Anheuser-Busch has purchased a lot of craft breweries over the last two decades — 10 Barrel, Appalachian Mountain, Blue Point, Breckenridge, Cisco, Devils Backbone, Elysian, Four Peaks, Golden Road, Goose Island, Karbach, Red Hook, Wicked Weed, Widmer Brothers, Wynwood, you get the idea. After purchase, these brands inevitably change. They get integrated into A-B’s beer/money making machine and their exact destinations are uncertain. Here’s an example.
In Cleveland, where CBB headquarters are located deep underground, Platform Beer Co. is the local A-B craft brand of choice. You used to see the brand at Cleveland stores, restaurant chains and at major events, but the one thing you won’t see anymore is the brand’s taprooms or production facilities in Cleveland, which have quietly closed according to an article by Vince Grzegorek at Cleveland Scene.
Platform Brewery, founded in Cleveland in 2014 and acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2019 from co-founders Paul Benner and Justin Carson, has closed its Lorain Ave. taproom, its sour facility and taproom at Phunkenship, and ceased local production, according to multiple sources.
The beer giant may continue brewing a few core Platform beers elsewhere, some said, but the entire local operation is done and all employees have been laid off.
It’s even worse. According to this Brewbound article, the brand is being relegated to having only three IPAs left in its lineup, which is crazy to consider how it started. Platform was one of the fastest growing regional craft breweries in the country before its purchase. The brewery made a name for itself locally with its fun focus on being experimental in both its brewing and marketing strategy. It burst onto the scene in 2014 with sleek cans and a constantly new selection of beers. Beyond two core beers and a few seasonals, it never brewed the same beer twice. In fact, Platform used to pump out more than 200 unique beers per year back in the day, not to mention its forays into ciders and hard seltzers.
At one point, Platform was also a Cleveland incubator that would give up-and-coming brewers the opportunity to have their homebrewed recipes enjoyed by the general public — hence the name Platform. These brewers in incubation would get hands-on training from Platform’s brewmaster while being shadowed by Platform staff during all facets of the brewing process. How cool is that? Check out our On The Scene video interview with Platform in 2019, right at the height of their indie popularity.
Before the pandemic, what drew A-B to Platform was that data-driven, fast-paced approach to beer creation and distribution combined with its brick-and-mortar footprint in Ohio’s three largest metropolitan cities: Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. Of course, those locations are now gone. From the Scene article:
After a mass staff walkout at its Columbus taproom in 2021, Platform never reopened that location, and its Cincinnati outpost closed recently as well.
Looking back at the details from 2019, it’s quite painful to revisit how such a successful brand has disappeared at a local level. At its height, Platform owned and operated four facilities in Ohio: its flagship Cleveland tasting room, a 60-barrel Cleveland-based brewhouse, a tasting room in Columbus which doubled as a distribution center and warehouse and its Cincinnati Tasting Room and coffee shop concept “LOCOBA.” There was also Platform’s dedicated sour beer brewing facility and on-site tasting room — Phunkenship — and a location in Pittsburg that are both now closed.
Here are some especially awful quotes from the press release at the time of Platform’s sale in 2019:
In speaking with the other craft brewery founders in [Anheuser-Busch’s] Brewers Collective, we know partnering with Anheuser-Busch means we will have the resources and the autonomy to bring our vision for Platform Beer Co. to life,” said Platform co-founder Paul Benner. “Being able to continue leading the day-to-day operations was an important factor in our decision and we have no doubt that this partnership will benefit our loyal staff and passionate customer base.”
“We are excited to invest even more into our local economy through capital improvements and job creation,” added co-founder Justin Carson. “We will be able to provide our staff with resources like robust healthcare benefits including parental leave, 401K and growth opportunities that we currently don’t have and will make Platform an even better place to work and grow.”