Listermann Brewing Company: Homebrewing legend finds success with pair of hometown breweri...

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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.

CINCINNATI -- Whether you’re making beer in your home, or looking for
a pint, chances are you will find yourself drawn to the Listermann
Brewing Company.

What started as a homebrew supply store nestled across the street from
Xavier University has grown into much, much more, and turned its
creator into something of a local legend.

Dan Listermann started the business in 1991 to sell homebrew equipment
that he would design. Since then, he opened his own microbrewery and a
second label when he hired Kevin Moreland as head brewer.

Now not only is Listermann making beer under the Triple Digit and
Listermann Brewing Co. labels, his store is at the center of the
brewing community in Cincinnati.

Listermann said he got his start in brewing by making beer at home in
1973.

“(The beer) was horrible and got worse,” he said.

He didn’t return to beer making until the early 1980s when he brewed
some beer with some old friends and they determined that the beer
wasn’t half bad. As his homebrewing grew, Listermann kept thinking up
new and innovative homebrewing equipment that he would go on to sell.

“I started getting into making these bottle fillers and by 1993,
despite being offered a raise a manufacturing engineer, started full
time doing this, and two years later I bought the building and opened
the business. At the time I didn’t have a deep passion to do this, it
was just a thought, ‘Well that’s the next thing to do,’” Listermann
said.

Those little innovations soon took off and if you ask many in the
homebrew and production brewing communities, they’re still an
important part of the industry today.

“You would not believe the amount of respect that big brewers give Dan
because when they were homebrewers, they used the tools that he
created,” Moreland said.

Listermann opened up his brewery in 2008 after buying a small
two-barrel brewhouse and puttered right along before deciding to hand
off operations to Moreland.

As it happens, Moreland also got his start in homebrewing and even
shopped at Listermann’s supply shop. After making many of his own
beers and even doing some work in recipe development, he asked if he
could buy Listermann’s equipment. Instead, Listermann offered to make
him the head brewer.

Moreland said his experience on the business side of the beverage
industry often comes into play as they try to expand the brewery.

“My advice to anyone wanting to get into the business is to try and
get into it that way. It has helped the company tremendously,”
Moreland said.

Since the brewery’s small start, it is now producing 10-barrel batches
and they sell the beer in either 22-ounce bottles, or half-barrel and
six-barrel kegs. You can also fill your growlers in the brewery’s tap
room.

Moreland said their capacity used to be about 50 to 100 barrels per
year; they are now up to the 1,000 barrel per year mark. He says he
would like to maintain a production of 1,000 to 2,000 barrels per year
to focus on making artisan-style beers.

“If we try to start doing anything about that, you gotta go outside
the market and then people will want the same beer all the time,”
Moreland said. “We’re trying to base ourselves off of ‘Lets take one
leap at a time.’”

Moreland said they’re gaining more capacity with their brewhouse. The
idea is to get a six-head automated bottling machine and release
six-packs to the market.

After that, Moreland wants to be noticed locally.

“That’s our big thing, if we can’t be noticed here locally, I don’t
want to branch out to other states,” Moreland said. “Until I get the
feeling that ‘we are Cincinnati’ and people know us, I don’t see us
moving outside the market too fast. The simple fact is that customers
tell us what to do. If they’re buying it, we’ll make more of it.”

To that end, Moreland is expanding Triple Digit and Listermann in
different trajectories. Triple Digit will focus on high-gravity
boutique beers, many of which will be aged in whiskey or wine barrels.
Listermann Brewing will focus on more accessible beers.

“Most of the barrels we use are from Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill
distilleries. We do some wine barrel aged beers too,” Moreland said.

Some of those projects will include triple-smoked whiskey barrel
beers, sour beers and gin and rum-aged beers.

The head brewer said he’s also been keeping tap on what’s developing
in the micro-distilling industry to keep out of ahead of what’s going
on in the brewing world. Moreland said many distillers are approaching
the process with an artist’s flair; it’s something he’s trying to
emulate with the Triple Digit brand.

“Granted you have to pay for what you’re doing at the end of the day
and make a living but we’re trying to do it in a boutique style and
give the customers something to appreciate. We don’t want to be a
cookie-cutter brewery,” Moreland said.

One of the reasons that Listermann’s has such a foothold in the
Tri-State is its dedication to education and community. Besides being
a physical resource to homebrewers with equipment, Listermann and
Moreland said they are happy to help foster the growth of all the
local brewers.

“We’re on really good footing with a lot of the brewers in Cincinnati
because a lot of them got their start right here. We talk to some of
them on a weekly basis, because when they run out of something they
often come over here and pick it up,” Moreland said.

The boys say they’d like to put Cincinnati back on the map and
eventually bring in an event such as the Great American Beer Festival
or a World Beer Cup. To that end, they’ve been hosting no end of beer
festivals locally that feature not only their own taps, but beers from
the other brewers as well.

“We want to get back to that day when Cincinnati was the
seventh-largest beer market in American before Prohibition,” Moreland
said. “I think by having the festivals we put on, it’s educating the
public about what beer is being made here. It spurs people to ask
their bars and restaurants to carry local beer.”

The head brewer said Ohio is one of the strongest states in growth by
brewers per capita, according to the Brewers Association.

“You always hear the saying that Cincinnati is behind the times, well
we’re trying to speed that process up. I think now matter how you look
at it, it’s going to be a benefit to us economically. I think it’s
going to be a benefit to how to build our business and it’s going to
bring back that hometown feel to our brewing heritage,” Moreland said.

Listermann shares those notions with Moreland and thinks there is a
sea of change just beyond the horizon when it comes to craft beer in
America.

“We don’t look upon ourselves as competitors,” he said. “We look it
as, ‘Look at this forest of Bud Light drinkers we can log.’ All these
guys out there that drink this crap, sooner or later there’s going to
be a tipping point where Bud Light is an ‘old man’s beer.’ When these
guys came up, Bud Light was the cool beer to drink; there wasn’t the
microbrewed beers. Now there are microbrew beers out there and it’s
the cool thing to drink. There are those guys that drink Bud Light,
they’re always going to do that. But they’re getting older, grayer,
and at some point people will say, ‘Eh, that’s an old man’s beer, take
a look at this.’ And that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

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

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.

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

Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing is located at 1621 Dana Avenue in
Cincinnati.

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

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Listermann-Brewing-Company/329786987720

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Listermann

Tap room hours:

Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  
http://www.wcpo.com/entertainment/local-a-e/listermann-brewing-company-homebrewing-legend-finds-success-with-pair-of-hometown-breweries


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