Coffee, beer and friends at heart of BGSU alumnus venture
Alumnus brewer hosts virtual beer tasting event for 2020 Homecoming
By Jason Knavel
Before the cold brew coffee craze became a phenomenon, a Bowling Green State University alumnus was experimenting with infusing hops into cold brew coffee.
Now, Zach Tracy, a 1997 graduate, is using his unique brewing background and his connection to BGSU and the community to open Juniper Brewing Company in downtown Bowling Green.
Tracy has been brewing for approximately 15 years, starting as a home brewer and working his way through the American Brewers Guild program. Over the course of 13 years living in Cleveland, Tracy worked short stints at multiple breweries and was a part of the beer renaissance in Cleveland that has made the city a beer destination.
At BGSU, Tracy was a member of the men’s club volleyball program, an opportunity that allowed him to develop deep and lasting friendships.
“We had a really great group of guys and, for the most part, we all still keep in contact,” Tracy said. “Whenever we see other, we don’t miss a beat. We jump right back to where we were.”
For Tracy, opening Juniper Brewing Company provided an opportunity to work in partnership with one of those friends, Drew Teaman. Teaman began his own business, Concrete Commander, in the Jacksonville, Fla. area. Teaman wanted to be a part of the development of the new business.
“Could we figure out a way to create the bar tops in the space, whether it’s the coffee bar, the main bar, or our separate private bar?” Tracy posed. “So we made templates out of cardboard and mailed them down to Drew. They fabricated the bar tops and then Drew and another of our club volleyball teammates, Brett Hardtle, drove them up and we installed them over the course of the weekend. They are absolutely beautiful.”
So what will Juniper Brewing be? It’s a marriage between beer and coffee – a brewery, a coffee shop and a restaurant all in one. Tracy’s background includes experimenting with infusing hops into cold brew coffee before the cold brew coffee craze exploded. When Panera Bread left the downtown area, it left a void.
“There are a lot of great places downtown in Bowling Green to get coffee,” Tracy said. “Grounds For Thoughts is a pillar in the community, and we love what they are doing at Flatlands. But Panera Bread was a hub downtown – that space where you feel comfortable being there all day. So we want to fill that void.”
But for now, Tracy will lend his expertise Friday for the Homecoming virtual beer tasting. Once registered, BGSU alumni will be provided a list of suggested beers for tasting during the event. There will be discussion on the profiles of those styles, the ingredients of each, and the brewing processes that are utilized to make those unique styles.