Ohio State graduate Patrick Kelleher brews up beer business at Neil House Brewery
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 21:01
When Patrick Kelleher first started brewing beer a few years ago, one of his biggest challenges was not getting distracted by the video game “Left 4 Dead.” At the time, he was an undergraduate student in chemistry at Ohio State brewing from his home near the intersection of Neil and Oakland avenues.
“Everything I was doing in (chemistry) lab was very applicable to home brewing,” Kelleher said.
That house where he started brewing became his company’s namesake: Neil House Brewery. Ever since he received his brewer’s license in the fall 2010, Kelleher has been brewing beer commercially out of a warehouse facility at 372 Morrison Road near Gahanna, Ohio.
“It seemed like every time I was at the house he was preparing or had prepared something for everyone to sample,” said Joe Kozlowski, a fourth-year in mathematics, who met Kelleher when he lived on Neil Avenue. “I was always impressed by not only the quality of his product but also Patrick’s dedication to his craft.”
There was no magical moment when Kelleher realized he would pursue a career in brewing. He said friends from his original house on Neil Avenue had somewhat of an intervention to encourage him to continue brewing.
“‘You either need to do something with this or find a hobby that will get you somewhere,’” Kelleher said, quoting his friends. And soon, the hobby that he started in order for him and his roommates “to keep up with (their) intake (of beer)” became a career possibility.
Kelleher said he considered going to medical school, however he “wasn’t super enamored with that.” He was interested in pursuing chemistry research, but ultimately decided to apply his education to brewing.
Kelleher developed one of Neil House’s most popular offerings, cranberry cider, after he lost a bet. Cranberry ciders are just fermented cranberry juice, he said.
“Cranberry juice sucks. I can’t stand cranberry juice,” Kelleher said.
He would not reveal the bet he lost, but said the end product was something to his liking. Kelleher said he was not fond of the “mouth-cooling tartness” that cranberry juice exhibited but found that the cider he made removed this quality, creating a “nicely-balanced drink.”
The cranberry cider is a popular draft choice throughout Columbus, including at Hal & Al’s bar and restaurant, located at 1297 Parsons Ave.
“It’s good for someone that’s looking for a fruitier drink,” said Jamie Crump, a bartender at Hal and Al’s. “It’s not as sweet as some of the other hard ciders.”
As far as how actual beer production goes at Neil House, the Milk Stout is currently the best-selling beer. Kelleher said he plans to do more flavored stout beers in the future, as well as experiment with a type of hops (an ingredient integral to brewing beer) known as citra hops in order to make a citra wheat ale later this week.
Kelleher says he is fortunate to be involved in a business that allows him to experiment, as America is “an innovator in brewing with non-traditional ingredients.”
“Inspiration comes from everywhere,” Kelleher said, measuring hops for his next batch of ale.
Despite the work involved in producing Neil House brews, Kelleher is the only paid employee at the brewery. In order to get all of his brewing done on schedule, he invites friends and family to assist in his business, such as longtime friend and Neil House volunteer Jordan Hensley.
With a degree in business management, Hensley assists Kelleher in day-to-day operations of the brewery, including overseeing Neil House’s online presence on Facebook and Twitter and helping in the bottling, packaging and shipping of the product.
“There’s more to gain in being a part of a successful brewery,” Hensley said. “And working in a brewery is fun.”