WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- A pair of former scientists has transitioned from the lab to the brewery and is opening up shop in Cincinnati’s northern reaches.
Tony Meyer, 39, and Chris Frede, 36, will officially open the doors of DogBerry Brewing to the public at 4 p.m. Thursday. The brewery is located at 7865 Cincinnati-Dayton Road.
The pair has been working to open their 2,400 square-foot West Chester nanobrewery for months since the project was made public in August.
The brewery will launch with 11 beers on tap. Their five year-round beers will be: a rye pale ale, an India Pale Ale, a Kolsch, a brown ale and a blonde ale. The others will be seasonal brews.
The beers will cost $4 to $7 per serving depending on what style you pick. DogBerry will also sell growlers; those should cost $14 to $20.
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DogBerry brews are made on a one-barrel brewhouse and aged in eight, two-barrel fermenters. The brewers said they could brew double batches on the system if needed to keep up with demand. There is also ample space to buy more fermenters and equipment if needed.
The unique fermentation vessels came to DogBerry by way of the West Coast.
Meyer said his friend, Peter Charbonnier, is the head brewer of Populuxe Brewing in Seattle. Charbonnier was kind enough to teach Meyer about using the system and helped him set up an order.
Meyer said they hope to produce about 220 barrels in the first year. Kegs will eventually be available for purchase.
“The appeal (of a nano brewery) for us is we can control every aspect of the business, of the operation,” Meyer said. “There will be just two of us that handle all of it. If there is any distribution, it will be very small and local.”
The pair said they would stay with doing one-barrel batches two to three times per week at the start. The fermenters they use can handle two barrels at a time but Meyer said they want to start slow at first.
A West Coast philosophy
Of those 11 beers, DogBerry takes a page distinctly from the West Coast style of brewing. Craft beer fans can expect some fruity, citrusy notes with an emphasis on hops from the Pacific Northwest.
“We’re not afraid to do some traditional loves, but the West Coast beers are what we both love,” Meyer said. “And we’re going to do is make the beers that we like. But if that shifts and changes over the years then that’s what we’ll do too.”
As the business grows, Frede and Meyer said they plan on eventually distributing some of their beer. However, their primary focus will be doing a wide variety of small batch beers sold in their own taproom.
“Hopefully what we do is interesting enough and people will come try it,” Meyer said.
Technically the brewery has been open for a few weeks. After getting final approval from local municipal authorities, the pair opened their doors to family and friends in late December.
“If people came by we wouldn’t turn them away,” Meyer said. “But we wanted to make sure everything was perfectly ready before making a big noise about it.”
If demand proves large enough, the two brewers said they will consider hiring part-time staff to help tend bar during extended hours.
“We just kind of have to let it organically grow,” Meyer said. “We know that will eventually have to come but we want to have our hands and eyes on everything to get started.”
The taproom will seat about 65 people and a second bar will serve as the merchandising counter. A unique aspect of the operation is that Frede and Meyer plan on occasionally brewing outside for people to watch.
Shared passion formed brewers’ bond
Frede and Meyer used to work together at Children’s Hospital working on vaccine research. They said after meeting at the office, they would often go out for beers after work together and shared their appreciation for craft beer.
The pair said they happened to both decide to leave the workforce about a year apart from each other. Both men said they found that raising their children and taking care of the home left them with time to experiment with homebrewing, in addition to coaching their children’s sports teams.
While Meyer had been homebrewing on and off for years while working at the hospital, Frede said he got his start after getting a “Mr. Beer” kit as a present. They decided to up their game in 2012 and get serious about the hobby.
“After playing around with that, I finally decided to ask him how to ‘do the real thing,” Frede said.
At first, the former scientists tried extract brewing and that’s how many of their beers got started. Meyer said converting their recipes from extract to all-grain wasn’t too difficult. The pair even won a couple medals for their beers in homebrew competitions.
“We just thought, ‘What kind of beer do we want to drink,’” Frede said.
The pair got the idea for their Wildfire IPA -- a riff on the style that features peppercorn and coriander -- because they wanted a beer to drink while eating chips and salsa.
It wasn’t until they got encouragement from outside their family and friends that the two men decided to give thought to actually opening a brewery.
“We used to throw parties and let people try the beer. When friends would bring people we didn’t know, and people who didn’t have to say they liked it tell us they liked it, that’s when we thought it might be feasible,” Frede said.
Keeping the focus on the family
The newly minted pro brewers said it was an opportunity they just couldn’t pass up too. The brewery allows them to pursue their passion and still spend plenty of time with their children as well. Staying small will also benefit the lifestyle they hope to maintain as fathers.
“We want to be more married to our families than to our business,” Meyer said.
As patrons to the brewery will find out, the space is very family friendly and it might not be odd to find coloring books and kids activities lying about in the taproom.
The taproom itself features several picnic benches and tables for fans to try a flight or some pints. It also serves as a kind of “beer museum” for Meyer’s bottle collection. The brewers built a display case featuring hundreds of bottles of beer that Meyer has collected over the years, but he says he still has more at home.
“My wife breathed a big sigh of relief once I finally got all these out of the basement,” Meyer said.
In the long term, Freder and Meyer said they hope to stay about the size they are now. They conceded though that public reaction will dictate a lot of their plans. While they could brew more than 200 barrels per year, they would prefer not to tax their system or their patience.
“Part of what we hope to accomplish, is that every weekend that people come in here we’ll have one or two new beers for people to try,” Meyer said.
The brewery will be open 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday to begin with.
After the first weekend they may amend those hours depending on the demand from patrons.
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