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When Jon and Ali Hovan started looking around the Akron area for a suitable spot for their new brewery, they had one major requirement.

“We wanted to be in a community that wanted us,” Jon Hovan said.

They found that in Cuyahoga Falls.

The Hovans, who say the city has been welcoming to their venture, hope to open HiHO Brewing Co. by Thanksgiving in a former car showroom at 1707 Front St.

They hosted a private gathering Saturday to show off the 6,000-square-foot space, offer tastings of their homebrews such as Bossy Lady IPA and Gorges Blonde Ale, talk about the upcoming operation and kick off an online fundraising campaign.

Their goal is to create a neighborhood gathering place, as opposed to a production brewery.

“We’re going to be really focused on community and socializing here and making new friends,” Jon Hovan said. “We want to make it feel like home.”

With a trailhead nearby for the Summit Metro Parks, they also want to get involved with hiking, biking and outdoor events.

HiHO will offer four to six regular beers on draft, and an additional four to six seasonal brews. There also will be healthy, locally sourced snacks, like hot pretzels, cheese and meat boards, and vegetables with hummus. The Hovans plan to have food trucks stop by the brewery, as well.

The building was still a shell last week, as the seven-barrel brewhouse, fermenters and bar hadn’t been installed yet.

The brewery overlooks the Cuyahoga River gorge — thus the Gorges Blonde name — and features multiple, large garage doors that open up.

The Hovans are both 31 and grew up in Hudson. They had spent eight years working as teachers in Colorado, Jon in physical education and Ali in art.

There, they soaked up the craft beer culture, and started the Brew Crew homebrew club in Denver. Jon also volunteered at breweries.

Eventually they decided that they wanted to make beer their career.

They moved back to Hudson and are now devoted full time to brewing — or at least right now fixing up their soon-to-open brewery.

“We love brewing. We love craft beer. We love everything about it. We took our passion and made it our lifestyle,” Jon Hovan said.

He plans to brew a wide spectrum of styles.

“My brewing philosophy is to brew clean, fresh stylistic beers,” he said. “I’ve talked to some people about that and they always ask me: ‘What are you going to do? What are you going to focus on?’ I think it’s all about having clean beers.”

With a name like HiHO, you might think there’s an interesting story there.

You’d be right.

But it has nothing to do with dwarves.

Jon Hovan’s nieces nicknamed him “Uncle Ho.” When he would see them, they would say “Hi, Ho.”

It also just happens to be a fun play on “Ohio.”

“We have a lot of Ohio pride in us,” Jon Hovan said. “We moved back from Denver and people always ask us: ‘Why would you move back from such a great, beautiful area?’ Because our families are here. Our friends are here. It’s Ohio pride, basically.”

The couple have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 toward the project. You can check out the fundraising campaign here.

For more details about the brewery, go to:

Cuyahoga Falls is shaping up to be quite the craft beer destination.

Front Street is already home to the Craft Beer Bar, Cashmere Cricket and The Office. There also are two other breweries planning to open there: Hop Tree Brewing Co. and McArthur’s Brew House.






Greetings, swillers.  We return to Cuyahoga Falls for the opening of HiHO Brewing!

I was lucky enough to have space in the schedule to stop in at the grand opening January 6th.  A very generous taproom and bar greets you upon entering, this will clearly be a great space to gather.

Owners Ali and Jon Hovan were there to greet guests, answer questions, and politely accept odd photograph requests:

They were great hosts and made some even better beer.  Here’s a rundown of what I tried:

  • SMaSH Series
  • Gorges Blonde Ale
  • Cardinal Series (Ambitter)
  • Roasted Coffee Ale
  • Touchdown Brown Ale

All were quite nice, but my favorites were the Roasted Coffee Ale and Touchdown Brown.  But the Roasted Coffee Ale seems to be “best in class” and “best in show” for me.  We’ve all had a coffee stout/ale/whatehaveyou, I’m sure you can think of the standard taste now.  What HiHO did with there brew makes it a standout, it’s like having a coffee beer in high definition, all elements stood out and made for a new perspective on a staple beer.  Really enjoyable.

I look forward to the additional brews in the works and you should too.  Head on over to the Akron area and check out HiHO Brewing Co!

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – Not long after Jon and Ali Hovan opened HiHO Brewing Co. in early January, one thing became clear: They needed to expand.

The couple realized “fests are coming up, and it’s like ‘I guess we can take some, but we don’t have a lot.’ ”

Two months after opening, they surpassed initial goals. And last weekend, at the annual Akron Art & Ale, their Smash Pils took third place in a judged competition of 18 Ohio beers.

“It’s been a pretty wild journey,” Jon Hovan said. “It’s been surreal. It’s obviously blown us away.”

Not bad for a couple of former teachers rejected by banks for an initial loan.

 It’s a running story among breweries in Northeast Ohio, the need to grow. But most of the time it’s ones that have been established for a few years at least. Most recently, The Brew Kettle announced an expansion to Hudson. But even smaller operations are seeing enough sales that equipment addition is viewed as necessary and immediate.

HiHO uses three seven-barrel fermenters and a seven-barrel brite tank. Jon Hovan said he aims to brew 500 barrels annually and uses a reverse osmosis water-filtration system.

“We just sent in for three more fermenters and one 15-barrel brite tank,” he said. “We want our beer in bars and restaurants and events.”

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – The continued emphasis on craft beer in Cuyahoga Falls continues to grow, with the impish-sounding HiHO Brewing Co. scheduled to open this fall on Front Street.

The area is booming with Craft Beer Bar and its 30 taps, The Office‘s second location with more than a dozen craft beers and others. Now, Jon and Ali Hovan are adding to the scene with HiHO, which will be located at 1707 Front St.

The leased 12,000-square-foot building is very close to Summit County Metro Parks, and the city put up a parking lot close to the brewery.

The couple had been living in Denver for eight years. They met Hudson and recently moved back to Ohio. Both taught kindergarten through eighth grade – physical education for Jon, art for Ali.

But the brewing bug caught Jon Hovan, who started home brewing in college and became passionate about it in Denver. Colorado has upwards of 250 breweries, third most in the nation.

“We’re really passionate about it,” he said. “We’re putting 100 percent into it. We’re going to make it work.”

Yellow played a big role at Jon and Ali Hovan’s wedding.

So it’s no surprise that the color is featured prominently at their new HiHO Brewing Co. in Cuyahoga Falls.

The metal seats at the 37-foot-long, poured concrete bar are canary yellow — as in Big Bird from Sesame Street.

The color stands out so much that the UPS guy remarked during a recent visit: “Man, you can see those stools from down the street.”

That’s fine with the Hovans, who grew up in Hudson and returned from living in Colorado to launch their brewery.

“Great. Good. Come on in,” Ali Hovan said. “Yellow is one of my favorite colors.”

After a year and a half of planning and construction, HiHO, 1707 Front St., will host its grand opening Jan. 6. The brewery will be open 3 to 10 p.m. both that Friday and Saturday.

HiHO, which employs a seven-barrel brewhouse, will launch with six to eight beers on draft only, including a blonde, brown, hoppy amber, coffee ale, winter warmer and pale ale. Cider, wine and kombucha also will be available.

The Hovans want the 6,000-square-foot brewery and taproom — in a building that once housed a car showroom — to feature local products.

There will be baguettes and pretzels from the Brimfield Bread Oven, and Beef and Barley will supply pulled pork for sandwiches. Their coffee ale features beans from Akron Coffee Roasters.

Even the bar itself is local, in a sense. The side is covered in weathered gray wood from a former fence that was in Ali’s parents’ yard.

The brewery overlooks the Cuyahoga River gorge — one of the beers is named Gorges Blonde — and features multiple large garage doors that open up.

HiHO is airy and open, with an industrial feel thanks to the exposed ductwork and black ceiling.

The brewing system is tucked behind the bar.

The Hovans estimated that they’ve been working 80 to 90 hours a week to get the brewery in shape to open.

“We’re ready to open,” Jon said. “We’re more ready to open than ever.”

HiHO received its state brewing license last week so technically it can serve beer now. The Hovans considered opening before Jan. 6.

But then they figured they would wait until after the holiday.

Plus, there was a little superstition.

“We also heard it was good luck to open the first of the year,” Ali said. “Many people have told us that.”

Going forward, HiHO will be open from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The name HiHO, in case you missed it from a previous story, stems from Jon’s nieces nicknaming him “Ho.” When they would see him, they would say, “Hi, Ho.”

For more details about the brewery, check out:

Jon Hovan is the brewer and co-founder, along with his wife Ali, of the new HiHO Brewing Co. in Cuyahoga Falls. The brewery held its grand opening last week.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I began homebrewing in college with one of my buddies about 12 years ago. After college, I moved out to Denver to teach physical education. With plenty of time to brew on the weekends, over holiday breaks, and summer vacation, this became a passion. My wife, Ali, and I would go to beer festivals, brew, volunteer at festivals, brew, travel to breweries all weekend, brew, judge homebrew competitions, brew, and tour many brew houses.

We eventually started a homebrew club in Denver with a few friends to continue the education aspect of our lives. Our club would meet at various breweries, which in turn I began to volunteer at during my free time, opening my eyes to the commercial side of brewing. Once reality set in, Ali and I knew we wanted to take our beer knowledge and spread our love for beer, and move back to Ohio to share with family, friends and community.

Q: What was the first beer that you ever drank and what was the experience like?

A: The first beer I “remember” drinking was a Samuel Adams Boston Lager. It was warm. It came from a friend’s car trunk. And I’m sure it was old. … But there was something that clicked with that warm old “craft” beer.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of launching your brewery and how did you overcome it?

A: Every day was challenging … and it still is. So many people have been asking, “Aren’t you relieved that HiHO is open and you can just relax?” I’ve come to find out that the work has just begun. Ali and I run into issues every day. Whether good or bad, it’s all about how you handle them. Regardless of what happens or has happened, Ali and I stick together and find a solution to the challenges we face, then continue to push forward.

With beer tourism booming across the country, the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau is launching a beer trail to take advantage of the region’s growing craft brewery scene.

The Summit Brew Path — only the second one of its kind in Ohio — will debut next Saturday.

The trail, which involves a passport, stamps and the website, highlights more than 20 established and soon-to-open breweries in the Akron and Canton area.

“We’re marketing to people to come and taste some of the best beer in the country, all within a relatively small footprint,” said Gregg Mervis, president and CEO of the visitors bureau.

The region boasts many award-winning breweries, including Hoppin’ Frog Brewery and Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., both in Akron. Hoppin’ Frog has consistently been named one of the top 100 brewers in the world by