It’s been an exciting time living in Cincinnati, with scores of new breweries seeming to sprout up overnight. But for those involved with each project it might seem like a lifetime trying to get wort boiling for the thirsty masses of Cincinnati. It’s a side of the process that we as drinkers don’t often have the opportunity to peek in on.
Until Now… Middletown is home to a group of individuals that are attempting to start Cincinnati’s next brewery, and first brewing co-op.
What Is It?
Miami-Erie Brewing Company is…or more accurately, will be a brewing co-op. This means that it will be owned by a group of people: more specifically, any person who wants to join can buy a share and have an equal vote towards the brewery’s decisions. It sounds simple because on the surface, it is. It’s a model that has seen success in other places around the country, first in Austin, TX with Black Star Brewing, and then closer to home with the Fifth Street Brewpub in Dayton. A co-op by it’s very nature does not earn a profit. Whatever money it makes is re-invested into the growth of the brewery, or improvements or sometimes divided up among members.
It’s a plan that ties the brewery directly with the people who frequent it’s barstools. It makes the business part of the community in a way that other breweries often struggle to do with more traditional business plans. To me, it’s just another piece of the puzzle of our brewing culture here in Cincinnati forming itself into a true brewing community and beer scene.
The Prerequisite “Why Middletown?” Question.
I know, I know…we’ve all read the opinions (Forbes famously called Middletown the 10th fastest dying city in the United States). But if history has proven anything it’s that sometimes the opinions are wrong, or misguided. Middletown has it’s issues, but the same could be said about Cincinnati as a whole at times throughout it’s long history.
Middletown is determined to prove them wrong.
With the canal district trying to establish itself as an entertainment hub, with the bike trail along the river attracting the young demographic that a brewery thrives on, timing is prime for Miami-Erie Brewing Company to give businesses a hub of activity to latch onto.
Could beer be exactly what Middletown has needed all along?
It’s certainly not the first time beer has been brewed in the city… the Sebald Brewing Company is one of the more famous breweries that once called Middletown home, operating from about 1864 until Prohibition. The very name of the co-op is in fact a tie in to Middletown’s brewing history of sorts (The Miami-Erie canal was a vital transportation method for the area’s brewers). It’s a part of Middletown’s very core that seems to be left behind and forgotten, and for the worse of the city. If there’s anything that can provide a catalyst for change, it’s beer.
More Please… How? When? Why?
So…the co-op currently has over 100 members, but needs close to a thousand before they will be able to open. So, what can you do to finally become an owner of your own brewery? Start simple – like them on Facebook – follow them on Twitter, the usual… But the big step, and only real step is your $100.00 membership fee (They are even thinking about setting up payment plans for prospective members). With payment you can be part of the change that is starting.
The bad news is that they are still in planning stages, but the good news is that they are well on their way to brewing beer. In fact… they are hosting several events this year that will culminate in contests to finalize some recipes and they hope that they will have at least a couple beers available this year for local bars, with the taproom to be ready in the near future. It’s moving…the question is weather you want to be a part of it, or not.
As always…you can stay tuned here to the blog too for any updates as the brewery progresses.