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Rust Belt brewery owners look to grow

Published: Mon, February 27, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Karl Henkel



The popularity of Rust Belt Brewing Co. has grown so much since the brewery’s debut in late 2008 that its owners say it is time to expand.

Ken Blair, Daniel McCarthy and Nick Rosich, founders and owners of the Youngstown-based microbrewery, have launched a campaign to raise $30,000 to outsource some of its production to a contract brewer, revamp its human-intensive bottling process and expand into new markets.

The owners say if the campaign can raise those funds by April 14, they will move forward with their expansion plans.

Those interested in donating to the campaign can do so by visiting http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1411104243/craft-brewery-expansion-project.

“Kickstarter is an unorthodox way to raise funding, but we thought we would give it a try,” Blair said via email.

The brewery has struggled to meet rising demand for its product, especially after it introduced four of its beers — the Irish Red Ale,

Blast Furnace Blond Ale, Coke Oven Stout and Old Man Hopper’s IPA — in six-packs late last year.

Beer was previously available in 22-ounce bottles; the switch to standard 12-ounce bottles doubled labor time, including labeling and boxing, which still is done by hand.

Rust Belt had increased its total volume output from Year 2 to Year 3, from 400 barrels to about 600, at its facility inside the historic B&O Train Station.

Initial orders for six-packs tripled demand late last year.

Demand continues to grow.

Stores with local locations such as Marc’s, Bottom Dollar Food and Giant Eagle carry Rust Belt products. Heidelberg Distributing Co., Ohio’s largest craft-beer distributor, also picked up Rust Belt products last year.

Blair said that Heidelberg plans to place an additional order of approximately 800 cases should Rust Belt meet its goal. The distributor, which orders about 100 for the Akron-Cleveland area presently, plans to expand toward Columbus and Cincinnati once Rust Belt can supply the inventory, Blair said.


1ytown1(398 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I repeat: You have got to be kidding me, every other viable business goes to the bank for credit to expand, or take on investors, not donations like this.

Only in Youngstown would you look for hand outs to expand your business. Must be something in the water.

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2saddad(655 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Apparently you geniuses commenting missed the part about "human intensive bottling process". You must be some of the very important Republican "job creators"! Or do you just indulge in the unproductive speech I see here?

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3ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

ytown go to the kickstarter website and look at some of the things that are being funded this way. This is quite popular outside of Youngstown. Alot of small businesses find it very difficult to secure bank financing, and they are to be applauded for not going to the government for our tax money to expand.

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4AnotherAverageCitizen(1194 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

If they went to a bank for a loan the same people would be critical of that also. Critics will be critics.

Best of luck to the home town brew.

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5rustybrew(6 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Just wanted to take a moment to thank those who support us. We started this company with the support of family and friends. We have an opportunity to grow, however, it is difficult to obtain traditional financing as a small business. The kickstarter.com website is just another way to reach out to friends for support. We have also sought private investment as well.

Since we have been in business we have given back to our communities. We support YSU students by allowing them to use our facility as a learning environment. We have helped raise money for the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as well as other charity and non-profit groups. And we will continue to do so.

Mr. ytown1 and biggeorge, please stop in sometime for a tour. I would be more than happy to introduce you to the spirit of the craft brewery.

Cheers and Thank You!

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6walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I helped your company the old-fashioned way by purchasing a 6 pack of the Coke Oven Stout which I found to be very good classic stout. I would hope you would try to do a milk stout in the future and a hefeweizen for the warm months.

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7rustybrew(6 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks, Walter! Cheers! We do have a milk stout available at the brewery for growler fills.

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8ytown1(398 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

@AAC, Wrong again, why would anyone be against a for profit business going to bank for financing any venture. But sticking your hand out for donations is another. This may be a progressive way of going about raising capital, but to do so without any risk to the ones who will be profiting from that way into the future loses me. Why not just put a donation jar in every watering hole asking for spare change. Good Luck to you RBB

What is wrong with just old school of running a for profit business like one, is there not enough profit in the current sales to carry expansion? Then maybe now just is not the time then.

I don't wish to offend these guys but this just smells of desperation, We can appreciate helping others, who has not give to all of the worthy charities, this is not a charity, why not ask a close relative of each of these 3 owners to put up 10k each and carry them till this pans out. No Bank and no one is the wiser, they would appear to have a handle on their business and are being successful enough to expand.

I do have my right to an opinion when you encourage the Vindy to carry your story, not to be bashed, I was only embarrassed for them to have to ask for funding like this, they need to stand on their own or maybe being in business is not the thing for them, sell the name and recipes and move back to the basement brewing.

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9rustybrew(6 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


You and the Vindicator are incorrect by calling this a donation campaign. I invite you to visit the kickstarter site. I am not sure why the vindy referred to our kickstarter campaign as asking for donations. If you had visited the site, you would see that there are various levels of pledges and in return the person who pledged receives something in return. For example, a $10 pledge gets you a tasting at our brewery and an additional item. How you have defined that as a donation I'm perplexed. Again, you are welcome to stop in and visit us if you have ay further questions or concerns or just take a moment to visit the kickstarter site for further clarification. You will see that it is not a "donation." Why the Vindicator described it that why, I am unclear.


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10rustybrew(6 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


Also, please refer to our previous post for additional clarification. Again, it is not a donation campaign. I really encourage you to visit the site to help comprehend and understand the gist of kickstarter. You will see that is is more along the lines of pre-selling products and services.


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11msweetwood(179 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


Don't let the naysayers get to you on here. Yesterday you were happy to explain what the kickstarter.com process was. Today you are treating the Vindy like mere Pabst for ever having mentioned your unique venture.

For the record, more than 160 kickstarter.com campaigns are more than happy to discuss "donations" on that website you directed folks to (though, to be fair, we never called it a "donation campaign").

Also keep in mind the Vindy staff includes plenty of beer aficionados. You want us on your side, right? So let's remain, uhm, stout, against some of the pale ales who always seem to be frothing for some negativity on here...

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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12rustybrew(6 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago


The Vindicator has always been great to us. I wasn't trying to bash you guys. In retrospect, we should have used the term funding or pledging. Stuff happens. Again, Thank you for all of your support and continued coverage.


"Those interested in donating to the campaign can do so by visiting http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1...

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13rustybrew(6 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

it was referred to as a donation in the article.

Cheers and no worries!!

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