Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NKY Local Brings Craft Beer to the West Side

West Side Brewing's Joe Mumper and Brian Willett on Channel 12 news (provided). 

Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky is an area with a rich brewing history. From the early German brewers of the 19th century to the recent craft beer revolution of Rhinegeist, Mad Tree and Braxton, among others, the impact of breweries on our local area is substantial. The area’s newest brewery, West Side Brewing, will open this spring over on the West Side of Cincinnati. One of the men behind it, Joe Mumper, is from much closer to home.

Originally from Norwood, Joe has called Northern Kentucky home for over 10 years. He lives in Newport and his kids attend school in Fort Thomas. He has worked for the Salyers Group over in Covington for 5 and a half years, running the Madison Events Center and working on the real estate side. For the last 15 years Joe has been an avid home brewer and for at least the last 10 of those he’s been looking into opening a brewery. 15 months ago a friend put him in touch with a family of home brewers on the West Side and a partnership was born.

The West Side locals, Jim Remmel, his son Kurtis Remmel and nephew Brian Willett, and Joe hit it off immediately and shared a common philosophy: accessibility. Joe explains “We’ll definitely have something for craft beer enthusiasts, but also for people who have never tried craft. There will be IPAs and dark beers but also more drinkable beers for people who don’t enjoy those.” As well as a variety of styles, Joe says the brewery will offer a variety of strengths too, including beers with a lower alcohol content for people that prefer those, “Still good flavorful beers but 4%-5%.

Joe’s partners had already identified a building when they met, a large space on Harrison Avenue, in Westwood. They created a business plan and raised funds through a bank loan. Despite being almost fully funded, they also started a Kickstarter campaign to allow interested customers to invest in their vision, as well as raise awareness. Launching a business with a crowdfunding campaign isn’t unusual these days, but the level of success Joe and his partners achieved definitely is: they set a target of $10,000 but enthusiasm for their idea far outstripped that and they took in $19,121 in only 30 days. With such interest, Joe was even more convinced that they were on the right track, “More important than the money was that 350 people supported what we were doing enough to back us, it’s a really great indicator that we can be successful.”

With remodelling, inspections and permits to be granted, West Side Brewing still doesn’t have a firm date for opening but they hope it will be on a Friday in May or June. The building will have two tap rooms and a u-shaped bar. The street side room will have a traditional bar feel, the second, larger room will have what Joe calls “a casual feel, with cornhole, ping pong and long benches and tables.” They’ll also be able to hire out rooms for private events. On the beer side they have recently hired head brewer Colin Foy from another Cincinnati brewery. There will be thirty taps, which initially might be mainly guest brews but eventually will feature at least 12 of their own brews, in a variety of styles. They’ll offer “small bites” but will also partner with food trucks, Joe believes “It’s a great way to offer variety, there will be different food available every night.”

Joe and his partners have leased their building with an option to buy in what has become an up and coming area. The city is investing a lot of money in a park and other businesses are popping up frequently. Joe believes the community is right behind them, “The community has been very supportive, on social media, sending emails, or popping their heads around the door to tell us how excited they are. There are a lot of people on the West Side and a lot of beer drinkers. We want to be a big part of the community and a real source of pride for people on the West Side.”
Coming soon... (provided)

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