August 13, 2015
This past weekend, we had a chance to sit down with Ryan Bichon of Hoof Hearted Brewing in their new taproom in Marengo, Ohio and asked him a few questions.
In addition to getting to sample some of their awesome beer, we got lots of great answers to our questions. Check out the full interview below.
Since early college, all three of us have been drawn to craft beer. Fast forward about 12 years, Trevor comes up with this crazy idea of starting a brewery though we had never made beer before. I’ve always respected him as an artist so the decision to jump on board was instantaneous.
We started small like many do by trying our hand at home brewing with extract. It came out really well so we rapidly stepped up our game to whole grain batches so we could craft our own recipes.
Our first commercial beer was brewed on a small 1/2 BBL pilot system. We would double batch which would take us all day and would yield less than 2 kegs of beer. Not very profitable.
So we decided to build our own 7 BBL brewhouse to increase production while saving some money. It got us to the point where we were in the black financially but only by not drawing salaries. Soon after we realized we would need to make a lot more beer in order to make any real money and started hunting for investors.
At this point we had earned a bit of a buzz with some of the beer nerds around town and with several local accounts. We got a sizable loan from a single investor and here we are.
Hoof Hearted was a race horse in the 80’s and we have always chuckled at the name. It is childish and irreverent which is exactly what we wanted our name to be. Plus we were drunk and it sounded like a great idea at the time.
It was probably the best decision we have made so far. Most people that get it really seem to love it. There will always be a select few who think it is stupid but…it is supposed to be.
The commentary we are trying to make is that the name really doesn’t matter. And it is pretty memorable.
We primarily make beers that are super hop forward or dark and chocolatey. We only make beers that we want to drink and are always looking for ways to make them better.
The audience we are looking to attract are people that share our love of great beer. We’ve been very cautious of expanding too quickly because we want to keep the quality high. Sure, you could make more money by mass producing your product and flooding the market with it, but then it stops feeling like a true craft.
The brewing scene in Columbus is definitely on the rise but it is still very young so I think it will continue to build. The great part about Ohio is that the breweries are so spread out that you can travel an hour in most directions and find something great.
I love traditional styles like IPA’s and stouts but have started to branch out to sours and farmhouse ales bottle conditioned with wild yeast. You can do so many subtle things when making the beer that changes the whole experience.
I had an American Wild Ale from Crooked Stave a while back called Batch #100 that was pretty mind blowing.
We have a brewpub opening in Italian Village on the edge of Downtown Columbus opening in a few months which is going to be great for the brand. We plan on doing a ton of packaging and starting an extensive barrel aging program.
Our next can release will be our Roller Blabe Double IPA which is similar to Heady Topper.
Money, space, and market penetration. You want to bump any of those up and the other two have to go with it.
We find inspiration from breweries all over the country but not in one specific thing. My advice to anyone is to look outside of your comfort zone and start trying new things.
We are the only brewery in Central Ohio to have a beer with a logo that looks like a dildo and that is named after space cocaine from an 80’s cartoon movie. So far this is the only beer name that drew any attention from the TTB. Konkey Dong and Sidepipin’ went by without a peep, but Plutonium Nyborg…not so fast.
I guess they wanted to make sure it didn’t have any real plutonium in it… It doesn’t.