Dunedin's newest brewery to open late summer, early fall

Cueni Brewing Co. is the latest to join downtown Dunedin's craft beer brigade.

In downtown Dunedin, powerhouse pourers Dunedin Brewery, 7venth Sun Brewery, Dunedin House of Beer and Woodwright Brewing Co. will soon gain their fifth musketeer.

Cueni Brewing Co. (pronounced cue-knee), the brainchild of five-year homebrewer Jon Cueni, is slated to open in late summer or early fall with 10 beers on tap.

Coming to 945 Huntley Ave., the 2,000-square-foot brewery is Jon and his wife Bren's first foray into the microbrewing industry. Cueni Brewing plans to produce brews like Jon's award-winning pumpkin beer, Belgian saisons and wits, pale ales, and English milds.

"It's really exciting," Bren said.

With a four-barrel brewing system arriving from Oregon in about two weeks, construction is in full swing. The Cueni building, which used to house a dry-cleaning company, will start to look more like a brewery by mid-August.

And that big hand-painted orange on the outside? It's staying.

The Cuenis previously lived in Ohio and originally intended to launch their brewery in Costa Rica. According to Bren, who isn't a fan of the cold, the couple has always loved the beach and vacationing in warmer climates. When Costa Rica didn't pan out (the country's burgeoning beer market is more focused on distribution; the duo is not), they set their sights on Florida.

St. Petersburg was also considered, but ultimately nixed since it seemed "too tourist-driven."

Now, the couple has settled into Dunedin, a place Bren calls the "granddaddy of Florida" because it "feels like home." That's what Cueni Brewing is going for.

"We want to be known as mom-and-pop brewers," she said. "People get to come in and see us... and we can be a part of the community."

With plans for around 50 seats inside and out, they're hoping to create a cozy, "family-business" atmosphere. Inside, the brewery will feature seats nestled near the kettles and fermenters — and no TVs. The idea is to get people to share a few beers with friends, relax and have a good time. The Cuenis want to be a gathering place more than a destination.

Pups will be welcome at the dog-friendly brewery, too. Passionate about pooches and pet rescue, Bren said she'd love for them to create a special beer to benefit Dunedin's dog rescue efforts, or host events for similar programs.

So far, the response to Cueni Brewing has been very welcoming. Local brewers have met with the Cuenis, and members of the Florida Brewers Guild, which the duo are a part of, have also provided help.

"We're really happy with the response," Bren said. "People are really excited. We couldn't be happier."