Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: Naturally, while in college I developed a taste for craft beer and shortly after started homebrewing. My spare time became increasingly consumed with learning everything I could about beer and brewing — the science, creativity and tedium of brewing completely aligned with my interests and personality. And here we are.
Q: Brew Brothers is located inside the El Dorado Scioto Downs Racino. What are the advantages and disadvantages, if any, of being located inside a gambling venue?
A: Being in the Racino has been great. The people that I have gotten to work with are all concerned with creating the best beer possible and offering the best experience to our guests that we can. Our guests have been very receptive to the beer we are offering and I think we are able to provide something that was previously missing.
Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?
A: With brewing, like most things in life, there is always something you can improve. If you think there is nothing that you can do to improve a beer or your processes, you are probably wrong.
Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so special?
A: Carano Extra, a kolsch-style ale, is our best-selling beer. It is a crisp and refreshing German ale with a light malt and hop character. I think it is our best-selling beer because it is satisfying and approachable to beer drinkers whether they regularly consume craft beer or not.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: I admire many beers but I don’t know that I would like to go back and be the originator of any of them. I am extremely happy to be creating beer at this particular time in the history of beer. All of the styles and techniques that were created by brewers around the world inform the beers I am creating today. Having all of those beers as a starting point allows for so much creativity (maybe too much at times).
Editor's note: Five questions with ... appears every Friday. If you would like to participate or want to recommend someone to participate, email me at email@example.com.
The Vine n Hop Shop is adding a nanobrewery.
The Brunswick winery and homebrew shop plans to launch its brewery in the next couple of months.
“The plan at this point is to continue educating and growing the homebrewing and winemaking communities and proving to them that with just a little bit of effort you can make some great commercial quality beers in a five- or 10-gallon batch,” co-owner Steve Girard said.
The brewery will allow Girard and his wife Kristin, who runs the shop full time, to show off the Vine n Hop-designed homebrew recipes sold at the business, which also offers homebrewing classes.
The Vine n Hop Shop, located just off the interchange of Interstate 71 and state Route 303 in Medina County, wants to offer six to eight beers on draft and sell growlers to go.
Steve Girard, a pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Brunswick, has been homebrewing for eight years. He counts IPAs and nut brown ales among his favorite styles. (If you think it’s unusual for a minister to get into brewing, it’s not. Lutheran pastor Tom Schaeffer co-founded Black Cloister Brewing Co. in Toledo.)
Kristin Girard got her husband into the hobby. She’s quite the brewer as well and designs the recipes, he said.
Speaking of the Vine n Hop Shop, the business and the Brewing Ring In Medina (BRIM) homebrewing club are hosting a Big Brew Event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 7 to celebrate the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrew Day and The Vine n Hop Shop’s first anniversary.
The event is open to the public.
BRIM will have 15 brewers there showing different homebrewing techniques and equipment. There will be demonstrations on how to brew 1, 3, 5 and 10-gallon batches.
Lock 27 Brewing Co. is opening a second brewery and gastropub in downtown Dayton.
Lock 27 founder and brewmaster Steve Barnhart announced the plan Thursday morning, saying in a news release that the new operation will take over two floors of the Delco building in the Water Street District.
The new brewery, which hopes to open in April 2017, will overlook the main entrance to Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons minor league baseball team. The Delco building also is undergoing renovations and will house apartments when the project is completed.
“We are excited to become a part of the burgeoning Dayton marketplace, and are honored to become the first tenant in the long dormant Delco building," Barnhart said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to see the pace of redevelopment in Dayton being enabled by Mayor Nan Whaley and the City of Dayton, and particularly excited by the development team’s vision for the Water Street District.”
The original Lock 27 brewpub opened in a Centerville shopping plaza in 2013. Downtown Dayton is now flush with breweries. In addition to the new Lock 27, Toxic Brew Co., Dayton Beer Co. and Warped Wing Brewing Co. are in the center city, with Fifth Street Brewpub and Carillon Brewing Co. also in the city. There also are plenty of breweries in nearby Kettering, Vandalia, Springboro, Yellow Springs and Miamisburg.
At the Delco building, the Lock 27 gastropub will be located on the plaza level, "with an extensive brewhouse located in the basement." The news release didn't provide details about the brewery or the size of the investment, and Barnhart couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
“The Water Street District and specifically the Delco Lofts project have added a phenomenal partner in Lock 27 Brewing," Jason Woodard, principal at Woodard Development, which is overseeing the renovations, said in the news release. “The gastropub is second to none, combined with the full-scale brewery operation, this will create a customer experience like no other in Dayton."
Whaley also weighed in. "I am excited that retail businesses like Lock 27 Brewing are investing in Dayton and our downtown," she said. "The Water Street District's success in attracting businesses like Lock 27 Brewing shows how well we have done in capitalizing on the river and making downtown a destination."
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. was named "Ohio Brewery of the Year" at the fifth annual New York International Beer Competition.
It's back to back to back top honors for the Akron brewery at the event held in New York City. Thirsty Dog was named Ohio Brewery of the Year last year and USA Brewery of the Year in 2014.
"It's deja vu," Thirsty Dog co-owner John Najeway said Wednesday about the recent honor.
Two Ohio-based breweries -- Thirsty Dog and Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. in Cincinnati -- picked up medals at the judged event. Samuel Adams, which has a brewery in Cincinnati, also won a slew of awards.
The winners were announced Monday. Nearly 400 beers and ciders were submitted from more than 12 countries in the competition, which was judged by retail store and restaurant owners, beverage directors, distributors and importers. Less than 50 percent of the entrants won a medal.
Thirsty Dog won a gold for its Siberian Night Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels, a silver for Rail Dog and a bronze for Cerasus Dog Flanders Style Red Ale. The brewery will release Cerasus in 375-milliliter bottles in June.
Christian Moerlein won a silver for Big Piney IPA and a bronze for Hudepohl Pure Lager.
For more details or to see all the winners, click here.
Here are some interesting Ohio-related beer stories:
-- The Dayton Daily News reports that Dayton Beer Co. will celebrate its fourth anniversary on May 14 with special beer releases. "From day one, this has been a roller coaster ride not knowing what to expect the next day," founder Pete Hilgeman says. To read the full story, click here.
-- Cincinnati.com reports on Little Kings Cream Ale being made in Cincinnati again. "How awesome is this?" brand owner Greg Hardman says. To read the full story, click here.
-- Drink Up Columbus reports that the new Columbus Ale Trail Brew Book will make its debut May 13 at a kickoff party at Wolf's Ridge Brewing Co. The Columbus Ale Trail was launched last year. To read the full story, click here.
-- Drink Up Columbus reports that Granville Brewing Co. is expanding. The nanobrewery is growing into a seven-barrel brewery this summer. To read the full story, click here.
-- The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette reports that a neighbor of Rockmill Brewery has threatened a lawsuit if Greenfield Township trustees allow the brewery to expand. To read the full story, click here.
-- The Dayton Daily News reports on a "Beer Release Blowout" at Hairless Hare Brewery on Saturday. The brewery will release three new beers. To read the full story, click here.
-- Reuters reports that Anheuser-Busch InBev will continue acquring breweries as opposed to other beverages. "We've always done it within beer," CEO Carlos Brito says. "We don't believe in going too much outside beer." To read the full story, click here.
Yellow Springs Brewery will host the latest works from father/son sculptors and painters Glen and Virgil Clark from April 27 through May 22 as part of the brewery's ongoing Art + Ale series.
A reception with the artists is set for 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday. (April 30)
Glen Clark, a retired letter carrier and former board member of the Dayton Visual Art Center, studied art at the Dayton Art Institute and the University of Dayton. He creates assemblages from found objects that seem to fall somewhere between sculpture and painting, the brewery said.
Virgil Clark is attending The Ohio State University with a major in painting and drawing. He works with mixed media but with a focus on ink and jesso.
The fifth annual Chardon BrewFest is on the move. The beer tasting, set for noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 13, will be held on the Chardon Square this year.
The event will feature 25 breweries, food and live music.
Advance tickets, which are on sale now, are $30, with the price going to $40 the day of the event. Proceeds benefit Chardon Tomorrow.
For more details or tickets, click here.
The sandstone Akron Brewing Co. sign has been removed from the former brewery on South Broadway in Akron.
The brick complex is being torn down to make way for a new interchange with Interstate 77/76. Check out a previous story by clicking here.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., located a few streets away in the former Burkhardt Brewing Co. complex, took possession of the sign before the demolition started and plans to put it on display.
Here are some photos supplied by Thirsty Dog (the photo above was provided by my boss Akron Beacon Journal Editor Bruce Winges):
Ready for a repeat? Oops, make that Re-Pete.
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery will release its much-anticipated Re-Pete 2X American Imperial Brown Ale starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. (April 30)
The Akron brewery teamed up with craft beer legend Pete Slosberg, who co-founded Pete’s Wicked Ale in 1986, to create the beer, an homage to Pete’s Wicked Ale. Check out my previous story about it here.
Re-Pete, at 10.4 percent alcohol by volume, is a much bigger version of the original.
“Our Re-Pete 2X collaboration beer has the same color and overall balance, but is twice as strong, twice as flavorful, and just like the original boasts Brewers Gold hops used for flavor and aroma,” Hoppin’ Frog brewmaster Fred Karm said in an email.
The limited-edition beer will be available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles, which will be sold for $10.99.
State lawmakers are again debating whether to raise the alcohol limit allowed in beer in Ohio — and perhaps more interesting for craft beer drinkers, there’s talk about doing away with the cap altogether.
The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee last week approved House Bill 444, which would increase the limit from 12 percent to 15 percent.
That bill, proposed by Rep. Louis Blessing III, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, also would allow breweries, wineries, distilleries, restaurants and bars to hand out up to four free samples to customers.
Let’s face it: Free samples are prevalent now anyway and, as Ohio Craft Brewers Association Executive Director Mary MacDonald says, it would just legalize a common practice. Also, grocery stores and retailers were allowed to start giving out free beer and wine samples back in 2014 so it’s not like this is setting some precedent.
The same state committee has heard testimony, but not approved, House Bill 68, which would raise the limit to 21 percent.
Now comes the interesting part.
Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, is working on his own amendment involving the limit and labeling. There’s even been talk about his proposal doing away with the cap, the Dayton Daily News said.
Faber spokesman John Fortney wouldn’t go into specifics on the upcoming proposal.
“It’s an ongoing conversation about alcohol limits and labeling,” he said.
One of the concerns is making sure the consumer knows what the alcohol content of the beverage is, Fortney said. Thus the discussion on labeling.
Fortney couldn’t say when Faber’s proposal might surface, noting that the idea needs to be carefully vetted and discussed with the Republican caucus.
State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, the sponsor of House Bill 68, has been pushing legislation for a few years to increase the limit, arguing that it would help businesses and create jobs. Proponents argue that the limit hampers creativity of brewers and sends beer drinkers outside Ohio to purchase the high-alcohol — and high-priced — beers. It’s also seen as a way to foster the state’s growing craft beer industry.
Tickets are on sale now for the third annual BrewFest Waterfront District, which takes place from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 13 in downtown Lorain.
The event, organized by the Lorain Growth Corp., city of Lorain and Franklin Brewing Co., will showcase 40 craft breweries, cider makers and wineries. In addition to beer, the festival features food trucks and live music.
Advance tickets are $25 and include a souvenir glass. Tickets will be $35 the day of the event.
Organizer Howard Ross, who also co-founded Franklin Brewing, said the list of participating breweries is still being finalized.
He estimated that there were about 1,500 to 1,600 people who attended the event last year. In an unusual twist, BrewFest doesn't charge for designated drivers.
"You don't even have to be a drinker," Ross said. "You can come and enjoy the food and the bands.
"Our goal is to continue to build the event and make it one of the state's premier beer events," he added.
For tickets or more information, click here.
The Great Lakes Brewing Co. empire is expanding.
The Cleveland brewery -- which already offers its own beer-infused mustard and beer-inspired ice cream -- is launching two barbecue sauces. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter BBQ Sauce and Dortmunder Gold Lager BBQ Sauce will be released in May.
Both are being made in Ohio -- the brewery didn't say where in a news release -- and were inspired by sauces and dressings made daily at its brewpub.
"As part of our commitment to zero waste, we’ve used low-fill beers to create sauces and dressings for decades," Great Lakes retail operations manager Jeff West said in a prepared statement. "We’re excited to bring a part of our pub’s tradition to even more of our customers.”
Great Lakes described Edmund Fitzgerald Porter BBQ Sauce as having "roasted pepper flavors and a hot and sweet finish," while Dortmunder Gold Lager BBQ Sauce "is mild and sweet with tangy tomato and subtle hickory smoke flavors."
The sauces will be available in 20-ounce bottles at the Great Lakes gift shop and at select Ohio retailers beginning May 4.
The event will feature Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Heavy Melon, Fat Tire and other New Belgium beers, along with live performances by Color Wheel and Vibe & Direct and psychedelic and interactive art installations and performance artists.
Tickets are $10. For reservations and tickets, click here.
Land-Grant Brewing Co. will release its latest seasonal can today (April 25) -- Gravity Wave, a black IPA featuring Galaxy hops.
Gravity Wave is the second brew in the Columbus brewery’s series of dark "Space-Grant" beers. It follows the draft-only release last year of EF-1 Black IPA. Gravity Wave debuted earlier this month on draft.
It will be available in six-packs from the Land-Grant taproom starting at 3:30 p.m. and at beer retailers throughout Columbus. The six-packs will retail for $11.99.
Patrick Gilroy is the head brewer at Listermann Brewing Co./Triple Digit Brewing Co. The Cincinnati production brewery, tasting room and homebrew shop is known for hosting beer fests focusing on Cincinnati-area brewers and award-winning beers such as Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter and Chickow!.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I have always enjoyed knowing the process behind the things I like. From computers to food, I end up turning these things into hobbies. This started when I was in high school and spent a lot of free time in coffeehouses enjoying the super fresh, well-prepared coffee with my friends. I ended up working in a coffee shop and learning most everything I could about the process and the coffee. I then found myself working as a roaster for a group of cafes where I learned the process and coffee even deeper.
This interest translated very easily into beer. Growing up in Portland, Ore., I've had an appreciation for craft beer from before I could legally enjoy it. It was such a big part of the culture there it was difficult not to be captivated by the neighborhood brewpubs and breweries and the romance surrounding the craft. By the time I turned 21, I was ready to make my own, buying my first homebrew kit from Listermann the day after my birthday. A few years later after spending a lot of my free time learning the art and science of beer, I found myself applying to Listermann Brewing Company. Making stuff is a passion of mine and gives me a deeper appreciation for the things that bring me fulfillment.
Q: Listermann is one of the oldest craft breweries in Cincinnati, where the brewing scene has exploded over the last five years. How has Listermann been able to stay relevant as other high-profile breweries have joined the Cincy market?
A: I think the current culture of craft beer makes most all breweries more relevant than ever, regardless of size. Because of the industry's explosive growth there are more and more people looking out for craft beer in their city as well as beer where they travel. Any success Cincinnati and Ohio have as a whole means more attention and more customers. We've always emphasized Fresh Local Beer. Beer is better when it's made for your neighborhood as opposed to the country. This is what will make us more relevant than ever as brewery numbers increase. No one knows our neighbors and friends like we do and if the beer is notable, people will seek it out. Competitions are also an fun way to get attention. It's all about the beer in these cases. Breweries the size of a garage and breweries the size of a small city are judged on the beer alone. We've had luck at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014 with a bronze medal for Nutcase, as well as we're the only Ohio brewery to medal at the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago last year with a silver medal for Chickow! Aged in Bourbon Barrels.
Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?
A: Talk to people and form good relationships. Having relationships with others in the field is key. There will always be a situation where you have a question or need some last minute supplies. This is a two-way street. Also be open to helping others achieve. As mentioned in the earlier question, more quality breweries make your own even more relevant.
Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?
A: This is a hard distinction because some of our best-selling beers aren't around long enough for everyone to enjoy. While this can be frustrating, the seasonal and one-off format is what enables some of these beers to be as good as they are. We make some fantastic IPAs that only make it to a few draft spots outside our taproom. I would say the most consistently available and popular beer would be Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter (Bronze Medal at GABF 2014). This is a robust porter with plenty of peanut butter to complement the roast and chocolate character. This is one of the only beers we have on bottle and draft year round and on nitro when we can.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: I have never had a bad experience with Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. It could be my attachment to coffee, but I have always preferred stouts in the grand scheme of beer styles. Guinness was a go-to for me before I got introduced to more and more beers. This milk stout, though, is a treat. Nice balance of chocolate and sweet with enough bitterness to balance it. The texture of nitro is something I can't get enough of. This was definitely an "epiphany" beer for me when it came to deciding to get into the industry.
“Since launching the Dayton and Columbus markets last year, we’ve continued to experience an overwhelming number of requests for our products from customers in the northern part of the state," Rhinegeist co-founder Bryant Goulding said in a news release. "We are happy to finally be able to offer our craft beer and ciders to Toledo, Lorain, and Southeastern Ohio, and are looking forward to working with Heidelberg to sell our beer in this growing part of the State.”
To read the full news release, see below:
Rhinegeist Brewery Partners with Heidelberg Distributing Company to Launch Toledo, Lorain and SE Ohio markets
Cincinnati, OH. —Rhinegeist Brewery is excited to announce that their portfolio of beer, as well as Cidergeist craft ciders, will now be available in Toledo, Lorain, and Southeastern Ohio. Rhinegeist will partner with Heidelberg Distributing, their existing distributor for Rhinegeist products throughout the state of Kentucky. Residents can look for Rhinegeist products in local bars, restaurants, liquor and grocery stores in early to mid April.
“Since launching the Dayton and Columbus markets last year, we’ve continued to experience an overwhelming number of requests for our products from customers in the Northern part of the state. We are happy to finally be able to offer our craft beer and ciders to Toledo, Lorain, and Southeastern Ohio, and are looking forward to working with Heidelberg to sell our beer in this growing part of the State.” - Bryant Goulding, Co-Founder of Rhinegeist Brewery
“We are excited to add the Rhinegeist brand family to our wholesaler network and build on our partnership throughout the state of Ohio.” - Chris Emmons, Director of Craft Beer for Heidelberg Distributing Company
Rhinegeist is thrilled to bring their products to additional parts of Ohio, and hopes to advance coverage throughout the state by the end of the year.
A Little Bit About Rhinegeist Brewery
Rhinegeist translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and refers to our location in the historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery District in Cincinnati, Ohio. Located in an old brewery building built before prohibition, we brew batches of beer that sing with flavor. We aim to brew beers where, ‘the first sip calls for the third’ and we believe in the power of beer to bring great people together, foment fantastic ideas, and build a community that values craft beer and one another.
The Cleveland brewery — that’s Platform — and Columbus brewery — that’s Land-Grant — got together to design Session 71, a 4.8 percent session IPA.
The beers, which feature the same base recipe, will be made at both breweries. And both will be released in 12-ounce cans.
The collaborative twist — at least one of the twists; more on the other later — comes with a different hop being used when dry-hopping. In Platform’s case, that’s Azacca. In Platform’s case, the hop has yet to be determined.
Platform co-founder Paul Benner said he’s excited to try the beers side-by-side.
Platform and Land-Grant have been looking for an excuse to collaborate for awhile and Columbus Craft Beer Week, which runs May 13-21, offered a great opportunity.
“We’ve been buddies with the guys from Land-Grant,” Benner said about why the two are teaming up. “We have a lot in common. We kinda started around the same time. A similar approach and similar mentality to what we’re doing. A similar size. We both can our products. And we both strongly believe in the branding side of what we do.”
Speaking of branding — and here’s the other twist — Land-Grant designed the Session 71 label for Platform, and Platform designed the Session 71 label for Land-Grant. (Both labels are shown here.)
The Session 71 name is significant because it’s a reference to Interstate 71, which connects Ohio’s big C cities, as in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
The collaboration also comes at an opportune time because Platform and Land-Grant are starting to distribute in the Columbus and Cleveland communities, respectively. Session 71 gives each brewery a chance to introduce itself more in the new markets, Land-Grant co-founder Adam Benner said, (The Benners, by the way, are no relation.)
Land-Grant will host a Session 71 release party from 5 to 10 p.m. May 17. The Land-Grant and Platform guys also will be going at it during a pingpong tournament from 4 to 7 p.m. May 19 at the Walrus in Columbus.
Platform is planning a release party the following week at its brewery.
The dinner will feature chilled roasted carrot soup paired with Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, Caribbean quioa salad with Ballast Point Pineapple Sclupin, baked brie with 21st Amendment Monks Blood, cherrywood smoked duck confit with Ommegang Three Philosophers and honey almond ice cream with North Country Lavender Abbey.
Tickets are $40, not including tip. For reservations for more details, call 330-629-8080.
Akron and Canton are welcoming two new beer festivals in June.
Then there’s the Akron Ale Fest, which is June 25 along North Main Street in downtown Akron.
Here’s the early skinny on both events:
The United Way Young Leaders Society is hosting the Canton Craft Beer Invitational, with proceeds benefiting United Way of Greater Stark County activities.
It will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
John McGroarty, the brewer at Canton Brewing Co., is helping organize the event.
It will showcase about 25 breweries from Ohio, including the Brew Kettle, Canton, Fat Head’s, Maize Valley, Platform, Royal Docks, Scenic and Thirsty Dog.
It’s also a judged event with the breweries competing for honors in IPA, stout/porter and summer seasonal categories, along with a people’s choice award.
I’m participating as one of the judges.
Tickets are $45 if purchased before May 28, and $55 at the door. There also are limited number of VIP tickets for $65.
VIP ticket-holders get in an hour early at 11 a.m., and receive a souvenir growler and appetizers from Fishers Foods and Gervasi Vineyard.
For more details or to buy tickets, click here.
Akron Ale Fest
The Akron Ale Fest will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. under a large tent at the Trolley Barn.
The tasting will focus on newer and emerging breweries — especially those in Northeast Ohio — as a way to separate itself from other beer events.
“We really want to make sure we’re featuring the newest breweries and the breweries that people might not have been to yet,” organizer Mathias King said.
The following brewers are already committed, with many more expected: Aqueduct, R. Shea, Mucky Duck, Thirsty Dog, Canton, Scenic, Birdfish, Hoppin’ Frog and Ohio.
In addition to beer, the event will feature a slew of food trucks, live music and craft vendors.
King, who lives in Medina, said he really wanted to hold the event in downtown Akron to be part of an increasing energy in the center city.
Tickets are $45.
For more details or to buy tickets, click here.
After taking a week off due to a lack of questions, here’s another installment of Dear Rick ... You ask questions and I offer answers. This feature appears every Monday and will continue as long as the questions keep coming. You can hit me up by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @armonrickABJ.
DEAR RICK: What is the status of the old Crooked River Brewing (CRB) recipes? Does someone or another brewery own the rights to them? If yes, is anyone going to try and reproduce them again? My Dad and I loved there beers, especially the Settlers Ale (I think that’s its name), we always enjoyed a few cold ones together when I came home on leave. The Christmas beer was really good too. Thanks. — Robert W. Brown II, Colonel, US Army, Retired
Dear Robert: First a little history, Crooked River — named after the crooked Cuyahoga River — started selling beer in 1994 in The Flats in Cleveland, producing such brands as Settlers Ale and Cool Mule Porter.
A few years after opening, the brewery was flying high with corporate sponsorships and expansion plans. But according to Smart Business, Crooked River had some serious money problems.
“Gung ho enthusiasm and technique will only get you so far,” founder Stephen Danckers told the publication in 2002. “At some point you need to make a profit. [We] didn’t have business experience and know-how. It was always a search for money. Sometimes you’d just forget about it, but it was always there. Finally, it just caught up with us.”
The brewery had been forced to declare bankruptcy. The book Cleveland Beer by Leslie Basalla and Peter Chakerian notes that the brewery closed in 2000.
That was then.
Today, an investment group headed by managing partner Daniel Meyers of Columbus now owns the rights to the brand. The group, which also controls the Hoster, Frostop Root Beer and Cock’N Bull Ginger Beer brands, had some of the Crooked River beers produced on contract at Black Box Brewing Co. in Westlake for the last several years.
That’s why people could buy Irish Red Ale, Eerie Nights Pumpkin Ale and Yuletide Ale. The brands were made in small batches, though, and distribution was limited to the Cleveland area. You really had to look hard to find Crooked River.
Meyers is trying to raise financing for a new production brewery to start making the Crooked River and Hoster brands.
It’s unclear where the brewery will be located. Perhaps Columbus. Perhaps Cleveland.
“If it’s in the Cleveland area, it’ll be Crooked River Brewing, which also will brew Hoster,” Meyers said. “Or if we end up putting the brewery together in Columbus, then it’ll be the Hoster-Crooked River Brewing Co. It’ll either be Crooked River-Hoster Brewing or Hoster-Crooked River. The plan is to have our own production facility to brew all of our signature beers on an ongoing basis.”
As of this year, Crooked River is no longer being produced by Black Box. Meyers said the group is looking around for a new contract brewery. He wants to have two Crooked River beers available this summer, most likely a wit and pale ale.
As it was in the past few years, expect Crooked River to be available only on a limited basis in the Cleveland area.
“We just can’t wait to bring back Crooked River on a regular basis,” Meyers said.
DEAR RICK: When is the Blues & Brews festival in Akron? — Everyone.
Dear Everyone: I get asked this question about once a week. Thus, instead of attributing it to anyone in particular, I’ll just say it came from “everyone.”
The popular beer festival, which is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year, is set for Aug. 6 at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. I just learned this today (April 18) so this is late breaking news.