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Black Frog Brewery's Rise from Garage to Greatness

Updated: 3 days ago

“Any home brewer will tell you that they’ve wondered what it would be like to open a brewery.” Chris Harris, owner of Black Frog Brewery in Toledo, is one of the few home brewers who have brought this dream to life. Harris says he’s come a long way since he made his first batch of beer with a Mr. Beer Kit in 2014. 

Brewing beer began as a hobby for Harris outside of his full-time job at the Social Security Administration. After he bottled his first batch, he was hooked. He couldn’t shake the idea of sharing his beer with others. “From there, I just wanted to know everything about the beer making process,” Harris said. He reached out to small scale brewery owners for advice on how to get started. Soon enough, he was using funds from his 401k to convert half of his garage into a brewing operation. 

Not long after, Harris partnered with a local grocery store who wanted to carry his beer. “The reception was great,” he reminisced. “As soon as I dropped off the beer, it would sell out.” After two years of perfecting his craft, Harris was ready to take the leap and become a business owner. He used personal funds to purchase a building for the brewery, but he needed more funding for necessary renovations and equipment. That’s where ECDI came in. 

“I used my first loan from ECDI to buy new brewing equipment, paint the walls, put in flooring, and get merchandise,” Harris said.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if my business would have worked out if it weren’t for ECDI.” 

When the time came to expand his operations, ECDI offered more support through microloans that financed the purchase of new, larger equipment. 

Black Frog Brewery, named for both Toledo’s nickname “Frog Town” and Harris’s African American heritage, is a sacred and special place for Harris and his patrons. “When I brew beer, I’m lost – I'm in the zone,” he explained. “I walk in at seven or eight a.m. and before I know it, I look up and it’s five o’clock already.” The brewery is mainly loved and frequented by locals, but new customers shouldn’t fear; Harris says that the community in the brewery is contagious. “As soon as you walk in here, you're treated like family. The regulars are gonna talk to you. They're gonna see how you’re doing.” 

As if the achievement of opening an independent brewery wasn’t enough, Black Frog Brewery is the first Black-owned brewery in Ohio – and it is still only one of three today. The Cleveland Foundation recognized Harris’s accomplishment and asked him to open a second location in the new MidTown Collaboration Center in Cleveland’s historic Hough neighborhood. ECDI’s Cleveland branch office will neighbor the brewery in the MidTown Collaboration Center. Harris looks forward to opening Cleveland’s first Black-owned brewery later this year. “I am a gambit of emotion,” he chuckled. “I’m scared and nervous, but so excited.” 

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4 comentarios

Evans Lucas
Evans Lucas
4 days ago

After two years of perfecting and selling his beer, Harris was ready to take the leap and become a business owner. He used personal funds to purchase a building for the brewery, but he needed more funding for necessary renovations and equipment. That’s where ECDI came in.  geometry dash wave

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This story is inspiring! From homebrewing in his garage to opening a successful brewery, Chris Harris is a true entrepreneur. Buckshot Roulette

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Want advice on opening a brewery?

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Ann Green
Ann Green
03 jun

I really admire your business talent in developing your career. foodle

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