We’re voting for Lenny Kolada.
The man known as “Brewdood” sat down a few years ago, a quarter of a century of Columbus brewing under his belt, and started ruminating about the state of his country and the world, and to a certain extent, his business.
“Why is it that we can’t get together and make progress on solving pressing issues of the day?” he said. “I can’t answer the ‘why,’ but I do see that we aren’t making progress … we’ve become used to pointing fingers instead of looking for solutions.”
The founder of Barley’s and later Smokehouse Brewing isn’t pitching a crackpot campaign; he’s founded Commonhouse Ales, Ohio’s first “B” Corporation, in partnership with the Columbus Foundation. Their flagship beer, Six.One 4 Good (6.14 ABV, wink), will spill over proceeds to a different community partner each month.
He and the Commonhouse team aren’t just pumping new product into the beer sphere—they’re trying to rebuild the conduit between commerce and community.
“It used to be that a business served as an economic hub and a source of pride for local communities,” he said. “Today, there’s a disconnect between the people in business and their communities. I thought there’s got to be a better way. That’s when I decided to start a business that looks to more than its bottom line.”
Like a veteran politician hitting their prime in the twilight of their career, Kolada has been energized by the possibilities he sees for the craft beer and Columbus community at-large.
“I could have been thinking about retirement—instead, I got excited about craft beer, version 2.0: actually getting to work to change the world,” he said. “We know beer is good. It’s time to brew beer for good.”
It’s not just a good idea—it’s good beer. One of the best brewers in the city wants to take your money and give it back to the community, which as of press time is upwards of 10 grand.
How solid is Kolada’s conviction? After a warehouse fire wiped out equipment and inventory—just after they cut the first community check to Wild Goose Creative—they worked double time to replenish their stock and make sure there was very little kink in the philanthropic pipeline.
“We’ve barely started, and we’ve already funded almost $13,000,” he said. “If this number continues to grow, I’ll assume the rest of the company is doing just fine.”
The “Brewdood” has always been passionate about beer. Now, it’s spilling over into philanthropy.
“As a pioneer of craft beer in Central Ohio, I have much to be thankful for: it’s provided me with a living; it’s also exposed me to an industry of creative, innovative, entrepreneurial bohemians that changed my outlook on life,” he said. “I knew that locally brewed beer could change the world.”
And Kolada and his team don’t mind campaigning for Commonhouse and for the common good. It’s not bragging, he says, but rather, a way to spur what he calls the “multiplier effect.”
“If you do something and don’t tell anyone—kudos for doing something. But if you do something and tell others about what you’re doing, you’ll inspire someone out there eventually to do something as well,” he said. “That’s like the power of compound interest.”
And the power of beer.
A six-pack of bottles of Commonhouse’s Six.One For Good retails for $10.39 and is available at Palmer’s Beverage, Crafted Drafts, Kenny Road Market, Whole Foods, Barrel and Bottle, Crafted Drafts, The Andersons, Gentile’s, The Hills Market, Whole Foods, Weiland’s Market. For more, visit commonhouseales.com.