March 01– Mar. 1–Tea beer is brewing on the South Side.
Wild Ohio Brewing, which brews beer from tea, has opened a 10,400-square-feet brewery facility at 2025 S. High St. that is expected to be finished by the end of April.
Wild Ohio burst on the craft beer scene in 2016 when CEO Russell Pinto bought and rebranded Luna Kombucha in Clintonville. Wild Ohio contracted with Four Strings Brewing Co. to make the beer but was forced to move operations to FigLeaf Brewing Company north of Cincinnati after Four Strings closed in October.
“People aren’t used to hearing tea beer, so it’s a unique approach to the beer category,” said Mark Bivenour, CEO of Star Distributing.
Wild Ohio’s production facility, which won’t include a taproom, is owned by Fortner Upholstering, a 90-year-old Columbus maker of upholstered furniture, and is part of a 230,000-square-foot complex at 2000-2060 S. High St. called “The Fort.” In 2017, Fortner Upholstering bought the property, which was formerly a Seagraves Fire Truck Manufacturing plant.
Tea beer is made from green or black tea that is fermented with fruit juice and yeast. Wild Ohio flavors include blueberry, blood orange tangerine, mango, black cherry bourbon, cranberry, dalypalmer and peach. The company plans to release mango passion fruit in April and and candy cane for Christmas. Wild Ohio is gluten-free with no barley or malt in their beer. The only Wild Ohio beer to include hops in the mango flavor.
The beers include about the same alcohol content as craft beers.
“It tastes like you’re drinking juice,” Pinto said.
People all over the country ask Pinto to bring his beer to their part of the country.
“Someone from Boston messaged me and said ‘Come to Boston, we’ll have a real tea party,’ ” Pinto said.
A 47-year-old woman told Pinto she had never had beer in her life but now can’t get enough of Wild Ohio, and keeps cans in her fridge at all times.
“(Tea beer) is something different, it’s something unique,” Pinto said. “The taste is good and it doesn’t fill you up.”
Wild Ohio sales have been on the rise and the company hopes to post $3 million in sales this year.
The beer can be found at Giant Eagle, Meijer, and Target.
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