Blue Mountain is coming to Ohio. The award-winning Virginia brewery will make its debut at a special tasting Thursday (Oct. 24) during Cleveland Beer Week at Willoughby Brewing Co. in Willoughby.
“We’re really excited to be in Ohio. It’s a natural fit,” growth manager Peter Ramsey said, referring to the fact that Blue Mountain is already sold in the neighboring states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Owner and brewmaster Taylor Smack is a former head brewer at Goose Island in Chicago and his wife is from Wisconsin so Blue Mountain has been gradually moving farther into the Midwest to get the beer to their friends and family, Ramsey added.
The brewery, which has won five medals at the Great American Beer Festival since 2010, will launch here with two barrel aged beers, Local Species and Dark Hollow Artisanal Ale; Steel Wheels ESB and Full Nelson Pale Ale; and two Christmas seasonals Blitzen and Long Winter’s Nap. Local Species won a bronze at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.
Steel Wheels and Full Nelson will be available in cans, while the others are sold in big bottles. Blue Mountain was the first Virginia craft brewery to put its beer in a can, a milestone that is proudly noted on the cans, Ramsey said. Full Nelson is “by far our biggest and best seller. We probably sell five cases for every one of everything else combined,” he said.
The brewery also is well known for growing two acres of Cascade hops and engaging the entire community to help pick them at harvest time.
Blue Mountain, which started as a brewpub in 2007 near Charlottesville and opened a production brewery in 2011 to focus on barrel aging, will be available initially only in Northeast Ohio. The response will determine how it expands within the state, Ramsey said.
He will attend the Willoughby tasting, which begins at 6 p.m., and also a tasting from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Edison’s Pub in Cleveland. The Edison’s tasting also will feature a limited release of Kolsch 151, which received a bronze medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. Blue Mountain isn’t a big brewery. It has the capacity to produce about 10,000 barrels a year. Despite that, it will soon be available in 10 states, with Ohio and South Carolina coming on board.