Good things brewing at Chimney
Daniel Borrelli, owner of Chimney Rustic Ales, said that he honestly doesn’t know how he first became interested in brewing.
“I just started doing it one day at my house. ‘Ah, making beer sounds cool.’ So I tried it,” Borrelli said.
A college student at the time, Borrelli sought part-time work at Keg and Barrel Home Brew Supplies in Berlin, N.J., but that soon turned into full-time employment, where he began to teach brewing lessons.
“From there, I went to Tonewood Brewing in Oaklyn and helped start up that place. That was my full-time job for a couple years. We did the construction there, then we brewed, did all the pilot batches, all the test stuff,” Borrelli said.
Borrelli then stepped away from the brewing industry, because he “had to make a little bit of money, and brewing doesn’t pay too well.”
“I got a sales job, and that allowed me to save up some money to open Chimney, and here we are,” Borrelli said.
Once he decided to open his own brewery, Borrelli said, finding the right location was key.
“There are a ton of other things that are difficult to do—like paying for everything and doing construction and then actually making beer—but step one is always finding a location. I had some friends in town that told me this building was going to be available, so we went and looked at it and, without even asking my wife or anything, I said, ‘Yeah, that’ll work. Let’s sign the lease,’” Borrelli said.
Chimney Rustic Ales officially opened in December of 2019, and was soon beset by an unforeseeable hardship.
“Imagine opening a brand-new business, trying to figure everything out, and then, a couple of months in, being told that you can no longer be in business. We had to change our business model entirely,” Borrelli said.
Initially, Borrelli envisioned an establishment that produced smaller batches of beer that would mainly be sold within the brewery’s tasting room.
“Then, we couldn’t operate a tasting room for nine months, so we had to ramp up our production a bit. I had to buy more equipment to make more beer so that it was profitable to distribute it, then start selling it to outside customers. We had to start canning beer. We had to buy more kegs to get beer out to the restaurants and bars, even though they were also shut down. For the initial plan, we put all kinds of time and money into our tasting room, and then we couldn’t use it, so we had to figure out some other way to sell beer,” Borrelli said.
This circumstance, Borrelli said, caused Chimney Rustic Ales to quadruple its capacity to produce beer.
“We had to grow exponentially with no income, then sell beer. Coming out of it, we’ll have that much more coming out of the building to make that much more money. In the long run, hopefully it’ll work out,” Borrelli said.
One method Borrelli utilized to keep his brewery busy was the construction of a parklet.
“The town came to me. They knew that I did a lot of the design and construction work in the building—the finish work; the tables, the chairs, all that stuff—and they knew that I had just opened and had no ability to sell beer. They came to me as kind of a pilot-program guy, and I said, yeah, I can do that. They gave me a permit to do it, and we did it. It was a lifesaver for us over the summer, for sure,” Borrelli said.
Moving forward, Borrelli said that he plans to continue to expand Chimney Rustic Ales.
“I’d like to continue to increase my production, make more stuff happen outside of the brewery in the town ... We haven’t stopped expanding since the day we leased the building. We’ve just been ramping up every day. It’s a never-ending cycle of buying stuff, but eventually we’ll get to a point where it doesn’t make any sense to get any bigger, then I’ll sleep at night,” Borrelli said.
Borrelli said that he has also been in contact with similar businesses to discuss plans for the future.
“Our long-term plan, as a group, is to make Hammonton—and downtown Hammonton—a destination for people to go out, and they can visit three breweries and a distillery, and we’re all within walking distance. I think it’s important that we all continue to work together to bring business to the town. There are only so many people in town who drink beer, but there’s a million people that pass by on the expressway every day. We’re hoping, together, to build the town up to be more of a tourist destination for drinking. That would benefit everyone,” Borrelli said.
Chimney Rustic Ales is located at 15 Horton St. For more information, call them at (609) 270-7454, follow them on Instagram at @chimneybeer or visit chimneyrusticales.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/chimneybeer.