There are many local breweries in the Tri-State area, but the founder behind Blank Slate Brewing Company says they’re brewing up something truly unique. Scott LaFollette started his business in 2011, with production and selling starting in 2012. Although the Blank Slate wasn’t open to the public until 2012, LaFollette says, “It has been an idea inside my head ever since I started homebrewing in the late 1990s.”
Starting a business takes a certain level of dedication and a lot of inspiration. On the inspiration behind starting Blank Slate, LaFollette says, “[I like] being able to create something from the ground up and then step back and say, ‘Wow, I made this.’” He now has the ability to work for himself doing something he loves. LaFollette was also inspired by his background, jokingly stating, “I grew tired of huffing plastic fumes for a chemical company.” After spending over a decade working in industrial plastics with a degree in Materials Engineering, LaFollette was ready for a change – and craft beer was his passion.
Blank Slate started out as LaFollette’s hobby years before he thought of starting his company. “I started homebrewing and immediately fell in love with it. I spent several years learning, researching and practicing to (hopefully) get into the industry someday. I became a certified beer judge as well as a certified cicerone along the way and took some courses at a brewing school in Chicago.” LaFollette learned – and continues to learn – about beer so that his company would be a success.
“I think every brewery in Cincinnati is unique in their own way,” LaFollette says. “For us, it’s primarily the way we approach brewing that is a little different. We don’t like to make traditional styles. I always say that if you want a really good pale ale I can take you to the store and show you ten to choose from, so why should we bother making #11?” Knowing that there are tons of similar beers out there, Blank Slate focuses on creating unique flavors and tastes. “We like to put a different slant on our beers and incorporate some culinary influences whenever possible. Sometimes it’s a brown ale with mushrooms or simply a German Kölsch with American hops. Either way, we strive to expand the flavor profile of what beer can be but without loosing the fact that at the end of the day, it’s still beer,” he states.
Blank Slate takes pride in their seasonal beers. LaFollette claims, “Beer is something that is meant to be enjoyed in the moment. It is a part of the experience of that time and place (and season). I prefer to drink with the seasons, meaning more crisp, vibrant beers in the warmer months and more rich, sustaining beers in the colder months. Our brewing is a reflection of that. Although some of our beers are now available year round, a good portion of them rotate seasonally.”
Cincinnati is well known for its love of beer. Some people wonder, though, if this is a good place to start a brewing company. To that, LaFollette says, “It’s my home, so I never even thought about putting it anywhere else. This city has a rich and proud brewing heritage that had really fallen on hard times in previous years. I wanted to be a part of bringing it back to glory. There’s an old saying that says to be a truly great city, you have to have two things: a baseball team and beer. I think that the renaissance happening in this city right now is at least partly attributable to the strides we have made collectively in bringing beer back to prominence. The people of this city were ready for it (whether they knew it or not) and they have been so enthusiastically accepting of it.” The Cincinnati Reds paired with multiple breweries has helped bring this city an incredible sense of pride, and LaFollette’s Blank Slate Brewing Company is right there in the middle of it all.
Blank Slate currently sells beer at the PourHouse taproom in Hamilton County, keeping the products a local commodity. “We set up [the PourHouse] to be very open and intimate to the brewing space. There is a nice wood bar and seating for about 45 people inside with room for another 10-15 on the small patio in front. You are drinking beer literally 20 feet from the tanks in which it was made, which is what it’s all about for me. We have tried to capture the experience of drinking inside a brewery and all of the sights, sounds, and smells that come with it, but still have it feel cozy and friendly,” says LaFollette. Enjoying the beers mere feet from where they were made is such a unique aspect to this business.
Customers can visit the PourHouse and sample anything that Blank Slate has on tap at the time. While production is mainly focused on distributing within the PourHouse for now, LaFollette hopes to start canning in early 2016. Blank Slate Brewing Company’s motto is “Our minds may be empty…our beer is not.” LaFollette explains this, stating, “It’s just a little nod to how we think about our recipes. We empty our minds and start from a blank slate to create something new.”
Speaking of what is new, you can keep up with Blank Slate Brewing Company for more information by visiting the website.