By: Brendan Hader
When traveling on I-75 between exits 15 and 16, look west and you’ll see one of the newest and most thriving of the nearly 70 breweries in the Cincinnati area: Third Eye Brewing Company.
How it got to this point is just as mind-bending as some of their experimental beer creations. The idea had been conceptualized for over 20 years, but once the official paperwork was submitted in 2017, the ingredients needed for a successful venture seemed to slowly blend like a fresh batch in one of Third Eye’s fermenters. Finding the right location, head brewer, and chef were godsends that two of the co-owners, Tom Collins and Tom Schaefer, attribute to serendipity.
Third Eye first welcomed guests on June 17, 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic. While many businesses were forced to close their doors due to COVID-19, Third Eye opened theirs and people haven’t stopped walking through since.
In fact, the steady traffic was initially the biggest obstacle. Collins and Schaefer certainly hoped for success, but the speed and scope at which they achieved it presented some logistical challenges early on.
Hence, they view the pandemic as a blessing for their business; they wouldn’t have been able to handle a packed house at the beginning. With the pandemic essentially serving as an extended soft opening, Third Eye found its groove, both strategically and operationally, before capacity restrictions were lifted.
It’s a good thing they found that groove because the crowds are pouring in. It’s part of what makes the brewery so unique. There is already an unwavering bond with the community after just over a year of operating. The minds behind Third Eye recognize how fortunate they are and have returned the favor by working with local artists, vendors, and charities to enhance the Third Eye experience.
“I enjoy doing business with people I know and people in the community. It’s important,” Schaefer said. “So what if you pay a little more—everybody is supporting each other. The people that keep us afloat are the people that we need to keep afloat as well.”
So what is one’s “third eye?” It’s all about a person’s higher level of consciousness. In other words, it’s encouraging new possibilities and new ways of thinking, themes that are evident in Third Eye’s expansive, evolving beer selection and dynamic food menu.
The first 13 months couldn’t have gone much better for Third Eye, a good omen for the first piece of the puzzle in the revitalization of Sharonville’s once-buzzing Northern Lights District. Despite exploding onto the Cincinnati craft brewery scene like a shaken-up beer, Third Eye isn’t looking too far ahead. There is plenty still to be accomplished in Sharonville—including some new additions that will have guests talking in the coming months.
Until then, Collins, Schaefer, and the rest of the Third Eye family are having a heck of a time living out the mantra that can be found all over their brewery: live life, do good and drink beer.
*** For Collins, the charity aspect really hits home. In 2017, he lost his daughter Maya at age 14 to acute myeloid leukemia. Her memory lives on through the Live Like Maya Foundation and there is a merchandise stand set up at the brewery. Proceeds from these items and all sales of Third Eye’s official beer, Higher Purpose, go toward cancer research. For more information about the Live Like Maya Foundation, visit the link below: