He went it fairly alone: No investors to be beholden to, just some friends and family pitching in to build a brewery out of a vacant, nondescript warehouse adjacent to Lunken Airport. And for the first year of operation—Scott LaFollette started selling his brews in July 2012—Blank Slate was a one-man show, though he now has a part-time assistant.
LaFollette started home-brewing while completing an engineering degree at UC. “I immediately fell in love with it,” he says. “It was the first time in my life I’d really found a creative outlet that tied in with my analytical mind. Brewing is very analytical and detail-oriented, but the flip side of that is making recipes, creating, trying new things.” In the decade-plus between homebrew dream and production reality, he worked as a polymer chemist but spent his free time studying the industry.
“At the end of the day, this place is a factory,” he says. “We just happen to make beer instead of toilet paper—which is marginally more exciting. But you have to learn how to run a manufacturing business.”
Now, his days start early and are filled with batching beer, cleaning kegs, attending tapping events—and doing a whole lot of paperwork. “It’s still a desk job,” he says, laughing. “But Cincinnati beer is back. There’s a renaissance, and we’re doing it in a 21st-century way.”