What do you get when you take two former scientists and give them an open garage, some brewing equipment, and the task of being stay-at-home dads?
The answer: A successful brewery that is expanding more quickly than the founders could have imagined.
In 2014, co-founders Chris Frede and Tony Meyer opened DogBerry Brewing (7865 Cincinnati Dayton Rd) in West Chester, Ohio, a suburb just north of Cincinnati.
The two met years ago at work, where they served as research assistants specializing in vaccines for infectious diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. After they left, each for different reasons, Frede joined in on Meyer’s homebrewing hobby.
“It started in our kitchens, then took over basements and my garage,” said Meyer. “Once we started realizing that people were willing to pay for it and (non-family members) really liked the beer when they didn’t have to, we thought maybe it was time to give it a shot.”
They named the place DogBerry, a combination of each of their street names—Dog Leg Court and Twinberry Court.
“When we met at work, we would go out and drink different beers, try different styles. When I started staying home with the kids, (I thought) what’s going to happen when they go back into school and I can get back into the work force?” said Frede. “I knew he had done homebrewing and I was like, why don’t we try making beer?”
It started as a hobby, Frede said. About once a week, they’d brew a new batch to see what happened. Many of the beers were great, but like many starting brewers, others flopped.
“It was a hobby that got out of control,” said Meyer.
The place has a friendly atmosphere for parents who have kids to come, too, with school desk chairs, a dartboard, and coloring pages scattering some of the walls.
On the right side of the brewery, an entire wall features Meyer’s collection of bottles and cans of beers he’s tried—about 1,000 are on display, and that’s not even half of what he has.
This Sunday marks two years that they’ve been open to the public, and they don’t have plans to stop.
The duo is expanding to a 10-barrel brewhouse on Crescent Park Drive with plans to open in late February or early March.
“We thought maybe (expansion) would happen, but certainly not within the first two years…we thought maybe after three, four, five years we’d be looking into it,” said Meyer.
While they’ll still be in West Chester, they hope the new facility will allow for more beer, more free time on their end, and more customers (their current parking lot is about 50-by-80 feet, enough to hold eight or nine cars).
Within the first day of opening, Meyer said all four lanes of traffic across the street were stopped with people parking elsewhere and running through the busy roads to make it into the brewery.
The influx of customers was surprising, as the two lack experience in marketing, sales or business. Although they’ve had mentors helping them out, the success is largely due to the two figuring it out along the way.
Meyer said he believes DogBerry was largely successful because of the expanding craft beer industry, the demographics in West Chester, and the lack of craft breweries in the area.
“It’s an honor that people like something that we have created, and that we stand here and make,” said Frede. “We make 31 gallons of something, and people show up, and it’s available Thursday and gone by Saturday night.”
They are constantly rotating their tap handles, but you can almost always expect to find some of their most popular beers on tap.
Undone is one of their most popular, a 6.1% single-hop citrus IPA. They also have found a lot of success in their Bray’s Brown, a 5.8% brown ale. They have a beer named after each one of their kids—like Reagy Rye, Caroline’s Cozy Christmas, or Nat’s Nightcap stout, and also name several with baseball references, such as Turnin’ Two IPA, a homage to a double play in baseball and a nod to their use of American 2-row malt.
Perhaps what sets DogBerry apart from other breweries is that the two dads aren’t there simply to get rich or please their customers—their mindset is that they are set on doing what they love, and if other people enjoy it and want to pay for it, then that’s great.
“It’s very unlikely that you’ll find any kind of Belgian in this brewery because neither of us really enjoy it,” laughs Meyer.
“It’s about the vibe that people feel when they come in here,” adds Frede. “It’s a confidence, but it’s not pretentious. Just because somebody wants a type of beer, doesn’t mean we’ll make it. You can call it old fashioned, but if you do something you love, you do it the way you want to do it.”
DogBerry is open Thursday and Friday from 4-9pm, Saturday 12-9pm and Sunday 12:30-8 pm. DogBerry is located at 7865 Cincinnati Dayton Road in West Chester Township.