John Bleichert took his love of brewing from his kitchen to Germany and back to Binghamton.
Now crafting 217 gallons of European-style beers at a time, he still keeps the old home-brew kit behind the scenes to make the occasional small batch at Water Street Brewing Co.
John and his wife, Michele, started home-brewing in the early 2000s, often doing double batches on the weekend while decked out in self-made Bleichert Brewing aprons. In 2009, they decided to leave the corporate world behind and pursue their passions, hanging up those aprons and opening a brewery for real.
John studied brewing in Chicago and Germany before making the leap to a seven-barrel system. His specialties: British styles like the southern English ale he’s been making since the home-brew days and traditional German beers like Water Street-patron-favorite hefeweizen.
John describes looking at recipes on paper like staring at an algebra equation. The process takes that math and transforms it into something social and continuously stirs the Bleicherts knack for craft.
The Bleicherts share their love of beer both from the glass and on their tap board, where each style comes with annotations about OG, IBU and ABV. Don’t know what those mean? Flip to the backside of the menu for a crash course.
“One good thing about being a mom and pop is we’re always here,” Michele says. “You can always meet the brewers.”
Water Street serves up six beers of varying styles at a time from their tank-to-tap system that John, a former engineer, built himself.
“I love that I own the whole process, from the water to the grains to the taps,” John says. “It’s all mine.”
Of course, the Bleicherts are willing to share from 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to midnight Friday and Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays.