No limit to Skyline Beer Company’s success

Skyline Beer Co. Assistant Brew Master Coy Chaney, Head Brewer and co-owner Dana Bishop, and co-owners Lisa Pac and Daniel Osella stand in front of the new 10-barrel brewing system at Skyline’s new location at 98 Southwick Road. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

WESTFIELD – The success of Skyline Beer Co. has been fast-tracked beyond what co-owner Lisa Pac imagined. But, she’s not sad about that.

Skyline closed its doors Nov. 16 at its Elm Street location and is getting ready to re-open its doors in a much bigger space at 98 Southwick Road in early December. This will be the third location since opening in 2014, with each space being bigger and offering more to its customers than the last.

Pac dreamed of owning a brewery for years. A lover of craft beer, she started home brewing for fun, but it took a more serious turn when she realized her dreams could come true.

In 2002, Pac and friend Daniel Osella, a chef, started brewing on weekends and creating food pairings for her beer while imagining how great it would be to make it their career.

Five years ago, the friends and business partners took a chance and opened Skyline Hop Shop inside the Westfield River Brewing Co. Osella offered fresh food that paired well with WRB’s brews while Pac offered home brewing classes and supplies. They quickly outgrew the space and opened Skyline Trading Co. at 124 Elm St.

Here, they expanded their menu both of food and beer, adding craft whiskey and tequila to the mix. They included Open Mic nights and a Pay It Forward wall and found themselves needing to expand once again. Pac still longed to sell her own brews and needed space to bring that part of their dream to fruition.

The next phase of the business – known as Skyline Beer Co. – is almost ready to open. As the Elm Street location closed, the finishing touches were being completed in the new location and Pac, Osella and new partner and Head Brewer Dana Bishop, could not be happier.

“It’s really exciting, and a little bit scary,” said Pac, as she looked at Skyline’s brand-new brewing space last week. The 10-barrel system can brew 300 gallons in two to three weeks and sits in the space originally occupied by the Fowler Farms’ produce section.

The building was the longtime home of the farm, then became Zuber’s ice cream and sandwich shop and then Yellow Bear Indoor Tag Sale. Now, as Skyline, the space has come full circle in many ways.

Bishop said his mother worked at Fowler Farms and he grew up there. Today, he brews beer where he once played while his mom worked.

Pac said Skyline will offer six styles of beer and will have 900 gallons of beer ready for the opening. She plans to have two rotating styles; Wobbly Boots and Bushwacker, which she said would come in various forms. Bushwacker is a New England style IPA, which she said is more cloudy and fruity than an American IPA, which is typically clear and slightly bitter.

The new Skyline is 4,500 square-feet, a major increase from its previous 1,500 square-foot location. The new dining room alone is 1,200 square-feet and is separate from the bar, which Osella said lends itself to catering and party opportunities that were not possible before.

The feel of Skyline remains the same: rustic and fresh, much like their beer and food. Reclaimed wood – most of which came from the original structure – has been carefully and painstakingly hung on the walls in various patterns. Much attention to tiny details has been paid, from matching the hue of the wood in corners of door trim to creating a custom stain that mimics some of the weathering on the wood.

Pac and Osella are selling the Elm Street Skyline as a turnkey restaurant and bar and are leaving behind most of the custom creations there, including the bar top. However, they are bringing with them some pieces made by a friend who has since passed away.

That kind of loyalty and friendship is what Skyline was built on and remains the foundation of its next iteration.

“It’s about family,” said Pac, who considers friends part of her family.

Numerous volunteers have helped the business partners bring their next dream to life.

“Everyone wanted to help and be a part of this,” Pac said. “I knew people would want to do this, but I didn’t realize how many.”

A dedicated group of 20 or 30 friends and family have worked tirelessly for several months and an even larger group of supporters have helped on specifically organized volunteer days.

While the building was being renovated, Skyline was still in business and Pac and Bishop were planning the beer while Osella worked his menu magic.

“Fresh and local are still the priority,” he said. “The menu won’t change a lot – the pretzels are not going anywhere!”

Osella’s giant, freshly baked pretzels with various dipping sauces are a favorite, as are his flat bread pizzas, which he said would also remain. What is new are burgers as a regular menu item as well as special nights each week.

“We are going to have Steak Night on Thursdays and I’d like to try a Seafood Night,” Osella said.

Skyline’s owners have invested $1.5 million into the new Skyline Beer Co. and look forward to opening and bringing more to the table, literally.

Skyline Beer Co. will be open Tuesday and Wednesday from 4-9 p.m., Thursday – Saturday from 12-10 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. Pac said they hope to open the first week of December and they will also sell Christmas trees, another nod to a Fowler Farms tradition.

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