CINCINNATI — Almost three months after Jeremy Bowman's death, friends and family will gather safely this Friday and Saturday to celebrate his life with the release of Fretboard Brewing Company's new "Bright Side of Life" beer.
Bowman co-owned Jefferson Social at the Banks, Smoked Out Barbeque located inside Fretboard's Blue Ash taproom and O'Bryon's Bar & Grille located in O'Bryonville and Newport. All three restaurants will tap the beer.
"I think with the release of this beer it will give us an opportunity on a small, much smaller, scale for some of us, for some of his friends to get together . . . and, you know, raise a glass to Jeremy," said Jason Esterkamp, who co-owned the restaurants with Bowman.
Bowman died at age 43 in December of COVID-19 complications.
"It was difficult, to say the least," Esterkamp said.
Bright Side of Life is the result of a nearly decade-long friendship between Bowman and Joe Sierra, a Fretboard Brewing co-founder.
"This was a beer that Jeremy helped us create going back to the brewery's inception in 2014," Sierra said.
Bowman helped create S23, a craft beer, in 2014 after Joe Sierra's brother, Cincinnati Police Officer Eric Sierra, died from a brain aneurysm. Sales of S23 helped support Eric Sierra's family at the time.
Fretboard is making the same gesture by giving proceeds of Bright Side of Life beer to Bowman's family.
"This is a replay of that, unfortunately, going back to his family," Sierra said.
Esterkamp said December was the most difficult time of his life -- Bowman got sick as their businesses struggled during the pandemic's peak.
"I couldn't ever imagine these two roads compounding into . . . it was overload for me as a business owner and how I'm reacting," Esterkamp said.
From the start of the pandemic, Bowman made it clear the financial well-being of employees came first.
"Smoked Out did not stay open during the shutdown and one of the decisions that we made, even prior to receiving first-round PPP money, was that we were going to continue to pay our staff at Smoked Out, even though we were shut down," Esterkamp said. "It was something financially I was teetering with and Jeremy just said, 'There's no question about it in my mind. This is the right thing to do.'"
Esterkamp said this is what makes the tapping of Bright Side of Life so important.
"I really see that being the bigger point of, um, of something, something with Jeremy's name on it that, again, is going to bring people together," he said. "It's what Jeremy did best."
For more information about the tappings, visit Fretboard Brewing's Facebook page.