Let’s get it out of the way from the get-go… Bad Tom Smith has been the center of a lot of beer-geek controversy in the last year or two, and many drinkers would say that it’s for good reason. They struggled with consistency issues, they struggled early on with some name and identity issues.
But I have defended who they are at the core… I believe that the bones of this brewery can make something special for Cincinnati and her drinkers.
For this reason I was curious and excited when I heard back in late April that the majority stake in the brewery had been purchased by John Vojtush and Sheryl Gittens. After the latest episode of Cincy BrewCast where Mike broke the rumor of a tie-in with Paradise Brewing on Beechmont Ave, I knew I had to figure out what was going on with Bad Tom Smith, and after taking a few moments to talk to John the curiosity was quickly outpaced by the excitement for what this brewery might have in store for it’s future.
First thing is first… let’s talk this mysterious tie-in with Paradise. It’s official… Jeff Graff is now the new Brewmaster of Bad Tom Smith brewing. As for what this means for the brewery, and the beer? Consistency. Quality. You will most likely see some tweaking of the recipes, but I’m told that for the most part they will stay close to what they currently are… Just better. Bad Tom Smith has always had a wonderful story behind the brewery…even if it took them a little time to really get a feel for it. The brewery will still take on that same feel, and with Sheryl as the new president of the brewery, it will be run similar to an old-time saloon, with a strong, beautiful woman at it’s helm, only this brewery will be more polished than ever before.
Sean Smith, the brewery’s name sake is still with the operation. They made a strong point to let us know that they needed to take some of the pressure off of his shoulders, and allow him to do what he does best. There is a lot of other things at work here in the operation and the ownership team that will be coming out in the next few months that I have been asked to not reveal quite yet from a few different parties…. despite how much it kills me to not be able to tell you more, I can promise you that there is a lot of other great news about the team that is building around Bad Tom Smith.
The team has been hand picked and now they will spend the next several months tearing what was Bad Tom Smith apart and rebuilding it from it’s very roots.
They want a better taproom experience when you go to Bad Tom for a drink. The near future will see some changes to their space to make it a bit more enjoyable, but they recognize that the bones that are most solid about the brewery have very little to do with their current location, which is why 2016 will hopefully see them in a new location with a new brew system and more importantly and new attitude.
Bad Tom Smith is here to stay. So for a certain local beer blogger who told me they would be the next brewery to close in Cincinnati, you are wrong. Don’t forget to get my 12 pack of beer that you bet me cold before you deliver it to me.
As for what you need to do. You need to erase what you think you know about Bad Tom Smith… you need to give them another shot. With the release of their new Wickked Sheryl’s Blush Pale Ale this week, and next weeks release of their new Blonde Ale, you should try their beer again. This rebuilding period will require some patience… they just let me know that they weren’t going to be able to do Lunken Beerfest again this year, but promised that they’d be busy with things to strengthen the core of Bad Tom.
We all love a new brewery…. and this is the next best thing. An old brewery, kept open and made better. Stay tuned for more updates! You can always find Bad Tom Smith at their Facebook page, or their Twitter account.
15 thoughts on “A Bad Tom Switch-Up”
Gnarly Gnome, thank you for setting the record straight on where we are taking Bad Tom Smith Brewing. We have an incredible team that i believe will represent the Bad Tom Smith Brewing brand in a great way. All we ask the the great craft beer enthusiasts of Cincinnati to do is give us a fair chance to experience the new quality of our beers and the new experience we want to create in a our tap room (coming in the next 30 days). Appreciate your being a champion for the craft brewing industry in the great city of Cincinnati. We are all in and looking forward to being viewed as one of the truly great craft brewery experiences. Take care and thank you for supporting Bad Tom Smith Brewing, Sheryl, Sean, Jeff, Eric, Thommy, Dan, Junior and John
Really? Bad Tom is the worst brewery hands down that I have ever been to (over 150) and they make the worst beer of any of the thousands of beers I have ever sampled or purchased.
Putting lipstick on a pig comes to mind with this change. I wonder why these new owners didn’t just startup a new brewery without such a tarnished and awful brand? I gather it was to help a friends not to salvage anything worth saving.
Some breweries deserve to go out of business, but clinging to local support kept this atrocity to craft beer in business far top long.
Oh wow, a woman will front the company, please give me more of a reason than Mahoney’s was working with. And Paradise Brewing, really? Really? They are going to save the brand? Every beer I have had of theirs is either has real oxidation issues, early hop bitterness and no character issues, are plain, stale and totally uninspired. Dear god, train just met wreck.
Please do craft beer a favor and seek a new industry.
And no, I speak for A LOT of people on this one. Stupid, stupid, stupid to buy a destroyed brand.
Why not try the new beer and new experience? There is a large part of what makes craft beer and especially Cincinnati special is the desire to help each other. If this brewery was purchased to “help” a friend. I think that’s something that should be applauded by the beer community. Could a new brewery have been started instead? Yes. Could they still scrap the whole idea of Bad Tom Smith and change the brewery’s name when they get their new location? Of course.
I for one… Appreciate that they aren’t. The beer and the taproom experience will speak for itself one way or another. I’m ready to listen. If you aren’t, there are 20-something other options around town.
Frank, get a grip. I’ve enjoyed all their beers, especially some of their specialty brews. Inconsistency is something that EVERY micro brewery will fight, especially early on, but that doesn’t mean they need to scrap the whole thing and set a match to the place. They obviously have some good beer or they wouldn’t have the following that they do, so stick with them and all the micros. They’re becoming a bigger and bigger part of the cultural landscape here in Cincy, so don’t be so quick to throw them under the bus. I for one would like to see Cincy become the Napa Valley of beers
Couldn’t agree more, Mike Schultz, especially about Cincinnati becoming the Napa Valley of beers. It would be great to see Cincinnati reclaim its rightful place as a huge brewing center. Breweries played a large part in building this city and nothing would please me more than to see Cincy reclaim its heritage!
Great article, Gnarly Gnome. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but whenever I’ve had Bad Tom brews at the taproom or elsewhere, I’ve never had problems with quality or consistency. I do know, though, that there are a lot of louts in the local beer community that never will give Bad Tom a fair shake. They are the ones who will praise Blank Slate (another of my favorite local breweries) for creativity in deviating from style guidelines but will call it “odd” when Bad Tom does the same. It behooves the rest of us to ignore those morons and give Bad Tom a fair shake in their upcoming endeavors. I wish Bad Tom Smith Brewing only the best!
Sean is a super-nice guy (really everyone associated with Bad Tom) as is Jeff. Glad to see Bad Tom getting another look by beer bloggers. A new tap room and a new system will help these guys out. All they need is some glycol to change the opinion some have. They bootstrapped together their system and brewery and managed to make it work. Now with a little backing they could really take off. Cincinnati has a lot of market share left for them to grab.
One thing I never got a grasp on was the prior relationship with Paradise. My understanding was that Paradise’s All-American IPA and Red-Headed Stepchild were contract brewed at Bad Tom. Are these now just Bad Tom beers, or are the names and recipes staying with Paradise even with Jeff Graff coming over to Bad Tom full-time?
I don’t have a for sure confirmation…but I would assume that all stays the same. Paradise and Bad Tom Smith are still separate places. Thusly, I would guess that if any beer is contract brewed for Paradise by Bad Tom Smith, it will still be done the same way. That’s sort of how it has to be done legally… assuming they want All-American and Red-Headed Stepchild to remain Paradise beers…which again…assuming they want that…which again… I assume… they do.
To each of you who took the time to respond to the Gnarly Gnomes post, we appreciate it. We know that Bad Tom has taken a beating in the market. There have been mistakes that may warrant responses like that of Frank Harris. I cant defend them all nor will i try to side step them. They are all things we are trying to correct and more.
We believe we have a good core team, a good set of beers that can be improved upon and a good following in the Cincinnati craft beer market place. With the addition of Jeff Graff as our full-time Brew Master, we believe we will take the necessary steps in the near term to bring the quality of our beer to the level that is expected of a quality brewery.
Bad Tom Smith Brewing has no legal business relationship with Paradise Brewing Supplies. We have brought Jeff on board as our full-time Brew Master. He has the right, along with his wife Tammy, to maintain and grow his Paradise Brewing Supplies and his limited Paradise beer brand. Jeff will be bringing his experience into the Bad Tom Smith Brewing brand to improve our existing beers and to introduce new recipes. We are proud to have him on board.
We hope you continue your patronage of the Cincinnati craft beer scene and provide Bad Tom Smith Brewing with the opportunity to serve you in our newly remodeled tap room (coming in June) and trying one of our beers in a local bar near you
Well said, John. The Gnome will be perched atop one of those bar stools this summer to see for himself! This is what craft beer is about…giving people a shot and trying things. If we all sit inside our comfort zone and what we think is good or bad beer, we’d all still be drinking Macro lager.
Thank you for putting a fair effort into saving and resurrecting BTSB instead of letting it die.
Thanks for the info, John. So just to clarify – will Red Headed Stepchild and All-American IPA stay at Paradise? When I was last at Bad Tom, they were serving Red Headed Stepchild without any note that it was for Paradise, and Paradise said recently on Facebook that they were preparing a new batch of All-American IPA. I’m the local RateBeer administrator, so I’m just trying to get a grasp on which beers should go under which brewery’s listing.
Good evening Peter, Thank you for reaching out to understand our recipes moving forward. Jeff is bringing both his expertise and some of his recipes to Bad Tom Smith Brewing. I dont believe some of our past recipes met the standards that are required to not only satisfy our customers but the requirements of the respective beer styles.
Jeff will be bringing his All American IPA into Bad Tom.. It will be branded simply as All American IPA. The Red Headed Stepchild will remain under the Paradise brand. It has been poured on the Bad Tom Smith Brewing taps, and should be better marked as a Paradise beer.
I will reach out to you on RateBeer to clarify all of our recipes and beers we are producing in 2015. Look forward to speaking. Take care.
I like Bad Tom Smith and their beers. Sean, Eric and Jeff are a great group of guys that will make Bad Tom a better beer, a better place to go and a mainstay in Cincinnati craft brewing for a long time to come. Everyone has their own opinion about the different breweries in our great city and there is no changing their mind in regards to other companies and beers. I myself do not like a few of the breweries or their beers, but I keep my negative opinions to myself and just root for what all of the companies do for our city and her reputation as a major brewing mecca! You go guys, I’m looking forward to a Brother Clement soon.
Good evening Mario, thank you for your continued support of Bad Tom Smith Brewing. Cincinnati is a great town and we are proud to be part of the growing Craft Beer community.
We know there is a lot of work to do on our side to improve both the quality of our beers but also the Tap Room experience. We have the right team in place to make the improvements that are necessary. We are focused on the right things and believe that the improvement in our recipes and quality will create that buzz that will bring people back and bring in new patrons.
We look forward to seeing you around Cincinnati at the various Beerfests and in our Tap Room this summer.
Bad Tom Smith