Brian Benchek is co-owner and brewer at The BottleHouse Brewery in Cleveland Heights. Benchek is a former glass blower who left the art world to start the brewery with Dave Schubert. They renoved a 6,000-square-foot warehouse into their brewery and neighborhood bar. The original plan was to open a brew-on-premise business, but Benchek has said they're so busy brewing their own beers that they haven't had the capacity to open up the brew-on-premise side of the business.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: Brewing beer seemed like a natural fit for me. I have always enjoyed and embraced the creative side of cooking and I find that the brewing process provides a similar opportunity for creative expression. Once you understand how the ingredients (hops, malts, yeast, etc.) combine and interact with each other the possibilities become limitless. Always new, always interesting.
Q: What's the story behind the name "BottleHouse?"
A: Keep it simple and memorable. That was the guiding principle during the name selection process. We wanted a name that could stand alone without the word "brewery" attached to it as in "I'll meet you at The BottleHouse". The name suggests the German word "haus" without having to imagine we are in Germany. The "bottle" part is pretty self explanatory. Plus Budweiser was already taken.
Q: With so many breweries getting ready to open in Ohio, what advice do you have for future brewery owners?
A: Don't go into debt. The decision to stay debt free has allowed us to make decisions and take risks that we couldn't have taken with other people's money. It comes down to having the freedom to be creative with your beers and your brand. In a world with an ever increasing number of craft breweries, freedom to engage in "out of the box thinking" is what separates you from the rest. Debt has a tendency to keep things "safe" and when has "safe" ever been good?
Q: What's the best-selling BottleHouse beer and why do you think it's so popular?
A: Our Solstice Pale Ale has been a huge hit. I think the style is not overly intimidating for those new to craft beer. It also may be that it is just a damn good beer.
Q: Which beer -- any beer in the world -- do you wish that you invented/created/brewed and why?
A: Picking one specific beer is too hard for me to do. Instead let me pick a brewery. I wish I had created Stone Brewing Co. Why? Because they seem to have so much fun...