\There are a ton of different things that happen when you start blogging about the craft beer community in a city like Cincinnati.  This beer scene is packed full of really fantastic people, that in my opinion are the ones that make it what it is.  There are people who become close friends, and then there are people who you have only met once or twice, but that you can feel confident that if you needed something they’d be one phone call away.

Then there are shit heads.  There’s a few of those around too that are in the business of sabotaging everything that craft beer stands for, all for the sake of a buck – or some ego trip that makes them feel better) or whatever their reason might be.) The story of “what’s going on with Woodburn” is a complicated one that I’ve been piecing together for almost a month or so now, and the majority of those people who have known even a small piece of the story are gearing it up as a tale of these two sides – Good vs Evil.

I’ll let you make up your own mind.

Keep in mind with this story – it’s all conjecture and hearsay.  I have a solid “no comment” from Chris Mitchell (Woodburn’s (former) head brewer) and as of posting this haven’t heard back at all from Dennis Chacon (Woodburn’s Co-Owner).  So this is just that… a pieced together story from a variety of sources that aren’t the two parties involved.

Let’s start the conversation.

The Story

Dennis and Chris have been doing amazing things at Woodburn.  I think I can safely state that as the only “real fact” of the story.  The beer has been fantastic and has been on a tidal wave of hype around Cincinnati.  In September, right as they were gearing up for their first ever can release, and they were hot on the heals of their bottle release – all hell broke out via a couple inflammatory facebook messages.

The party involved fired off these two statements:

Congrats to The Woodburn Brewery for being the new dumpster fire in town.

followed up quickly with:

I was asked to remove this post… how about an edit.  Congrats to The Woodburn Brewery.  May your future be as fruitful as our last presidential election.

Of course… people started talking very loudly about what it all meant.  Rumors started kicking into high gear that co-owner and head brewer Chris Mitchell had been sent packing along with what was being said was “almost all of the original staff”.  After asking around I was given a few more details.  The timeline has been lit up pretty well for my opinion at this point.

The Timeline – sort of.

  • Chris is brought a brewer, whom he was told was looking into buying the same system that Woodburn was using.  Chris (being the guy that I know him to be) helped this brewer learn their system… after all that’s what you do in craft beer – you help each other. (*supposedly)
  • Chris shows up to work one day to discover that Dennis and a group of his friends had changed the locks on the brewery for unknown reasons.  Upon exiting the brewery to get a new key, Chris was met in the parking lot by Dennis who was holding a file, which was thrust into his hands – he was given a “you’re fired” and then in no better terms, Dennis “rushed back into the building and locked the door behind him.”
  • The Facebook posts hit the internet and my phone didn’t stop ringing for two days.
  • Rumors started flying – The parties involved got in touch with their legal teams and then we as a city are hit with radio silence.
  • Today… it seems (from what I hear, again *supposedly) like the mystery brewer that Chris was helping is now brewing for Woodburn.

Why We Need To Talk About This

I’m not going to try to tell you that someone was right, and someone was wrong…. because I don’t have their sides of the story.  I think that you can sort of catch my uninformed opinion, though (and it’s just that – my opinion).  If what I’m hearing is all true – this is a case of a fantastic person, and a wonderful brewer being treated pretty poorly by someone he trusted.  I can’t imagine the feelings of sadness, disrespect, and utter helplessness to see another person in your brewery that you built from the ground up brewing on your system… making your beers…

I just want us to talk about this.

There is a group of you who will say that “business is business” and that it’s not any of our business to get in the middle of, and I don’t buy that. I can’t help but feel that this industry is different, and that these places that we all love are different.  This hurts us on a different level than if your local barista at Starbucks gets fired in a shitty way.

We don’t treat each other like this.

Edit – 9/11/18 – I have written a follow up post that clarifies a little bit of what was written about here – go read it if you want more information.

10 thoughts on “I Think It’s Time That I Talk About Woodburn”

  1. I heard a very similar story about Cafe de Sales and the former coffee shop Mocha that used to be on De Sales Corner. The Mocha leasers were locked out by the property owner and their manager was given the lease and rebranded Mocha to Cafe de Sales. I stopped going there and as an original mug club owner of Woodburn Brewery I will sacrifice Han Solo, a favorite beer of mine, for the principle of treating people right, even if business is business. Really disappointed.

  2. Well crap my favorite place to go and take friends. I am also a mug owner and love there beer but my loyalty is to Chris.

    1. Karen, I feel the same way. Followed Chris to Woodburn, joined the mug club, etc. No reason for me to patronize them (or recommend them, for that matter). I’m sure that, when all the legal wrangling is done, Chris will land somewhere. When he does, I’m sure my friends and I will follow him.

  3. Beer has really taken a nosedive since Chris was unscrupulously booted out. Heard they had problems with their filters, but that was awhile back. Saw that Dennis is the head brewer and that may be why the beer now tastes like a bunch of beginners are still trying to get it right. I see no reason to go there anymore.

  4. I think it’s time to remind readers of a few things…

    – As the author specifies above, “Keep in mind with this story – it’s all conjecture and hearsay.” and this is “a pieced together story from a variety of sources that aren’t the two parties involved.”

    – Based on the above points, the author published this article using information gathered by 3rd parties who may or may not know the REAL truth. Emotions tend to run high in situations such as these, and facts can sometimes get blurry when emotions are high.

    – Since this article was published, many people have taken the authors recounts of what happened as gospel. Most people have not bothered to seek out the truth and consequently have damned Woodburn Brewery.

    – Because of this article, a small business has been negatively impacted (based purely on conjecture and hearsay). Employees who work at Woodburn must periodically face the hatred for their employer because of the misinformed opinions created by this article.
    Those employees are people, just like you and me. They have bills to pay and families to raise, just like you and me. The hatred that is aimed at them for something that happened which didn’t involve them, is well, a shame. This is unfounded hatred towards people who are just trying to make a living in the beer industry.

    So I ask the author…is that how we in the beer industry treat each other?

    1. Is this how we treat each other in the craft beer industry? No – the hatred that you have outlined towards employees of Woodburn is not right, and definitely not something I would ever support. I encourage everyone to spend their money at places that they Love, respect and enjoy, regardless of what I think about that place. I hope that everyone that reads my goofy little blog will go out of their way as a craft beer drinker to always support the people in the industry that they know and appreciate.

      It’s very important to always know that nothing I say is ever gospel. Especially in this case, I have done as much as I can to let people know that I was unable to get the “other side” of this story, despite seeking it out. I will still put it out there that if anyone else (especially the Woodburn ownership) wants to share their thoughts on this, you can always contact me via the contact page on this site, and I’d love to hear (and share) your experiences.

      Please, keep reading, and keep sharing why situations like this are important (or maybe not important) to you as a drinker. This is how our community will keep growing.

    1. I fixed the hours, Thanks! It’s hard to keep up with everyone’s hours when there are 50+ breweries here in town! Thank you for keeping an eye out!

  5. “Misinformed informed opinion”, I know Chris, I know Dennis (from visiting the brewery ), I watched the brewery being built, I saw who busted ass and worked long hours and who was a social gadfly who walked around with an insincere smile on his face drinking beer. I know who created all the recipes. The small business was negatively impacted by Dennis Chacon actions. Everyone in the craft community turned their back on Woodburn because of that. Not some article that actually is pretty much factually true. Yes Jeff, this IS how we treat each other in the beer community. We have each others backs. FYI, Hamilton county just shut them down for failure to pay their taxes.

  6. I’ve known Chris since he was a kid in the neighborhood. The character of this guy should never be in question. He is brewering beer because it is what he loves. The “yagottawanna” term fits him perfectly. If You do what you love you may starve for awhile, but success will eventually reer it’s head.
    I attended Woodburns opening and a couple times since. I definitly agree with Jack. A couple tours of the brewing works soon revealed who was the man with the passion. Chris walked the talk.
    I’m sorry things like this happen to people who deserve so much more,

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