Beer is big in Cincinnati — it’s not exactly news. As breweries spring up around the Tristate, each one has to work hard to differentiate itself from a crowded craft beer market.
Recently announced Esoteric Brewing Company has several tactics for setting itself apart from others, starting with the fact that it will be the first minority-owned brewery in the city. Founder and CEO Brian Jackson honed his skills at MadTree before deciding to set off on his own; he's also a MORTAR grad.Brian Jackson, founder and CEO, brewing a beer.
“'Esoteric' means 'sophistication,'” says Jackson. “We’re trying to elevate the palates of customers and the entire experience of people coming to breweries in Cincinnati.”
He plans to offer a diverse selection of brews, which will include local favorites like traditional American IPAs and stouts, as well as more complex beers like his award-winning Belgian quadruple, Nirvana.
Jackson picked a location that matches that sense of style and sophistication: the historic Paramount building in Walnut Hills, which was once known as Cincinnati's “second downtown.”
The beautiful Art Deco-style building from 1910 has sat empty for a decade, but was purchased last year by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and is currently undergoing renovations. Partnering with several community organizations, Esoteric plans to use the roaring '20s vibe of the space to create a modern speakeasy.
“It’ll have the beautiful, rustic feel of a speakeasy with partitions to create little pockets of intimate conversation,” Jackson explains.
Esoteric is not only committed to improving and updating the Paramount, but the community of Walnut Hills at large. Jackson and his marketing guru, Marvin Abrinica, are both minorities who appreciate the challenges of reviving a struggling neighborhood.
“Walnut Hills is such a metaphor for what’s going on in Cincinnati,” says Abrinica. “We chose a lotus as our logo because it’s a beautiful thing that grows from dark places.”
Adds Jackson: “It’s a complex problem. But our partners are committed to revitalization without kicking people out [of the neighborhood.”]
In fact, Esoteric’s business model is banking, literally, on community investment. The brewery plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign this winter that will offer equity in Esoteric. “We are a minority-owned business funded by the people for the people,” Abrinica says.
Esoteric is projected to open next winter. Abrinica says the best way to follow their progress is via Esoteric's website, Facebook or Instagram (@esotericbrewing).