Each year -- this is the third collaboration -- involves a different style and ingredient. We've already seen a Scotch ale with caramel and a milk chocolate brown ale. So what will it be this year?
Warped Wing says that will remain a secret -- get it? -- until a release party at 5 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Dayton brewery. That party will include an Esther Price pairing with the beer.
"We're anxious to see what this year's response will be to this style," co-founder Nick Bowman said Thursday.
The beer will be released in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus markets on draft and in four-packs of 16-ounce cans beginning Nov. 7. The four-packs wll retail for $14.99.
The beer isn't expected to be around long. It sold out in three weeks last year.
"It's truly a phenomenon," Bowman said.
Fat Head’s Brewery — one of the most award-winning breweries in the U.S. over the last several years — is looking to open brewpubs in Canton and Charlotte, N.C.
“We have a family friendly, value-oriented concept,” co-owner and brewmaster Matt Cole said about the expansion plans. “I think our food and our beer are high caliber.”
Fat Head’s has a deal in place to open in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood, while the Canton location is dependent on the outcome of two liquor options on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The Ohio-based brewery is eyeing a brewpub at 3885-3893 Everhard Road in a Plain Township plaza that also has an Earth Fare and is located just down the street from the Westfield Belden Village mall.
At 10,000 square feet, the brewpub would be slightly smaller than the Fat Head’s location in North Olmsted but would feature an outdoor patio. Fat Head’s also operates a brewpub in Portland, Ore., a production brewery in Middleburg Heights and a restaurant in Pittsburgh.
The Fat Head’s brewpubs serve beer made at the locations, along with a menu filled with wings, salads, burgers and “headwiches,” sandwiches described as being as big as your head.
The brewery, known for award-winning beers such as Head Hunter IPA, Hop JuJu and AlpenGlow Weizenbock, views the Canton site as a way to build its brand in the Canton-Akron market.
Stark County already is home to the Canton Beer Co. in Canton, Royal Docks Brewing Co. and Scenic Brewing Co. in Jackson Township, and Maize Valley Brewery in Marlboro Township.
But a Fat Head’s in Canton would be a coup for the local beer community. Fat Head’s has won 19 medals at the Great American Beer Festival since launching its brewing operation in 2009.
Royal Docks owner John Bikis is excited about the possibility. Fat Head’s would help build the local craft beer market and make it more of a destination, he said.
“The fact that they picked Canton should speak highly of the demographics here,” Bikis said.
Fat Head’s is bullish on the Belden area, with Cole saying the ownership group likes the strong surrounding population, number of workers in the area and the attraction of the mall.
He estimated that Fat Head’s would invest about $2 million in the project if the liquor options — local Issues 43 and 44 — were approved. He also would like to see it open next year.
Meanwhile, Fat Head’s was approached about opening in Charlotte, a community that has plenty of transplanted Ohioans.
“It’s younger. It’s energetic. It’s a very clean and affluent city that has a lot of eclectic neighborhoods,” Cole said.
Charlotte has about 15 breweries and is still a young craft beer scene, with the oldest brewery there being about seven years old, he said. The community also doesn’t have many full-service brewpubs and Fat Head’s hopes to fill that void, he added.
Fat Head’s is shooting to open there in early 2018.
The Canton and Charlotte brewpubs are likely not the end of the expansion for Fat Head’s.
“Yeah, I think you’ll see a few more brewpubs,” Cole said. “Where and when? I don’t have as much of that buttoned down. We definitely have a few cities we’re also looking at.”
The brewery had considered Columbus a few years ago but that isn’t part of the immediate plan. Canton is the only expansion site in Ohio right now, Cole said.
He cited quality control and the ability to promote people internally as reasons for wanting to grow with additional brewpubs.
“It gives us a little better control over the quality of our product, meaning it goes grain to glass and doesn’t have to go through the channels of distribution, which for us is a little bit more manageable,” Cole said. “I use the term we can bear-hug it.”
The Deschutes Brewery Street Pub raised $440,000 for charity this year -- including $43,000 at its stop in Columbus.
The Bend, Ore.-based brewery partnered with local groups during its second annual Street Pub national tour, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity.
Deschutes estimated that about 140,000 beer fans drank more than 1,100 kegs of beer.
“This was another epic year for Street Pub and we got to visit with fans in cities we love from one coast to another,” Joey Pleich, who runs the Street Pub program, said in a prepared statement. “We raised $70,000 more for charity over last year’s numbers and saw twice as many in attendance. Success for this program means success for all the communities we visit and we are thankful to our many fans to coming out to support Street Pub.”
The Columbus visit raised money for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
In addition to Columbus, the tour stopped by Arlington, Va., Philadelphia, Chicago, Roanoke, Va., Minneapolis and Sacramento, Calif.
Deschutes said it will announce 2017 dates and locations soon.
Bud Light -- the official beer of the NFL -- already offers NFL team-themed cans. Now it's selling koozies sporting the colors and logos of all 28 NFL teams.
The koozies -- Bud Light calls them "coolies" -- are on sale for $4.95 online at the Bud Light Shop.
"The coolies are the perfect accessory for any fan (or superfan) who plans on rolling up to the away tailgate … but needs to do it in style with no doubts about where their loyalties lie," the brewery said in a news release.
Anheuser-Busch released 720 million of the special team cans at the beginning of the NFL season.
Andrew Marburger recalled some solid guidance from a craft beer veteran when he was deciding where to launch his new brewery and tasting room.
He was interested in the rural Bolivar area, where he and his wife Lauren grew up. But would sleepy — at least by big city standards — Bolivar in northern Tuscarawas County work?
Andy Tveekrem, the brewmaster at Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, put Marburger’s mind at ease early on, telling him: “You can put a brewery anywhere. If you make good beer and it’s comfortable, people will come.”
“That always kind of stuck with me,” the bearded Marburger, 31, said. “That was our vision: Make good beer and make it comfortable.”
Lockport Brewery is the latest craft brewery in Ohio to call a small town home.
Lisbon, Bryan, Marengo, Columbiana and Maria Stein are among the communities now that have their own breweries as the craft beer phenomenon continues to spread around the state and country.
Lockport is aiming to open around Thanksgiving in a one-story building along state Route 212 just off Interstate 77 in Lawrence Township.
The Marburgers hope to create a neighborhood pub space where people can gather and socialize. The focus will be on quality beers and customer service, he said.
The brewpub features a U-shaped bar, with four fermenters directly behind it. The 3 1/2-barrel stainless steel brewing system is off to the right and on full display.
Marburger, who previously brewed with Marty Lindon at Millersburg Brewing Co. and was a homebrewer for five years before that, plans to offer 12 beers on tap, with half of those rotating by the season. He expects some guest beers at the beginning as he ramps up production.
Beer drinkers will encounter a full range of styles from IPAs to stouts. Marburger also would like to add lagers and kettle sours down the road. Considering there is an annual strawberry festival in Bolivar, there will be a strawberry ale.
Marburger, who previously worked in safety compliance at a Canton hospital, plans to distribute some of his beer on draft in the local area, and also wants to can a few styles using a mobile canning operation.
The 3,300-square-foot brewpub once served as office space so the Marburgers are in the process of converting it into a brewery and tasting room.
There’s a fenced outdoor patio with wooden picnic tables. There’s also a garage door that can open or close, depending on the weather.
Marburger, a music fan, has adorned one wall with album covers ranging from the Black Keys to the Michael Stanley Band to Gladys Knight & The Pips.
The brewpub will offer a limited menu, focusing on paninis and meat and cheese trays — with as much of the ingredients being sourced locally as possible. The Marburgers also expect to have food trucks visit.
Marburger said he’s proud that Lockport will be the first brewery in Tuscarawas County in at least 65 years. The county had a robust brewing scene before Prohibition and Lockport’s name pays homage to that history.
Old Lockport Lager was the flagship beer for the former New Philadelphia Brewing Co.
Bolivar, located about 15 minutes south of Canton, is hungry for more craft beer, Marburger said. Sublime Smoke in the village has had plenty of success selling craft beer and the area gets plenty of visitors thanks to being home to the Fort Laurens State Memorial, a Revolutionary War fort built in 1778. There also are the popular Wilkshire and Zoar golf courses.
“It always felt like why not Bolivar?” Marburger said.
He’s excited about joining the Ohio craft beer scene, which has exploded over the last several years.
“We feel like we’re catching the tail end of this wave but there’s a whole wave behind us as well,” Marburger said. “People aren’t going to stop drinking beer.”
It's that time of year when a certain cinnamon, ginger and honey beer rules Northeast Ohio.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. will host its annual First Pour event starting at 11 a.m. Thursday (Oct. 27) when the Cleveland brewery breaks out the first Christmas Ale of the season. As is tradition, Santa will deliver the first keg at 11:30 a.m.
The daylong celebration will include a Christmas Ale-themed menu, holiday music and Christmas Ale doughnuts.
The brewery will begin distributing Christmas Ale bottles and draft to bars and restaurants next week.
For more details about First Pour, click here.
Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:
-- The Dayton Daily News reports that Yellow Springs Brewery is rebranding. The new logo features an eagle, heart and hop cone, the newspaper says. The brewery will host a "Metamorphosis Party" on Nov. 11. To read the full story, click here.
-- Columbus Business First catches up with Land-Grant Brewing Co. as it celebrates its second anniversary. The publication notes that Land-Grant has secured relationships with the Columbus Crew and Blue Jackets, is available in Ohio Stadium and is launching a bar at John Glenn Columbus International Airport. To read the full story, click here.
-- Columbus Business First reports on the opening Wednesday (Oct. 26) of the Rockmill Tavern in the city's Brewery District. To read the full story, click here.
-- The Brewers Association offers up a list of "9 Breweries You'll Want to Follow on Instagram." Among them is Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati. To read the full list, click here.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is launching a new outdoor beer festival as part of a larger homecoming celebration built around the Thanksgiving weekend.
Ale to the Queen City will be held 4 to 11 p.m. Nov. 25 and 26 on Mehring Way between Elm Street and the Roebling Bridge. The event will showcase more than 20 local craft beers, Cincinnati food and live music from The Menus, Naked Karate Girls, Cherry on Top and Flip Cup All-Stars.
The brewery lineup isn't available yet. Three-ounce samples will be sold for $1, while a full beer will cost $5.
Ale to the Queen City is part of the HOME festival, which runs Nov. 23-27 and will feature a tree lighting on Fountain Square and carolers on the Cincinnati Bell Connector.
The Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally a time when people visit their families.
“As the chamber works to continue growing the region’s workforce, HOME is a fun way to connect talent with ties to the area to today’s Cincinnati and give them a taste of the vibe that they will want to be part of going forward,” chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Jill Meyer said in a prepared statement.
For more details, click here.
The inaugural event begins at 10 a.m. Sunday (Oct. 30) at the Moerlein Lager House. It will feature brunch, two beer flights, a Streetcar ride and guided tours of the brewpub and Christian Moerlein production brewery.
Tickets are $40.
For more details or to buy tickets, click here.
Pour Over Pairings will feature Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.
Professional skier Brody Leven will make an appearance and talk about climate change and how it affects the winter season. He also will host a special viewing of his ski film Eclipse.
A portion of the proceeds from Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale goes to the nonprofit Protect Our Winters.
The event is free to attend but reservations are required. For more details, click here.
The Jackson Township brewpub will supply pumpkins, carving tools, a flatbread and treats for $12. Families will be able to take home the pumpkin. The carving will be held outside on the patio.
To make a reservation, click here.
A tasty Christmas ale must showcase cinnamon, honey and ginger, right?
Not so fast.
Boris Music, the owner of the newly opened Hansa Brewery in Cleveland, has other ideas. His brewpub is located just a hop, jump and a skip from Great Lakes Brewing Co., which has defined the spiced Christmas style with a beer simply called Christmas Ale.
All other Christmas beers – at least in Northeast Ohio – are held up to the standard set by Christmas Ale.
Music knows this and that's why he isn't keen on just following suit with a cinnamon, honey and ginger holiday beer.
“We have to be different,” he said during a recent visit to the brewery.
So Hansa is working on a high-alcohol blueberry holiday beer. The beer won’t feature American blueberries, though. Music offers up that they “have no flavor.”
He plans to showcase blueberries from France.
Music expects the Hansa blueberry beer will be available sometime after Thanksgiving.
Biblical scholars know how it goes.
Heck, many people are familiar.
Irad begat Mehujael. Mehujael begat Methusael. Methusael begat Lamech.
The Northeast Ohio brewing scene is sort of like that — only Great Lakes Brewing Co. seems to have begat everybody.
That begating was on full display Thursday night when the venerable Great Lakes invited five former brewers who are making names for themselves elsewhere back to the brewery for a special Alumni Brewmaster’s Dinner.
The intimate gathering, held in the dimly lit tasting room at the production brewery as part of Cleveland Beer Week, featured a five-course pairing dinner showcasing beers from Fat Head’s, Goldhorn, Hofbrauhaus Cleveland, Market Garden and Thirsty Dog — and Great Lakes, of course.
The brewers at those places — Matt Cole, Joel Warger, Josh Jones, Andy Tveekrem and Tim Rastetter — all got their start or spent time at Great Lakes. And they took turns Thursday sharing stories about their experiences and thanking the Cleveland brewery and each other for being supportive of their passion.
“Great Lakes has its stamp over everything in Cleveland brewing,” said Jones, who heads the brewing operation at Hofbrauhaus Cleveland.
Great Lakes co-founder Dan Conway also dropped in to welcome the guests.
“This is a wonderful event because it speaks to the fraternity of brewers,” he said at the outset of the meal. “We think everyone here makes wonderful beers. We’re humbled that they came from here.”
Here’s a peek at some of the memorable moments:
Great Lakes brewer Luke Purcell served as host for the evening.
He was asked if Great Lakes is working on any high-alcohol brews now that Ohio has no limit on alcohol in beer. “I’m sure we will,” he said.
But he also shared a story about wanting to make a barley wine when the limit went from 6 percent to 12 percent. He called Tveekrem, who was at Dogfish Head Craft Ales at the time, for advice.
Tveekrem told him it’s not so easy.
“You have to have space and time so they mellow out so they are not burning your throat like whiskey does,” Purcell said.
He also reminisced about his first few days on the job back in January 1996. He was an out of work landscaper when Tveekrem hired him. He was so excited about what lay ahead.
But that first day, Tveekrem handed him a shovel.
“For the next four days, I had to shovel out the snow,” Purcell said. “That’s how I got started in the brewing industry.”
Cole, the brewmaster at Fat Head’s, brought Hop Stalker Fresh Hop IPA to the dinner.
He talked about how obsessed he is with hops, noting that he flies out to Yakima, Wash., several times a year just to evaluate the crops.
With restaurateurs promoting “farm to table,” Cole said using fresh hops is “ranch to brewery.”
“Fresh is better,” he said.
Jones brought Hofbrauhaus Red Lager, noting that Great Lakes Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale served as his inspiration.
While working at Great Lakes, he tried to soak up as much as he could. He thanked Warger for sharing his brewing knowledge and praised Rastetter for his technical know-how.
Warger, who heads the brewing operation at Goldhorn, brought Numbered Streets Wheat.
It seems that Cleveland breweries are always naming their beers after numbered streets so, with tongue in cheek, he named his hefeweizen Numbered Streets.
Warger also talked about how he admired Great Lakes for helping to revitalize the Ohio City neighborhood, saying that Goldhorn wants to serve as a similar catalyst for the East 55th Street area.
Rastetter, the brewmaster at Thirsty Dog in Akron, brought Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager. He explained that he originally made it to duplicate Xingu, a Brazilian black lager.
He and Purcell also talked about the truth behind the story of Rastetter stealing the Christmas Ale recipe. Many beer drinkers in Northeast Ohio debate whether Great Lakes Christmas Ale or Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas is better.
Rastetter recalled plans he had in 1992 to talk with Dan Conway about how the brewery could make Christmas Ale even tastier. The changes were never made.
When Rastetter left for Liberty Street Brewing in Akron in 1994, he ended up making the Christmas ale that he wanted to at Great Lakes. That beer is now 12 Dogs of Christmas.
He added that the legend about him being a recipe thief has benefited both beers.
“I will let the legend stand,” he said with a laugh.
Tveekrem, who oversees brewing at the neighboring Market Garden Brewery, brought Franklin Castle Pumpkin Spice Ale.
Over his career — he started at Great Lakes in 1991 — he has helped build six breweries. Five of them were in the Ohio City neighborhood.
“I’m very happy I’ve been a part of this,” he said.
Jake Turner is the head brewer at Maize Valley Beers, located just outsdie Hartville and one of several winery-breweries in Ohio. He won a silver medal for Monk in Public at this year's Great American Beer Festival.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I became a brewer because I had an extreme passion for craft beer. I took the hobby of homebrewing a little more seriously than a lot of the other people who were around me doing it at the time. It was a fun thing to do with friends, but I became engrossed in the process and science of it. I kind of parlayed that passion into working my way into a job with Maize Valley in their early stages of opening the brewery portion of the business.
Q: You won a silver medal this month at the Great American Beer Festival for Monk in Public, a Belgian-style strong ale. Describe your reaction to receiving that award.
A: When I started getting messages from other brewers in the area that I had won a medal at GABF, I was pouring beer at Maize Valley for our Oktoberfest event this year. At first, I was confused to what they were saying, and then it hit me. I was in complete disbelief and shock. Then I thought, I need to get out of here and go celebrate!
I ended up finishing up my beer pouring obligations then going out to celebrate but I don't think it's fully set in yet, even after receiving the medal.
Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?
A: I'm pretty early into my brewing career still, so I have a hard time finding it appropriate for me to give advice in a lot of these situations but here goes: I think it's necessary to have a real passion and knowledge of craft beer. To spend the time doing the research on each style that you want to brew. It's important to be meticulous about all aspects of brewing.
We were just talking last night at a pro brewer meet-up about the importance of hearing honest criticism (or praise) when it comes to your beer and to take advice from others who've been around for a while. Also, cleaning and sanitation are extremely important.
Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?
A: I think our best-selling beer overall currently is still our German-style Pils. It's just one of those beers that is extremely sessionable. It's got a really light and crisp malt profile with some really pleasant floral and citrusy characters from late-hopping with Tettnang. That and we don't necessarily have a lot of folks around the immediate area that are well versed in craft beer. This beer is really approachable for them.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: For me, I wish I had gotten in early on the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale train. That's such an iconic beer that's been around quenching thirst for many years now. It's still a beer staple in my fridge and it's just so tasty. Especially on a really hot summer day.
Editor's note: Five questions with ... appears each Friday. If you would like to participate or would like to nominate someone in the Ohio beer industry to participate, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:
-- Cincinnati.com reports on the induction of Johan Caspar Bruckmann and George Widemann into the Beer Baron Hall of Fame. The ceremony is Saturday (Oct. 22) at the Jack Casino in Cincinnati. To read the full story, click here.
-- Drink Up Columbus reports on the two-year anniversary party for Land-Grant Brewing Co. on Saturday. (Oct. 22) The Columbus brewery will offer 29 of its beers at the celebration. To read the full story, click here.
-- Columbus Business First reports on the ongoing construction of Platform Beer Co.'s new brewery, cider-making operation and tasting room in Columbus. "We're going to be experimental with both (beer and cider)," co-founder Justin Carson says. To read the full story, click here.
-- The Dayton Daily News reports that Buckeye Road Trips is expanding its geographic footprint and adding breweries to its tours. To read the full story, click here.
-- Cleveland Magazine reports on Goldhorn Brewery. "I believe [in] trying to have a broad spectrum of different flavors on draft at the same time," head brewer Joel Warger says. To read the full story, click here.
The event is a fundraiser for Nationwide Children's Hospital and is part of the Extra Life, a global 24-hour gaming marathon fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
This year's marathon will feature about 100 different board games ranging from Scrabble to Settlers of Catan, as well as console games such as Mario Kart and Rock Band. People are welcome to play for a few hours or stay for the entire event.
The cover charge is $5. One dollar from every Four String beer sold and 10 percent of sales from participating food trucks will be donated.
The group hopes to raise $8,000 this year. It has raised $2,300 so far. Donations can be made through Extra Life by clicking here.
For more details, click here.
Arnold's Bar and Grill is once again using Halloween as an excuse to get weird.
The Cincinnati bar-restaurant will host its second annual Weird Beer Weekend on Oct. 28 and 29.
"Last year was a huge success so in anticipation of Halloween, Arnold’s scrounged, hunted and held on to the rarest, strangest and most peculiar beers that they could get their hands on," the bar said in a news release.
Arnold's will tap the beers at 5 p.m. Oct. 28. In addition to the beer, there will be live music both days. Here's a peek at the rundown:
-- Warped Wing cask conditioned Irreverant Red IPA with habanero and lychee. The beer was made exclusive for the event.
-- Dark Horse Scary Jesus Rock Star Pale Ale.
-- Alesmith Evil Dead Red Pale Ale.
-- Rhinegeist Mushushu. It's a blend of Ink, Panda, Bertha and Panther aged in wood barrels for more than six months.
-- Fifty West Home Sweet Home. It's an American brown ale that includes ingredients that would be found in a sweet potato pie like cinnamon, sage, molasses, pecans and sweet potatoes.
-- Jackie O’s PawPaw Wheat. The beer is made with the paw paw fruit.
-- Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Imperial Stout.
-- MadTree Smores Gratitude Stout. It has notes of chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallow.
-- Urban Artifact Pickle Gose. It's a gose brewed with dill and cucumber.
-- North Peak Mellow Wheat. It's a wheat beer with cherry and hibiscus
-- Rivertown Death. The Russian imperial stout is made with ghost chili peppers.
-- Stillwater Extra Dry. It is made to mimic the flavor of sake.
-- Evil Twin Sanguinem Aurantiaco. The beer is a sour IPA made with blood oranges.
-- Schmaltz He’Brew Funky Jewbelation 2016. It is a blend of seven beers.
Anheuser-Busch is once again asking Busch and Busch Light beer fans to go hunting for gold trophy cans as part of its “Hunt One. Win Big.” promotion.
The brewery has produced four hunting game cans and a new golden camouflage trophy can as part of the campaign, which coincides with hunting season. A total of 100,000 gold trophy cans were inserted randomly in special Busch and Busch Light 18-, 24- and 30-packs.
Beer drinkers who find the golden cans have the chance to win a grand prize hunting trip and weekly hunting-themed prizes. (The Anheuser-Busch brewery in Columbus is one of the facilities producing the cans.)
“Our drinkers know that when hunting season rolls around, they can expect a strong showing from Busch, a beer that pairs perfectly with their favorite outdoor pursuits,” Anheuser-Busch’s senior director of US value brands Chelsea Phillips said in a prepared statement. “Hunting is more than just a hobby for many folks, it’s a true passion and part of their lives. Now in our third year of the campaign, we’re bringing back our hunting platform to engage and reward fans with exclusive hunting excursions for our drinkers to win.”
The promotion continues through Dec. 1. For more details, click here.
The event, set for 4 p.m. Nov. 5, will take place at the Cincinnati brewpub and showcases Fifty West and Great Lakes beer and barbecue. The two breweries from opposite ends of the state also collaborated to produce a yet-to-be-named maple porter for the Brew N' Que.
Chefs from the 50 West and Great Lakes brewpubs are creating the barbecue meal, which will include meats, sides and vegetarian options. The foods will be paired with Great Lakes' new beer-infused barbecue sauces.
“We’re happy and honored to pair up with Great Lakes, a veteran brewery, to do what we do best: celebrate life with libations and good eats," Fifty West brewmaster Blake Horsburgh said in a prepared statement.
Tickets are $40 and include an all-you-can-eat buffet and eight beer tickets.
For more details or to buy tickets, click here.
Dick Stevens always tries to wear some article of clothing that bears the Elevator Brewing Co. brand when he’s out and about.
Whether it’s a hat. Or shirt. Or whatever.
The Elevator founder figures it’s a little way to spread some awareness about the Columbus brewery. What he's found is that many people have never heard of Elevator, a brewery that has won two bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
“When we’ve been around for 17 years and nobody has heard of us, that’s a problem,” Stevens said.
To try to fix that, Elevator is rebranding, following the suit of Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, Maumee Bay Brewing Co. in Toledo and Columbus Brewing Co. in Columbus, which also have redesigned their logos and packaging in recent years.
Despite its longevity, Elevator believes it has gotten lost among all the new breweries that have popped open in Ohio during the recent craft beer craze. Craft beer drinkers seem to want new, new new and the media spotlight often shines brightest on the state's new brands.
Rebranding is a way to recapture some attention.
“Let’s put it this way: I’m old and stale,” said Stevens, who always has a quip available and isn’t above poking fun at himself. “We’re trying to get into a fresher look. ... We just find ourselves in a crowded field and how do you stand out? We need to relaunch and look like a brand-new brewery.”
So gone are the drawings and caricatures that were Elevator's signature style. They have been replaced with photographs. The packaging was redesigned by Greyhaus Studio.
For example, Mogabi American Hoppy Wheat Ale, one of its medal winners, now has a photo of two young “farmers” wearing denim overalls and holding a rake while standing inside the brewery and in front of stainless steel fermenters. The blond woman has smoky eyes and tattoos, while the man has a red beard and baseball cap.
The other medal winner, Dark Force American Dark Lager, has a smiling brunette on a bucking black horse. (The beer originally was called Dark Horse, but Elevator was forced to change the name several years ago because of a trademark issue.)
Meanwhile, Three Frogs Triple-Hopped India Pale Ale features a colorful photo of three green tree frogs with big buggy red eyes.
Elevator, which operates both a production brewery and restaurant in downtown Columbus, opted to go with photography because it’s uncommon among breweries and will help distinguish the brand on store shelves, Stevens said.
“It’s a matter of trying to connect with young people,” he added.
It's also a matter of trying to grow the brewery. Elevator has been holding steady at producing just under 6,000 barrels a year. The brewery has the capacity to grow into 10,000.
The new packaging should start showing up in the market within the next couple of weeks, with the Columbus market likely seeing it first.
Elevator is planning a release party for the new packaging from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at its production brewery tasting room.
“As I’ve said recently, we’re the Rodney Dangerfield of brewing,” Stevens said. “We don’t get any respect. We just felt we had to do this.”