December 2, 2021

McGraw Box to be reborn as brewery

The building in McGraw once housed 140 workers and was the largest maker of silverware boxes in America. Its boxes are still sold today as historic pieces of vintage art.

The company was McGraw Box, and that’s a lot of legacy for its latest product: beer.

Chris Ousby, the third generation of his family to own the 10,000- square-foot building that once housed the family company, plans to open a micro-brewery in a few months, McGrawBox Brewery.

The name comes from the family; the inspiration comes from the popularity of local micro-breweries, including Homer Hops Brewing Co., Summerhill Brewing and Cortland Beer Co.

“You see it with the local breweries and they’ve been successful,” he said. “The goal is to have something like that with my business. I’m excited to go on a larger scale.”

The McGraw zoning board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in village hall to discuss a site plan review for the brewery.

Other nearby breweries
• Cortland Beer Co., 16 Court St., Cortland
• Bacchus Brewing Co.,15 Ellis Drive, Dryden
• Hopshire Farm and Brewery, 1771 Dryden Road, Freeville
• Summerhill Brewing, 384 Champlin Road, Summerhill
• ONCO Fermentations, 397 Route 281, Tully
• Homer Hops Brewing, 722 Route 90, Homer

The building between the Smithbrook and Troutbrook creeks has been around since the 1940s and was owned by Ousby’s grandfather, H.J. Ousby II, and then his father, H.J. Ousby III. Ousby added the business, renamed it to McGraw Wood Products in 2008, closed its doors a couple of years ago.

“It was important for me to continue the tradition of the building,” he said. The brewery will combine its history — silverware boxes, cremation urns — with a newer aesthetic adapted to a 10- barrel brewing system featuring sour beers, stouts and IPAs.

“The goal is to make some facelifts,” Ousby said. “It’s an old industrial building that we’re going to be re-developing.”

The brewery will not serve food, Ousby said, but he is seeing if businesses in McGraw will provide food trucks. Ousby plans to hire four to five employees.

Ousby was originally set to open the brewery at the end of the year, but due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, it was delayed until next March.

Other micro-brewery owners, including Sallee Ten Eyck of Summerhill Brewing, said she “thinks it’s good” more breweries are opening in the area.

“There seems to be quite a demand for craft beers in this area,” she said. “People will flock to any brewery that is near. Being a brewery owner, it’s great to hear others following their passion into opening their own brewery.”

Ten Eyck, who has relatives in McGraw, believes a brewery would be great for the village.

“I’d even say my relatives would possibly enjoy the brewery,” she said.

Jason Kristof, owner of Homer Hops Brewing, said he is looking forward to seeing another brewery.

“It’s like a family continuing to grow,” he said. “The more, the merrier. I love it. All of the owners in the area help each other out so we’ll welcome one another with open arms.”