Cincy Beer’s Core Grows
We’ve been talking this week about what the Cincinnati beer scene is going to look like in 2016, and it seems like everyone wants to mention all the breweries that we’re going to see opening in the city. New brewery fever is something that’s hard to deny when you see the excitement that emanates from a neighborhood that learns of a new brewery opening in their backyard. What we so often fail to mention is the growth of our own “core” local breweries that are already operating in the city. They are all growing into sizes that would have seemed impossible just a few years back in the city. Today might be about a MadTree Expansion, but 2016 is about a Cincinanti beer expansion. in the last year we’ve seen or learned of expansions from:
- Rhinegeist announced last year that they were installing a new 60bbl brewhouse, along with new event spaces, and a rooftop deck, with costs of the project topping $10 Million dollars. It was an expansion that puts Cincinnati beer onto a map that includes some of the countries finest breweries.
- Mt Carmel, got people talking about them again with an addition to the back of the brewery that now houses a 40bbl brewhouse that is cranking out some of the most creative beers that the brewery has been making in years.
- 50 West, with an expansion that crosses the road from their current location and includes an entire compound of “lifestyle” ammenities… Fifty West’s growth up to a new production facitlity is only the tip of their expansion iceberg.
- Christian Moerlein is marking their place as one of the breweries that will always be marked as Cincinnati to the core… they’re growing. A $5 million dollar expansion is bringing the brewery’s capacity all the way up to the 50,000bbl range, along with bringing some of the brewery’s “heritage brands” back to being brewed here in the Queen City.
- Rivertown announced that they were not just expanding, but building an entirely new brewery up in Monroe that will house a brand new 50bbl brewhouse.
And these are just the big expansions that we’re looking forward to. Well… there’s one more.
We’ve heard the rumors for what seems like a year now. MadTree has only been around for less than 3 years, and already when you step into their crowded taproom you can see the need for growth. The once sparse brewing space has been packed with fermenters and the warehouse space that they purchased last year next door has been filled with aluminum cans and other supplies crucial to pushing out their delicious beers.
We started hearing solid proof that they were looking into a space in the old RockTenn facility in Oakley at the beginning of December, but what did all that mean? What type of expansion would we be seeing from the first craft brewery in Ohio to can their beer? I started hearing rumors… BIG rumors. MadTree would be installing the biggest brewhouse in Cincinnati’s craft beer community and today we were told it was all true. Every. Single. Wonderful. Detail.
$18 Million Dollars is being invested into Oakely, at 3301 Madison Ave to create an entirely new MadTree brewery, taproom and event center that will anchor the Oakley business district. I jumped on the opportunity today to sneak in on their press event at the new space, to get peek at what is going to become one of Cincinnati’s talking points this year. The expansion has been called MadTree 2.0 – but with an expansion that is going to allow them to more than QUADRUPLE their production… MadTree “2.0” just doesn’t seem to encompass it enough.
- The entire building complex currently is about 90,000 square feet, though the plan involves some major renovation including demolition of some buildings that will leave their workable space at about 50,000 square feet once the work is all completed.
The new expansion includes a massive 100bbl brewhouse from W.M. Sprinkman Corporation. This will enable the brewery to move it’s current capacity of 25,000bbl a year up significantly… I’ve heard ranges of anywhere from 180,000bbl to somewhere in the 400,000bbl range (that’s an extremely long term number… don’t expect to see them “even” hit much more than 35,000 their first year in the new location)
- They’re putting a in an expanded quality laboratory, to make sure that every ounce of those 400,000 bbls will be the quality of beer that their fans here in Cincinnati have come to expect. MadTree, after all was one of the first local breweries to take the step to install their own advanced quality control laboratory to ensure that the beer quality was what they wanted it to be. The new space will have additional monitoring equipment, devices and automation to drive this quality into their next phase.
- Of course, their crowded fans can expect a new, much larger taproom as well. They’re talking about 64…yes SIXTY FOUR taps pouring their beers. That’s a pretty giant step up from where they’re currently at with 18 taps lining their cooler in their current space. The bar in the taproom will be two sided, with the backside of it pouring out onto their new and improved beer garden space, which if you’re a fan of their little patio at their current location, you don’t need to worry about that transitioning over as well… but of course like everything else, it’ll grow too. Their new beer garden will be upwards of 10,000 square feet. Like everything at “2.0” keep thinking bigger and better…
- They’re bringing over fan favorite Catch-A-Fire pizza too, in an expanded space, of course!
- They’ll have two private event rooms, as well as some offices and a warehouse area.
- The expansion enables the brewery to immediately bring 50 new jobs to the city, and to scale up to an additional 40 more jobs over the next three years… get your resume typed up… They’ll certainly be hiring!
The Space Itself
It’s hard not to be impressed when you walk in the new building… There is a wow factor when you look at the scale of this project. The brewery space is going to be located in an old Aircraft hanger. The massive curved ceiling will allow an incredible view from the taproom right next to it, overlooking what will be a breathtaking sea of stainless tanks.
The future beer garden, in what today is nothing but an empty room, will lose its ceiling but keep it’s walls to shield you from the noise of “normal life”… Because even now in what is only a shell of what MadTree 2.0 is going to be, you can start to feel something here. There is a soul to this space that even the current brewery doesn’t have… This is going to be MadTree built by MadTree, not by a group of hopeful new owners of a brewery as it was last time. Pictures can’t do this justice… This was meant to be.
They are saying that they plan to bring the aesthetic of their current taproom along with them when they make the move up the road. You’ll see lots of repurposed things such as the doors that you’re familiar with in their current space. There will be lots of gears, metal and wood… recycled “stuff”. They’ve said that it’ll be similar… just nicer.
The guys say that they should start breaking ground in February, with a goal of the project to wrap up “this year”, although that usually depends on a lot of different factors (There is a LOT of work to be done here…) But rest assured, the next year is going to be BIG for MadTree… they deserve this and I couldn’t be happier to see it happening.
What Does This Mean?
Aside from the obvious, more beer for more people, I think that MadTree’s explosive growth coupled with all our new breweries, and the growth of the other “core” breweries in Cincinnati means one thing… Cincinnati means business. Our beer is going to really start turning heads around the country this year and our city is going to start becoming the beer destination that we have been destined to be since pre-prohibition when we were being referred to as the “Paris of the West”.
We are growing, we are changing, we are becoming the Cincinnati that we deserve to be. Get ready… get on board… Get Thirsty!