Platform Beer Co.

Bridging the Gap Between Brewers

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Rick Ahir

Rick Ahir


Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management


Chris Laszlo

Chris Laszlo

Global Goals

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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Platform Beer Co. in Cleveland is supporting upcoming brewers by providing access to their infrastructure and providing the unique opportunity to participate in a full-fledged brewery incubator program free of charge. This allows the brewer to learn the ins and outs of the business should they aspire to open their own brewery.


What makes Platform Beer Co. innovative is their free 12-week incubator program. Instead of considering home brewers as competition, Platform Beer Co. fosters collaboration to help both parties grow. After an application process, Platform Beer Co. selects one lucky individual and provides space, equipment, and administrative education for small-scale brewers that may only consider crafting beer as a hobby, but may one day hope to open a brewery.

As founder and Chief Brewing Officer Paul Benner explains, “Think of it as a brewery incubation system. We’re bridging the gap between the home and pro brewer. The brewer will be mentored by outside resources – a logo-design team, accountant, and real-estate experts. Platform will help the brewer navigate through state and federal regulations."

Platform Beer Co. was founded in 2014 by Benner, along with Justin Carson, with a two-pronged mission. First, to brew tasty beers for sale in their tasting room and at customer's favorite bar and/or restaurant. Secondly, to create an opportunity for those who wish to begin a career in the brewing industry. In reference to the incubator program, "through our programs and collaborative partnerships we are literally creating a platform for talented brewers to showcase their skills and knowledge. We hope the experience can spark a desire to continue a career in the brewing industry."

Bridging the Gap Between Brewers


After being introduced to the hobby by a friend, Benner brewed up his own batch of summer wheat. He became hooked and soon opened Cleveland’s largest homebrew supply shop in 2012, a full-service, educational shop. Benner was inspired by the many loyal customers of the shop, who expressed to him that they would consider quitting their jobs if they could find a way to make beer for the rest of their lives. From this, Platform Beer Co. came into existence. Benner partnered up with Justin Carson to live out his dream career. By opening Platform Beer Co., they took it upon themselves to inspire and assist local brewers to achieve their goals.

Platform Beer Co.'s intention since inception has been to create a new platform in the brewing industry by connecting and collaborating, whether that’s with retail outlets or home brewers. They strive to be an active member of the community and not just a company whose sole purpose is producing beer for profit. "Our goal is to help [participants] open a brewery in the future; our way of paying it forward." Benner continues, “We want to provide a place where we can showcase what home brewers are doing on a production scale – giving them an opportunity to do something they normally couldn’t do.”

Overall impact

“The program and overall practices of the business have had extremely positive results for us,” Brenner says. Platform Beer Co. has received a lot of positive coverage from local news and as a result have been able to have a lasting impact locally and globally. “Being able to give people access on a regular basis and helping them achieve their goals is a great feeling. We aren’t just about home brewing. We enjoy participating in collaborative efforts and working with restaurants and any events that benefit the area. At the core of it all is our willingness and desire to work with everyone.” Platform Beer Co. has been involved with events such as hosting a fundraiser for Nepal, hosting a Cleveland Refugee Bike Project fundraiser, an Academic World Quest Fundraiser to send local high school students to Washington D.C., and many other charitable events.

Short-term, the program enables home brewers to absorb as much knowledge they can in a 12-week period and beyond. Building relationships and watching participants grow is something Benner enjoys being a part of. The long-term goal is to have the participants completing the program leave with full confidence to open their own brewery. One of their recent incubator program alumni currently has a brewery in planning, Ferndock Brewing Company, located in Sandusky, OH.

Business benefit

From a business standpoint, the innovation has enabled Platform Beer Co. to build lasting relationships with small brewers that participated in their program and actively be involved in charitable events. This program didn't cost anything for Platform to put into place since they already had the infrastructure set up and the employees already had the knowledge of the industry from experience. Essentially, they just provided equipment already in place for a home brewer to use instead of using it for their own beer. Furthermore, the innovative approach has gained attention from the media and clients in the area who love participating in the fundraisers and events they host. Platform’s success has enabled them to expand to Columbus, OH, where their second brewery and brewpub are expected to be completed within the next few months. From under 100 barrels brewed in their first year to over 12,000 expected to be brewed this year, business is definitely on the rise for Platform Beer Co.

Social and environmental benefit

Platform Beer Co. is dedicated to giving their local home brew communities the opportunity to experience life as a commercial brewer. Instead of home brewers attempting to do things on their own and potentially wasting resources, Platform allows them to come in, use their infrastructure, and teaches them how to perform tasks as efficiently as possible which helps accomplish the UN Sustainable Goal 9. At the same time, Platform Beer Co., through their innovative incubator program, is providing the tools necessary for their participants to turn a hobby into a career. Platform is helping local brewers achieve decent work while achieving higher levels of economic productivity through diversification and innovation. They are helping members of their innovative program perfect their craft in hopes they may one day open their own brewery to earn sustainable income which will help accomplish the UN Sustainable Goal 8. Platform is providing home brewers access to their knowledge of the industry and access to their infrastructure. Beyond this, the company has been heavily involved in community outreach and charitable events in an effort to have a positive, lasting impact on society.


Paul Benner, Chief Brewing Officer

Business information

Platform Beer Co.

Platform Beer Co.

Cleveland, OH, US
Business Website:
Year Founded: 2014
Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Cleveland's brewery project focuses on creating a new platform for aspiring brewers to produce great beers for sale to the public. Through the free Platform Brewer's Group Incubator Program, they spend 12 weeks preparing accomplished home brewers to "go pro" through hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship covering all aspects of opening a brewery.