By Kira Hinkle
I’ve been a die-hard Cappy’s customer and craft beer drinker for years, but I’m a total rookie in the beer industry and find myself repeatedly having what I refer to as “pinch-me moments” where I ask myself, “Is this REALLY my job?!”
These happen a couple times a week, but I have to say they KEEP happening, again and again, whenever Platform enters the picture.
I will admit, this is an Ohio brewery that I didn’t know much about prior to working at Cappy’s. I had visited their brewpub on a trip to Cleveland a couple years ago when they first opened, but I hadn’t tried many of their beers since then and it wasn’t a brewery that I encountered much in Cincinnati.
Week one of my Cappy’s gig – Ben told me we had a meeting scheduled and it was one we were going to “take in the back room.” I’d been told that back room meetings aren’t typically a good thing and so I approached it with hesitation. Was this when Ben the Tyrant would reveal himself? Nope. Instead I had what was the first of many, many pinch-me moments specific to Platform. Ben pitched the concept of an ongoing series of collaboration beers – released in can and draft – exclusive to Cappy’s and a handful of other key accounts in Ohio. We would take the wishes, requests and suggestions that our customers often feed us across the counter as they sip pints in our store, and the guys at Platform would turn them into a reality. We left the meeting with plans for a trip to Cleveland to meet the owners and finalize a plan.
Pinch me. Is this really my job?!
Flash forward a couple months and we’re standing on the roof of Platform’s Phunkenship at sunset on a warm September day looking over the city of Cleveland. No, I’m not romanticizing this, it really was at sunset and it really was as badass as it sounds. Pinch me. Is this really my job?! Paul Benner, co-owner of Platform, had just taken us through the facility that was still under construction, walking through empty spaces, talking about the design plans for a tasting room focused on sours, and making statements like, “Imagine this as a whole wall of barrels.”
Later that month, Colin Warren, Cincinnati’s director of sales for Platform, and I exchanged about twenty emails in a single day attempting to find a “Ben-ism” that wasn’t already claimed by another brewery. At the end of the day we landed on “Right On, Baby!” and thus our first collaboration beer with Platform was finalized.
Flash forward to the day before Thanksgiving and Justin, our then-delivery guy and current Platform rep, wheels in a stack of shiny new cans displaying our logo. Brian and I quickly rush to crack a can in the fifteen minutes before our doors open and can sales begin. We take a sip.
Pinch me. Is this really my job?!
Two weeks ago I found myself back in Cleveland, this time with Nick, Tyler, and Jeff. Our motley crew actually showed up ON TIME, (yes, really) for a 6:30 a.m. brew session. This time we were up for Brew Day for Platform’s next Cappy’s collaboration: No Invitation. Brewed with citra cryo, mosaic cryo, and simcoe cryo, we wanted this one to be (in Ben’s words), “Dank, dank, dank, dank, dank! I mean, you know what I mean?!” The super juicy, super bitter, and super hoppy IPA was inspired by our regulars, many of whom overwhelmingly gravitate towards IPAs.
Paul took time out of his day to show us around the production facility and took as back to Phunkenship. The empty rooms are no longer empty. The tap room is coming together (and is seriously beautiful, people. When it opens, GO). The storage rooms are filling up with beers aging and waiting for their moment to be pulled, blended and bottled. And this time Paul pulled some nails and let us try beers directly from the barrels. As Paul and Jeff huddled around a barrel collecting a nut brown aged in a bourbon barrel, Nick looked over at me, wide-eyed, and remarked, “Is this really my job?!”
So, when’s my next pinch-me moment coming from Platform? I’m guessing March 21. We’re tapping our first keg of No Invitation, releasing cans of the beer, and pouring additional brews from our friends in Cleveland. We’re also taking the opportunity for you to make some suggestions about what should come next from our collaboration series and one lucky pint night attendee will have the opportunity to win a trip to Cleveland to brew the next one in our series.
Consider it our way of spreading that pinch-me feeling to the people who make it all possible: You.