platform beer co. to begin brewing this month, new home announced for cle brew shop

The Platform Beer Company project, which was announced last year, just keeps getting better and better. The partners behind the project will soon begin brewing beer -- all they're waiting for is the arrival of their new three-barrel pilot system -- and the 99-seat tap room is dry-walled and ready for the finishing touches. The current plan is to open in early June with 24 taps, about half of which will eventually feature Platform beers.

On top of that, founding partner Paul Benner just announced that the Cleveland Brew Shop, his homebrew supply store that he opened in Tremont two years ago, is relocating to a storefront on Lorain Avenue, directly across from Platform. Benner is moving the shop to the former Rain nightclub building, which has been vacant for years. Platform co-founder Justin Carson recently purchased the property, and the partners quickly realized there was an opportunity for synergy.

The 5,000-square-foot brewhouse at W. 41st and Lorain could help revitalize a long-neglected part of Ohio City. The former Czech social hall features a handsome brick exterior, big storefront windows and a prominent sign. In the rear of the property, the partners have installed roll-up garage doors and poured a concrete patio for a beer garden. Visitors will be able to sit outside and order food from The Plum, a casual eatery expected to open later this year in the building next door.

The Platform guys also have tapped their first brewmaster, Shaun Yasaki, who previously worked for Fathead's in North Olmsted. Benner already had a relationship with Yasaki because he regularly visited the Brew Shop, and Benner knew that he would be able to brew a wide variety of interesting beers. "Brewpub guys are the guys that do all the stuff, including the interesting one-offs," says Benner. "Fortunately, he was very excited about it, and we even brought him on as a minority partner."

Platform also has signed up the first participant in its 12-week brewery incubator, a free program that will train homebrewers on how to take their skills to the next level. Kyle Roth of Ferndock Brewing will start in the fall. Benner says that he's gotten tons of inquiries from homebrewers, and does not think it will be a problem to fill the spots. The program requires a one-day-a-week commitment and includes modules on brewing, branding and business management.

The goal, says Benner, is to fill the taps with as many interesting beers as possible. The free incubator program will be partially supported by sales of the beer made by incubator participants -- at any one time, several of the beers on tap could be made by local brewers-in-training. Beyond that, Benner says, the partners will be "very picky and have as many Ohio beers as we can -- stuff that people who are really into beer would like to drink. We're not going to have Bud Light on tap."

The initial beer lineup will include a Berliner Weisse, an Imperial pale ale and a saison, Benner says. Platform will sell its beer in kegs right away, and there's a plan in the works to start canning and distributing beer locally very soon.

The taphouse interior features hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and creative touches like old-school bowling machines (a nod to the Czech social hall's original bowling alley, whose floors were unearthed during the renovation process).

"It may sound hokey, but we want to provide an opportunity for someone that they may not get anywhere else, ever," says Benner of the incubator. "If we’re able to help someone else go pro, that's exciting, that’s what we get our rocks off on."

Source: Paul Benner
By Lee Chilcote