What once was a hobby for two longtime friends in Circleville today is a Whitehall-based business.

What once was a hobby for two longtime friends in Circleville today is a Whitehall-based business.

Anthony McKeivier, 29, of Reynoldsburg and Tony Hill, 28, of Circleville are founders of 2 Tones Brewing Co., set to launch full-time beer brewing by June 1 at their North Hamilton Road facility.

The facility won't offer retail sales. Instead their craft beers will be packaged for sale at other locations the company hasn't identified yet, McKeivier said.

"Scaling is a challenge for us," said McKeivier, referring to the shift from brewing about 10 gallons at a time to 150 gallons.

2 Tones Brewing Co. recently received three five-barrel fermentation tanks that are being installed.

"We're also in the middle of about a four-month licensing process and hope to be up and running by June," McKeivier said.

McKeivier and Hill met while playing soccer in the fifth grade. They attended the same junior high school and high school and later were roommates at the Ohio State University.

"It was Tony (and his brother) that turned me on to craft beer," McKeivier said. "I was still drinking Bud Light and Coors, and they kept pushing me to try craft beers. They finally pushed hard enough and I tried one; ... there was no going back."

Hill agreed.

"Yeah, we had to push it on him," he said. "He wasn't used to that much flavor (in a beer), ... but he found a style he liked and acquired a taste (for craft beers)."

If Hill and his friends pushed the product, it was McKeivier who made the push to step it up from a hobby to a business.

Even in college, McKeivier said, he wanted to start his own business but wasn't sure what kind of business.

As he began home-brewing in his Reynoldsburg garage about six years ago with Hill, McKeivier said, he began to realize their hobby could be a business.

The men practiced with a variety of recipes and styles, some not so well-received, and honed their skill well enough by 2013 to win best of show in the Barley Brewing Co.'s home-brew competition for their India pale ale.

The IPA and another style, Uncle Joe's Irish red ale, are expected to be the company's flagship labels, but the company also will brew seasonal beers, such as a porter or stout in the winter, McKeivier said.

The company is speaking with several restaurants, such as The Pint Room in Dublin, and the Winking Lizard, with three central Ohio locations, to carry their brand, McKeivier said.

"It's a challenge to learn all our new equipment, but it's fun, too," Hill said.

Both men have full-time jobs they intend to keep. Hill is a data analyst for a distribution center in Groveport; McKeivier is an accountant for an automotive-parts supplier.

"We're both keeping our day jobs; it will take a lot of work and might take awhile to pull this together," McKeivier said.

The men invested about $100,000 to launch the company, including equipment and leasing, and plan to brew no more than 300 barrels a year at inception, they said.

Whitehall development-director Zach Woodruff said the company is exactly the kind the city seeks as it continues to expand its corporate clientele and brand itself as a desirable location.

"2 Tone is a good example of the young entrepreneurs we want to attract to Whitehall," Woodruff said. "We are excited they chose Whitehall."

The company does not yet have a website but does have a Facebook page at 2 Tones Brewing Co.