The first week of February was a non-stop, action-packed and fun-filled trip through the vibrant craftbrewing landscape of the Buckeye State. I had the pleasure of traveling through Ohio with Bruce Wolf of Willamette Valley Hops, one of John I. Haas’ main channel partners. The goal of our trip was pretty simple: to visit some customers, see a few old friends and introduce Bruce to a lot of new people—all while making our way to this year’s Ohio Brewers Conference in Dayton, Ohio.
Our trip started in Cleveland visiting with Andy Tveekrem at his brand new production brewery at Market Garden Brewery. Along the way, we stopped by Great Lakes Brewing and spent some time with Mark Hunger. Next, we traveled down to Dayton to visit with our good friends at Warped Wing Brewery. During our visit, we ran into many old brewing friends who were in town to attend the Ohio Brewers Conference—and had a great time tasting Warped Wing’s incredible line-up, while talking about the hop industry, new experimental hops and the craft brewing industry itself.
The main event of the trip was the 2016 Ohio Brewers Conference and District Midwest MBAA meeting held at the Dayton Convention Center. There were over 350 in attendance, I had the opportunity to give a presentation on the current state of the U.S. hop industry. But it was Jim Koch who stole the show—and his key note talk seemed to have audience hanging on every word he said.
The following, and (sadly) last day of our trip, we paid a visit to Eric Bean’s new brewery, Columbus Brewing Company, in Columbus before traveling over to Cincinnati area. This is a brand new brewing location that started their first production brews in December of 2015. They’ve installed a beautiful new 30 bbl Brau Kon Brewhouse with a new Kosme Bottling line to be commissioned in April, 2016.
Of course, a trip through Ohio wouldn’t be complete for me without a quick visit to the MillerCoors brewery in Trenton, (where I used to work as a Brewing Team Manager over 20 years ago) so we were sure to spend a little bit of time there.
Bruce and I ended our trip with a visit to the Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati. Rhinegeist is growing very fast and has just installed a new 60 bbl Brau Kon brewhouse along with a 350 CPM CFT can line. We were able to talk about hops and enjoy many fine beers during this visit. While there, we saw them bring in over 100 vintage motorcycles that were going to be part of a weekend motorcycle show at the brewery.
After a long day, we finished our trip enjoying some amazing ribs at the Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse in Cincinnati and took a pretty great night-time photo of downtown Cincinnati from our hotel just over the border in Kentucky.
It was a wonderful trip with lots of familiar faces—and some really good discussions about the state of the hop industry, some present and future hop partnering opportunities. And, most importantly, enjoy many fine beers at some of the best craft breweries in the Buckeye State.