This week, co-founder of Cincinnati-based Rhinegeist Brewery, Bryant Goulding, sent an update on the state of his company’s craft brewing business, recapping highlights from 2016 and laying out what’s ahead for the craft brewery. His report contained not only some exciting numbers for the brewery but also for beer lovers in the city of Cincinnati and the entire Ohio craft beer scene.
Amazingly, Rhinegeist finished 2016 selling 56,500 BBL of beer, an 80% growth over the 31,470 BBL they sold the previous year. Out of those sales, the brewery self distributed a whopping sixty percent. In addition, Rhinegeist released 96 different beers, not including single barrel tweaks.
“2016 was one heck of a year in the U.S. and an intriguing one for craft beer in America,” stated Goulding. “Lots of talk about slowdowns and yet we are still feeling and celebrating the warmth of growth here in Ohio. We entered 2016 with the straightforward plan to fill out our Ohio footprint, continue growing in Kentucky, and to test our mettle in the competitive Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Talking about the slowing growth of the American craft beer industry was quite the trend in 2016. For the first time in a half decade, the year over growth for craft dipped below double digits, which prompted the attention of the craft brewing industry, national media and Big Beer alike. Some, however, were quick to point out that the numbers were being diluted because much of the stall could be attributed to the slumping sales of brands who are only loosely called craft beer. Now that Rhinegeist has released its stellar sales figures for the same year, perhaps we can see that the story is a bit more complicated.
One of the cornerstones to the success of the craft beer movement has been the commitment to quality from the people who make the beer. So, it should be no mystery that Rhinegeist attributes quality as a prime cause of its soaring growth. The brewery has even moved its head brewer, Jim Matt, into a role as Director of Quality Control, where he will provide daily sensory supervision, a quality control hold on all batches and a firm understanding of Rhinegeist’s fermentation profile.
“We’ve been balancing growing our reach responsibly while keeping our eye on quality and trying to build and improve the relationships we have with the people in accounts that sell our beer,” stated Goulding. “We now have the production capacity to allow us to brew enough to ramp up for high season and continue to play in the lager and kettle souring space — we like tart and crisp.”
When a brewery grows at the rate that Rhinegeist is experiencing, along with the increased production and revenues comes another benefit that can be felt by everyone in its community, jobs. Rhinegeist grew from about 50 employees last year to over 200, while also adding a rooftop deck.
Goulding added, “We’ve spent a lot of time looking for talented and impassioned people to join our team as well as investing in growing our people from within. We’ve learned that growth can come at the expense of support and communication and we’re aiming to enrich the lives of our employees by staying grounded and finding that level of growth that provides opportunity but doesn’t threaten quality of life or sanity.”
Bubbles – Rhinegeist’s Rosé Cider has been a hit on draft over the last few months. It’s fermented with cranberry and peaches and delivers bright fruit forward acidity in a nice refreshing bubbly blush. Bubbles will release in six pack cans in early March.
Knowledge Imperial IPA – After a year of brewing experimental DIPAs (12 in full), Rhinegeist took their better understanding and brewed it into Knowledge – their favorite of the bunch. Knowledge is an 8.5% Imperial IPA brewed with 4lbs/bbl of hops: Simcoe, Chinook, Centennial and Columbus. It will launch year-round in a 12oz four pack – their first four pack release and their first Imperial IPA to be available all year. Knowledge will also hit taps and shelves in early March.
Rhinegeist, translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and refers to the brewery’s place in the historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery District in Cincinnati. Built within the skeleton of the old Moerlein bottling plant (1895), Rhinegeist brews batches of beer that sing with flavor. They believe in the power of beer to bring great people together, foment fantastic ideas, and build a community that values craft beer and one another. Within unique and historic walls, they brew batches of beer that sing with flavor and delight. The yin/yang of their brewing philosophy is hoppy/sessionable and they aim to brew beers where “the first sip calls for the third.” Rhinegeist self-distributes their beer, which means each beer you drink in a bar or at a restaurant is poured directly from a keg that they delivered cold in their refrigerated vans (keep your eyes peeled for them around town). Fresh beer is tasty beer, and that’s their favorite kind.