Craft beer keeps on growing in Ohio

Posted at 7:51 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 19:51:13-04

The nice brick building on Lorain Road may look impressive now, but six years ago, Platform Brewhouse owner Paul Benner was concocting brew in his tiny apartment.

"My wife was genius enough to allow me to take over our guest bathroom, turn it into my fermentation chamber,” he said. “It was such a unique hobby for me.”

But that hobby quickly turned into a business that’s booming.

He explained, “We have capacity for about 700 barrels of beer at any given time, so that’s in less than two years we’ve gone from a very small kind of nano-size brewery to now we’re one of the larger breweries in the city.”

He’s just one of the 110 craft brewers in Ohio and nearly 4,000 in the country.

Leslie Basalla-McCaferty, owner of the Cleveland Brew Bus, is a beer expert and has seen the tremendous growth in the industry over the years.

She said, “It’s kind of a reflection of the same thing that’s happened in the food and dining scene--so I think as people’s pallets have expanded--it’s been kind of the same for them with people’s beer pallets.”

The Brewers Association expects craft beer to control 20 percent of the nation’s hundred billion dollar beer market by 20-20.

Basalla-McCaferty said part of the explosion is generational.

“There are millennials who have literally never had a Budweiser. So I think it’s just a different mentality.”

We caught up with some craft beer drinkers today to see what they think.

“Well I definitely prefer to drink craft beer, I think it’s a little bit more exciting,” said Jamie Park after sipping her bubbly beer.

Joseph Thomas said, "I feel like the better ingredients enhances my buzz a little bit better.”

Other beer connoisseurs said the quality of the craft beer is what gets them wanting more.

You've got your flagship styles like an IPA or Porter, but there's an ongoing sense of experimentation in the craft beer world allowing for new waves of styles and flavors hitting each year.

Paul just finished a new brew himself, just for today’s festivities.

He explained, “So this year we did a dry Irish red ale. It’s a release for today and it’ll be on draft for a few weeks.”

With Ohio ranking in at number four on the list for craft beer breweries, Leslie said the likelihood of it slowing down is slim.

“I don’t think we’re near the saturation point yet, a lot of the existing breweries are expanding. There’s a lot of speculation like at what point is this bubble going to burst and I don’t think it’s going to.”

This past year, craft beer grew 17 percent in sales, in contrast with the overall beer market, which didn’t grow at all.