This article originally ran in Navarre Press | THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2015
By Brian Lester
When the clock struck 3 Friday after-noon, Bill Bunning rang a bell behind the bar and filled the first glass with craft beer from the tap at Ye Olde Brothers Brewery in Navarre.
The moment marked the official opening of the first craft brewery in Navarre.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Larry Rolison, who co-owns the brewery with his brother, Jerry. “It’s been a slow process at times because we pay for everything as we go, but it’s great to see it finally happen. We’re happy with it.”
Ye Olde Brothers has been open for four months, and has a menu that includes brick-oven baked pizza. But the brewery took time to become a reality as the Rolison brothers designed it themselves.
“It took us about two years, and people were getting a little impatient with us,” Larry said. “A lot of research and development went into it. We have about $200,000 invested in it, including the building for the brewery. It took us time because you make mistakes during the process and have to go back and try again. It was a challenge for sure, but it was worth it.”
The Rolison brothers haven’t always been involved in the brewery business. For about 20 years, they’ve owned a business that produces control panels. They also work as industrial electrical contractors.
“We never imagined we would ever do this, but one day we decided to look into it,” Larry said. “This brewery is more of a toy for us because we already have our other business. We did a lot of studying online on how to build our own beer brewing system.”
Bunning met the Rolison brothers through a mutual friend and soon became involved in the business idea. He had been brewing his own beer at home for more than 20 years.
“I heard they were building a brewery and so I brewed beer for them to show how good the product was,” Bunning said. “They were happy with my beer and brought me on board.”
The brewery features 12 taps, including one original from Ye Olde Brothers. Three other beers are from Greyton Beach in South Walton and eight are from the Pensacola Bay Brewery.
The ultimate hope is to have only locally brewed beer for customers to enjoy.
“The key to a successful brewery is local flavor,” Larry said. “We know we can make our own and it will be just as good. By making all of our own beers, we also make more of a profit because we’re not paying to buy it from somewhere else.”
Ye Olde Brothers is one of only a handful of craft breweries in the area. Aside from the breweries in Pensacola and South Walton, there is one in Fort Walton as well.
In fact, Larry and Jerry took a trip over to Props in Fort Walton to look into how a craft brewery was run before building their own.
“We did a little investigating and felt like we could build a better system,” Larry said.
The Rolison brothers are pleased with what they have accomplished and have visions of marketing their system in the future.
“We can show off our system to others that want to build brew pubs,” Larry said. “Our brewery system is a big showroom and a great marketing tool. There is good potential for profit.”
Download the free Untappd app for iOS and Android where you can check-in and share the brew you're enjoying with your friends! Try new beers to unlock badges and achievements along the way.