Ohio Brewery Finalist in Samuel Adams National Competition


MOUNT HEALTHY, Ohio — Over the past seven years, the Fibonacci Brewing Company has become much more than a small nanobrewery in the bustling brewing scene of greater Cincinnati. Through a host of programs, such as an on-site urban garden and a reading program, the brewery has left an indelible mark on the Mount Healthy, Ohio community it calls home.

But that’s just the beginning, according to co-owners Betty and Bob Bollas. The couple applied Annual Samuel Adams Brewer Experienceship National Competition.

Samuel Adams named Fibonacci one of the five finalists of the competitionwhich started in 2010. The brewery beat out hundreds of other breweries – most of which are much larger than the Bollas’ operation – to win the spot.

What do you want to know

  • Fibonacci Brewing Company is a finalist in the Annual Samuel Adams Boston Brewery Brewer Experienceship National Competition
  • The winner receives a year-long mentorship, financial support to attend industry events, business training and the chance to collaborate on a beer with Samuel Adams
  • Mount Healthy-based Fibonacci is one of the most “unique” breweries in the country, according to event representatives
  • Beyond making beer, the brewery has an urban garden, a community market, and participates in social efforts such as children’s literacy.

If Bob and Betty win, Fibonacci will receive a year-long mentorship, including a trip to the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston to learn from brewing and business experts, including company founder and Cincinnati native Jim Koch. . They ranged from brewing and warehousing to graphic design and marketing.

They will also receive financial support to attend industry events and the opportunity to brew a beer in collaboration with Samuel Adams.

A judging panel at Samuel Adams’ Brewing the American Dream competition. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Adams)

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Betty, who is with her husband in New York this week for the first Crafting Dreams Beer Bash. The pair will showcase their beer – Mulberry Grove Sour Ale (4.5% ABV) – on Wednesday night during the finale.

Beer Bash attendees will meet all the finalists, learn about each brewery and, of course, taste all the beers. Then they will vote for which brewery they think should win the experience ship.

For their participation in the competition, the Bollas harvested blackberries from Mount Healthy. The couple held a local contest to see who could find the best blackberries in the area. They also added black raspberries grown in their home a few blocks from the brewery.

Keeping things hyper-local has been a big part of Fibonacci’s business model since they started in 2015 on a roughly one-acre lot on Compton Road.

The brewery is tiny in many ways, producing around 120 barrels a year, mostly a mix of four year-round offerings and a handful of seasonal recipes. And that’s how they like it, said Betty. They wanted it to feel like an accessible part of Mount Healthy.

“We wanted to open within our own community to provide something within walking distance for our neighbors to enjoy as well as provide resources for various community needs,” said Betty, who described Fibonacci as the country’s only urban farm brewery.

They started their business because of Bob’s love for home brewing, but also because of Betty’s love for urban agriculture and community outreach. The couple also wanted to give back to Mount Healthy, a mixed-income area where about 16.1% of households live below the poverty line, according to 2020 census data.

Betty said they applied to this program to gain the expertise and assistance of business coaching as they continued to “grow from the upside”. And it’s not just in terms of beer making.

A cream ale from the Fibonacci Brewing Company infused with local honey and Thai basil.  (Photo courtesy of Chelle Magin/Fibonacci Brewing Company)

A cream ale from the Fibonacci Brewing Company infused with local honey and Thai basil. (Photo courtesy of Chelle Magin/Fibonacci Brewing Company)

If Fibonacci wins, tentative plans call for them to focus on creating their own food program so they don’t have to depend on food trucks. As part of this goal, they would expand the onsite urban agricultural products they create. The couple also plan to use what they learned to improve ways to impact the Mount Healthy community.

Fibonacci donates 10% of all pint sales (after tax) of its flagship Oberhausen kolsch-style beer to a different organization each month. It was the first brewery in the region to partner with Ellequate, a data-driven employer certification program focused on intersectional equity in the workplace.

To combat local food insecurity during the pandemic, Fibonacci launched a monthly farmer’s market. They accept SNAP and Produce Perks – government programs to supplement food purchases for those in need – payment.

Fibonacci participates in what is called the “Aunt Flow” program. The brewery washrooms, which are gender-inclusive, have free period products for anyone who needs them. The Bollas also participate in the Little Free Library Read in Color program, a new initiative that brings various books to book sharing boxes around the world.

“We’ve donated over 1,000 books in the last year and a half,” Betty said.

Jennifer Glanville, brewer and director of partnerships at Samuel Adams, described Fibonacci as one of the “most unique breweries in the country.”

For example, she says, Fibonacci brewers use at least one local ingredient in over 90% of their beers. Not just from their farm either. They work to help other local farmers and producers reinvest in the area.

“These people are not just making great beer, but they’re really focused on how they can further grow their community and continue to make an impact there,” Glanville said.

A business strategist speaks with a brewer at a Samuel Adams event in Chicago.  (Photo courtesy of Samuel Adams)

A business strategist speaks with a brewer at a Samuel Adams event in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Adams)

This kind of mental “giving back” is typical of the brewing industry, Glanville said.

She recalls conversations with brewers across the country about everything from decisions to expand a brewery to finding out about a good electrician.

Koch started the experience program and other programs, such as a micro-loan program, in light of Samuel Adams’ humble origins nearly 40 years ago, Glanville said. The brewery struggled to secure a loan for a small business, for example, and although the team knew a lot about beer, they still needed help with the inner workings of the business.

These programs are a way to give back, Glanville said.

Since 2008, Samuel Adams has supported nonprofit lending partners by issuing more than 3,800 loans totaling more than $86 million to food and beverage entrepreneurs in 41 states across the country. Equally important, the program has provided business coaching and advice to over 13,000 people.

“Jim always said, ‘If everyone drinks good craft beer, it’s good for everyone in the industry, and that always stuck with me,'” Glanville recalls. one of the reasons I stayed for 21 years.”

Samuel Adams won’t announce the winner of this year’s Brewer Experienceship until later this week. But win or lose, the Bollasses said they are focused on continuing to make great beer and making a bigger impact on Mount Healthy.

“We just want to continue to provide the best program for our staff and our community and launch new programs to fill additional gaps (in their needs),” Betty said.


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