LAKEWOOD, Ohio — There are nearly 400 craft breweries in the state of Ohio that rake in more than $800 million each year, providing jobs to more than 8,000 people across the state.
Recently, the Buckeye state was recently ranked the fifth largest craft beer producer in the country in 2021.
Despite the growth, a new federal report finds just two major breweries corner an estimated 65% of the U.S market.
As a result, the U.S. Treasury Department is recommending a handful of new initiatives to help level the playing field in the beer industry.
For places like Immigrant Son Brewery in Lakewood, it’s welcome news as they look forward to future growth.
Immigrant Son Brewery opened in October along Sloane Avenue. Like everything over the last 24 months, the grand opening took longer than expected.
“We had planned on starting construction the week of the mandate for shutdown for the pandemic. You can only imagine the stress from all of that,” said founder Andrew Revy. “You have to shift gears and replan everything.”
Revy had his plans for his brewpub and restaurant approved by the City of Lakewood right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Everything was lined up to start at a specific time and things were sequential. Everything had to be redone, "Revy said.
Since then, Revy has been challenged with overcoming a series of obstacles from construction, to staffing and more.
“Even in the best of times, it's difficult to open a business and all the trials and tribulations and hoops and hurdles to jump,” he said.
Revy, the son of an immigrant, wasn’t giving up on his dream of opening his business and wanted his brewery to be a spot to celebrate differences through drinks and food.
“It's a personal story for me, but I think it's a story that resonates globally for everybody as well,” he said.
The treasury department is working to make sure Revy and other small craft brewers like him can compete against the bigger brew giants that dominate the market. They’re recommending changes like a review of trade regulations, allowing home deliveries and re-thinking how beers are displayed in stores.
“Just because there are now almost 400 breweries in the state and over 8,000 in the country, that doesn't necessarily mean that all of them have the same kind of resources to throw into the market as some of the bigger, more established players do,” said Justin Hemminger. “Half of the breweries in the state have only been around for the last five years.”
Hemminger heads up the state's Craft Brewer's Association and said despite the pandemic causing some slowdowns the industry is still flourishing. He believes the new suggestions from the federal government will help, but the competition will likely never be equal because most craft brewers cater to local tastes.
You're never going to beat a big brewery on price and nor do you want to when you're in the craft game,” Hemminger said. “What is realistic is it getting rid of some of the barriers that those small brewers have to overcome in getting to market.”
Immigrant Son Brewery is taking part in Cleveland Pierogi Fest this week. It’s also part of the Cleveland Brewery Passport. The brewery is open seven days a week and serves brunch on weekends.
The brewery is also teaming up with Market Garden Brew Pub and Nano Brew Cleveland to donate a portion of their sales from Pierogi week to the International Rescue Organization to help displaced Ukrainian families.
Revy said the current war with Russia hits home for him, as he is a first generation American, and still has a sister and family members in his nearby native homeland of Hungary.
“Me personally, from my family's story, but also of friends and family back there still, there's an absolute sadness,” Revy said. “There's a desire to hope that it ends soon and as peacefully as possible.”
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