There are press releases that I read, and skip right over, and then there are press releases that end up with my wife having to deal with CNN style news briefs in our living room.  This one?  It’s a good news day in the Gnome-household.

I guess we have to throw in a little back story about all this though.

The Backstory

There are two big parts to this… brewers leaving their current homes, and the sadness that we feel when that happens, and then an actual brewery closing and the collective stab of regret and extreme sadness that swept across Cincinnati as a result.  Let’s start with the part that you’ve read plenty about so far – Blank Slate Closed.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about – I don’t believe you (and you can go read about it).  But the short story is that one of the favorite breweries of beer nerds and brewers all over this city closed.  It was quick, and it was unexpected… and it hurt.

Then there’s the other side – that I guess we could just call personnel shifting if this was another industry.  This isn’t another industry, though, this is craft beer.  There is something different about the tie that a lot of us feel with not just our breweries and the beer that they make, but the people who work there – the people who are creating the beer we drink.

Fifty West’s co-founder and Head Brewer Blake Horsburgh left Fifty West.  Rumors started rumbling that Mt. Carmel was also losing their head brewer, Chris Siegman too, and we as beer geeks, not just beer drinkers are left with questions, sadness, and in some cases fear about what who will step in to replace them.  We trust the places and the people we love to do something amazing out of the losses – but it hurts.

I promise we’re getting somewhere happy with all of this.

Fifty West Keeps Growing

In the wake of a busy year of growth for Cincinnati, it’s no surprise that some of our “older” breweries are focusing in harder than ever and re-establishing who they are, and what makes them relevant in today’s craft beer world.

Fifty West has been right smack in the middle of a growth period – with the opening of their production facility just a couple years ago, they are now ready to start expanding what that facility can do for them as a brewery.

The brewery has been sneaky, though not too silent about what they’re up to.  The brewery will soon be growing in actual square footage, and they are now “bulking up” their staff in preparation for the anticipation of their canning launch throughout the Tri-State “later this year”.  You get where I’m going with this, right?

The Additions

The brewery hired both Scott LaFollette and Chris Siegman to help with the upcoming exponential growth of the brewery.

Scott LaFollette is coming on board as the new Production Manager, where he will be overseeing all the brewing and manufacturing operations at 50 West.  His creativity, and absolute uniqueness will be a massive gain for the brewery and starts a really great line of questioning about what that means we might see from them going forward.  Fifty West’s owner Bobby Slattery has no hesitation, nor has he in the last five years when asked who the best brewer in this city is to point to Scott.  It’s in his words – “A dream come true.”

Chris Siegman caught the attention of Fifty West when even after working 50+ hours at Mt. Carmel brewing his butt off, he would go home and fire up the brew kettle and still homebrew.  It is a great fit for him to settle in as lead brewer at Fifty West… his basement is stockpiled with recipes that he was crafting on the side, and obviously the folks at Fifty West are eager to get him into their family to see what he can do.

Stay tuned, folks…. This is going to be a big year for Fifty West. I haven’t even written about Fifty Fest yet – you’re in for a real treat as this brewery starts to keep turning into what they are destined to be.

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