Ask Steve Zink how to start a business you’re passionate about, and his answer might look something like this: Start with your hobbies.
After all, that’s exactly what Zink, owner of Omega Brewing Experience in Omro, did when he opened the brewery at this time last year. “I’ve been a home brewer for probably 26 years or so now,” Zink says.
He started by producing small batches, eventually involving his two sons and his son-in-law in the process.
“We started getting pretty creative about different beers, and we moved beyond being able to do it effectively at the house,” Zink says.
At that point, they shopped around for some property before finally settling on their current location in Omro. Their space is located right on Main Street as well as on the river, so Zink says it seemed like the perfect spot.
“Plus, there’s never been a brewery in Omro,” he says.
Zink enjoys the process of continuing to experiment with different beers, sharing them with his patrons and educating them about what goes into a delicious pint.
Omega Brewing Experience has between eight and 12 of its own beers on tap at any given time. The brewery also offers several SMaSH beers (which stands for single malt and single hop).
“It helps people understand what flavors they like and what different grains and hops are bringing in terms of flavor of the beer,” Zink says.
Zink might just have as much fun naming the beers as he does creating them, often tying them back to local history. For example, the Albatross Porter is an homage to the mural of a riverboat (named the Albatross) painted on the side of the historic building that now houses the brewery.
As Zink looks to the future of Omega Brewing Experience, he’s aiming to expand the operation beyond a one-barrel system as well as expanding the brewery hours (currently, it’s only open on weekends) to accommodate more guests. But, ultimately, he’s excited to continue fueling and sharing his passion.
“It’s something we enjoy,” Zink says. “The brewing aspect of it, creating a unique beer or a different take on a style of beer. And then watching the reaction of people when they try something new.”