For the next stop in our brewery series, we sat down with Dick Stevens, owner of Elevator Brewing Company.
Stevens has owned the company since 1999, and is the membership chair of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. He talked about how it all got started, the value of risk-taking and the camaraderie of brewing in our city.
How did it all start?
I’ve always wanted better beer than what was available […] Domestic beer just didn’t have flavor. In 1999, a friend bought a grain elevator, his dad opened it up, and they couldn’t get a license to sell beer. So I went to my son, who was a homebrewer at the time, [and was] sharing a house in German Village with a brewer. We had no experience, we were risk-takers and crazy […] we didn’t know anything. People always say there’s no such thing as free beer. The first glass of beer we made cost me $3,000 dollars.
We were a non-profit for 10 years. Here I am at 75 years old, still doing it, and I love it.
What do you like most about this industry?
My favorite part is keeping it going. My investment is paid for, so to me, it’s a matter of setting goals and accepting challenges. You set goals and reach those, maybe go a little bigger and set other goals. And I’ve never seen anything like the fraternity between brewers in Columbus. It’s not just here, it’s all across the country. There’s always that overriding thinking that we’ll all do better together.
Where can people get an Elevator brew?
We’ve been distributing in Columbus and two other counties ever since we started. A year ago, we decided to distribute outside of this area to about 80% of the state. Starting in June 2014, distribution will take Elevator to the rest of the state [...] Dayton, Akron, Cleveland, Toledo. Big Vic is an Imperial IPA that was just launched, and we plan to have that all year ‘round. There’s also canning, which is being done in the east and west parts of the state, but we’re the first independent brewery in Central Ohio to can our beer.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
We have a lot of fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
If you lose your focus and try to be like everyone else, you’ll miss out. You can’t be everything to all people. What’s in the bottle, the glass, the can or keg is what will make us or break us.
The Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. View their website and Facebook page for more info.