Black Box Brewing Co. in Westlake has undergone a major expansion over the last year that more than doubled its brewing capacity. The small brewery, which also includes a homebrew and wine-making shop, added new fermenters, a grain room, mill and larger walk-in cooler.
"We were doing between 300 to 600 barrels and we’re now on schedule to do 2,000 this year," brewer and owner Jerome Welliver said. "The expansion was a big deal."
Black Box can be a difficult brand to find. It’s distributed just around Cuyahoga County and generally flies under the brewing radar, even for beer drinkers living in the Cleveland area.
"I like that," Welliver said. "We’re happy where we are. We’re fortunate. We’re selling as much beer as we can make. That makes me feel good."
Black Box is best known for Plumbers Crack Ale, Cleveland’s Own Christmas Ale; the Western Reserve and Crooked River brands; and Hungry Bee’s ReHive Ale.
Welliver said the Black Box 2012 IPA is out now in bottles and Western Reserve Cloud Nine will be bottled and released soon.
In other news, he’s trying to figure out how to bring back Cucumber Wheat, a light beer with a hint of cucumber flavor. I wrote about the unusual beer in my book Ohio Breweries. Welliver said he has a list of about 30 people who want to be notified the instant it’s back in production.
"Nobody is doing a cucumber," he said.