Ohio Brewery News
Friday Six Pack with Dan Listermann, Listermann Brewing
Every Friday, we ask an Ohio craft brewery owner or employee to answer six questions about their path to the brewing industry, what sets their brewery apart and their thoughts on craft beer in Ohio.
Today we’ll chat with Dan Listermann, president of Listermann Brewing in Cincinnati.
What made you decide to get into the craft brewing industry?
I started brewing seriously in 1988 after disastrous attempts in 1973. After a bit, I found that I didn’t like the bottle fillers that were offered in the trade. I sat at a bar in 1990, and designed a better one, made some prototypes, and gave them to friends to try. It was always my deep desire to follow my grandfather’s example and found a business. I thought that I could always get a job doing engineering, but starting a business might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
My wife and I decided to make an investment in a business. I worked out of our basement for about a year, advertising and selling bottle fillers through Zymurgy. Other products followed, and the basement got crowded. We eventually rented space in the Hamilton County Business Development Center. I can’t say enough good things about them. On March 26, 1993, I quit my engineering job and went full time being self-employed.
In the summer of 1995, we decided to go into the homebrew shop business. The Business Center found a building nearby that could be set up as a shop, while we did our manufacturing there too. At that time we had a single employee.
In 2007, we bought a two barrel system and got our brewing license the next year. Eventually we found that the manufacturing part of the business was getting less than worthwhile, so we shut it down in favor of brewing. At that time there were only a few breweries in Cincinnati. Recently we opened a pizza restaurant a few blocks east from the brewery.
Which of your beers do your customers enjoy the most and why?
I would say our stouts. We’ve come to be known for the crazy adjuncts we throw into our beer. From waffles to pies to plain old fruit, there’s nothing too out there for Listermann!
What should a craft beer fan expect when visiting your brewery for the first time?
We have many different options when coming to our taproom. We try to keep at least one of every style on draft at all times. We have also expanded our mead and cider program and now have one person dedicated to these styles. There is something for everyone, even those non-beer drinkers. We keep our draft list updated regularly on our website and can be viewed at any time.
Your brewery has a lot of interesting partnerships and collaborations with community organizations (Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Art Museum, Transform Cincy, to name a few): how have those relationships helped grow your brewery?
We are always preaching about community. We love to give back and keep those in the community involved in what we do. These partnerships aren’t really about what can help us, but more of a collaborative effort; how can we help each other? We help them by donating and these organizations could potentially bring in customers who would have otherwise not visited our taproom.
We released Cranium (a BA stout with coffee and vanilla) for our anniversary party. We partnered with Cream + Sugar, which is a coffee shop right around the corner from the brewery. We’ve got an upcoming collaboration for Black History Month. We are donating proceeds to Elementz which is a local hip hop cultural arts center in OTR. We had the director at Elementz design the label, too! We recently released a collaboration with Kindervelt, which is a branch of Children’s Hospital. We just do this to give back!
Besides your own, what Ohio craft breweries impress you the most and why?
I would have to say Branch & Bone. This place is consistently putting out some of the best sours and they nail it every single time. Also, Brink. Drew, the head brewer, has done amazing things and I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next. But also, Hoppin’ Frog, Sonder, DankHouse, Jackie O’s, Wolf’s Ridge, and tons of others. We’re really spoiled in Ohio!
Where do you think craft beer is headed? What do you think craft beer will look like 5 years from now?
I think neighborhood breweries are about inevitable. The national, and even regional craft brew market is very crowded. What is left is the local market. This market feels a loyalty to nearby breweries. They can know the place and the people. Further, these breweries can shade their production to fit the local demand better, fresher and better suited styles.
I think like anything else, craft beer is constantly changing. Which isn’t a bad thing. The consumer finds their favorite styles, everyone starts doing that style, and then everyone moves on to the next best thing. Take NE IPAs for example. I remember about four or five years ago when we first released Brass Monkey and Brass Monkey Junkie, we had a line around the building because everyone wanted the newest NE IPA. Covid definitely impacted waiting in line for beer, but there were fewer lines for NE IPAs and more lines for pastry stouts or heavily adjuncted stouts prior to Covid. Seltzers are also a great example. White Claw came out and bam everyone’s drinking seltzer. Everyone started brewing seltzers and now that market is slowing back down. Maybe within the next five years, there will be a new style of beer that everyone is looking to try!