The ‘Brewdood’ is Back

commonhouse ales

Columbus, Ohio veteran brewer Lenny Kolada has purchased Columbus Brewing’s equipment and space and will launch a new venture for the spring with a “triple bottom line” as the goal. Along with focusing on being a viable new brewery in the Buckeye State’s capital city, Kolada wants to take care of his employees and the community with the soon-to-open Commonhouse Ales.

“We created this not only to make kick-ass beer that people can enjoy, but to also try an experiment where a business can actually do more than serve its own bottom line,” Kolada said. “We are adhering to a bottom line in which we will be concerned about our viability and equal focus on our employees, empowering them and giving them a good standard of living, and that they want to get up in the morning and get work done. Then we want to focus on our community at large.”

Commonhouse, which will look to start at around 3,000 bbls this year, with a possible capacity of 7,000, will distribute through central Ohio and raise funds as a B Corporation business — the first brewery to do so in Ohio.

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. New Belgium Brewery is also a B Corps brewery in the U.S.

“The work struck me, it made sense and it was a holistic approach,” Kolada said about B Corps attitude. “My primary motivation is that I thought I had something to do for my loyal staff that has been here for a long time and give them a growth path. When you pay a little attention to the news now, it’s so negative and everyone is unsettled. There is a lot of indecisiveness and it was bugging me why it was like this. I finally said, just to myself, that everyone points fingers. So I started to think about the solution to making the world a happier and fulfilling place was really directing efforts to yourself. What can we do as individuals that won’t change the world, but maybe make an impact of some sort.”

Kolada plans to provide “compensation above industry standards,” be environmentally conscious and help the less fortunate in the community by hiring those that are willing to join the team and taking $1 from every six-pack of their flagship beer, “Columbus Common”, and giving it to the Columbus Foundation through the Commonhouse Shares account.

“By doing it the way we did it we’ll never miss the money if we never see it in the first place, and we will work with the profits that we have left over,” Kolada said.

The Columbus Foundation’s mission is to assist donors and others in strengthening and improving their community for the benefits of all its residents. The funds raised will be given out to charities that show great need and Kolada said that he may even work with Commonhouse Ales’ patrons on choosing those charities. He even started the account with $10,000 to get things going.

“This isn’t a marketing trick, there are no shenanigans going on,” Kolada said. “All our deposits to Commonhouse Shares are a one-way street.”

Kolada noted that at the start, the main people from Smokehouse will be running the show for Commonhouse Ales until they see how things go.

Sam Hickey will be brewmaster over both locations while Dan Pollock, Smokehouse’s GM, will be business manager. Kolada’s son, Alex, will be head brewer at Smokehouse and the assistant brewer at Commonhouse.

“The four of us will start it, and depending what business dictates we will be hiring able bodies,” Kolada said.

The idea started in May 2014 when Kolada talked with Columbus Brewing’s Eric Bean. Bean mentioned he was looking to upgrade and sell. fter thinking it over, Kolada decided to start the new venture. Since,he has been busy making plans for the new brewery and hopes to have beer on shelves by at least May of this year.

Columbus Common will be an American Amber Ale. Kolada plans to use the current Smokehouse Brewery, which has been in Columbus for 17 years and put out about 600 barrels in 2015, to run as an experimental spot for the Commonhouse Ales brand.

“Some people might scratch their heads and think, ‘well why not an IPA. That’s all the rage,’” Kolada said. “We decided to do a beer style that isn’t as prevalent as it is today. We wanted to make a beer that can be accessible to everyone.”

In preparation for this year, Smokehouse worked on 16 types of beers to be used at Commonhouse.  They will also distribute a Session IPA; an Imperial IPA; a Pale Wheat Ale; an Imperial Pumpkin Porter; and a Winter Warmer.

“We’re taking a road trip, we don’t have a destination. We have a vision of what we want, but we don’t even know what city we are heading to first,” Kolada explained. “That’s how I feel about Commonhouse Ales, we are going to learn a lot along the way and we are excited. We know beer is good, what if we can use beer for good?”


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  1. Pingback: Becoming B Corp Certified

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