Now that Braxton Brewing Co. is serving up Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip milk stout, is a Cincinnati-style chili IPA far behind for the Covington-based craft brewer?
“I don’t know what it would taste like, but I won’t rule it out,” says Jake Rouse, Braxton’s CEO, who with his brother Evan and their father, Greg, launched the brewery two years ago out of the family’s garage on Braxton Drive in Union.
“We absolutely are looking to partner with other iconic local brands,” says Jake. “We think a lot about partnerships when it comes to brands that are authentic and focused on good flavors, so we’ll absolutely be working on that.”
Now marking its second anniversary, Braxton has grown so fast that even the Rouse brothers are surprised.
“It’s been absolutely mind-boggling,” says Evan. “We’re very thankful for all the people who support us and drink our beer. It’s been a lot of fun and people are really receptive to everything we’ve put on the market.”
Last year, Braxton produced more than 7,000 barrels of beer, up from 2,500 barrels its first year. A barrel holds 31 gallons, or slightly more than 55 six-packs. This year the brewery, which has the capacity to make 25,000 barrels, expects to do about 15,000 barrels, Jake says. Employment for the brewery and taproom at 27 W. Seventh St. has grown from five to 37 employees.
“We’re looking for new opportunities to grow, there’s no doubt about that,” he says. “We haven’t landed on anything quite yet.”
As Northern Kentucky natives, the brothers like being part of the innovation scene and renaissance in downtown Covington.
Although Braxton’s focus is on expanding its current distribution beyond the Cincinnati-Dayton area and Kentucky, its taproom, which opens at 8 a.m. offering coffee and Internet access as a neighborhood co-working space, is a critical part of its branding effort, says Jake.
“When you come in the taproom you hear our story and see what we’re all about,” he says. “It’s our single biggest ability to market and grow our brand at bars and restaurants.”
Folks here love Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip ice cream—and beer—and the rollout of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Milk Stout has generated a flurry of excitement.
“I can tell you that to me, it’s the most exciting thing my brother and I have ever worked on,” says Jake.
Braxton was knocking around brewing ideas “when somebody mentioned, ‘What if we made Cincinnati’s favorite ice cream into a beer?’ We all said that would be awesome,” says Evan.
They approached family-owned Graeter’s, which loved the idea of turning one of their oldest ice cream flavors into a beer. Graeter’s gave Braxton access to the same black raspberry puree it uses in its ice cream and Braxton added cocoa nibs to the brew.
Evan says Braxton went through three test batches before it found the flavor it wanted.
“What we have is a slightly sweeter stout with chocolate raspberry forward and a small amount of roast in the finish with the stout. It’s not too sweet or too sugary,” he says.
Braxton may experiment with other ice cream flavors down the road, Evan says.