Beer News

Homestead Beer to celebrate fourth anniversary

Ohio Beer Blog - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 9:01am

Homestead Beer Co. will release a limited number of its Drie Belgian Triple IPA in 22-ounce bottles starting at noon Jan. 14 as the Heath brewery celebrates its fourth anniversary.

"It’s one of the only beers that has ever left me without words to describe it," brewer Adam Rhodes said in a prepared statement. "It combines the incredible ester profile from the custom Belgian yeast we use in our Winter Belgian run with a giant load of popular, new school hops, some old classics and even a dash of hops that are neither here nor there. The Belgian esters fit so comfortably with all of the tropical and citrus notes from the hops to create a beer so much greater than its parts."

Drie, which is 10 percent alcohol by volume, was first made for the brewery's third anniversary and proved so popular that Homestead is bringing it back. The bottles will sell for $9.99 and there were only 50 cases produced.

In addition to Drie on tap and in bottles, the brewery will offer old favorites on tap and in casks, including Snake Oil, Galactic Heroes, Tenpenny and Bison.

Homestead has planned a full day of activities, including trivia from 2 to 4 p.m., an adult spelling bee from 6 to 8 p.m. and hourly brewery tours. Moe's Original BBQ food truck will be at the brewery at noon.

The brewery also is running a puzzle competition leading up to the anniversary party, which runs until 10 p.m. Anyone who solves the four puzzles will get a chance to enter a drawing to name an upcoming barrel-aged Belgian quad. For more details on the puzzle competition, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Heinen's to host high-alcohol beer tasting

Ohio Beer Blog - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 9:00am

Heinen’s is embracing high-alcohol brews.

The Cleveland-based grocery store chain will host a tasting dubbed Beers That Push the Envelope from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 14 at its downtown Cleveland location.

People will be able to get a taste of four beers, all of which clock in at more than 12 percent alcohol by volume. The lineup right now features Avery The Beast Grand Cru, which is 16.8 percent; Hoppin’ Frog TORIS the Tyrant, 13.8 percent; To Øl Jule Mælk, 15 percent; and Lexington Rickhouse Series Break In The Law Brown Sugar Imperial Stout, 14 percent.

Heinen’s is looking to add a couple others, as well. The grocery store wanted to put on a special tasting in reaction to Ohio last year eliminating the 12 percent ABV limit for beer made and sold in the state.

“We’re trying to push extreme flavors and styles,” said Ed Thompkins, the beer buyer for the chain.

He added that bigger isn’t always better.

It’s important to note that the tasting, which costs $10, won’t feature full pints.

“They are a bit dangerous,” Thompkins said, especially when brewers successfully mask any harsh alcohol flavor.

For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Wadsworth Brewing set to open Friday

Ohio Beer Blog - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 8:57am

As Ernie Joy and Ericha Fryfogle-Joy spent hours upon hours getting ready to open their Wadsworth Brewing Co. and dealt with unexpected delays and equipment malfunctions, the married couple learned three important things about themselves.

“Our sense of humor, patience and marriage are a hell of a lot stronger than we thought,” Fryfogle-Joy said with a laugh last week. “We learned that.”

The new Medina County brewery, located at 126 Main St. in downtown Wadsworth, will open its doors at noon Friday. (Jan. 6)

The couple posted a humorous video, complete with accompanying music from The Gage Brothers last week on their Facebook page: I won’t ruin it for you, other than to say it involves a chalkboard and plenty of erasing.

Joy and Fryfogle-Joy, as you would expect, are filled with a mix of nervousness and excitement.

Nervous because they wonder how many people will descend upon their nanobrewery and excited because cash will finally be coming in.

“2016 was all money out the door,” Joy, who has a shaved head and full black beard, said with a laugh.

He oversees the brewing, using a stainless steel two-barrel brewing system that sits in the back of the brewery.

Wadsworth will launch with eight beers: Papa Elf porter, Under the Mistletoe milk stout, Thelma Lou blonde ale, All Things Scottish ale, Three-Way Belgian-style tripel, Cran Apple Shandy, The River Styx Monster double IPA and Monster Smash, a single malt, single hop ale.

Papa Elf is infused with whole bean Butter Cookie Coffee from Pearl Coffee Co. in Akron and the brewery insists: “This beer is what Santa drinks in the off-season.”

A chalkboard behind the bar will announce the beers on draft. Joy expects the beers to rotate often, given the small size of the system.

The couple, who have lived in Wadsworth for nearly two decades, want their brewery to be a comfortable community gathering spot.

The brewery, in one of the many storefronts downtown, was designed to be rustic chic.

There’s the exposed red brick walls, worn wooden floors, framed burlap sacks that used to hold coffee beans on the wall, track lighting and a faux fireplace sitting area in front, where bands will perform.

There also are two long wooden church pews from a Wooster church against the walls. (The pews are responsible for the only two brewery injuries to date. Fryfogle-Joy got a black eye and bruised leg while helping to carry them inside.)

The bar itself is something special — and local.

The top and sides are made from the gymnasium floor at the former Isham Elementary School. Joy and Fryfogle-Joy bought the floor when the building was razed several years ago.

The gym floor also was turned into wooden boxes to hold sampler glasses.

Wadsworth will be open from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Photos by Akron Beacon Journal photographer Phil Masturzo.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Brian Seelinger

Ohio Beer Blog - Fri, 12/30/2016 - 9:03am

Brian Seelinger is the owner and brewer at The Brew Mentor, a homebrew shop and nanobrewery in Mentor. The Brew Mentor also sponsors the Mentor On Tap beer festival, slated this year to take place June 24.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: My introduction to brewing began on a cold winter night in a garage, drinking a fair amount, and I'm sure, doing most things wrong. Guess what? We made beer! I was hooked! I have always loved cooking, being creative and of course beer! The progression was typical, but accelerated. My third batch brewed was "all grain" after already reading three brewing books. Identifying a local need for brewing supplies, I jumped in with both feet. The Brew Mentor was born! The license to brew allowed me to share not only my experiences, but also some product with those going down the same path.

Q: What has been the highlight of your brewing career so far and why was it so special? (Maybe it's been a beer that you brewed, an award that you won, an idol you've met ...)

A: I think meeting so many great people in the brewing community is noteworthy. Most brewers and people in this industry will bend over backwards to help. I think the common desire to give something to others that we can be proud of overrides competitiveness at the bar and if we can all make good or better beer, the customers win.

Q: Which is more satisfying: Running a homebrew shop or running a brewery? And why?

A: That's a good but complicated question. On any given day, both can be very satisfying and or challenging. The best answer is that they both give me the opportunity to help out and share with others my passion. On the shop side, every day I'm able to help people to either get started or be successful with the beer or wine they are making.

Brewing gives me the chance to be creative. That's the passion side. Thinking through an idea, creating a recipe and a plan to execute it, and then achieving what you were after is awesome.

Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?

A: My Pale Ale is my best-selling beer overall. Runners up are my Porter and my IPA. The Pale Ale is very approachable at 6 percent and 37 IBUs. I use a blend of hops, mainly as late additions, to achieve a very smooth bitterness. This also expresses the flavors and aromas present in the hops.

Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?

A: American pale ale as a style, specifically Sierra Nevada's version. I believe that this style really introduced America to craft beer. Beer all of a sudden had flavor and aroma! From there, the desire to try something different, explore different malts, hops, yeast and even to brew your own, took off. Prior to this, the majority of American's exposure to beer was very limited.

Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears every Friday. If you would like to participate or would like to nominate someone to participate, send me an email at

Categories: Beer News

Land-Grant launches new Collector's Club card series

Ohio Beer Blog - Thu, 12/29/2016 - 3:59pm

Land-Grant Brewing Co. is launching a new Collector's Club card series, with the first two coming out with the release next week of two special edition beers in six-packs.

Stevesy, a helles lager, and Deep Search, a Baltic porter, will be released starting Monday (Jan. 2) and Thursday (Jan. 5), respectively, at the Columbus brewery. Both beers are part of Land-Grant's Sea-Grant Beer Series.

Since it opened, the brewery has produced trading cards similar to baseball cards to commemorate its beers. You can see them all here.

"We wanted to take this collection obsession to the next level, so we’re excited to announce the launch of the Land-Grant Collector’s Club," the brewery says on its website. "For each can release in 2017, we will have 50 limited edition collector cards available for the first 50 people to come in and pick up a six-pack or pint of a newly launched (or relaunched) beer. Of course, each release will also be accompanied by its standard card as well which will be available throughout the beer’s run. To up the stakes a bit, if you collect multiple Collector’s Club cards throughout the year, we’ll reward you with some special Land-Grant swag."

Stevesy and Deep Search also will be available on draft.

Categories: Beer News

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom eyes Akron, Cleveland for expansion

Ohio Beer Blog - Thu, 12/29/2016 - 12:06pm

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom is looking to open franchise restaurants in the Akron and Cleveland markets, as part of an aggressive plan to grow the brand throughout the Midwest.

“People are calling us from that community, specifically Cleveland and Akron, and saying, ‘Why isn’t there an Old Chicago here? Why isn’t the ‘Craft Beer Authority’ here in Ohio?’” said Mark Belanger, vice president of global franchise operations and development for the privately operated CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries.

CraftWorks, which has headquarters in Broomfield, Colo., and Chattanooga, Tenn., controls the Old Chicago, Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom and ChopHouse brands.

Old Chicago has more than 100 restaurants in 24 states. It describes itself as a family-friendly restaurant that features handcrafted pizza with a major emphasis on craft beer. The restaurants have many televisions for watching sports and offer nearly 200 different packaged and draft beers.

Old Chicago also has offered a World Beer Tour since 1976, with people drinking 110 beers throughout the year to receive special rewards.

Belanger said Old Chicago likes to collaborate with local and regional brewers and will always have eight to 10 taps devoted to them.

Ohio has been a hotbed for the craft beer industry, including chain bars and restaurants that specialize in craft beer. National and regional brands BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Yard House, Granite City Food & Brewery and World of Beer have opened multiple locations in the state in recent years.

Old Chicago is focusing on Akron and Cleveland now for expansion.

“But certainly as we entertain different franchise candidates, we have talked about the other [Ohio] cities coming,” Belanger said. “Cincinnati and Dayton are high on the list, as well.”

CraftWorks operates a Rock Bottom in Cincinnati and Gordon Biersch in Columbus. Both those locations are brewpubs.

The company wants to open anywhere from three to five Old Chicago restaurants in its new markets and hopes to identify local franchisees by late next year. Each restaurant employs anywhere from 35 to 60 workers.

CraftWorks opened 10 Old Chicago restaurants this year and plans to open 15 to 18 next year.

The company reported $254 million in revenue for Old Chicago last year. Belanger said it’s seen nine consecutive quarters of growth at its existing restaurants, bucking the national trend for fast casual dining.

Robert E. Chalfant, assistant professor of practice at the University of Akron and director of the Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, said it’s an interesting strategy to focus on the Midwest.

“You don’t invest in declining markets,” he said. “We are turning around. ... The Midwest is regaining a certain part of its reputation as being a solid bedrock place to live and a place work. Jobs are coming back, not as fast as we’d like, but jobs are coming back. The economy is in pretty good shape.

“I think Old Chicago is leading what is going to be a big trend here in the Midwest.”

For more details about Old Chicago franchises, go online to:

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Ohio Beer Blog - Thu, 12/29/2016 - 10:37am

Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:

-- The Columbus Dispatch reports that the owners of new 2 Tones Brewing Co. are finding it difficult to sell their beer. "I was expecting more enthusiasm for a small startup," Anthony McKeivier says. "There is a lot of competition out there, and I hate pressuring people; it's not fun." To read the full story, click here.

-- beer writer Marc Bona reflects on beer news and trends from last year in Northeast Ohio. He highlights political-themed beers and the demise of the ABV limit in the state. To read the full column, click here.

-- Columbus Business First reports on Hoster Gold Top returning to taps in Central Ohio. The beer is being made on contract by Mother Stewart's Brewing Co. in Springfield. To read the full story, click here.

-- WCPO in Cincinnati reports on Brewhaus Dog Bones, a nonprofit that employs students with disabilities to create dog treats. "Being the parent of a child with a disability ... I have always been searching or thinking what could I figure out that might be a good employment model or a good way to help teach a skillset," founder Lisa Graham says. To read the full story, click here.

-- WCPO reports on the Queen City Brewery of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. "This is like my dream man cave," founder Mike Wofford says. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Mahoning Valley Flight Crew reports that R.L. Lipton Distributing is now distributing Millersburg beers in the Youngstown area. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Dayton Daily News provides a preview of some brewery and bar news for 2017, including Lock 27 opening in downtown Dayton and Rivertown opening in Monroe. To read the full story, click here.

-- Nasdaq reports that Anheuser-Busch InBev's new strategy to remain relevant in the craft market is to open brewpubs. The first Goose Island Vintage Ale House has opened in London. To read the full story, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Royal Docks, Land-Grant sponsor trip to Asheville, N.C.

Ohio Beer Blog - Thu, 12/29/2016 - 9:30am

Royal Docks Brewing Co. and Land-Grant Brewing Co. are sponsoring a weekend brewery bus tour to Asheville, N.C.

The Grand Brewery Tour is May 26-29, which happens to be Memorial Day weekend.

The bus will leave at 6:15 a.m. from Royal Docks in Jackson Township and stop at 9:30 a.m. at Land-Grant in Columbus to pick up more people and then head to Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati before making its way to Asheville, which this week was named the best city in the U.S. for beer drinkers by SmartAsset.

The stop at Rhinegeist will feature lunch and a tour. The visit to Asheville will include tours at New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.

The cost is $750 and includes the bus ride, three-night hotel stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Grand Brewery Tour T-shirt, two 32-ounce growlers and beer on the bus.

Reservations are due by March 31. There’s room for 55 people on the bus.

‘‘I would love for this to turn into an annual tour,” Royal Docks founder John Bikis said.

For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Cincinnati, Columbus ranked in top 10 cities for beer drinkers

Ohio Beer Blog - Wed, 12/28/2016 - 8:46am

Two Ohio cities -- Cincinnati and Columbus -- are ranked in SmartAsset's second annual list of the Top 10 Cities for Beer Drinkers.

Cincinnati ranks fourth, while Columbus is sixth. Asheville, N.C., topped the list, supplanting Portland, Maine, from last year.

To come up with its rankings, the website examined the number of microbreweries per city, the number of microbreweries per 100,000 residents, the number of bars per 100,000 residents, the average Yelp score of breweries and the average price of a pint in each city.

SmartAsset says one of its key findings was Montana, North Carolina and Ohio cities showing up twice in the top 10. "Considering the population size of Montana, it’s quite a feat that two of its cities made the cut," the site says.

Cincinnati was ranked 10th last year, when Columbus was 14th. Cleveland was 18th last year but fell out of the top 25.

To read the full list, including a breakdown of why Cincinnati and Columbus were ranked, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Platform ready to open new Columbus brewery

Ohio Beer Blog - Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:26pm

Platform Beer Co. co-founder Paul Benner wants to stress several points about the new Platform brewery in Columbus.

For starters, it’s going to be a laid-back place.

It’s going to focus on experimentation, as the brewery employs the original three-and-half-barrel brewing system that once operated in the Cleveland location.

Benner and co-founder Justin Carson haven’t gone all franchise with another site.

And Platform wants to become immersed in the Columbus craft beer scene.

“Our goal going into the market in Columbus is to be seen as a local brewer,” Benner said Tuesday. (Dec. 27)

The new Platform opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 28) in the former Carfagna’s meat processing plant on North Sixth Street in northeast Columbus. Half the building is dedicated to the brewery and tasting room, while the other portion is warehouse and cold storage space for Platform’s distribution efforts in Central Ohio.

Platform, which began distributing its draft and canned beers in Columbus earlier this year, also plans to open a rooftop patio next year.

The brewery is thrilled to be joining the Columbus scene — one that is decidedly younger than the Cleveland market. It’s particularly exciting for Benner, who grew up in Columbus and still has many friends there.

“The culture with so many newer people is very open and inviting,” he said about Central Ohio. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how great the other breweries have been.”

Platform, which opened in Cleveland in 2014 down the street and within the long shadow that is Great Lakes Brewing Co., already has done collaboration brews with Columbus brewers Seventh Son and Land-Grant, and expects to do more.

The Columbus brewery will focus on small batches. Considering its small system, that’s a given. The brewery also will do barrel aging and produce cider.

Benner said the brewery also plans to expand its guest brewer incubator program which allows wannabe brewers to train and learn the business.

“We want to be a laid-back and inviting place where people can come and enjoy beer,” Benner said, explaining what he and Carson hope to accomplish in Columbus.

The Columbus brewery will be open 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

The Columbus Dispatch also profiled the new location. You can read that story by clicking here.

Categories: Beer News

HiHO Brewing set to open Jan. 6 in Cuyahoga Falls

Ohio Beer Blog - Tue, 12/27/2016 - 1:05pm

Yellow was one of the key colors at Jon and Ali Hovan’s wedding.

So it’s no surprise that yellow is featured prominently at their new HiHO Brewing Co. in Cuyahoga Falls.

The metal seats at the 37-foot long, poured concrete bar are canary yellow — as in Big Bird from Sesame Street.

The color stands out so much that the UPS guy remarked during a recent visit: “Man, you can see those stools from down the street.”

That’s fine with the Hovans, who grew up in Hudson and returned from living in Colorado to launch their brewery.

“Great. Good. Come on in,” Ali Hovan said. “Yellow is one of my favorite colors.”

After a year and a half of planning and construction, HiHO, 1707 Front St., will host its grand opening Jan. 6. The brewery will be open 3 to 10 p.m. both that Friday and Saturday.

HiHO, which employs a seven-barrel brewhouse, will launch with six to eight beers on draft only, including a blonde, brown, hoppy amber, coffee ale, winter warmer and pale ale. Cider, wine and kombucha also will be available.

The Hovans want the 6,000-square-foot brewery and taproom — in a building that once housed a car showroom — to feature local products.

There will baguettes and pretzels from the Brimfield Bread Oven, and Beef and Barley will supply pulled pork for sandwiches. Their coffee ale features beans from Akron Coffee Roasters.

Even the bar itself is local, in a sense. The side is covered in weathered gray wood from a former fence that was in Ali’s parents’ yard.

The brewery overlooks the Cuyahoga River gorge — one of the beers is named Gorges Blonde name — and features multiple, large garage doors that open up.
HiHO is airy and open, with an industrial feel thanks to the exposed duct work and black ceiling.

The brewing system is tucked behind the bar.

The Hovans estimated that they’ve been working 80 to 90 hours a week to get the brewery in shape to open.

“We’re ready to open,” Jon said. “We’re more ready to open than ever.”

HiHO received its state brewing license last week so technically it can serve beer now. The Hovans considered opening before Jan. 6.

But then they figured they would wait until after the holiday. Plus, there was a little superstition.

“We also heard it was good luck to open the first of the year,” Ali said. “Many people have told us that.”

Going forward, HiHO will be open from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The name HiHO, in case you missed it from a previous story, stems from Jon’s nieces nicknaming him “Ho.” When they would see him, they would say, “Hi, Ho.”

Categories: Beer News

Four String expands into contract brewing

Ohio Beer Blog - Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:12pm

Four String Brewing Co. is starting to offer contract brewing.

"Due to a recent expansion, we now have the tank space to offer contract brewing services to start-up and existing breweries," founder Dan Cochran said Tuesday (Dec. 27) in a prepared statement.

The Columbus brewery says it has flexibility with batch sizes ranging from 30 barrels to 120 barrels. Four String also has a canning line that can package 12- and 16-ounce cans in both four-packs and six-packs. Packaging for half- and one-sixth-barrel kegs is available.

For more details, contact Cochran at

Categories: Beer News

Here's the 2017 Ohio Beer Festival calendar

Ohio Beer Blog - Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:08am

It's that time of year to start scouting beer festivals for 2017.

Each year, I try to run down all the Ohio events and put them in a nifty online calendar. It's getting more difficult as more and more festivals pop up around the state.

Here it is: the 2017 Ohio Beer Festival Calendar.

As usual, the initial version comes with a word of warning. This list is lengthy — and incomplete. There are many big events not on the list yet, including the Blues & Brews fest in Akron and all the Cincinnati-focused tastings at Listermann Brewing Co. Again this year, some organizers didn’t get back to me. Or a date or location hadn’t been selected yet. Or I couldn’t find information on the festival online. This list will be updated through the year so check back. If you are aware of a festival or event not listed here, email me at and I will add it. Click on the festival name for more info and if there’s no link, there’s no dedicated website to link to.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Mike Davis

Ohio Beer Blog - Fri, 12/23/2016 - 8:28am

Mike Davis is the head brewer at the soon-to-open Sixth Sense Brewing Co. in Jackson in southern Ohio. The nanobrewery hopes to open by the end of February.

Question: Why do you want to open a craft brewery?

Answer: From a purely emotional perspective, everyone involved in this project is passionate about craft beer and brewing. Having the opportunity to be involved in a business that produces a product you love is hugely appealing. With that being said, the more pragmatic answer is upside opportunity and the ability to scale growth. We believe consumers will continue to reward breweries that produce exceptional beer and market it creatively. We are 100 percent committed to competing at that level.

Q: Please describe your upcoming brewery -- everything from the size of your system to the styles of beers you plan to make to the building itself. In other words, what should people expect when they stop by?

A: The brewery will be located next door to Arch & Eddie’s Gathering House on Main Street in Jackson, Ohio. Arch & Eddie’s is a craft beer oriented restaurant owned by two of the brewery’s principals.

The brewery will feature a newly remodeled taproom in the front with a bar and total seating for about 60. The draft system will have 10 handles initially but can be expanded to 22. We have been working on recipe development and consumer testing for more than two years. Beer selections will be highly diverse and include everything from hefeweizen and pale ale on the lighter side to porters, milk stouts and Russian imperial stouts on the darker side.

The brewhouse is in the back of the building and includes a four-kettle system from Psycho Brew that will allow us tremendous flexibility in brewing both small and larger batches. Initially we have five two-barrel fermentation tanks and a two-barrel brite tank.

Q: What's the story behind the name Sixth Sense?

A: Enjoying great beer is a total sensory experience that stimulates all five senses. For us, the sixth sense represents that incredible feeling that can be experienced when a brewer nails every part of the process and creates a truly amazing beer. Every once in a while, you get a beer that stops you dead in your tracks and makes you say, 'Wow!' For us, that feeling is the sixth sense and it’s the outcome we hope to achieve with every beer we produce.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge so far in launching your brewery?

A: Accepting and understanding the fact that being a good homebrewer does not necessarily qualify one to brew on a professional level. Professional equipment, standards and practices change the game in ways that are difficult to overcome. The truth was, we made an ocean full of really rotten beer until we accepted that a higher level of professional education would be required in order for us to move forward.

Thanks to Siebel and some amazing professional brewers here in Ohio who graciously opened their doors to help us, we were able to turn the corner.

Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?

A: We’ve actually talked about this. The answer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The moment in 1980 Ken Grossman created and brewed this recipe for the first time, he changed the entire beer world and inspired legions of wannabe brewers. Inspiring talents like Sam Calagione, John Kimmich and a host of others to choose this vocation is one hell of a legacy that we suspect anyone would be proud to have attached to his beer. On top of all that, it’s a consistently great product we all drink and enjoy on a regular basis.

Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears each Friday and highlights someone in the Ohio beer industry. If you would like to participate or would like to nominate someone to participate, send me an email at

Categories: Beer News

Bad Tom Smith looks to relocate brewery in Cincinnati; opening taproom in Ohio City

Ohio Beer Blog - Thu, 12/22/2016 - 1:15pm

Bad Tom Smith Brewing Co. is planning to relocate its brewery in Cincinnati and has signed a lease in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood to open a taproom on West 25th Street near Nano Brew Cleveland, Market Garden Brewery, Hansa Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing Co.

The Cincinnati brewery now operates out of a small, former tool and die shop on Eastern Avenue.

"It's just not in a good high traffic area," co-owner John Vojtush said Thursday. (Dec. 22) "At the same time, space is limited. We're really looking to be part of a community that we're somewhat the hub of the growth. There's more money going into a lot of communities in Cincinnati and we're trying to attach ourselves with some of the economic development projects going on."

He declined to identify the new location, but an official announcement could come next month.

Vojtush also confirmed that a Bad Tom Smith-themed taproom will open in Ohio City, hopefully by the end of March or early April. The build out is taking place now. He had announced earlier this year that the brewery planned to open taprooms in Ohio and Kentucky.

"We’re right in the middle of the brewing district," he said about the Cleveland location, referring to the other established breweries. "[It's] something we’ve been working real hard on for the last couple of months. And we’re really excited about moving forward."

Bad Tom Smith, which carries the slogan Bad Ass In A Glass, also recently fired up its new 20-barrel brewing system, which replaces a 10-barrel "Frankenstein" system. The brewery had hoped to have it running much earlier but ran into an issue with the original manufacturer, Vojtush said.

The brewery says the new system means "higher quality, more consistent, tastier beers ... with more beers to choose from."

Bad Tom Smith expects its Limited Series beers CINfully HOPnotic Double IPA, Black Kettle Chocolate Stout and Doc's Kentucky Common, along with Coal Hearted Killer Russian Imperial Stout to be available on tap in January.

Vojtush, who bought Bad Tom Smith last year, said the brewery has struggled with consistency in the past because of the previous brewing system.

"You cannot produce a quality, consistent product until you have a system that’s able to do that," he said. "We’re really excited about what we’re going to be able to do."

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Ohio Beer Blog - Wed, 12/21/2016 - 9:36am

Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:

-- The Newark Advocate profiles the Buckeye Lake Brewery in Buckeye Lake. "I had a beer can collection as a fifth-grader," founder Rich Hennosy says. "I always loved all the different brands and logos on the cans so I have always been interested in the branding aspect of businesses." To read the full story, click here.

-- The Toledo Blade reports on the new 4KD Crick Brewery in Defiance. The brewery is using a 3.5-barrel system. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Gnarly Gome reports on the Queen City Brewery of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. "It’s a place you can stop on the way home from work and have a pint or two, fill your growler and head home," the blog says. "It’s the sort of place that this city needs more of." To read the full report, click here.

-- The Hamilton Journal News reports that Rivertown Brewing Co. is hiring up to 70 employees for its new facility in Monroe. "The Monroe facility is truly the realization of Rivertown's dream," spokeswoman Abby Hofrichter says. To read the full story, click here.

-- Scene provides a rundown of 13 Cleveland-area winter beers. To read the report, click here.

-- The Associated Press reports that MillerCoors, which ironically argued against raising the alcohol limit in Ohio, is promoting an increase in the alcohol content of Milwaukee's Best Ice on billboards in Milwaukee. To read the full story, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Top 10 Ohio beer stories for 2016

Ohio Beer Blog - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 11:40am

It’s that time of year to reflect. So here are the top 10 Ohio beer stories for 2016, as voted on by me, myself and I:


The top story can be summed up in three letters: A-B-V.

That stands for alcohol by volume and this year the ABV limit disappeared in the state. In other words, Ohio brewers can now produce beer over 12 percent. Meanwhile, brewers elsewhere can sell their high-alcohol beer like Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA and Samuel Adams Utopias in the Buckeye State.

There had been talk for years about raising the limit to 21 percent and then, thanks to the support of Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, the limit went away altogether.

Big beer fans around the state rejoiced — and should send Faber a Christmas card.

New, new, new

Ohio continues to see new breweries opening left and right.

As of Monday, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control had issued 204 brewing licenses. Last year at this time, there were 163 issued. (Some breweries hold more than one license.)

Among the breweries we welcomed this year — and this is not a comprehensive list! — are: 2 Tones in Columbus, Commonhouse in Columbus, Earnest in Toledo, Euclid in Euclid, FigLeaf in Middletown, Goldhorn in Cleveland, Hansa in Cleveland, Kindred in Columbus, Lockport in Bolivar, Mother Stewart’s in Springfield, Municipal in Hamilton, Streetside in Cincinnati, Tailspin in Coldwater, Two Monks in Akron and Woodburn in Cincinnati.

It also is nice to see new places opening in Northwest Ohio, which has been late to the craft brewery party.

Ohio isn’t alone in seeing explosive growth. The Brewers Association estimated that there are 5,005 breweries in the U.S., up from 4,144 a year earlier.

The Buckeye State also said goodbye to two breweries. Main Street Grille and Brewing Co. in Garrettsville and Little Mountain Brewing Co. in Mentor both shut their doors.

Expansion anyone?

It’s not just that new breweries are opening. Existing ones are expanding.

Market Garden in Cleveland, Columbus in Columbus and Fifty West in Cincinnati opened new production breweries.

Meanwhile, Fat Head’s in Middleburg Heights, Lock 27 in Dayton, MadTree in Cincinnati, Platform in Cleveland, R. Shea in Akron, Rivertown in Cincinnati, Royal Docks in Canton and Taft’s in Cincinnati announced major brewery projects — either new production breweries or brewpubs.

Take a bow, Fat Head’s

Fat Head’s continues to show that it’s a class above every other Ohio brewery when it comes to beer competitions.

The brewery — which now boasts brewing operations in North Olmsted, Middleburg Heights and Portland, Ore., with new ones planned for Canton and Charlotte, N.C. — won an astounding five medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Fat Head’s won for bronze for IBUsive and Hop JuJu; silver for Black Muddy River and Midnight Moonlight, and gold for AlpenGlow.

And for a minute, it also was named Mid-Size Brewery of the Year by the Brewers Association. But in an embarrassing snafu, the association, which puts on the GABF, handed Fat Head’s the trophy and then took it away later when a mistake was discovered. The group has promised better checks in the future.

If that weren’t enough, Fat Head’s also won two medals at the World Beer Cup, with a gold for Hop JuJu and a bronze for Midnight Moonlight.

No other Ohio brewery won more than one medal at either competition.

On top of that, Fat Head’s was ranked — along with Hoppin’ Frog in Akron and Jackie O’s in Athens — as one of the world’s top 100 breweries by

Take a bow II

Fat Head’s wasn’t the only Ohio brewery gaining accolades at the GABF and World Beer Cup.

At the GABF, Fifty West took home bronze for Going Plaid. Maize Valley in Marlboro Township won silver for Monk in Public. And Millersburg in Millersburg got gold for Doc’s Scotch Ale. It was first-time wins for all three.

Meanwhile at the World Beer Cup, the other winners were: Little Fish in Athens, gold for Barrel Aged Woodthrush; Fifty West, gold for 10&2 Barleywine; North High in Columbus, silver for Pale Ale; and Willoughby in Willoughby, bronze for Nut Smasher.

There were plenty of honors at other events, as well, including Triple Digit Chickow! from Cincinnati winning best of show at the Festival of Barrel and Wood-Aged Beers in Chicago and Streetside winning the second King of Ohio competition, which focused on session beers, with its Raspberry Beret.

Take a bow III

Avon homebrewer David Cousino — a member of the Society of Northeast Ohio Brewers — was one of the three winners of the Samuel Adams annual LongShot American Homebrew Contest.

He won for his Barnstorm Saison and his beer will be released commercially next year.
Cousino and his wife were flown to the GABF in Denver, where he was announced as one of the winners and walked on stage to be greeted by Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch.

“To go up on stage and shake Jim Koch’s hand and have him tell me he really liked my beer and it was spot on for the style? I can die now,” Cousino said at the time.


Rhinegeist Brewery is staying independent.

The Cincinnati brewery confirmed that it had been contacted by Anheuser-Busch InBev about a potential deal but decided not to sell.  

“I’m certainly proud that we’re independently owned,” co-founder Bryant Goulding said at the time. “I think people just think that successful breweries sell.”

He also said Rhinegeist is more interested in becoming an employee-owned brewery like New Belgium or Odell.

Mr. Paladin

John Chandler, the founder and brewer at Paladin Brewing Co. in Austintown Township, celebrated a year since having a fast-growing, cancerous tumor removed from his sinus cavity.

His story was so inspiring that Mr. Beer, a Tucson, Ariz.-based homebrew company, partnered with Paladin to replicate the brewery’s Sir Kenneth blonde ale as a limited-edition homebrew recipe. All proceeds from the sales were donated to help with Chandler’s medical expenses.

Bottled Bodhi

Columbus Bodhi is one of those beers with a cult following.

For years, the double India pale ale was available only on draft. Fans pestered owner and brewer Eric Bean all the time about when the beer, which won a bronze medal at the 2014 GABF, would be available in bottles.

2016 was the year. With the opening of a new production brewery, Columbus was able to bump up its production and finally put Bodhi in bottles. Creeper, another popular Columbus brew, soon followed.

Punch Out

Fifty West put a fresh, exciting spin on the age-old beer festival.

It’s tough to come up with something unique today. But Fifty West outdid itself with a combined boxing match and beer tasting. About 2,000 people showed up to sample beer and watch men and women from Cincinnati-area breweries pummel each other.

The event was pure spectacle with a professional ring and bleachers set up outside. When the sun set, the matches were held under the lights.

There is nothing like the experience.

Honorable mentions

Want a few more? Here are several other notable happenings …

• Homestead Beer Co. in Heath received the Outstanding American Manufacturer Small Business award from the SCORE Foundation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags in Washington, D.C.

• Alaskan Brewing Co. — one of the country’s largest brewers and one of the few big ones not available in Ohio — started distributing in the Buckeye State.

• Hillary Clinton stopped by Jackie O’s on one of her presidential tours.

• Cellar Rats Brewery, which once vowed to never change its name, changed its name, succumbing to worry about people not liking rats. It’s now called Double Wing.

• Pete Slosberg of Pete’s Wicked Ale fame stopped by Hoppin’ Frog to brew the limited-edition Wicked Re-Pete 2X.

Categories: Beer News

Winter Warmer Fest returns March 4

Ohio Beer Blog - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 2:05pm

Tickets are on sale now for the 11th annual Winter Warmer Fest in Cleveland.

The event, a fundraiser for the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, is from 2 to 6 p.m. March 4 at Windows on the River. The beer tasting features more than 50 Ohio breweries and highlights winter and limited-edition brews. There also is a special cask area.

General admission tickets are $45. Early admission tickets, which get you in at 1 p.m., are $55.

For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Heavy Seas taps MadTree for 'Partner Ship"

Ohio Beer Blog - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 11:24am

Heavy Seas Beer from Baltimore has tapped Cincinnati's MadTree Brewing Co. to participate in its "Partner Ships" collaboration series.

The beer -- the actual style is still being determined -- is scheduled to be released in November 2017. Heavy Seas is teaming up with two other breweries next year as part of the series: Union Craft of Baltimore and Cigar City in Tampa.

It's the second year for the Partner Ships series. Last year, Heavy Seas worked with Maine, Stone, Terrapin and Troegs.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Kevin Loftis

Ohio Beer Blog - Fri, 12/16/2016 - 9:54am

Kevin Loftis is the co-founder and brewer at Mother Stewart's Brewing Co. in Springfield. The brewery opened in July and is named after Eliza Daniel “Mother” Stewart, one of the leaders of the temperance movement in Springfield and Xenia in the late 1800s.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I had been drinking craft beers well before I was 21. Rogue bombers and Anderson Valley bombers were the go-to beers in 1992 for the good-for-nothings I was hanging out with. By 1993, I was attending the University of Vermont and had heard about Otter Creek Brewing down in Middlebury.

Still not 21, it took quite a bit of begging and pleading to convince them that I was a worthwhile hire. After shifts of keg cleaning, I would clock out and go help the brewer. At the time that was Rob Todd, who left shortly thereafter to start Allagash Brewing. Otter Creek was growing so fast that eventually they needed an evening shift brewer. I was with them, brewing most evenings, while eventually graduating from UVM in the spring of 1998. I actually graduated the diploma course at Siebel (1997) prior to graduating from UVM.

Q: What has been the highlight of your brewing career so far and why was it so special? (Maybe it's been a beer that you brewed, an award that you won, an idol you've met ...)

A: Without question, highlight of career has been opening up Mother Stewart's Brewing. Biggest challenge, biggest risk, and so far, biggest reward.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of launching your brewery and how did you overcome it?

A: Starting a venture of this nature is overwhelming!! From the big ticket items to the minutiae of lighting choices and bar stools. Luckily my brother John, and partner in the brewery, had 20 years general contracting experience. This allowed us to split the jobs up and tackle different aspects. He handled the renovations and contracting, while I focused on the brewing side of things.

Q: What's your best-selling beer so far and why do you think it's so popular?

A: The Belgian Blonde Ale is our most popular beer. It's a nice, clean, highly drinkable and mellow Belgian blonde. In order to appeal to a greater number of beer drinkers, not just craft afficianados, I intentionally toned down some of the typical Belgian notes. Sometimes I think the craft segment, in our efforts to out-hop or out-gimmick one another, has forgotten about the larger market; and as a result has stopped brewing beers that appeal to craft and mass beer drinkers alike. I think the Belgian Blonde appeals to both!

Q: Which beer - any beer in the world - do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?

A: Sam Adams Boston Lager. Sam Adams (Jim Koch) is a pioneering beer who helped resurrect brewing in America. A lager way ahead of its time. And a true cross- over beer for everyone. Tried and true classic. Nothing gimmicky about it.

Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears each Friday. If you would like to participate or want to nominate someone, send me an email at

Categories: Beer News
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