Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Brewing Up More Neighborhood Development

Sam McNulty calls him the "Donald Trump of Lorain." The guy who's successfully built his own food and drink empire on W. 25th Street is referring to his friend and fellow entrepreneur Justin Carson. The three of us were chatting at Platform Brewhouse, which opened in Ohio City this summer. Platform Beer Co., the name of the parent organization, is featured in this month's Best of Cleveland feature. Carson owns the building, along with a few others along the block, and moved the offices of his company, JC Beer Tech, from Medina to space on the second floor. A massive clean-out — the previous owner was reputedly quite the hoarder — and a complete gutting and rehab created the ground-level setting for the brewery and tasting room he and Paul Benner partnered to create.

Photo by Barney Taxel
The tanks are integral to the decor of the sprawling brick-walled room, and the taps feature an ever changing lineup of beers made on the premises and representing a variety of different styles. Flights and growler fills are both available for the asking. Patrons have recently had the chance to weigh in on criteria — types of yeast, style, alcohol content — for a Platform recipe that will be released during Cleveland Beer Week Oct 15.

There's a long bar and multiple communal tables, an old bowling machine and a high-tech jukebox, and a patio where dogs and smokers are welcome. The vibe is hyper-casual and organized around drinking. Management is focused on its hop-powered mission, so no wine or spirits. And rather than prepare food, they let various area restaurateurs and vendors set up shop — one per night — and sell their stuff.

Photo by Barney Taxel
The guys are also positioning this location as beer business incubator. With their brewmaster (and co-owner) Shawn Yasaki, they offer free training for beer-making hobbyists who dream of going pro. And the suds students can even try out their lagers and ales on Platform's customers and solicit their feedback.

The Cleveland Brew Shop, another Benner venture, which stocks beer-making supplies for the home enthusiast, is moving at end of this month from West 14th Street to another piece of Carson property right across the street from Platform. At the risk of inducing a sigh for my punning, I have to say things are really hopping on Lorain.

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