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2017 – The Year in Review

This is the time of year when many people reflect about the year that is coming to an end. So as I was thinking about a topic for my final blog entry of 2017, I thought I’d compile an inventory of the breweries I visited during the last twelve months.

During 2017, I visited forty-six breweries. That’s an average of a different brewery every 7.9 days. Twenty-two were in Ohio, a further twelve  were inside the United States (but outside Ohio), and twelve were outside of the United States. Outside of Ohio, I visited breweries in Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, and Texas, while outside of the United States I visited breweries in Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Of the forty-six breweries, I had visited five before this year (indicated in italics in the list below). So forty-one of the breweries were first-time visits. The year also included a visit to one non-craft brewery – Carlsberg, in Copenhagen, Denmark. I also paid my first visit to a former craft brewery (10 Barrel Brewpub in Denver, CO), that is now owned by AB InBev. Here is a list of breweries visited:

Ohio Breweries (22)

  • Bad Tom Smith Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
  • Black Cloister Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
  • Black Frog Brewery, Holland, OH
  • Bowling Green Beer Works, Bowling Green, OH
  • Catawba Island Brewing Company, Port Clinton, OH
  • Double Wing Brewing Company, Madison, OH
  • Earnest Brew Works, Toledo, OH
  • Figleaf Brewing Company, Middletown, OH
  • Forest City Brewery, Cleveland, OH
  • GOTL Brewing Company, Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH
  • Granite City Brewery, Maumee, OH
  • Listermann Brewing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
  • Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland, OH
  • Maumee Bay Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
  • Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, OH
  • Nano Brew, Cleveland, OH
  • Rhinegeist Brewery, CincinnatI, OH
  • Rivertown Brewery, Monroe, OH
  • Streetside Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
  • Taft’s Ale House, Cincinnati, OH
  • Upside Brewing, Sylvania, OH
  • Woodburn Brewery, Cincinnati, OH

US Non-Ohio Breweries (12)

  • 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Denver, CO
  • Blue Heron Brewing Company, Espanola, NM
  • Chili Line Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
  • Denton County Brewing Company, Denton, TX
  • Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, CO
  • Hofbrauhaus, Covington, KY
  • Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver, CO
  • Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company, Denver, CO
  • Ratio Beerworks, Denver, CO
  • Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
  • Snowbelt Brewing Company, Gaylord, MI
  • Woods Boss Brewing Company, Denver, CO

Non-US Breweries (12)

  • A-Frame Brewing, Squamish, Canada
  • Backcountry Brewing, Squamish, Canada
  • Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen, Netherlands
  • Brouwerij de Prael, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • De Bekeerde Suster, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Howe Sound Brewing Company, Squamish, Canada
  • Mikkeller Baghaven, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Norrebro Bryghus, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Steamworks Brewing Company, Vancouver, Canada
  • Strathcona Beer Company, Vancouver, Canada
  • Warpigs, Copenhagen, Denmark

I look forward to 2018. I am not sure how many breweries I will visit in the coming year. Within the United States, I already have plans to visit Austin, TX, Cincinnati, OH, Denton, TX, Portland, OR, and San Antonio, TX. Outside of the US, trips are already planned to Canada, India, Italy (two trips), Ireland, Portugal, and Qatar. A visit to Austria is also a possibility. I am sure the list of my travel destinations will grow. I hope these travels take me to lots of new breweries. Hopefully, there will also be some new breweries to visit closer to home, including Toledo’s new Patron Saints Brewery, which should be open soon.

So I decided to finish the year with one photograph of each of the breweries I visited during 2017. I hope you enjoy them.

 

MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
Norrebro Bryghus, Copenhagen, Denmark
Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Bowling Green Beer Works, Bowling Green, OH
Black Cloister Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
Howe Sound Brewing Company, Squamish, Canada
Woodburn Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen, Netherlands
Our Mutual Friend Brewing, Denver, CO
Earnest Brew Works, Toledo, OH
10 Barrel Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Nano Brew, Cleveland, OH
Double Wing Brewing Company, Madison, OH
Streetside Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark
Steamworks Brewing Company, Vancouver, Canada
Rhinegeist Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Black Frog Brewery, Holland, OH
Woods Boss Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Snowbelt Brewing Company, Gaylord, MI
Brouwerij De Prael, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mikkeller Baghaven, Copenhagen, Denmark
Chili Line Brewing Company, Santa Fe, NM
Backcountry Brewing, Squamish, Canada
De Bekeerde Suster, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Catawba Island Brewing Company, Port Clinton, OH
Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, OH
Warpigs, Copenhagen, Denmark
Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland, OH
Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver, CO
FigLeaf Brewing Company, Middletown, OH
A-Frame Brewing Company, Squamish, Canada
Taft’s Ale House, Cincinnati, OH
Forest City Brewery, Cleveland, OH
Denton County Brewing Company, Denton, TX
Rivertown Brewery, Monroe, OH
Maumee Bay Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
Upside Brewing, Sylvania, OH
Hofbrauhause, Covington, KY
Ratio Beerworks, Denver, CO
Granite City Brewery, Maumee, OH
GOTL Brewing Company, Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH
Blue Heron Brewing Company, Espanola, NM
Listermann Brewing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
Strathcona Beer Company. Vancouver, Canada
Bad Tom Smith Brewing, Cincinnati, OH

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

The Upside of Nano Brewing

A few weeks ago I visited a new brewery. Upside Brewing is, according to Google Maps, 9.4 miles from my house. The brewery is located in Sylvania, OH, a suburb of Toledo. Upside opened in September 2016. You’d think that The Beer Professor would know about the opening of a new brewery so close to his home but I did not know of its existence until about a month ago when I read this article in The Toledo Blade. Shame on me, but from what I can tell the brewery opened up without a great deal of fanfare. The Sylvania Advantage had ran a story back in May 2016 about the upcoming opening of the city’s first brewery. But I do not read the suburban community’s newspaper that comes out twice a month.

Upside Brewing is a nano brewery inside J&G Pizza Palace in Sylvania, OH

Upside Brewing is located inside J&G Pizza Palace on Sylvania’s Main Street. J&G’s has been part of the Sylvania landscape since 1971; its current owners, the Dallas family, took over the business in 1979. Along with my wife and two friends I visited J&Gs on a Saturday evening. The place was packed; we waited forty-five minutes for a table. Such waits, especially on a Saturday night, are not unusual apparently. Having been around for over thirty-five years this pizza joint has a loyal customer base; plus it has a relatively small seating capacity. As we stood at the front of the restaurant waiting for our table I watched pizzas being made; many of which were picked up by customers for home consumption – J&Gs was doing a brisk take-out trade.

Upside Brewing is inside J&G Pizza Palace

The evening we were there J&Gs had four of its own beers on draft – Palace Cream Ale, Division Street IPA, Ten Mile Amber Brown Ale, and Bavaricana Witbier. The also had one guest tap – Sunshine Daydream Session Ale from Fat Head’s Brewery in Cleveland, OH. I opted for the Palace Cream Ale with my pizza. The beers are brewed onsite by Nick Dallas, son of owners Mark and Jill Dallas. Dallas  started homebrewing a little over five years ago and now uses a one-barrel brewing system to make J&G’s beers.

Upside falls into the category of a nano brewery. There is no official definition of what constitutes a nano brewery although the generally accepted definition is a brewery that uses a three-barrel brewing system or smaller. Nano breweries produce small amounts of beer. For example, Vine Park Brewing Company in St. Paul, MN brew only six to eight gallons per month.

Nano breweries have a number of advantages over their larger peers. First, they are relatively inexpensive to start and operate. Start-up costs are generally somewhere in the five figures. According to Mark Garrison, a writer for Slate, nano breweries provide “an opportunity for skilled homebrewers to dip a toe into the commercial market, without having to find investors or take on crushing debt to secure the kind of funding required to start a microbrewery or brew pub.” This is especially the case when the nano brewery is an add-on to an existing successful business, as is the case with Upside Brewing. If a nano brewery does have plans to grow, however, a couple of years as a successful nano brewery strengthens the position of the brewer when he or she goes seeking investment to expand.

Long Island Oyster Stout – one of the beers brewed by The Blind Bat Brewery

The small size of nano breweries affords brewers with a lot of latitude to experiment, which is good news for beer drinkers looking for new innovative brews. As noted by Derek Pettie, writing in Beer West, “nano breweries are able to experiment at will because of the low stakes and freedom to, well, brew whatever they want.”  Paul Dlugokencky, owner of of Blind Bat Brewery in Long Island, NY stated “I brew what I’m interested in drinking, as well as what I think might be interesting to brew. At my size, I can afford to take a chance on what might be considered to be an odd or weird beer. Commercial appeal [hasn’t] been a factor in anything I’ve brewed.” A nano brewery allows brewers  to test the market for their beers, while developing a customer base. This reduces the risk should they decide to scale-up and invest in a larger brewing system. Nano breweries also tend to get to know their customers fairly well. According to Tony Ammendolia of Final Gravity Brewing Company in Richmond VA, “being as small as we are allows us to have face-to-face interaction with all of our customers, since the only place you can get our beer is in our tasting room.” Indeed a couple of years as a successful nano brewery strengthens the position of the brewer when he or she goes to seek investment to expand.

Three different models of nano breweries have been identified:

1. Proof of concept. These are started by brewers who have plans for larger scale breweries. However, they refuse to or do not have the capital to invest in a larger brewery. They use the nano brewery to test the market for their beer. One example of such a brewery is 56 Brewing of Minneapolis, MN. They started out in a 700 square foot space in the northeast of the city in 2014. They very quickly outgrew this space and in 2016 vacated it to move to a larger facility. Starting out small, however, proved to be a smart business move according to 56’s co-owner Kerry Johnson. Commenting about their growth strategy Johnson noted that “starting small and building our reputation is a huge asset.” The space that 56 moved into in 2014 had previously been occupied by NorthGate Brewing who, in a similar fashion, vacated it when the space was no longer large enough. After 56 moved out another nano- brewery, Broken Clock Brewing, moved in and are now brewing there.

Chris Harris, owner of The Black Frog Brewery in Toledo, OH

2. Second income. In these cases passionate homebrewers want the best of both worlds – to run a brewery while maintaining the security afforded them by their regular jobs. While keeping their day jobs these individuals brew in the evening or on their days off. The Black Frog Brewey in Toledo, OH is an example of such a brewery. Owner and brewer Chris Harris works full time as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration. His brew days are Wednesday and Sunday,  while the Black Frog taproom is open on a Friday and a Saturday.

3. Add-ons to existing restaurant pubs. Many restaurant owners recognize the value of brewing their own beer on-site and adding it to their menu. Lack of space means that a nano set-up is ideal. Upside Brewing is an example of this model. To some extent this is a low risk approach as the brewery is being added to what is hopefully an already successful business. There is a built-in potential customer base and, as long as there is space to add the brewing equipment there is no additional outlay needed to acquire space.

It was the Austrian economist Leopold Kohr who championed the idea that small is beautiful- if you want to see evidence of the efficacy of this idea look no further than your nearest nano-brewery.

Black Swamp, Black Frog, Black Cloister

There are five breweries in the city I call home, Toledo, OH. Three of these have one thing in common; they all have the word Black in their name; Great Black Swamp Brewing Company, Black Frog Brewery, and Black Cloister Brewing Company. Despite this Continue reading Black Swamp, Black Frog, Black Cloister