Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison has built a new brewhouse and will start distributing its Rat Tail Ale in bottles in September. For years, brewers used a small 3-barrel system in the basement of the main winery building and the beer was available only on draft. (Yes, winery building. Cellar Rats and Debonne Vineyards are the only estate winery-brewery in Ohio and one of the few in the country.)
Cellar Rats has purchased a 15-barrel Premier Stainless system (see photo below), 30-barrel fermenters and a small bottling line to expand its operation. The brewing capacity has jumped from 180 gallons a day to 900 gallons a day, said Joel Sandrey, director of sales and marketing for the brewery and winery.
Rat Tail Ale should be available at Giant Eagle and Heinen's grocery stores, and independent stores that feature craft beer, he said. Cellar Rats also will bottle its Field Rat Wheat, Piper India Pale Ale and Black Rat Imperial Stout -- although those beers will be available initially only at the brewery.
Just as interesting, Cellar Rats is starting to grow hops. There's plenty of room on the vineyard property. The brewery has planted an acre of hops already. "We really feel that growing our own hops in the future could be a very big deal," Sandrey said.