Ohio Brewery News
Friday Six Pack with Josh Jones, Hofbräuhaus Cleveland
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 Josh Jones, brewmaster at Hofbräuhaus Cleveland.
What made you decide to get into the craft brewing industry?
Eighteen years ago I was working for an oil refinery in New Jersey and not really enjoying it. One weekend I had read that the Yuengling Brewery was giving tours of the original fermentation tunnels in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, which wasn’t super far from me. I took a trip out and had an epiphany that I could actually do this line of work. I had already been trained in heat exchangers, pumps, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc. I made up my mind and moved home to Cleveland and did everything I could to force my way into Great Lakes Brewing Co. Luckily there are some good people there and took pity on me haha.
Which of your beers do your customers enjoy the most and why?
Lager and Hefeweizen are the most popular. Festbier is the most popular seasonal. We obviously do the classic German styles here and they just seem to go hand in hand with the atmosphere and food. These styles were created to be a social lubricant and succeed.
For years, people within the industry have been predicting a trend toward more craft lagers. As someone who brews a lot of lagers (including a Great American Beer Festival medal-winning Schwarzbier), do you think that might be on the horizon?
I believe we’re already seeing that in the marketplace. I can’t remember a time in my brewing career when you could find so many well brewed craft lagers. I don’t know if it’s a trendy style, but I believe there is a comfort in lagers for many consumers and brewers! Lagers to me are home. I truly enjoy visiting different places and styles, but it’s always nice to be home. Hit the reset button and move on to the next seasonal.
What’s your favorite thing about your brewery?
The equipment is Braukon and top of the line. When it’s running perfect there is nothing better. Over the years I’ve had to wear some different hats to troubleshoot problems and complete fixes. I enjoy the challenge.
Besides your own, what Ohio craft breweries impress you the most and why?
Well that’s a loaded question! I’m pretty partial to northeast Ohio breweries obviously… Great Lakes, Fat Head’s, Market Garden, Noble Beast, Goldhorn, HiHO all make consistently amazing beers. And I’m missing many other great NEO breweries.
Where do you think craft beer is headed? What do you think craft beer will look like five years from now?
There will continue to be innovations in yeast and hop products. Different fruit flavors, lower alcohol or non alcohol offerings that will become cheaper and easier for small craft breweries to produce consistently. I’m not opposed to those things at all. I know that the classic sessionable offerings will never go out of style.