Cincinnati's brewing renaissance is expanding with the quick and early success of Lockland-based Rivertown Brewing Company
Founded by home brewing enthusiast Jason Roeper and his business partner Randy Schiltz, the craft brewery has gone from a two-person startup to an emerging local brand in less than two years. Their traditional German-style lagers and ales can be found in 65 Ohio and Kentucky Kroger stores, and in local Meijer and Biggs Rempke stores. It can also be found on tap in more than 100 local restaurants and bars, including Parkers Blue Ash Tavern
and Dilly Café
Roeper and Schiltz met through mutual friends in the local home brewing community. Coincidentally, they're both former car manufacturing professionals who left their jobs after steady job cutbacks in the industry.
Roeper had been home brewing for more than a decade, and says he became "obsessed" with the brewing process. He joined the American Homebrewers Association
to improve his finished products.
"I started entering competitions across the country to get feedback about what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong," he says. "Then I started winning awards and gold medals."
A major victory came shortly after being laid off. In 2008, he was named a finalist out of 13,000 entries in the Sam Adams' homebrew contest
for amateur beer makers. Soon afterward, he decided to start his own brewing company. During that time, he met Schiltz, who was looking to start a brewpub in Northern Kentucky. The timing was right; they teamed up and started Rivertown Brewing.
"He was looking for the same thing," Roeper says of his partner. "We knew we could make it happen. In a matter of months, we had our SBA loans approved and we found a location."
They also pulled together financing from private investors.
Rivertown now has five full-time employees and the brewery runs seven days a week. Thirst for its beers have far outweighed products. In their first year, they expected to produce 500 barrels; instead they rolled out 1,400. This year they are on pace to produce 3,000.
Roeper attributes their success with quickly partnering with local distributors in Ohio and Kentucky, as well as their own extraordinary drive. Home brewers are known for the plans to start companies; but often don't follow that with action, he says.
"We have drive and motivation and learned from others' mistakes," he says. "And local distributors have helped us get into these outlets."
Rivertown plans to expand, including opening a tasting room at their Lockland location.
By Feoshia Henderson
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