Cole, who was interviewing with Big Swing Brewing Company at the time, suggested he come in as co-owner and turn Big Swing into Blue Cat Brewing Co. Not as a replica of the past, but as a step into the future. The brewer already had a business plan from the Business of Craft Brewing class he had just finished.
“Our whole premise … was not to try to recreate the blue cat in the ’90s, or even the blue cat in 2017, just to pick up where they left off when they retired,” Cole said. “So, just kind of make it mine, but I still pay tribute to the legacy they left behind.”
When it comes to pub food hierarchy, Blue Cat Brew Pub wants to be royal. Rock Island Restaurant is best known for its rotating menu of hand-brewed, home-brewed beer. And his list follows the lawsuit.
Co-owner Martha Cleveland, who has been a chef at Blue Cat since it opened in 1994, has made a habit of rotating the kitchen around beer. But they don’t let food live in the shade.
Beyond Blue Cat, Cole has been deeply involved in the Quad Cities brewing community for three years. He blogs about beer for Visit Quad Cities and talks about it on Radio 97X, and he puts together the Ale Trail.
After a simple opening under the new name, old and new customers started flocking back to the brewery. The staff welcomes everyone, armed with old and new drink dishes and a full menu.
Cole said he has 90% of the old original recipes for Blue Cat, and maybe more if he keeps researching. They keep a couple of Blue Cat originals on the menu, but they’ll mostly spin new beers.
One of the original flavors, Off the Rail Pale Ale, is already sold out. The new drink, Stout Christmas Cake, has also dried up. To make sure he’s properly brewing the original flavors, Cole meets with Dan Cleveland regularly to discuss recipes.