Ohio Brewery News
Friday Six Pack with Derek Cunningham, Carey Brewing Station
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 Derek Cunningham, owner of Carey Brewing Station in Carey, Ohio.
What made you decide to get into the craft brewing industry?
In 2014, my son and I attended an Ohio State University Extension Conference about growing hops in Ohio. As family farmers (corn, wheat, soybeans) we had a background in agriculture. This growth of our hopyard from two runs to 14 in 2019 led us to begin thinking about opening a taproom focused on all Ohio products. My son, a junior at Ohio State, stated that many of his friends were already drinking craft beer regularly.
Tell us a little about your relationships with local farmers. Whose ingredients do you use and why is it important for you to support local agriculture?
First, we use Hops from our own farm and hop yard – Arcadia Buckeye Hops in Arcadia, Ohio.
The malting barley: Rustic Brew Farm in Marysville, Ohio and Barley Five Malt House in Columbus Grove, Ohio.
Both are great local farms and have been in the Ohio malt business since the beginning of our journey at CBS.
Our theme with all Ohio Beer: Drink Beer Grown and Made Here. Use local resources when possible.
Which of your beers do your customers enjoy the most and why?
Ohio Moon is an orange ale served with a fresh orange slice. New patrons try flights to decide which beer is their favorite. As they return, they tend to settle in with their past favorites.
What’s your favorite thing about your brewery?
We created a “classic” taproom, but has a “bar” feel to it. What I mean by that is that not only do we have long communal tables, an oval bar for more customer interaction, but also lighting that reflects a traditional taproom presence. Our “bar” feel comes from our 10′ x 20′ stage built for live local music that is a staple of our business model. We have seven TVs for customer viewing, separate rooms for customer events and a “Nook” that is directly beside the bar with a passthrough for direct bartender service.
We want our taproom to be a community hub that allows varied entertainment. CBS also has implemented a large outdoor patio area with a 10 foot fire pit. On one end of the portion we grow Arcadian hops across a 20 foot span. Our goal was to create an outdoor environment that allowed for great socialization.
Besides your own, what Ohio craft breweries impress you the most and why?
I have enjoyed Seventh Son for the environment, Land-Grant for their variety of events/beers and 1820 BrewWerks locally as they are committed to Ohio ingredients.
Where do you think craft beer is headed? What do you think craft beer will look like five years from now?
I believe the industry will begin to plateau, and the breweries that can offer varied products, services, and events will thrive. My concern with the craft beer industry as I travel from state to state is that many taprooms seem to be copied into a specific model. They tend to be opening in former industrial buildings, brewing in the back – various sized taprooms in the front. Limited hours, focused only on their crafty beer, a push for immediate distribution and run by a small group of owners. Little thought tends to go into the “potential varied” environment that could be created, little regard for customer entertainment and many times without an outdoor area, which, to me, outdoor areas are a must today in order to compete.