There was shock and much speculation in craft beer circles at the unexpected announcement that Blank Slate Brewing at 4233 Airport Road in Cincinnati’s East End had closed for good earlier this week.
Until recently, the public only had a simple message posted on the brewery’s web site from which to glean any information: “Closed. Thanks for the memories.” The brewery’s social-media pages have been shut down.
Today, former owner Scott LaFollette ended his silence with a lengthy and emotional message posted to his blog site explaining the decision close Blank Slate.
“The reason for our closure is pretty simple. We ran out of money,” his post reads. “We simply don’t have enough cash to keep going.”
LaFollette continued, “I am truly appreciative of everyone who supported us through the years and I am sorry to anyone I have disappointed. I am also sorry to the employees that I had to let go. It’s like breaking up a family and I have cried many times since Monday about it.”
He concluded the post saying he needed to take time to grieve and decide what his next move was, but did add some Blank Slate product is still in the process of distribution, meaning the last beers from his beloved brewery are on the way.
Fellow Cincinnati brewery MadTree Brewing posted a message on its Facebook page that reads: “A heartfelt thank you to Blank Slate Brewing Company for being a pioneer, mentor, and friend in the Cincinnati craft beer community.”
Comments from Cincy-area beer enthusiasts express shock and sadness, ranging from, “Such a sad day” to “How did this even happen?”
According to WCPO.com, Blank Slate began brewing in 2011, before Ohio allowed breweries to operate taprooms. It celebrated its sixth anniversary in May.
Last year, Blank Slate began canning Fork in the Road, its signature amber India ale, year round, and Out & About, a gose, during the summer, and had spoken recently about expanding production, WCPO.com reported.
In what may have been a prescient blog post in July 2012, Blank Slate Brewing’s founders wrote the following:
“As much as it sucks to say it, the old adage that the beer business is a ‘volume game’ is pretty much a universal truth. There is a slippery slope that exists between the quest for volume and having the funds to do what’s necessary to increase that volume. To sell more beer you need more avenues to market but to do that you need more equipment/personnel/etc. Of course as soon as you have to buy more equipment you now need to make more money to cover those costs thus you need to sell more beer. You can see how ‘chasing volume’ can quickly become an out of control spiral.”
The Dayton-area brewing scene has not experienced a similar closing as of yet. So far, all of the breweries in the first wave of breweries that opened three to five years ago are still open and operating, and nearly all have expanded in some form or another — some significantly. And more craft breweries are in the works in the Dayton and northern Cincinnati area.