By Lora Abernathy
Nick Moeller held up his phone. He was sharing a selfie he’d taken during lunch earlier in the day of him and his family playing in the snow.
It was more, though, than a sweet photo. It was a cheerful reminder of the benefits of being self-employed.
“Some of the freedoms are lunches, but there’s different trade offs,” said Moeller, the owner of Moeller Brew Barn. “Thursday night is brew night, so I’m not there for dinner (then), but I get to do a lot of breakfasts with the kids, so it’s nice to be your own boss.”
Moeller and his wife, Monica, were living in San Diego a few years ago. With two young children and no family nearby, they decided to move to Maria Stein to be closer to his family in 2013. The home craft brewer wanted something else — to take his skills to the next level and open a brewery. So, on May 17, 2015, the Moeller Brew Barn opened in Maria Stein.
Moeller, a Maria Stein native and graduate of Marion Local Schools, had been brewing beer at home since 2007. He said he was confident the business could be successful and, with a “you-only-live-once” attitude, decided to take that leap of faith.
“The response has been awesome,” he said, raising his voice to be heard over an early evening crowd of patrons enjoying themselves at the bar. “We’re getting so many calls for parties. People love to come hang out in a relaxed environment.”
Tom Thwaits was at the Brew Barn for the first time on a recent Thursday, mingling with a group of regulars. He came in with high expectations — his wife is German, he lived in Europe 13 years, and he knows beer.
“They’ve got a very good selection of all kinds,” said Thwaits, of Osgood. “However, I will take this oatmeal stout. It’s very, very good. It’s full-bodied, it doesn’t have an after taste, it’s refreshing.”
Making great beer is the most important part of the job. Being on the cutting edge is, too, Moeller said, as patrons are constantly wondering what his next craft beer will be.
The Brew Barn currently has 12 beers on tap and has brewed 19 styles since opening, making several seasonal beers.
The Wally Post Red began as a seasonal in 2015 before the MLB All-Star Game as a way to celebrate baseball, but it became such a hit Moeller and his team have kept it in the lineup.
There are more than 70 locations across west central Ohio where craft beer aficionados can purchase Moeller Brew Barn beer, the payoff of a strategic effort to build the brand and the business before the Brew Barn even opened.
“I think that’s what a lot of people like about this place,” he said. “It’s a team of guys brewing beer for the people in the area.”
MOELLER BREW BARN
Address: 8016 Marion Drive, Maria Stein, OH 45860
Hours: Private events by appointment Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 3-11:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday, 12:30-10 p.m. Sunday