Ei8ht Ball Brewing: Party Source aims to rack up wins with new craft brewery

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This story is part of a special beer month series celebrating the
Queen City's beer heritage and bright future as a booming brewery
town. Check wcpo.com/beer every Tuesday and Thursday for a new profile
of one of the 12 local breweries in the Cincinnati area.

BELLEVUE, Ky. -- There is a lot of hustle and bustle going on at the
Party Source in Bellevue, and while the majority of the hype is about
the distillery that is rising up, the new development will also be
home to the area’s newest brewery.

Danny Gold, the Head of the Beer Department at the Party Source, said
the site will be home to Ei8ht Ball Brewing in addition to a tap room
and an expanded beer section.

“We just have such a strong love for craft beer that we wanted to be a
player in it and have a small part in it,” Gold said.

Gold took over beer buying for the company a bit more than two years
ago, and in that time he said he’s brought in about 1,000 new beers
the company has never sold before.

“I can’t tell you all the beers have worked, but I can say with
confidence that 95 percent of them have,” Gold said.

The Party Source already has a beer label of sorts active at the
business. They currently team with brewers under the name Quaff
Brothers in what Gold calls a “gypsy label.”

Gold said that when he got hired, one of the questions he said he
continually asked was “why doesn’t the Party Source have their own
private beer label?” Other retailers did and Gold thought it would be
a good product for the company to have.


His managers allowed him to create a pilot program to test the waters.
Gold teamed up with a another co-worker -- who will be the manager at
the distillery and is the Party Source’s main whiskey purchaser -- and
the idea came to fruition. When the Party Source purchased a private
whiskey from the distillers, the store would also get the barrel the
whiskey came in and the theam decided to put beer in the barrels to
make use of them.

Since the Party Source didn’t have a brewery on site at that time,
they partnered with local brewers -- Mt. Carmel first, then Rivertown
and Rock Bottom, Listermann/Triple Digit -- and they continue to add
other partners. The label serves as a connection between the retailer
and the brewer. They call it a “gypsy label” because they’re
constantly rotating styles and projects with the brewers.

“We have such a huge respect for beer, and craft and local beer, that
anything we can do to help be a part of that is great,” Gold said.
“Quaff Brothers is the brotherhood between the Party Source and the
local brewing community.”

The Party Source comes with the barrels and a concept, with the
brewers taking it from there. Gold said they’ve had to put limits on
Quaff Brothers purchases because they run out so fast. They’ve sold
the beer to people in more than 40 states so far.

“It’s this little, tiny thing that we never thought would be where it
is. Although it’s never going to be huge and we don’t want it to be
huge, it’s a very cool project that allows brewers to step outside
their box and push the envelope and do something things,” Gold said.

While some might think that Ei8ht Ball and Quaff Brothers will be
closely tied, that’s not entirely the case, according to Gold. He said
Quaff Brothers and the brewery will be separate entities.

Gold said the Quaff Brothers project should be able to grow stronger
with the new developments. Since the company will have more barrels
thanks to having the distillery, Ei8ht Ball will get barrels for its
own aging projects and Quaff Brothers will have enough barrels to keep
taking on more ideas.

He said he continues to bring in more beers because the craft beer
buyer is always looking for new and exciting things. Gold said the
idea for Ei8ht Ball came about when the business launched the
distillery project. It was originally intended to be a nano-brewery.

“We started to kick around names and wanted to be local without being
obviously local. A staff member came up with the name Ei8ht Ball
because when people ask for directions to the Party Source we always
tell them to look for the “8-ball exit,’” Gold said.

His managers allowed him to create a pilot program to test the waters.
Gold teamed up with a another co-worker -- who will be the manager at
the distillery and is the Party Source’s main whiskey purchaser -- and
the idea came to fruition. When the Party Source purchased a private
whiskey from the distillers, the store would also get the barrel the
whiskey came in and the theam decided to put beer in the barrels to
make use of them.

Since the Party Source didn’t have a brewery on site at that time,
they partnered with local brewers -- Mt. Carmel first, then Rivertown
and Rock Bottom, Listermann/Triple Digit -- and they continue to add
other partners. The label serves as a connection between the retailer
and the brewer. They call it a “gypsy label” because they’re
constantly rotating styles and projects with the brewers.

“We have such a huge respect for beer, and craft and local beer, that
anything we can do to help be a part of that is great,” Gold said.
“Quaff Brothers is the brotherhood between the Party Source and the
local brewing community.”

The Party Source comes with the barrels and a concept, with the
brewers taking it from there. Gold said they’ve had to put limits on
Quaff Brothers purchases because they run out so fast. They’ve sold
the beer to people in more than 40 states so far.

“It’s this little, tiny thing that we never thought would be where it
is. Although it’s never going to be huge and we don’t want it to be
huge, it’s a very cool project that allows brewers to step outside
their box and push the envelope and do something things,” Gold said.

While some might think that Ei8ht Ball and Quaff Brothers will be
closely tied, that’s not entirely the case, according to Gold. He said
Quaff Brothers and the brewery will be separate entities.

Gold said the Quaff Brothers project should be able to grow stronger
with the new developments. Since the company will have more barrels
thanks to having the distillery, Ei8ht Ball will get barrels for its
own aging projects and Quaff Brothers will have enough barrels to keep
taking on more ideas.

He said he continues to bring in more beers because the craft beer
buyer is always looking for new and exciting things. Gold said the
idea for Ei8ht Ball came about when the business launched the
distillery project. It was originally intended to be a nano-brewery.

“We started to kick around names and wanted to be local without being
obviously local. A staff member came up with the name Ei8ht Ball
because when people ask for directions to the Party Source we always
tell them to look for the “8-ball exit,’” Gold said.

Once the Party Source decided to move ahead with the brewery, it meant
they had to find a brewer with a solid reputation. Gold said they were
set on hiring the right person and Mitch Dougherty, the former head
brewer at Rock Bottom Cincinnati, was the perfect man for the job.
Gold said before Doherty came onboard, he was already consulting with
the Party Source as needed on other projects.


Dougherty said he got his start while working at the Rock Bottom
Brewery in Phoenix. Since starting brewery work at age 21, Dougherty
has one two World Beer Cup medals, (a gold and bronze,) and
back-to-back gold medals at the Festival of Wooder Barrel Aged beers
in Chicago. He said all three of his gold medals were for his Golden
Ale that was aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels.

He came to Cincinnati by way of Rock Bottom's apprenticeship program.
Dougherty came to the Queen City right as downtown started its
revitalization process.

“I really like Cincinnati. Even though I’m an outsider, I’ve been able
to see the growth that’s taken place over the last six years. When I
first started working downtown, it was a ghost town. I remember seeing
that transition. I live downtown myself and I love this city. It’s a
neat city,” Dougherty said. “It’s a big city with a small town
atmosphere, which is good for me.”

He said he originally got to know the team at The Party Source when
they came to him to do a Quaff Brothers collaboration. After that,
Gold was asking Dougherty to come to a meeting about beer brewing,
possibly on a nano system.

Dougherty said while serving as a consultant as The Party Source
debated opening a brewery he advocated starting with a bigger system
rather than a nano-capacity system because the company would have to
make a large capital investment in the first place and a larger
brewhouse and production facility would give them room to grow.

It wasn’t long after that when The Party Source asked him to come on
as a fulltime brewer for the new project.

“I think it’s every brewer’s dream to build your own brewery. A lot of
brewers don’t get to do that with somebody’s money; I say what I did
was ‘hit the brewing lottery ticket.’ I’m very grateful to have an
owner that trusts in his people to, basically, set them free and make
their and his vision come to life,” Dougherty said.

Gold says the company has already tried to “do the right thing” and
position itself properly in the market. They actually got started
talking about a brewery a few years ago when the owner, Ken Lewis,
came to them to discuss the idea of building a brewery, distillery and
55-tap handle beer bar.

“Not only will we be able to educate -- which is our No. 1 priority --
we’ll be able to provide a unique experience that no other retailer
has done,” Gold said.

Ei8ht Ball will have a 15-barrel brew house, which should allow them
to create a few core beers and have several experimental brews.

It has the capability of making some mash for the pot still at the
distillery as well as beer production. Dougherty said everything on
the system was built to spec to fit in the facility they have.

In addition to the brewhouse, Ei8ht ball has four 15-barrel
fermenters, a 30-barrel fermenter and a 30-barrel bright tank.

“It should allow us to do pretty much anything we want,” Dougherty
said.

Ei8ht Ball will start out with only two full-time beers. The first
being a Golden Ale that will be lightly dry hopped. Ei8ht Ball will
also always have a different pale ale/IPA style. Dougherty said they
might keep on batches they like longer and that they wanted to have
freedom to do different IPAs.

The head brewer said they plan on trying a multitude of different
styles and will also be seeking input from fans as they get going.
That said, they have plans for several beers already including a black
IPA, an imperial stout, an American red ale with all Centennial hops,
among others.

“My personal philosophy is to create clean, palatable beer that has
layers of flavor. I think if you do that then you will be successful.
Outside of that, [I want] to experiment and have fun; I’m kind of a
traditionalist when it comes to brewing beer. I don’t necessarily that
a ‘tripel Belgian IPA’ even exists. At some point I think we have to
take the reins in and just say, ‘It’s a Belgian IPA,’” Dougherty said.
“We want to do things that maybe haven’t been done and just spark
peoples interest. The thing about experimenting is that you open
yourself up to people who may have not even considered drinking a
beer.”


Dougherty said he hopes to be able to take over all the taps in the
bar but when they first start up it’ll likely be five or so Ei8ht Ball
brews at a time. He said he’d like to get to a point where he has 10
of his own beers on tap at any given time.

“The only thing that limits us there is our tanks because we’re pretty
much locked into the space that we have. We’ve taken the brewery and
maxed it out based on the size of space that we had to work with,”
Dougherty said.

He estimates that Ei8ht Ball would max out at about 5,000 barrels per
year maximum if they ran the brewery continuously.

“I’m just excited about everything. I’m excited about the opportunity
that I’ve been able to build a brewery from scratch and have the
opportunity to be involved in every aspect of the bar. We’ve got a
great time that is putting together a bar program including everything
from tasters, to flights to growlers to go,” Dougherty said.

In addition to Dougherty, there will also be an assistant brewer at
Ei8ht Ball. Andrew Ritterbeck has brewed locally in Cincinnati at
Rivertown Brewing and also worked at Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland.

Well-known “beer ambassador” Peanut will be heading up the bar at The
Party Source. (Peanut is known to many beer fans in the Cincinnati
area as he was a longtime employee of the Dilly Café in Mariemont and
was in charge of the beer section there.)

“What we tell people is that no style will be left unturned and we’re
not scared to try anything or everything,” Gold said.

The beer will be draft only to start but they hope to package
eventually. It will be sold exclusively at the Party Source to start
but the brewery will grow as needed, according to Gold.

In addition to the tap room, Ei8ht Ball will have a unique growler
system. Dougherty said the team invested in a PEGAS CrafTap system.

It’s a counter-pressure growler filling system. The device will force
all the oxygen out of the container and fills the growler with CO2
before filling it with beer while under pressure. That means beer in
the growler is never introduced to oxygen, allowing the growler to
last as long as bottles do.

Dougherty said that’s exciting because people will be able to plan
their beer around events and not the other way around. Before the
Pegaus systems became readily available, a growler would only last at
most two or three days.

As the brewery gets rolling, Gold said he hopes the company can
continue to be strong partners with the local brewing community. Gold
said everyone around town is always looking to help out and they never
turned the Party Source away when they had questions.

“Everyone has been very accepting and supportive and we think that’s
the way it should be. I don’t think anybody is trying to be better
than anybody else,” Gold said. “The other thing about craft beer is --
chardonnay is always going to taste like chardonnay, bourbon is going
to taste like bourbon; with craft beer, if you can dream it up and
think it up… you can do it. There’s no not (sic) pushing the envelope
far enough. If it’s out there and you think you can do it, nothing is
off limits. Craft beer lovers and supporters go for that stuff.”

================

This story is part of a special beer month series celebrating the
Queen City's beer heritage and bright future as a booming brewery
town. Check wcpo.com/beer every Tuesday and Thursday for a new profile
of one of the 12 local breweries in the Cincinnati area.

================

Ei8ht Ball Brewing is located at 95 Riviera Drive in Bellevue.

They can be found online at: http://eightballbrewing.com/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eight-Ball-Brewing-Company/195410987246919

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ei8htBallBrews


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