Company brews to hit the Toledo market soon
It seems unlikely that a brewery would begin in a “dry” county, but that is how Funky Turtle Brewing Company started. The Turtle is Toledo’s newest craft brewery and meadery.
For Funky Turtle founders Drake Pregnal and Tom Garrison, craft beer began as a hobby, following a passion for rock climbing in the backwoods of Kentucky. According to Pregnal, life was good. “We would climb all day and then drink craft beer at night,” Pregnal said. “That’s pretty much how all of this got started.”
From Kentucky, the two moved around a bit, with Pregnal gaining valuable brewing experience at one of the country’s most reputable breweries, Avery Brewing Company in Colorado. Garrison, a former software engineer turned brewer, gained his experience locally, working at Wild Side Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Ohio. Pregnal and Garrison added a third person to the fold, Troy Secrest, who was well connected in the Toledo beer community and had a knack for marketing and sales.
Why Funky Turtle?
“Funky is in our name for a couple of reasons,” Secrest said. “The main reason is that our beer and meads are going to be a little different. We are going to push the envelope with the beers and meads we put out. Also, it speaks to our personalities. We are just a little different.”
“Turtle” is actually an homage to Pregnal’s and Garrison’s roots. “We started talking about our background and living in eastern Kentucky,” Pregnal said. “They have the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Sheltowee Trail. Sheltowee actually translates to the ‘Big Turtle’ and was the name given to Daniel Boone when he was romping around in Kentucky.”
What to expect
With a production facility, dubbed the Funk House, on Sylvania Avenue near downtown, Funky Turtle Brewing Company plans to focus on local distribution and brewery memberships. “We want to put a whole bunch of cans out in the market,” Garrison said. “We are going to put sours, meads and stouts in cans. We just think cans are so much better.”
While a Funky Brewing Company taproom is certainly in the plans, it is not the initial focus. According to Secrest, Funky Turtle wants to develop the product before moving forward with the taproom. “The big question we keep getting is where the taproom is going to be,” Secrest said.
“Our main focus right now is to make the highest quality beer and mead. We don’t want to just pump out beer to keep up with the demand of a taproom. We want to make sure we are taking care of our home market. We want every batch to be personally tested by us so that we are proud to put our name on it. We are going to open a taproom when the time is right.”
Collaboration, not competition
Some may question how many breweries are enough for the Toledo market. According to Garrison, adding more breweries is not a competition as much as it is an opportunity.
“We don’t see other breweries as competition,” Garrison said. “We see them as potential partners to collaborate with and to make the Toledo beer community stronger. The more Toledo becomes a destination for those interested in beer, the more everyone will benefit from that.”