E-Malt.com News article: USA, OH: Cloven Hoof Brewing Co.’s owner shooting to open it by late summer or early fall
Ryan Sposito said he started brewing beer five years ago in his Harbor District apartment in Ashtabula — he first made a simple, no-malt recipe cooked up in a home bag kit. This year, he looks to make his mark with his own local nanobrewery, The Star Beacon reported on February 12.
Sposito said he’s shooting to open Cloven Hoof Brewing Co. by late summer or early fall in a long-vacant former city building he’s leasing in the Harbor District. He obtained seed funding through the local New Entrepreneur Opportunity Fund for renovations and utility work at the space, which are now permitted and getting underway.
Sposito said he’s already filed for a federal liquor license, after which he can pursue a state license. The brewery’s plans call for a window-facing concrete bar and a 46-foot, L-shaped wooden bar further inside, with a gothic industrial design mentality to match the brewery’s name.
“Cloven Hoof” was the name of a band he started with his older brother, Jake, when they both first picked up the guitar. Jake died from brain cancer in 2013.
“When he passed and I came up with this idea, I thought of the name and it seemed so fitting,” he said.
Sposito expects the brewery will be able to seat 68 and offer live music and simple bar fare like jerky, cheese or basic sandwiches. Like some bar service-only Cleveland-area breweries, patrons will be able to bring their own food, he said.
“Mainly, I just wanted to do a real nano craft brewery — really educate our customers about the variety of beers they serve,” he said.
Currently, Sposito’s the “roastmaster” at Harbor Perk Coffeehouse and Roasting Co., blending, firing and grinding the beans brewed there every day. And in a way, developing the coffeehouse’s recipes translates to beer brewing, he said.
“It think it helps as far as profiling grains and hops, understanding smells and tastes,” Sposito said. “When I smell coffee profiles, they have certain nuances. ... Kind of like with cooking, I can smell things really well and understand the flavors.”
Sposito said he wants to keep the brand exclusive, and keep his downtown brewery “nano” — never keeping more than five barrels at a time. If he ends up distributing Cloven Hoof brews, it would likely be to area bars, he said.
He said he’s cooked up 12 unique recipes he feels “confident” serving.
“You always tweak it. It’s a work in progress, like anything — you’re never satisfied,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of brewing at home and figuring out what I can aim for.”
But the specialized, temperature-controlled draught system tapping the beers is what’s really going to make their taste stand apart, he said. Beer pros Bob Garrity, who built the Great Lakes Brewing Co. draught system, and Tom Gray of Masthead Brewing Co. in downtown Cleveland are helping install it and also giving him brewing insight, he said.
“The people who are going to be building it wrote the manual to carbonating, clarity and draught systems in general,” Sposito said.
The type of glassware they plan to use will also help the brews express their flavor. Larger mugs improperly transfer heat and kill aroma coming from its natural frothy head, which should comprise about a quarter of a proper draught, Sposito said.
“It’s just (about) respect for the beer — avoiding those issues and building an ‘ultimate’ draught system,” he said.
In the last four years, the Harbor District has tapped a lot of potential in the ever-growing craft beer market — where there was once only three taps, now there’s 20, Sposito said. The Ashtabula native said opening his own business locally made sense.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the highest potential areas,” he said.
“There’s a lot of younger people doing business here. I think it’s innovative.
“It’s pretty cool to be your own boss,” Sposito said.
“I always believed if you can find something you love and make money at it, that’s the best way to live.”
13 February, 2018