Last night the news broke that Mitch Dougherty has left Rock Bottom Cincinnati to build out and run Eight Ball Brewing for The Party Source across the river in Bellevue, KY. It’s a fantastic move for Mitch and great news for the Cincinnati beer scene, but what about Rock Bottom?
It turns out there’s an answer to that question, and his name is Gerry O’Connell.
The tapping of the American Dream Double IPA on Wednesday, January 16th at Rock Bottom is going to be a pretty special event. It’s a goodbye party for Mitch and a welcoming party for the newest member of Cincinnati’s family of brewers. Oh yeah, and there’s going to be the Double IPA that Mitch describes as ‘crazy hoppy,’
Gerry O’Connell is coming to Cincinnati from Cleveland where he was the longtime brewmaster at the Cleveland ChopHouse and Brewery which closed its doors for good New Year’s Eve. It was owned by Rock Bottom’s parent company CraftWorks which chose not to renew the location’s lease. Gerry is a native of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland who grew up on a dairy farm and later attended the Institute of Technology in Dublin. He came to the US in 1994 and started his brewing career as an apprentice brewer at the Brew Moon Restaurant (which later changed its name to Rock Bottom Cleveland). He became head brewer two years later and also began handling the brewmaster duties at the ChopHouse, its sister establishment. Rock Bottom closed in May of 2010 when it lost its location as part of the building of the Cleveland Aquarium. Now, two-and-a-half years later he’s had another brewery shot out from under his feet.
Sounds like it’s time to get the heck out of Cleveland.1
Welcome to Cincinnati, Gerry. You’re going into a great place with great people and we promise we’ll do all we can to make sure the doors stay open down there. There’s a track record: ask around about what it was like during the reconstruction of Fountain Square. Rock Bottom is an institution here. For a few years it alone kept the brewpub idea alive in Cincinnati. We’ve said on more than one occasion that Rock Bottom is where Hoperatives was born. Yeah, it’s part of a large corporate conglomerate and I know some folks just can’t see past that, but it’s a part of the fabric of downtown because good people have worked very, very hard to make it become part of the fabric of downtown.
In talking to Mitch the last couple of days about all of this, he’s mentioned over and over how supportive everyone at Rock Bottom– top to … er … bottom — has been of his taking on the challenge of Eight Ball Brewing. ”I am very grateful for all that Rock Bottom has offered me over the years,” he said when I asked him the annoying ‘so how do you feel about all this Mitch?’ question, “I worked with a wonderful group of people at Rock Bottom Cincinnati. I look forward to enjoying Gerry’s beers from the other side of the bar. I thank all that have supported and welcomed a transplant from Arizona. I look forward to continue making beer for the entire Tri-State area.”
Come out Wednesday, January 16th to say “see you over at Party Source, Mitch” and welcome Gerry to the nicer, less-brewery-close-y part of Ohio. And be sure to say something to Assistant Brewmaster Luke Cole. He’s not going anywhere and will continue in his role, but it would be kind of rude to see him and not say anything. Just saying.
(And remember: The tapping’s on Wednesday. They’ve moved from Thursdays to Wednesdays. Who says nothing ever changes in Cincinnati?)
1And let’s be honest. When isn’t it time to get the heck out of Cleveland?
2I kid! I kid!