Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon plans to open a separate production brewery in the Cleveland area to start bottling and distributing its beer statewide next year. "We'll do the whole state of Ohio right of out of the gate," co-owner and brewer Matt Cole said. The brewery will have the ability to produce 10,000 barrels a year. Not that they will make that much initially, but that's the capacity and it leaves room for expansion. "Once we start establishing ourselves and get a feel for the market, we will reach out to eastern Pennsylvania and New York and the southern part of Michigan and slowly take on more territory," Cole said.
Fat Head's will bottle its Head Hunter IPA, Bumbleberry and others, and has plans for plenty of seasonals. "People are going to expect us to have a wide portfolio," Cole said.
The brewpub and production brewery setup will be similar to Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, he said. Great Lakes has a small brewpub system that makes exclusive beers for the restaurant and a larger production facility. The Fat Head's brewpub system will be used to focus on Belgian styles, small batches and experimental beers.
Fat Head's has purchased a 25-barrel BrauKon brewhouse from Troegs Brewing Co. in Pennsylvania and signed a lease for a building in the Cleveland area. Cole won't reveal the site publicly yet, since there are still some financial issues to be worked out. He will travel to Troegs next month to brew on the system and get familiar with it. Then, it will be disassembled and shipped to the Cleveland area. Cole expects to start brewing on it in December.
Meanwhile, Cole just returned from England where he brewed a special beer at Shepherd Neame, the oldest brewery in that country. He said he loved the experience and history but was a little disappointed because his recipe for Yakima Sun was tweaked to reduce the IBUs (international bittering units) for the British public. Cole is making the Yakima Sun at Fat Head's using his original recipe. It will be unveiled Oct. 8 at the third annual IPA Festival, which includes a competition for best IPA and double IPA. (Cole also is planning to release a few other hoppy beers that day.) There will be two tasting sessions: 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. The cost is $30 and that gets you 15 drink tickets.