Fifty West Brewing Co. owner Bobby Slattery couldnít be more excited.
"We are all jazzed," he said Wednesday. "Thereís a big sun shining over Fifty West today."
Whatís got him so pumped?
The Cincinnati brewery has hired Scott LaFollette, the creative and talented brewer-owner behind Blank Slate Brewing Co., as its new production manager.
The local craft beer community has been mourning the loss of Blank Slate since LaFollette announced a couple of weeks ago that he was shuttering his brewery, which produced fan favorites such as Opera Cream Stout, Shroominous and Fork in the Road. Now, heís joining Fifty West as it ramps up production to start distributing its beers in cans in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. (More on that in a second.)
"I got a call Saturday night and [LaFollette] said, ĎIím in. Iím ready to do this,í" said Slattery, who had worked alongside LaFollette in the Cincinnati beer scene for years and recruited him to Fifty West. "Everybody in our place started fist-bumping and going crazy."
Fifty West, perhaps known as much for its popular events like the annual Punch Out as its beer, announced the hiring of LaFollette and Chris Siegman, the former head brewer of Mt. Carmel Brewing Co., on Tuesday night. Siegman has been with Fifty West for about a month now.
Fifty West, which operates both a brewpub and a production brewery, had been looking to hire brewers as it expands. Slattery was thrilled to bring on LaFollette and Siegman because heís familiar with their work.
"The dream team walked in the door over here," Slattery said.
LaFollette, who is still in the process of winding down Blank Slate, is appreciative of the compliments thrown his way.
"Itís great that someone put some faith in my abilities," he said.
Heís also excited about getting to oversee the construction of a quality control lab and being able to focus on brewing, as opposed to worrying about the business aspects of running a brewery.
Fifty West has been quiet about which beers will hit the retail market in cans, but Slattery confirmed Wednesday that the following three beers should be available in 12-ounce, six-packs by the end of the year:
ē Coast to Coast IPA
ē Fifty West Lager
ē Doom Petal White Ale
A fourth beer is coming next year, but Slattery wouldnít say which brand. (The smart money is on Punch You in the EyePA.)
Fifty West also will offer seasonals in cans and is planning special releases exclusively for the brewery to attract hardcore craft beer fans. Slattery noted that different sours and barrel-aged brews are on the horizon.
As for whether beer fans might see some Blank Slate beer recipes resurrected at Fifty West, itís unlikely.
"Probably not ó at least not in any kind of recognizable fashion," LaFollette said. "Blank Slate was kind of its own thing and Fifty West is its own thing. Itís time to create some new memories together, as opposed to reliving the past."