Locals involved in unique beer incubator program

Ferndock Brewing Co. selected by The Platform Beer Co. to participate in first ever class
The owners of Platform Beer Company are fine with helping develop their own future competitors.
Cleveland-based Platform Beer Company launched its unique incubator program Sept. 11 with a Meet the Brewer event.
“This is the only such program in the country that I know of,” said Platform Beer co-owner Paul Benner who runs the company with Justin Carson.
“We don’t look at other breweries as our competitors. There are all kinds of beer drinkers out there,” Benner said.
“Since we opened we have been lucky to have others give us a hand,” Benner said.
One such example as they opened the brewery this year was a lesson never forgotten.
They had purchased a grain mill from Germany. It was stuck in customs for three months.
“That’s like a restaurant not having a stove,” Benner said.
So another brewery down the road, Market Garden Brewery, milled all of their grain.
The concept behind the program is to help the home brewer take their hobby to a viable commercial craft beer. The incubator program is a 12 week course with hands on brewing as well as business instruction in operating a brewing company.
Craft beers make up about 9 percent of beer sales with the field growing at 1 percent a year.
Less than two percent, however, is being locally made, he said.
“Locally made craft beer has a huge potential,” Benner said.
Benner, while operating his business, would talk to home brewer hobbyists who wanted to be able to quit their 9 to 5 jobs and brew for a living. Benner knew he could help guide them, he started to think of how a mentor could have helped him.
“Oh My Gosh are you kidding. It took me an ungodly amount of hours just in permitting,” Benner said.
The first business to be selected for the incubator was Ferndock Brewing, owned by Sandusky natives Kyle Roth and his brother Zac, along with their cousins Jared and Drew Opfer.
Roth now lives in South Euclid.
This is his shot at his dream of becoming a master brewer.
Roth started as a beer blogger in the Cleveland area. He gave that up to do home brewing in 2011.
He and his family did well on their own, earning several awards, including one of their recipes “Baden Gone Wild” (named after a German town) earned Best of Show out of 209 entries in the King of the Mountain competition. Another creation Frank Belgian Dark Strong was selected by Echo Brewing in Frederick, Colorado as their Pro-Am entry for the Great American Beer Festival which is to be held next month.
Roth and his family want the momentum to carry Ferndock Brewing to greater heights.
“This will advance my knowledge,” Roth said.
Roth will shadow a brewmaster and learn the business side of beer making.
The first beer that Platform Beer Co. and Ferndock Brewing will brew together and release as part of the platform is “Sandusky Pale Ale”, a nod to their hometown.
That should occur sometime in October, he said.
A second beer named “O Snap” will also be brewed and is expected to be available around the Christmas season.
Both beers will be available in the Platform Beer Co. tasting room.
The finale of the incubator will be Ferndock Brewing filing for a brewers license.
When Ferndock Brewing is done with the course someone else will come in for the next 12 weeks.
“We will pass the mash paddle,” Roth said.
Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/ferndockbrewing

In addition to hands on work in the brewery, these lucky few will get one-on-one guidance in modules including:
Business Planning
Financing a start-up
Regulatory hurdles
Branding/Logo Design
Equipment sourcing
Supply chain management
Inventory management

Platform Beer Company
4125 Lorain Ave., Cleveland
99 seat tasting room
Hours: 3 p.m. – 1 a.m. Monday – Friday
10 a.m. – 2 a.m. Saturday
Closed Sunday

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