Our building's story goes all the way back to 1895. At the turn of the 19th century, Over-the-Rhine was home to nearly 45,000 inhabitants most of them of German descent and 38 breweries. Leading this vibrant brewing scene was Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, the city's largest brewery which extended over three entire city blocks and produced over 300,000 bbl annually. The company's old bottling plant, located at 1910 Elm Street, is home to our modern-day brewery. While Moerlein's operation would thrive for years, Prohibition in the 1920's would deal a fatal blow and bring an end to the company. As a result, the former bottling plant would lie dormant for several subsequent decades...
Enter Bob Bonder into the story. A recovering consultant, Bob moved out to Cincinnati in 2007 to build out the Tazza Mia coffee business. Having spent years refining his palate with coffee cuppings and wine tastings, he began flirting with the idea of building his own brewery. But where to start? Knowing this would not be a one-man job, Bob ventured out to build the perfect team. First on his list was Bryant Goulding, a silver-tongued dreamer who had spent the past few years selling beer on the West Coast for the Anderson Valley, Dogfish Head and Golden Road breweries. When first presented with the idea, Bryant thought Bob had gone crazy. Why would he leave a bustling craft beer scene and easygoing West Coast lifestyle for Cincinnati, a city that had never crossed his mind? Nevertheless, Bryant gave Bob's idea a chance and visited the space he had been raving about. Long story short, Bryant stepped into 1910 Elm Street and was immediately sold. Where some might have simply seen an empty and defunct warehouse, Bryant saw a lifeless brewery itching to start pumping out some hoppy IPAs.Â
An unrivaled passion for tasty brews is unfortunately not enough to build a brewery, so Bob and Bryant turned to find a brewer. Their search ultimately pointed them to Jim Matt, a brewing guru who also happened to have 20 years of chemistry experience and Luke Cole who had been roasting coffee and brewing at Rock Bottom's downtown Cincinnati brewpub. During his time at Sun King brewery, Jim had grown an appreciation for dry, hoppy, West Coast styled IPAs, making him a perfect fit for the project Bob and Bryant had in mind. Luke's background in mechanical engineering made him the perfect fit for rebuilding the twenty plus year old brewhouse they bought for pennies on the dollar in Mexico. With a business-minded leader, a marketing and sales visionary, and a brewing pundit now onboard, the team was close to turning a mere dream into a reality. They now had the power to brew and sell the beer, but the question remained as to how it would be distributed. The last piece of the puzzle was Dennis Kramer-Wine, a keg-lifting, route-building, beard-growing man of action who would form the foundation for our self-distribution model. These five minds came together and in June 2013 Rhinegeist brewed its first batch of beer.