Like many new brewery owners, Brady Duncan, Jeff Hunt and Kenny McNutt wanted the perfect name for their operation. It needed to be short, but also strong.
It had to convey the mad scientist/creative aspect of brewing while also communicating the nearly three years they spent developing the business plan and honing their recipes.
The friends and homebrewers — two engineers and a business analyst by trade — agreed on MadTree Brewing Co. and a logo depicting a huge, leaf-less tree.
"It just fit," Duncan said, saying the tree is mighty and has deep roots.
MadTree is slated to open this winter in the Cincinnati suburb of Columbia Township, and Duncan, Hunt and McNutt are jumping into the Ohio brewing scene with an aggressive passion.
MadTree is no nanobrewery, as some other Ohio start-ups.
They are launching with a 15-barrel Newlands Systems brewhouse, two 15-barrel fermenters, two 30-barrel fermenters, a quality control laboratory and tasting room in their 13,000-square-foot brewery. Duncan estimated that the set-up will allow them, if needed, to produce up to 2,000 barrels a year and there’s enough room to expand in the future.
"We started out with the idea that we’re not going to get into this unless we’re capitalized well enough to really invest in the quality and to invest upfront, which is obviously more of a risky proposition than starting out with a little bit of money, kind of getting your feet under you and then going out and trying to raise more money to upgrade to a bigger system," Duncan said. "We’re doing things right off the bat."
The tasting room will be embedded in the brewery so people will be sipping their brew while beer is being made around them, with little separation from the working side of the operation. It’s a design that has worked well for other Ohio breweries such as Weasel Boy Brewing in Zanesville and Thirsty Dog Brewing in Akron, where it’s common to see a forklift drive past the bar.
MadTree also will join a growing list of Ohio craft brewers canning their beer. Fat Head’s and Jackie O’s also are getting into canning.
"We believe it’s better for the beer," Duncan said.
There are plenty of benefits to putting beer in a can, with the top reasons involving no light hitting the beer and no oxygen creeping into the container. MadTree is teaming up with local artists to design the can labels, which will feature the artists’ names. (Artists Christopher Daniel and John Pattison designed their logo.)
MadTree has lofty goals for its beer.
"We’re not out to just create an OK beer made in Cincinnati," Duncan said. "We’ve said since the beginning that we won’t release a beer unless we think it competes nationally."
MadTree will launch with three beers: an amber, American India pale ale and brown ale. There also are plans for seasonals, including a Russian imperial stout and kolsch with fruit.
Duncan said they’d like to have 10 to 12 beers available at the tasting room once the operation is in full swing.
The brewery will have limited distribution at first, focusing on the Greater Cincinnati area.
The Cincinnati craft beer market has been underserved for years, but that’s quickly changing as the list of local brewers continues to grow: Mt. Carmel, Rivertown, Rock Bottom, Samuel Adams, Listermann, Triple Digit, Christian Moerlein, Blank Slate, 50 West, Double Barrel and MadTree.
"The scene in Cincinnati is getting pretty strong, which we’re excited about," Duncan said. "I don’t see other local breweries as competition. It’s an all boats rise thing, as long as we’re all making good beer."