Craft Beer Joe, May 7th 2019
Storytelling is nearly as prevalent in craft beer as hops. Ok, that may be a stretch but there’s no denying the importance of storytelling in the beer industry. A brewery’s narrative connects its mission and beer to its customers and community. Sonder Brewing, a young brewery located just north of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio, has fully embraced the value of a good story in every aspect of its business.
Sonder Brewing has only been open for five months but they’ve made quite an impression on the local community; one of their initial beers is already a fan favorite because of its flavor and the amazing story behind it. The beer? Kato, a coffee Kolsch.
To understand this beer, let’s start by uncovering why it is called Kato. Jen Meissner is the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Sonder Brewing and is also the proud adoptive mother of her son, who is from Ethiopia. And as you may guess, his name is Kato. While going through the process of adoption, it was important for Jen and her husband to learn about their son’s Ethiopian culture. So they became friends with Ethiopian-Americans in their local area. Being connected with people within their own community that represented a culture from across the world had a lasting impression on them.
Part of this was experiencing the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony that is a critical part of the culture. In fact, inviting someone to your house for coffee is a sign of friendship and respect. This ceremony can take hours and is a regular part of Ethiopian life. Jen and her husband fell in love with their culture and their coffee and they couldn’t help but see how the Ethiopian coffee culture mirrors the craft beer culture of the United States. It is about deep connections, rich conversations and enjoying the experience.
When it came time to make a beer with coffee, it was obvious they needed to use Ethiopian coffee and they decided on a specific type called Yirgasheffe. It brings a bright acidity, heavy citrus and finishes with a chocolate nuttiness. These flavors complement the Kolsch beer base quite nicely. And to ensure maximum flavor, the coffee is brewed the same day that it is added to the beer.
They named the beer Kato.
Photo Courtesy Of Sonder Brewing on Twitter
The popularity of this beer is evident any time you walk into the taproom as many people are ordering it. But a light-colored coffee beer isn’t always easy to sell as many assume it will be a dark beer. But customers have caught on quickly and are drinking it up fast so Sonder didn’t waste any time getting some into cans. Many customers bought it by the case so they could share it with their friends and families. The canned beer continued the story as it included the colors of the Ethiopian flag.
If you are looking to try this beer, it will be on tap year-round and it will make its way into cans in late winter/early spring.
At Sonder Brewing, every person and every beer has a story. In fact, that’s actually what the word “Sonder” means. They are embracing the idea that each story has meaning but they approach it from a very humble place. The stories they tell are real, simple and relatable. The people of Sonder are your neighbors and want to know your story just as much as they want to share their stories. Kato has a great story and there are great people behind it, which is ultimately what we are all seeking in craft beer.