Letting Go To The Deep End

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
— George Bernard Shaw

First, an apology. You will read a mix of “we” and “I” in this post. It’s because what you are about to read is both “we” and “I,” intertwined. There’s no separating the two. OK, here we go.

Big day, today.

Some think that love is about holding on, but it isn’t. It is about your fingers holding on to the edge, then letting go, one finger at a time.

We take a deep breath today—as we prepare to drop. It’s not my first time here, yet the motion is still a bit unsettling, the thrill of the flight. That headlong dive into the deep unknown. Just go with it, right? Today is the day we take on another lover.

If you’ve followed my years in Columbus craft beer, you know my passion is biased toward an inviting brewpub setting. Since the dawn of civilization, beer has been a social beverage. A little drink, a few friends and lots of laughs. The ultimate “let your hair down” setting.


Today, over 23 years since I started this journey, my horizons have expanded. I’m BFFs with yet another craft brewery, this time on the production side.

At this point, the desire to start another endeavor is much different than it was when I was in my 30s. Then, I had something to prove–to myself, as well as to you. Today, there may still be an ember of that motivation. But it’s not the driving force.

In today’s world, it is all too easy to be pessimistic. We’re not victims, though. It’s still possible to remain positive, right? Even though it may feel like swimming upstream?

We’re going to find out. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Commonhouse Ales, Columbus’ newest a craft brewery. We plan on brewing kick-ass beer. Under the hood, though, we aspire to do much more.

commonhouse ales log bw

Commonhouse Ales is an exploration to see if a business can ensure its own viability while expanding the definition of what success is, and what a corporate citizen can be. We will not just focus on the bottom line, important as that is. We will also apply equal focus on the well-being of our employees and our community.

Excuse us as we discover along the way how we’ll make this happen. We haven’t even been on our first date yet. Exhilarating, this is a journey without an end destination in mind; we’ll form our actions based on what we learn along the way.

Make no mistake, though. We have formed our DNA in a way such that we’ll be held accountable for straying. A little background, first.

Smokehouse Brewing Company has been in existence for over 17 years now, as a brewpub. That will continue. In fact, it may even be a cooler place to visit than ever. In addition to what you know as the ‘House, it will also become the incubator for beers that will progress as production beers at Commonhouse Ales. 2015 saw 16 new beers, an effort that exceeds even that of a startup brewpub. While maybe not at that pace, look for those efforts to continue. The Smokehouse is now the experimental incubator for an ever-evolving craft beer scene in CBus.

Why the different name? First, Commonhouse is different ownership than at the Smokehouse. Also, we’re not smoking anything at Commonhouse.

Commonhouse is stocked with Smokehouse veterans. Dan Pollock will continue as General Manager at the ‘House, while serving a Business Manager at Commonhouse. Sam Hickey has been promoted to Brewmaster of both Smokehouse and Commonhouse. Alex Kolada has been promoted to Head Brewer at Smokehouse, and will serve as Assistant Brewer at Commonhouse. I’ll keep doing what I do, whatever that is.

We both have “House” in our names. Commonhouse Ales is the new name, because despite us all being unique, we also all have something in Common.

Written into our operating agreement, we will adhere to a “triple bottom line,” one that places equal focus on our crew, our community and our own selves. How will we do that?

  • Employees: We’ll give our crew say in the course of our business. We’ll try like heck to provide compensation above industry standards, and we’ll work to create a positive, exciting work environment.
  • Community: We will strive to be environmentally conscious. We’ll consider hiring those who need a leg up and who show a willingness to join a team. And we will also contribute to those less fortunate in our community.Our flagship ale, Columbus Common, will be available year round. $1 of every six pack sold will fund Commonhouse Shares, our charitable account managed by the Columbus Foundation. Once funds are deposited, we have committed that we can’t take that money back. These funds will eventually be granted to Central Ohio charities that show great need. We have kick-started this fund with $10,000 of our own funds.

We are also a certified B Corporation Pending. Led by B Lab, an independent third party organization that will hold our feet to the fire through annual audits, they will ensure that we benefit not only ourselves, but our employees and our greater community. We are the first craft brewer in Ohio to do so. You may have heard of a few other B Corporations. Here in town, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is one. New Belgium Brewing Company is another.

We have been planning this launch since May, 2014, when we first held a discussion with Eric Bean about acquiring his assets at the former Columbus Brewing Company location. Yep, we purchased his equipment there, and will continue to brew there, in the Brewery District.

Our planning is almost done. It’s time to start executing. We will start transforming at this location as soon as we get the keys later this week. We expect to hit the streets of Columbus no later than May of this year. Woot!

So… Hello, Columbus!

We all know beer is good. But Beer for Good is better. We hope you are as excited about this as we are. Visit us as commonhouseales.com, and follow our shenanigans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art. Write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And we hope, somewhere this year, you surprise yourself. Let go of that ledge. Fly.


“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” – David Bowie

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