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Ozone’s Brewhouse: Father and Son Brew Liquid Art in Old Town

Friday, February 2, 2018  
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The Capital City is quickly cementing its place as a top beer destination in Michigan. Nestled in the heart of Old Town is Ozone’s Brewhouse, led by the father and son duo Dan and Kyle Malone. Dan recently retired from Consumers Energy and spent 33 years with the company, serving as a leader in several executive positions. His son Kyle, attended the Siebel Institute in Chicago, a formal brewing school, and brewed commercially in Indianapolis. Both are passionate about brewing and bring a unique blend of business savvy, entrepreneurial spirit and experience to Lansing’s emerging craft beer scene.

The two recently sat down with FOCUS to talk about Lansing, business, and of course – beer.

FOCUS: Why Old Town?

Dan Malone: Originally, we were looking at Indianapolis. After college, my daughter and son were both working down there. We kept looking at Lansing’s craft beer scene and it was well behind the rest of the state. We recognized that Lansing needed good craft. Our beers are unique, different and artistic, and Old Town was the perfect fit. The area fit well with what you see with artists and the community of Old Town and our style of beer, which is a little bit different stylistically than standard beers. So, we started looking for property.

FOCUS: How has the Old Town community embraced Ozone’s?

Kyle Malone: It’s been great so far. A lot of our regulars live right here in Old Town. We get plenty of people walking and shopping that stop in for a beer. The other businesses have been great so far. We have a good partnership with SPIN Bike Shop. We co-sponsor a cycling club with them. Every Monday night during the summer, we have a road ride, which starts at SPIN Bike Shop and ends here at Ozone’s Brewhouse. MEAT BBQ has been a great supporter of us as well, consistently keeping our beer on tap at their place.

FOCUS: What inspired you to get into the craft beer business?

Dan Malone: I started off brewing 25 years ago. I was craft brewing out of the home before craft beer was cool. I’ve been brewing for a long time and it is something I’ve always wanted to do, but my day job always interfered, and I didn’t have time to do both. That’s when Kyle became interested in brewing.

Kyle Malone: It was something my dad had been doing forever and looked like it would be something fun to do. When I was a 21-year old college student, I had no money and realized I could brew my own beer cheaper than I could buy it. I started off doing that and soon enough it became a hobby run amok. Once you are home brewing and people find out that you are home brewing, you have to take beer everywhere you go. At the time, we only had a five-gallon home brew system.

FOCUS: The craft beer scene has really taken off in Michigan the past few years. Where have you been and where are you looking to go as you see the industry grow in Greater Lansing?

Kyle Malone: The craft beer scene in Michigan is the most everchanging thing you’re going to see. It can be a challenge to keep up with so many things going on. We’d like to grow Ozone’s to as big as we can make it, including large-scale distribution, can and bottle lines. As to how big we can make it and how far we can take it is yet to be seen, but I’d certainly like to find out. There are new beer styles coming out all the time, there’s people trying to expand the boundaries – it’s what we’re trying to do with our beer menu. Our beers aren’t exactly stylistically correct. We’re always trying to take everything a couple of steps further and see what we can do with it.

FOCUS: Ozone’s is one of the only breweries we’ve seen that mixes beers. How did you decide to mix two beers together?

Dan Malone: I actually started mixing beer a long time ago. I used to have my favorite beers, but each one possessed or lacked the qualities I wanted in a single beer, so I started mixing them together. It’s a simple way to create unique and diverse flavors. Why do we mix our beers together? Because they mix well.

FOCUS: Where do you find your inspiration for creating your unique blend of flavors?

Kyle Malone: Some of our beers are things that we’ve tasted along the way and some of our beers are culinary based. Brewing is no different than cooking. The sky is the limit and your only limitation is your own imagination. Some brewers will say we’re wrong on that and you have to do everything according to style, but realistically, the only thing that will hold you back is what you can dream, create and come up with.

Dan Malone: I cook a lot. I’m a big foodie. A lot of my inspiration comes from the food I eat. Sometimes I’m sitting around eating and think to myself ‘man, this would make a really nice beer.’ From there, we experiment and create new and fresh flavors.

Kyle (left) and Dan Malone (right)

FOCUS: Tell us a little bit about your operations.

Kyle Malone: We have one full-time brewer back there plus myself. Now that my dad is retired, he can start brewing occasionally. We run two brewing systems back there, which is somewhat unique compared to other breweries, especially small startups. We have a one-barrel pilot system, which used to be our big home brew system and we have our seven-barrel system for brewing our big seasonal mainstays and a couple of specialties. Running a two-system operation allows us to consistently change up our beer menu.

FOCUS: From start to tap, how long does it take to brew a batch of beer?

Kyle Malone: It depends on the beer style. The shortest time frame is about two weeks, while the longest can take a month or even up to a year if it’s barrel-aged. On average, our beers take two to three weeks before they are ready to tap.

FOCUS: How do you find that sweet spot between alcohol content, taste and balancing it all out?

Kyle Malone: It really depends on the brewer style. Like anything, it is subjective. Between all of our beers, we’ve heard every comment imaginable. We try to brew beers that we like. If we don’t like the beers we create, they aren’t going to go on tap.

Dan Malone: One of the things we try to do is create a solid mix of strong, flavorful beers and lighter, easy drinking beers for our menu. We have a beer for every type of consumer.

FOCUS: Where do you get your ingredients from and how do you go about finding what works best for your brews?

Kyle Malone: We like to use Michigan ingredients when we can, but quality comes first with everything. We selectively choose each and every ingredient that goes into our beers. Many beer aficionados are knowledgeable about good hops, so when we put a certain hop in our beers, we make sure the consumer gets what they expect. We look for hop growers that are developing and growing unique and quality strains right here in Michigan. We also use a lot of Michigan grains from unique growing regions throughout the state.

Dan Malone: Beyond that, our coffee beans come from Bloom Coffee right here in Old Town. With Michigan’s diverse agricultural background, most of our fruits, concentrates and spices come from our home state. With Michigan being the second largest producer of agricultural crops, we can virtually source anything we need from right here in Michigan. We don’t use synthetic ingredients. If I can’t cook with it, it’s not going in our beer.

FOCUS: What does Lansing need to make it a true destination for people to live, work and drink beer?

Dan Malone: I think it’s happening right now. Lansing has a growing craft food scene with restaurants that offer unique food menus. With that came the growth of the craft beer industry. That’s one thing people look for in a community. The next thing is living availability in the downtown, which now you’re starting to see. You have to get people to come downtown and you have to have activities in order to bring people in. We need to attract the type of people that want to live, work and play in an urban environment.

FOCUS: Where did the name Ozone’s Brewhouse come from?

Dan Malone: Ozone’s came from my nickname in high school. How do you get a nickname like that? Because I liked to have fun in high school. People called me Dan “Ozone” Malone and name stuck ever since.

FOCUS: What’s next for Ozone’s?

Dan Malone: We’re a local business not a corporate establishment. We enjoy that neighborhood feel and don’t want to lose that sense of place. Old Town is our home. Right now, we’re exploring the possibility of adding a second tap room or a restaurant. We look forward to continued growth, creating unique beers and expanding food offerings.

Kyle Malone: It’s a good time to be in Lansing.

Click here to download the February issue of FOCUS.

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