New breweries aren’t just new breweries in a market that’s growing as quickly as ours is here in Cincinnati. No longer is just making good beer, or just having good marketing, or even just being in the right neighborhood going to cut it when you’re wanting to make a splash.
So how does a place like FigLeaf do it? They aim for every single fence and try to hit their metaphorical baseballs over them all, is how.
I know, I know, I’m a blogger and I’m supposed to overhype stuff a bit, but I promise you this place is the real deal.
The brewery is located in Monroe…no, in Middletown – wait. I don’t even know. It’s so close to the line, I’m not sure it matters. All I know is they are going to be one of the most exciting breweries to open this year in Cincinnati, no… I mean Dayton. I mean – oh hell. Look, I’ll get to the details in a minute – we need to talk about this other thing first. They are part of a bridge that I’m finding really important.
Bridging the Communities
You know that Cincinnati has an exciting and fast growing beer community, obviously. If you’re here, you love Cincy Beer. Don’t sleep on Dayton, though, they’ve got some really killer stuff happening right now too that I don’t get the chance to mention nearly enough.
Places like FigLeaf, and the new Rivertown facility, even DogBerry and Municipal. They have a critical part to play in uniting our two communities into something bigger, WAY bigger. Spanning the two communities and providing a bridge between them is something that could have lasting effects on how this beer scene grows and makes an name for itself, not only in Ohio – but in the country as a whole.
I don’t think that supporting two different beer communities will be easy, though. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of support on the brewery side to make it happen. You need to go big, or just pack up and go home (wherever that is, Cincy or Dayton) so how can a brand new brewery set themselves up for that?
They are big, they are talented, and they mean business.
You aren’t smacked in the face by anything spectacular when you walk up to FigLeaf. The brewery is housed in a warehouse space situated right on Cincinnati-Dayton road along a pretty industrial-ish stretch. But as you enter the doors to what is their taproom space, you get blasted in the face with a lot of things that clue you in to the magnitude of what they’re trying to do.
Take, for instance, the massive cooler that is situated on the left wall of the taproom. The brewery plans on self distributing their beer, so they have planned ahead to have a lot of cold storage for their kegs to sit before going out to bars around both towns. (The beer kegs, by the way, are awesome too. They are embossed with the FigLeaf logo, and are just another one of the thousands of tiny details you’ll notice around).
In front of the cold storage is a big bar that combines some really nice green tile with a rough wooden approach that blends the clean industrial look of brewing with the natural side that the FigLeaf brand seems to encompass very well. It’s accented by a ton of repurposed palate wood that warms up, and “roughs up” the industrial space very well. The taproom stretches across the front of the building, and situated on the right side (outside) is a massive patio space that almost doubles the floor space of the taproom.
The patio itself is going have an awning over it, making a heated patio that will be able to be used year round – so for those of you who like to do your drinking in the “good old outdoors”, this place needs to be at the top of your places to visit!
The Technical Side
A 20bbl, four vessel brewhouse sits on the far right wall of the brewery, with four massive 40 barrel fermenters stretching up tall on the left side of the brewing space. Hot and cold liquor tanks are in between the two. They have a ton of space left too to expand, and talking to the team of owners, you get the distinct impression that growth is on their mind.
They really want to use their four vessel system to not just pump more beer out quicker and more efficiently, they put it in for the specific reasons of what it can enable them to do. Different techniques, different beer styles… it all get’s opened up to more creativity with a flexible system. This is a brewing nerds dream come true.
When the doors to Figleaf swing open it remains to be seen exactly how many beers will be on tap. You know how these things go when a brewery gets rolling. Keeping that in mind, though, I squeezed a few details out of head brewer Jeff. Here’s what they expect from their first few brews:
- An American IPA – Why not? We are in the middle of a hop renaissance… hopheads are all around us – why wouldn’t you make them happy?
- Imperial Brown Porter – He says this is sort of his “love letter” to Fullers, but amped up a bit.
- Basmati Cream Ale – Easy drinking, refreshing but still elegant and full of flavor. I’m excited to see what this one is all about.
- Red Saison – Using some flaked grains and a distinct proprietary yeast strain, this one is exciting. We need more saisons in this city!
- Kettle Soured Berliner Weisse – This city is craving sours right now… so why not bring them something that makes ’em smile?
The talent of Jeff Fortney to craft beers that will make this city happy shouldn’t even be a question though. The head brewer has proven himself up at Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewing company and sets to bring the same excitement down here.
Bringing It All Together
I am struck over and over with how daunting of task it is to tie two distinctly different beer communities together. How do you find a place that they can coexist, and successfully manage all that comes along with that? The ownership team seems to have all their bases covered, though. Jeff Fortney is paired up with Andy Allgeyer, and Brian Yavorsky, along with duo Rich and Tasha Brown. Together they seem to almost perfectly compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The opportunity to sit down with all five of them is something I cherished. I know that once the ball get’s rolling on a project this size, the chance for a lowly blogger/podcaster like me to get them all together decreases significantly. Luckily… we got it all on tape for you to listen to! Tune in to Cincy Brewcast this Monday (8/29) to hear it all.
More importantly stay tuned this fall, ish, for their opening date. I can hear people complaining already that they don’t wan to make the drive to Monroe. Suck it up. This brewery is not something you want to miss out on… it’s going to be something special.