Each month, we sit down with a long-time Geister. This month we dive into everything from numismatics to fermentation science with our Fabrication Technician, Ryan Osner.
What is your spirit animal?
People call me Big Tuna. I got that name on the first Camp Geist trip. There was a group of us that went zip lining, and, you know, I’m a pretty big fellow. We had this guide who was probably every bit of five-five, maybe a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet, and he went by Bear, which was funny. So we were getting ready to start zip lining and he calls over the mic to the person that’s going to be receiving us and he goes, “Big tuna rolling heavy!” At that point I had my hand on the bars and I turned back and I go, “What the hell did you say?” He slapped my back and sent me on my way and from that day I was Big Tuna.
What is your job?
Fabrication and welding, sanitary welding.
How would you describe it?
I work on engineering projects. We build pump skids and we do the piping for the pump skids. We’re rerouting the piping for the JV brew system right now. It’s kind of a niche profession, I guess. Sanitary welding is a specialized way to weld because the way that we use our stainless, it has to be smooth inside so that there’s nowhere for bacteria or beer spoilers to latch onto and grow.
To have it in house is pretty specialized. With how big we are, it makes sense just having constant projects to work on and to fix things here and there. It’s pretty awesome. Definitely a fun trade.
Do you have a typical day?
I’ll be put onto special projects throughout the brewery and during the lifespan of those projects I’ll work on those specifically. Then when I don’t have anything specific that I’m working on, I’ll go down and do work orders and stuff like that through maintenance.
From your first few months to today, how would you describe the changes here?
I actually came here through the very first HopGeist. They asked me, would you rather stay in Cincinnati or go to Kentucky? I really didn’t care. I was happy to be part of the team. That’s when I first knew I was going to be a Geister. Eventually, I got trained up here driving and then I got flexed over to River Ghost [our old, now-defunct Kentucky distribution company].
From then until now, it’s been a whirlwind. I remember when everybody used to cram into the office above the taproom. We had a big table in the middle, everybody had their desks and if you didn’t have a desk, you kind of just sat wherever. It was pretty cool. Since then, the growth has been ridiculous. The amount of work that’s gone into this place in just the short time that I’ve been here is incredible.
I started out as a driver, that was my bread and butter. When I got flexed over to River Ghost, it was more driving but also warehousing, inventory control, that kind of stuff. And then when River Ghost ceased to exist, we moved back over here and I started working in the events world with Dan Klemmer. He was basically the admin. So he would line up the events and then I was in the mechanical side of it. I would build jockey boxes and I used to build the draft vans. From there, they had a contract welder in house and he was on for like a year stint and they decided that they wanted somebody to learn under him. I pivoted into that role and that’s when I started learning on the job.
So that’s not your original trade?
Not even a little bit. All my experience is on the job. It’s pretty rad.
What’d you have for breakfast?
Do you have a favorite Rhinegeist beer?
Uncle is my favorite. I love that beer. I think it is one of the most underrated beers that we make. If I knew I could make it through a sixtel while it was still fresh, I would have one on tap at my house at all times. My God, I love that beer.
If you were a Rhinegeist beer, what would you be?
Probably Night Whale– a real big personality, a lot right up front and I’m going to leave you with your head spinning if you have too much of me. I’m just kind of a big personality when I get rolling. But also, on the other hand, when you look at me, it’s subdued. I feel like I reel people in because I’m kind of like a big teddy bear. Then it’s a hundred miles an hour. That’s how I like to go.
Favorite thing about this place?
My favorite thing about this place is the community really. Just personally, I feel like if I ever need anything I can go directly to Bob and Bryant [Bonder and Goulding, co-founders]. That’s something that started from the beginning. They’ve always been open and willing to listen and then help you through whatever, whether it’s figuring out a solution to a problem, or just wanting to decompress a little bit. They’ve always been very open and that’s what this place really is. And I still feel that same stuff, even towards our director of operations, who is one of the heads of this entire place, Cole [Hackbarth]. I can talk to him about anything. It’s just that real sense of being able to be a part of something and always have somebody to rely on, to listen.
Do you have a famous look alike?
I want to say Action Bronson. I love Action Bronson; that dude trips me out. I have my culinary certificate from Cincinnati State and it trips me out the way he loves food. I love food. The dude’s a big personality that just likes to have a good time. My wife has a picture of me at Halloween where I went as Action. It’s funny, he’s exactly one year older than I am. We share the same birthday.
Best part of your personality?
My favorite thing about myself is my ability to empathize. I feel like people are okay talking to me because I can put myself in their shoes. Throughout my life, I’ve been through a lot in some comparisons, but I really do just like listening and hanging out. I’m very chill when it comes to that kind of stuff.
Your friends have to pick three words to describe you, what do they say?
Loving, crazy, funny.
Do you have a go-to local food recommendation?
So there’s this place called The Root Beer Stand. That place is banging. I used to go there as a kid with my grandparents. I would crush coneys all day, man. If I had to pick my last meal, it’d be from there for sure. They still have the same old water games just sitting up here. They make their own root beer, it’s awesome.
What’s your best dish in the kitchen?
One of the things that I love to make is what I call Same Place, where I just make these heaping mounds of everything in one place. It’s just like a grog. I’ll make a big thing of ground beef and then I’ll put peas and carrots and cheese and throw some potatoes in there. It’s just hardy and super easy to throw together.
I’m not that weird. I’m not that kid that has to have everything separate on my plate.
Anything about you that you think most people don’t know?
I’m really into numismatics. I really like coins, specifically Civil War era tokens and store cards. During the Civil War, they started to run short on copper, so they pulled back pennies. Basically what would happen is – especially in Cincinnati – they had a big group of them, they were called die sinkers. So what they would do is make these coins, but they were basically your store cards. They would advertise a butcher or a grocery store. And then on the other side they would have their version of a type of decorative ornament.
And then there was another type that was called a Civil War token. These are like patriotic tokens with “Union Forever” on there or something. The idea was that they would circulate and people would see these things and be like, “You know what? Yeah, Union forever. Here we go, boys!” Gotta respect the northern effort. It’s crazy, even the paper money, it’s very specific. It’s actually pretty awesome when you think about it, like not the overall war itself, which was terrible, but the fact that the foundation was being laid to actually have an independent nation and currency.
I’ll look around every now and again and if I find something within my price range, I’ll definitely think about it, if not actually purchase it. It depends on how many beers I’ve had. *laughs*
Is there anything about brewing in general or your work specifically that you think most people don’t know about?
The funny thing is, being a welder, a lot of people think that you just put pipes together. I’m actually going to wrap up my Brewing Science degree at Cincinnati State in the summer.
The amount of work that goes into getting raw material and that sweet wort and getting it down the line to where it’s something that the yeast can chew on and then getting it to the glass- there is so much science behind it and there’s so much effort and blood and sweat and tears that goes into producing all of these different things. Whether you’re talking about a malt supplier who you know is still working on taking that fresh barley and kilning it and getting it to where you want it to be, or whether it’s those hop growers, it all involves so much work and dedication.
When people look at a glass of beer, they see they’re going to consume it and, hopefully, it has a good alcohol volume and it tastes good. But on the entire front end, there are growers and all these individuals that really put a lot of hard work into making sure that you enjoy what you consume. That to me is a community. That’s our end goal, right? It’s something that when you really take a look at it from a macro perspective, you think, “Wow, a lot of people touched this product.”
Take hops, for example. Most people just say “yeah there are hops in here.” But us being in the industry, we know that there are a plethora of hop varieties and there’s all the science that goes into it. Even the crossbreeding and finding new strains like Idaho 7- it’s crazy, man. When you get that malt into the water and you create that mash, it’s a very controlled event that’s happening in there. You gotta make sure that your strike water and your mash temp and all these things hit within specific margins so you can consistently make that beer.
What’s on the horizon?
Hopefully I’ll be here, growing with the company. I love this place in particular and I love the brewing community in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I just love the brewing community in general. For me, if I could say what’s on the horizon, I would say getting more involved in the overall brewing community through going and doing work at other breweries and trying to help them out and figure out their issues, which can be really interesting.
The community support is incredible. A while back we had an issue where we didn’t have a part for the keg line, so we reached out to Taft’s who have the same keg line and they’re like, yep, we got one. We went over and got it and we were back up online. That to me just really speaks to the craft community in general. I absolutely love it. Of course, as you know, as everything grows, margins get smaller and people become a little bit of more tight-knit with what they do. But the craft brewing community is one of those environments where I don’t think that we’ll ever shy away from another brewery to give them a hand if they need it and vice versa, whether it’s giving some yeast they don’t have in-house so they can get started on a beer or, like I mentioned, lending mechanical or maintenance support. It’s just a big line of cohabitation in this community.
Any final thoughts?
It’s funny to sit down and reminisce about this stuff because you don’t get to do that too often with the way we’ve been growing. It’s been really cool to sit back and watch this place turn into what it is. Sometimes you just want to say fuck it and get outta here after a twelve hour day, but then you’ll go to a happy hour and reconnect with all those people you haven’t seen in a couple of weeks. It’s pretty awesome.