Business

Chemistry professor leaving EKU to start his own brewery

Christian Paumi, an EKU chemistry professor, is opening Fusion Brewery on the ground floor of the Pepper campus rick house in the Distillery District on Manchester Street. The area in the background will be the bar, seating area, and the brewing area.
Christian Paumi, an EKU chemistry professor, is opening Fusion Brewery on the ground floor of the Pepper campus rick house in the Distillery District on Manchester Street. The area in the background will be the bar, seating area, and the brewing area. cbertram@herald-leader.com

When the semester ends next week at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, like a lot of teachers Christian Paumi will be thinking of beer.

Which isn't that different from his regular academic days of teaching about fermentation. Except that Paumi will be leaving the ivory towers for the brewhouse for good.

Paumi plans to open Fusion Brewing this fall in the Rickhouse building on the historic Pepper distillery campus on Manchester. Street. He hopes to be ready to serve people his beer sometime in November.

"The name Fusion represents how I view my brewing. I do brew traditional brews, but I would like to do sets of beers that are different styles and ingredients. And I would like to incorporate as many Kentucky ingredients as possible," Paumi said.

Before signing a lease for space in the building, Paumi discussed his plans with the owners of Ethereal Brewing, which is on the other side of the busy Pepper campus.

"They thought another brewery would be fine," Paumi said. "The space is just an outstanding space; I love that area. I think this will be fun."

Paumi hopes to have a 2,000-square-foot tap room and a 2,300-square-foot area in the back for the seven-barrel brewhouse, he said. The tap room will have 16 taps, featuring eight to 10 of Fusion's own beers plus lots of other local options, including local ciders.

Part of the space will be sublet for food service, he said.

"I like to make lagers and Belgian beers, and German wheat or weizen beer, saisons, hefeweizen ... I'm a big fan of all types of lagers," Paumi said. And as a chemistry professor with a background in yeast, Paumi also likes making sour beers.

"I am really into the idea of catching wild yeast, especially local yeast so you get that terroir," he said.

With budget cuts at EKU reducing the once-burgeoning brewing program to just a certification, he was worried that his position could be cut next year. And opening a brewery was something he'd dreamed of doing since college, he said.

To prepare, he did internships at Life BrewPub and at Rock House breweries in Lexington. "It was kind of training for what I wanted to do myself," he said. "I had done it with the intent that EKU would have a brewery as part of our program. Then it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen."

He has offered to continue teaching at EKU as an adjunct professor if they want to continue the brewing program but it's unclear if that will happen, he said.

"I think their program is an awesome program and would love to see it continue," Paumi said.

  Comments