AKRON, Ohio — An Akron entrepreneur who has a history of launching tech and health companies is now pouring his money into a beer revival business.
Blake Squires, 48, bought the Hilltop brand and plans are in the works to bring back Hilltop Heritage Lager and Hilltop Light Lager this summer.
"This was a brand that people loved. It was a great product," Squires said. "It really overtook crowds both at bars and at home."
The brews were made at Columbus' Four String Brewery, but when it suddenly closed last year, it seemed the days of getting a cold Hilltop were over.
Squires starting asking around and decided he would make a run at bringing the beers back.
"I was able to contact the bank and buy the assets, myself and some investors," Squires said.
Brewing will initially take place in Detroit with plans to expand throughout the U.S.
"Ninety percent of the market is lagers, but it's Bud Light and Miller, so this is a craft lager, which there just aren't many," Squires said.
The plan is to reintroduce Hilltop at ComFest in Columbus in June and have cans of the beer available in stores by July Fourth weekend.
"Over time, our intention is to to bring it to Columbus, and again as we grow as a national brand, our intent is to be in multiple markets," Squires said.
Squires started Everstream, a software analytics company, in 1999. Several years later, he launched Findaway World, which makes portal media players known as Playaway.
More recently, he founded several companies in the medical supply space which are housed under Generator Works in Akron.
Venturing into the beer business is a big change, but Squires believes his new investment will flow smoothly.
"For me, as I looked at it, it wasn't beer," he said. "It was a product, so how can I apply what I've learned about products to help build and continue to grow Hilltop?"