Rivals Brewing Company to Assume Fat Head’s Brewery

After contract producing a line of beer for the last year, Ohio’s Rivals Brewing Company has reached an agreement to take over the current Fat Head’s Brewery space in Middleburg Heights.

As Brewbound previously reported, Fat Head’s broke ground in June on a $12 million, 125,000 sq. ft. destination brewery about a mile from its current headquarters. The new facility will double Fat Head’s production capabilities and enable it to produce as much as 60,000 barrels of beer annually.

Last week, Nick Lowe, the owner of Rivals Sports Grille, a decade-old Middleburg Heights sports bar and restaurant, announced that he had signed a five-year lease on the 35,000 sq. ft. turnkey brewery where Fat Head’s has operated since 2012.

As part of the $2.5 million project, Lowe’s fledgling Rivals Brewing Company LLC has acquired Fat Head’s old brewing equipment in order to begin production in the spring of 2018, and the company plans to expand and remodel the facility’s taproom to better reflect Rivals’ brand identity.

Currently, Rivals Sports Grille contract brews its four beers at Madison, Ohio-based Hop View Brewing Company, and those products are exclusively sold on tap at the restaurant.

“Our beer outperforms all others we carry on tap,” owner Nick Lowe said in a press release. “The most common question we get is: ‘When can I buy this at the store? So it’s really a no-brainer.’”

In an email to Brewbound, brewmaster and general manager Chuck Johnson wrote that Rivals plans to phase out its contract production after its new facility goes online in the spring or summer of next year.

“We value that relationship, but it will shift to a collaborative effort instead,” he wrote. “We are also planning a collaboration with Fat Head’s brewery at launch.”

Johnson, who will lead the company’s brewing operations, added that the company is seeking a head brewer with large-scale production experience. He added that Rivals plans to self-distribute its beer in 6-pack bottles and kegs and may offer its products in cans in the future.

Meanwhile, Fat Head’s new brewery is expected to open by late spring 2018, according to a profile last month in Crain’s Cleveland Business. The new location will include a 250-seat bar and restaurant as well as a “state-of-the-art” German-made brewhouse, a new pilot brewery, bottling and packaging equipment and a distribution center.

Sales of Fat Head’s beer increased 13 percent last year to 25,000 barrels, according to an estimate by industry trade group the Brewers Association. Fat Head’s revenues are expected to exceed $14 million in 2018, Crain’s reported.

Fat Head’s currently operates outposts in North Olmsted, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Penn., and Portland, Ore. The company is in the process of building a $2.1 million, 10,000 sq. ft. brewpub in Canton, which is expected to open in mid-January. The company has also set its sights on opening a brewpub in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A press release with more details on Rivals’ project is included below.

Rivals Brewing Company to Purchase Current Fat Head’s Brewery in Middleburg Heights, Ohio

Rivals Brewing Company is proud to announce they have contracted with Fat Heads Brewery and Tap Room at 18741 Sheldon Road in Middleburg Heights, Ohio to purchase the brewery at their current location. Fat Heads, the most awarded brewery in the State of Ohio, is vacating their current space in the Spring of 2018 after the completion of their new, state-of-the-art production facility and tap room which will meet their skyrocketing production demands.

Rivals Sports Grille, also in Middleburg Heights has been contracting their beer recipes through Hop View Brewing company in Madison, Ohio since December of 2016 and has enjoyed a great deal of success. Owner Nick Lowe has had a desire to expand the operation to a brewery from very early on. “Our beer outperforms all others we carry on tap. The most common question we get is: “When can I buy this at the store? So it’s really a no-brainer.” Now, Nick has formed Rivals Brewing Company LLC to purchase the current Fat Heads facility in order to expand and develop new product offerings.

“Currently we have four of our craft beers on tap. We have our Pale Ale, Double IPA, Lager and our newest beer: A seasonal Winter Warmer” says Chuck Johnson, General Manager and Brewmaster for Rivals Sports Grille. “Matt Cole, from Fat Heads, is an amazing brewer and we’re happy for their success and their need to move to a bigger facility. A lot of great beer has been brewed here on this equipment, and we are looking forward to continuing that legacy with our own beers.”

Rivals Brewing Company will be remodeling the tap room at the facility to better reflect their brand identity, expand the live entertainment space and add seating capacity. They will continue to offer their beer at Rivals Sports Grille but will also be seeking out additional restaurant placements and events to get their beer in the community prior to their launch next Spring/Summer. More exciting details regarding the brewing team, menu, beer and site design will be released soon.