Three friends set on opening a new brewery in Blue Ash hope it will give them a chance to pair two of their favorite things: Craft beer and music.
Jim Klosterman, Joe Sierra and Brad Plank, all La Salle High School grads and musicians, plan to open Fretboard Brewing Co. at 5800 Creek Road, not far from Reed Hartman Highway, during the last quarter of the year.
You may already be familiar with one of Fretboard's beers, created back when it went by the name Six String Brew Works. In 2015, Rhinegeist brewed one of its recipes, a session IPA called S23. That beer was a tribute to Eric Sierra, Joe's older brother and a Cincinnati Police Department sergeant. He died of a brain aneurysm in 2014, at age 39.
When that happened, the friends were already three months into the process of planning their brewery. So they decided to create a beer with Eric Sierra's badge number to raise money for his wife and three children.
That IPA will be one of five mainstays at Fretboard. (They changed their original name because of its similarity to Columbus-based Four String Brewing. But they kept the musical theme: On a guitar, the fretboard is the part of the neck with raised frets on it.) Also on tap will be a traditional IPA, light ale, stout and hoppy wheat. They hope to ramp up to having 12 or 16 beers on tap at all times.
Fretboard will have a 20-barrel brewhouse, on which the owners hope to produce 2,500 to 3,500 barrels during their first year open. They plan to self-distribute kegs to local bars and restaurants. Though they won't can or bottle right away, packaging is in the works down the road.
Though brewing is the No. 1 priority, the music aspect of the business will be a close second, not an afterthought, Klosterman said. It was music, after all, that got the friends into beer. Klosterman and Sierra played semi-professionally in a band a decade or so ago. Back before the craft beer industry really took off, they'd drink beers from Christian Moerlein, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada while they practiced. They'd talk about the new beers they tried while they played.
"Our connection to beer and music were inseparable," Klosterman said.
He said they wanted to emulate the feel of places they played back then, places like BarrelHouse Brewery in Over-the-Rhine.
"We wanted to create that ecosystem of musicians and tie that in with the brewery," he said.
To that end, the 17,000-square-foot building will include three studio rooms that bands can use. The 3,000-square-foot tap room, housed in a large warehouse area along with the brewery, will have a stage and sound system where bands can play. They're hoping to have music a few times a week, preferably showcasing local musicians creating original music.They might also do things like show music-related movies.
They're still working on the design of the space, but they know it will have a garage door that can be opened during nice weather and a mix of seating types.
It will have a kitchen, which they'll rent out to Smoked Out, a barbecue and smoked meats restaurant from some of the owners of O'Bryon's Bar & Grill. It will be open during similar hours to the brewery and will also do catering
Article Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer