Brewery sold, new owner to move it
By James McNair
Enquirer staff writer
OVER-THE-RHINE - In a six-story building known for the art of brewing, students will soon be brewing art.
Mike Cromer said Monday that he and BarrelHouse Brewing Co. co-owner David Rich have sold the 10-year-old brewery in two transactions to Indiana buyers. But a spokesman for one of the buyers said the operation will remain in town at a West End location.
No sale price was disclosed. The equipment was sold to Melanie Brewing Co., a Gary, Ind., company that produces several microbrewery beers in La Crosse, Wis., and has leased space in the Central Light building at 544 W. Liberty St.
Melanie is owned by Nick and Melanie Sever, said Steve Goldrainer, a Delhi consultant and former Hudepohl-Schoenling manager who introduced the buyers and sellers. One of the beers it will brew, Goldrainer said, is BarrelHouse, whose names and licensing rights were bought by Jeff Cisco of Cedar Lake, Ind.
"He (Nick Sever) always wanted to start a brewery somewhere where there was a brewing tradition," Goldrainer said. "He bought all the BarrelHouse equipment to make his microbrews and BarrelHouse there."
The deal closed Saturday, and BarrelHouse threw a farewell party Monday night at its 22 E. 12th St. location. Filling the cavernous first-floor space, which now holds brew tanks, a bar and a 293-person dining room, will be the building's owner, the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Art Academy CEO Greg Smith said Monday that it will move from its present location in Eden Park from June 14 to Aug. 28. About 200 students are enrolled, he said.
"We intended to occupy that building, and the building that sits to the north of it that we acquired from the Cincinnati Art Museum," Smith said. "It's just a matter of time before we occupy the first-floor space where the BarrelHouse was in."
Smith said the Pearlman Gallery, now taking shape in the north building, will find a home in the BarrelHouse's first floor.
Cromer could not be reached for comment Monday, but in an answering-machine recording he seemed gratified that the buyers will keep BarrelHouse alive.
"BarrelHouse will continue to be distributed to bars and restaurants in Cincinnati," he said.
Goldrainer said Melanie Brewing expects to resume production in six to eight weeks - "if that long." He said the Severs plan to launch a flagship beer called Heritage, a name that salutes the Queen City's beer-making tradition. He also said Melanie plans to employ Rick Debar, BarrelHouse's brewmaster.