CAIRO — A new brewery is in the works at a historic Main Street location.
Owned and operated by Tim Cornelison Jr. and his father, Tim Cornelison Sr., Old Factory Brewing Company is gearing up to open in early January. Located at 628 Main St., the old factory bottled Coca-Cola in the 1930s, according to the town website.
“It’s going to be a career change and a huge development for Main Street in Cairo,” Cornelison Jr. said. “We’ve been lacking activity on Main Street for many years, so we’re hoping to bring that back.”
The father-son team operate a water treatment equipment manufacturing company, ReGen Water.
“We’ve done work in different breweries, wineries, cideries and neither of us had any idea how to make beer,” Cornelison Jr. said.
Cornelison Jr. ordered a one-gallon brewing kit online.
“It very quickly became an obsession,” he said. “Soon I was brewing 20 gallons at a time.”
The pair will produce a wide variety of housemade beverages in their 10-barrel brewhouse, Cornelison said.
“We’re planning on having an extensive bourbon barrel aging program,” he said. “We do everything — some stouts, porters, browns, IPAs, Irish-style red ale, Belgian ale. We’re working our way to iced tea, hard ciders and housemade soda. We make a great ginger ale.”
The brewery will have a full kitchen and a menu of assorted bar food, Cornelison Jr. said.
“Right now we’re working as quickly as we can to get our kitchen done,” he said.
The pandemic actually helped the business to expand, he said.
“The pandemic helped us get bigger because we couldn’t open anyways, so we just kept adding stuff and getting more and more elaborate,” he said. “My father has done quite literally all of the construction.”
The pair originally planned on opening the brewery in another building on the property and keeping ReGen Water in the factory, but the big factory space seemed well-suited for the venture, Cornelison Jr. said.
“This building wants to be a brewery,” he said.
Cornelison Jr. said he is excited to focus on his craft.
“It’s been an interesting journey for sure,” he said. “We have to open a brewery but first we have to be roofers, painters, masons, carpenters, engineers. I can’t wait to just be a brewer.”
The business will start with weekend hours, from 4-9 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Cornelison Jr. said, adding that he plans to expand the hours.
Town Councilwoman Mary Jo Cords said the business will be good for the town.
“I think it’s great,” Cords said. “Any new business is good for the community, especially one where that building has been pretty much vacant for years. Some people tried some things and it never lasted. It’s great right on Main Street, too. That’s good for the community.”
The Old Factory building is known for producing “Christmas Coke” bottles, with patent dates of Dec. 25, 1923, according to the town website. Brownie, a chocolate soda, and Whistle, an orange drink, were also bottled at the factory.
In 1948, the factory was absorbed by Cliquot Club, of Millis, Massachusetts. A variety of beverages were bottled in the factory until it closed in 1968, according to the town website.
“To the best of my knowledge it was built in 1902, after the original structure burned down,” Cornelison Jr. said.
The building contains a 30-foot hand-dug well that was used to bottle sodas and mineral waters until the 1960s, he said.
Medical grade thermostats were manufactured at the factory from the early 1970s until about 2010, he said.
The Cornelisons bought the property in 2015.
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