MEDINA TWP. — Aaron Wirtz and his wife, Karen, are about to fulfill a longtime dream.
They are in the planning stages of building Planted Flag Brewing, a brewpub at 3594 Pearl Road, Medina Township.
“Kids don’t grow up wanting to be brewers,” Aaron Wirtz said.
Wirtz was a pilot in the Air Force for 12 years when he got involved in home-brewing, making select craft beers at home. He also got the opportunity to try several craft beers overseas, which is where “I caught the bug to make beer.”
After leaving the military, he put his master’s degree in education to use. He became a chemistry and physics teacher in Brunswick Schools and later Holy Name High School in Parma Heights, but left the profession.
“It wasn’t a good fit,” Wirtz said.
The 41-year-old’s career took a complete about-face in 2016 when he became the head brewer at the Jolly Scholar Brewing Co. in Cleveland, where he has blossomed.
“I’m good at problem-solving and figuring things out,” he said. “I was involved in the construction and setup of the brewery. I was managing the inventory.
“I started managing the day-to-day operations of the beer. I got good at it real quick.”
Once he realized his skills in making craft beer, the idea of opening his own brewery came to mind.
He said he’s appreciative of the opportunity he received at Jolly Scholar and will remain there for the foreseeable future.
The Parma native has lived in Medina Township since 2014 with his wife.
They have a purchase agreement on the acre-and-a-half property on Pearl Road, near Vell’s Party Center.
“This has been 10 years in the making,” Wirtz said. “We signed the paperwork (Wednesday) for the loan. The architect has got the plan going. We hope to open next summer.”
He said he thought there was a need for a brewpub and restaurant in the area. It will feature a 10-barrel brewing system.
The name of the brewery, Planted Flag, stems from his time in the military.
“We moved around a lot,” Wirtz said. “If you went to a new place, you planted your flag.
“This business will be planted in family sustainability. I’m a big fan of farmers markets and local businesses.”
To show his hometown pride, he said he uses some Medina Creative Housing coffee in one of his beers at Jolly Scholar.
“This has been my vision and dream,” Wirtz said.
He will be an equal partner with his wife, also an Air Force veteran. She will handle social media, the website and the financial side of the business.
“This is a 100-percent veteran-owned business, owned by us,” Wirtz said. “It’s a family-owned business.”
This will not be Medina County’s first local brewery. Craft beer is growing with places like Lager Heads Brewing Company and Tap Room on West Smith Road in Medina and the Wadsworth Brewing Company on Main Street in Wadsworth.