtown Montour Falls to Shequaga Falls.
Last year, members of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce voted to give Hop Notch Brewery their “Best New Business” award. “He’s welcoming people in all year round, and he’s got this great welcoming mascot,” says Nigar Hale, executive director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. “His motivation is to help the whole area. He’s exactly what we hope to attract in this business community. He’s a natural fit! He’s got some big plans, and we want him to succeed.”
Keep up with Hop Notch on Facebook or Instagram; or call Jeff at 607-738-4789.
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