Craig O'Herron is the owner and brewer at Sideswipe Brewing Co. The Columbus production brewery and tasting room is known for its artsy labels and 22-ounce bottles.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I like beer… Is that enough? I started home brewing 10 years ago, I liked it enough to stick with it and turn it into a business. It took three years of planning, saving, reading, paperwork and recipe development to finally open, but here we are and we have now been open for nearly two years.
Q: There’s a concern that the craft beer industry – thanks to the phenomenal growth over the last few years – is reaching a saturation point, particularly in some areas of Ohio. Are there too many breweries here? If yes, why? If no, why not?
A: I don’t think we are at a saturation point. A lot of smaller cities around the country are supporting nearly as many breweries as the greater Columbus area. I personally think it would be great if nearly every part of town had its own local brewery. I believe that inevitably there will be a point where some breweries don’t succeed and close their doors. This unfortunately happens in every industry, but the idea that there is a bubble that will burst and everyone will go running back to watery mass produced lagers I think is pretty much laughable at this point.
Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?
A: Do your homework. Making beer at home and making it for a business are very different things. Obviously it can be done, but it should never be taken lightly. I personally went to nearly every brewery I could and read everything I could get my hands on about brewing and I still have learned a very large amount since opening.
Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?
A: Our Fisticuffs IPA sells the best, but we don’t claim to have a flagship beer. We have a number of different styles now and everyone seems to have a different favorite. I would actually be a bit disappointed if people only thought of us because of one beer.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: I wish I could pinpoint one particular beer, but I enjoy many different styles and have been inspired by many different beers. I always think about how wild it must have been to be the first brewery to start making aggressively hopped beers, or to bring back sours, or any number of processes that have lead to the extremely diverse selection of beers we have today.
Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears every Friday on the Ohio Beer Blog. If you are an Ohio brewer and want to participate -- or you want to recommend someone to participate -- email me at email@example.com.