In the many years of supporting local Cincinnati Beer I have come to appreciate more than what is in my glass. I love the story, the sacrifice, looking under the curtain of what happens on a day to day basis. During my time here I have had the opportunity to see nearly 30 different breweries open, one close, and two others expand and then re-open at new locations. I took a look at Rivertown Monroe this time around as they kick off their brewery tour exBEERience this week.
If you follow some of the beer related things here in town you know that we (Cincinnati) are now above our pre-prohibition number of breweries (we topped out around 36 and now have 38). Volume is still well below where we were then (1.5 million barrels+), but the enthusiasm is thriving.
Born in 2009 Rivertown Brewing has grown to be one of the most widely recognized Cincinnati Breweries in the Country. Distributed in seven different states the passion and enthusiasm for Rivertown in places like Tennessee, Florida, and the Virgin Islands (yes THAT Virgin Islands) have never been stronger.
To grow in business you have to be willing to take risks and as anyone who knows the Rivertown Lockland location, knows it was a matter of when, not if, they had to either buy the entire complex or go to another location. The latter made the most sense financially and for the future of the brand. Lockland will always have a place in our hearts but the time to strike was now and that is exactly what Jason and his team did. (Currently they still are serving beer at the Lockland location but all production is now in Monroe)
I decided to head out back in February to see what I had been missing (opening night was a month prior). I walked in to a great crowd of people for a Wednesday night. There were families, business people, beer lovers and foodies all gathered together enjoying the new and improved Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House.
Fortunately I came on a good night, my friend and Owner of Rivertown Jason Roeper was there working as he had been for the past year to make this a reality. I wanted a tour and he knew it, so off we went.
Technological advances in brewing have been going on since the dawn of time. The advent of chemical refrigeration was brought upon us here in the United States with Cincinnati in the forefront of the advancement because of our large and successful breweries located here.
These advancements rendered networks of underground cellars and ice-houses in Cincinnati obsolete but brought on a great deal of quality and efficiency to the industry.
It is not different today and that is what made my trip walking around the new brewery in Monroe with Jason fascinating. Grist hoppers perched above the mash-tun loaded with grains for the next batch of beer. Incredibly large pumps to make for the removal of spent grain as easy as the click of a button at the brew house, or on your phone. Sensors were protruding from each and every piece of equipment ready to give readings on the temperature, density and flow of the beer.
Shiny and beautiful tanks of stainless steel lined up ready to be filled, all plumbed with stainless lines attached to each other, a long way gone from the days of that small Lockland startup.
An application on Jason’s phone gives him the ability to control fermentation remotely, gone are the days of brewers coming in just to crash tanks, they can now do it while at home, or more likely while out selling more of their unique and delicious beers.
“We wanted a system that we could really grow into, and it took a very long time to find the right one at the right size that we felt would carry us into the future”said Owner Operator Jason Roeper.
“The type of system we have allows us to create the most consistent, high quality, amazing beer and allows our team to focus on what is important, instead of transporting grain around” said Lindsey Roeper the Dream Facilitator at Rivertown. “Work life balance is really important to us and with this system we can achieve much more of that for our employees” Said Lindsey.
We walked through the kitchen and they have two beautiful smokers and an incredibly talented Chef, Michael Sassano building plates of food that pair really well with Jason and team’s beer offerings.
This weekend Rivertown kick’s off it’s tours to the public and we hope you get a chance to go check the brewery and barrel house out. The location is a marvel of technology, hard work, passion and the Wild Culture they have cultivated over the past 8 years here in Cincinnati.