Breweries offer summer sipping opportunities
Story by Adrienne McGee Sterrett
Craft beer is being made in our backyard — and summer is a great time to jump in the car and go check it out.
What follows is a guide to a few of the closer stops to get you started, but just know there are almost 300 craft breweries in the state of Ohio now. That’s up from about 60 five or six years ago, said Justin Hemminger, deputy director, Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
“A lot of the growth that we’ve seen in just the last couple years are breweries popping up in places that you wouldn’t necessarily expect it,” Hemminger said. “Breweries generally tend to do well when they serve the communities in a way the classic pub used to, a meeting place, a gathering place. The reason why those breweries have popped up there and have been able to thrive there is they’re incorporating the community. They are a reflection of the communities where they’re based. … It’s bringing something new and something interest to a place that, frankly, needs it.
“It’s part of a larger trend I think of people generally wanting to know more and caring more about where their food, beverages, clothing, anything is made and where it all comes from. There are a lot more people who want to support local businesses, people they know, people in their communities,” Hemminger said.
Moeller Brew Barn
8016 Marion Drive, Maria Stein
Hours: 3 to 11:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturdays, 12:30 to 10 p.m. Sundays
Sampling of beers made: Dirt Track Kolsch, Roasted Hazelnut Milk Porter, Biggby Coffee Salted Caramel Coffee Ale, Rooster Bock, Milk Truck Porter, Sawcreek Pale, Frogtown IPA, Moweizen, Wally Post Red, Ales for ALS Hazy May Ekuanot, 716 Route Beer (root beer), Honeywagon IPA, Marzen Oktoberfest, Dunkel Weizen, Burbank Blonde, Baked Oatmeal Stout, Sawcreek Pale
Beers available for purchase: Cans available at some area stores; kegs distributed to area bars
History: Owner Nick Moeller, a 1997 Marion Local graduate and Navy veteran, started homebrewing with friends in 2007. He lived in San Diego for about a dozen years, using his mechanical engineering degree by working on submarines and enjoying the craft beer scene in that city. When he and his wife started having children, they dreamed of returning to his home and decided to bring the craft beer scene with them. (After all, there are no subs in Ohio.) They moved here about five and a half years ago.
“And right away, I just started telling people about the Moeller Brew Barn concept,” Moeller said. “I think for us, originally, it was to give people a choice. People said you’re not going to be able to do this in Bud Light, Busch Light country.”
He started in a 40-by-40-foot pole barn in May 2015 and has added onto it to now have about 12,000 square feet — kitchen, inside seating for 240, outside patio that seats about 200, tanks, canning operation.
“It’s neat. From a tourism standpoint, you can see everything,” Moeller said. “When people get to the Brew Barn, we want them to fall in love with the space.”
Moeller and brewers Nathan Hart and Corey Everman work hard to keep the process consistent while being creative on flavors and styles.
“It’s not just the beermaking but the creative process,” Moeller said. “And as that grew from homebrewing to production brewery, a commercial brewery, then that creative process just got a lot bigger.”
Seasonal brews and recipes are being worked on all the time. First on the Moon Pale Ale is one of those special flavors, described as a hoppy, aromatic pale ale to commemorate Neil Armstrong’s moon walk. The beer uses apollo and galaxy hops varieties.
Moeller said some of the popular brews are Wally Post Red, Blackberry Prairie Wheat and Honeywagon IPA.
Food service just kicked off this summer, featuring brick oven pizzas.
And fans should take note: A new location in Troy is planned to open this month. A 1912 church is being converted into a brewery, with plans to connect it to a 1954 schoolhouse at 214 W. Main St. Moeller plans to use that location for new brews.
Check social media for musical performance schedules.
Tailspin Brewing Company
626 S. Second St., Coldwater
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, 3 to 11 p.m. Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays, 1 to 8 p.m. Sundays
Sampling of beers made: Guernsey Gold Cream Ale, Whirling Wit, Berry Bomber Ale, Quent’s Irish Red Ale, Ohio Sky Ale, North 40 Lager, Uncle Gus Milk Stout, 3GZ Blonde Ale, 6GZ Pale Ale, 90GZ India Pale Ale, G-LOC Doppelbock (Blonde) Ale, Night Flight Vanilla Porter, Bullseye Rye Pale Ale
Beers available for purchase: Kegs distributed to area bars
History: Owner Jack Waite opened Tailspin in June 2016 in a renovated dairy barn that dates from 1933. He and his wife, Teresa, met in the Air Force, and they decided to move to her hometown after retiring from active duty after 23 years. He was a pilot, and they drew on that for the name of the business.
He had been homebrewing for about four years and had a lifelong goal of being a business owner.
“My wife promised me I could open a brewery. I wanted a new challenge,” Waite said. “I figured if I can’t sell a beer here (in German Catholic Mercer County), I’m really doing something wrong.”
The barn, formerly the Coldwater Dairy, came available, and he fell in love with the character.
“I think people’s tastes are evolving,” Waite said. “If I can get one Bud Light drinker in here to find something on the menu they like, that’s a victory. Then once you do that, it’s a slippery slope. I’ve seen it happen here … they go to the craftiest things we brewers make.”
He has noted a trend of late about regular craft beer drinkers curious not only about what he has on tap that day but what he’s working on and is to come.
“The art of making beer is so much fun because there’s so many ingredients to choose from, whether the malts that are available today, the hops and even the strains of yeast available. And each one of those has a part to play in making great beer,” Waite said.
Tailspin is content right now, with Waite not very interested in canning or growing the business in a huge way.
“This is my retirement gig, and I want to keep it fun,” Waite said.
The tasting room does not have a full menu, but snacks like tortilla chips/dips and a cheeseball and crackers suited for sharing are available. A shop offers merchandise and yeast bread baked with spent grains from the brewery.
The loft space often has musicians performing.
Lake Rat Brewing/Brew Nation
108-110 S. Main St., Celina
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays, 8 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays
Sampling of beers made: Beard!, Big Bob, Dirty Little Oar, Hoedag, Painted Horse, Rat-Trip, Reckless Rainbow, Sippin’ Berries
Beers available for purchase: Cans available in Celina area mainly; kegs distributed to area bars
History: Brew Nation and Lake Rat Brewing, owned by Kim and Vance Nation, are literally side by side in downtown Celina and have a large doorway that opens up the shared wall. The one-year-old brewery is on one side, and Brew Nation serves as a tap room — in addition to serving coffeehouse style goods during earlier hours of the day.
Jacob Poeppelman, a Celina native, brews the beer and operates the store.
“I started drinking craft beer, and then I just started homebrewing a little bit and it took about five years before we actually got this fully up and running,” Poeppelman said. “I think there’s just like so much variety. People want to try new stuff all the time. People are just sort of starting to get bored with your standard domestics — it’s more fun.”
Lake Rat has a few core beers but focuses heavily on doing a new beer almost every week or two, Poeppelman said.
“We did our first cans (this spring), so that was some big excitement,” he said. A portable canning line came in by trailer from Indianapolis, and they canned some beers that way. The plan is to release some cans once a month or so.
Brew Nation has about 20 beers on tap at a time, with about half of those taps dedicated to Lake Rat beers.
Food is available, with a woodfired oven and a smoker turning out pizzas and smoked items like brisket and wings.
Findlay Brewing Company
213 E. Crawford St., Findlay
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays
Examples of beers made: Brilliant Blonde, Floodwater Stout, American Bitter, Hancocked, Ohio Weather, Natural Bridges, Carrot Cake Ale, LaMarr’s Molasses Porter, Hopster Prynne, Mango Razz, Workin Class, Sweet Amber, Whoa, Collective Unconscious, Rough Day IPA, Imperial March, Houlihan’s Irish Red, Sunken Booty
Beers available for purchase: Kegs distributed to area bars and restaurants; Great Scot in Findlay offers growlers
History: This business opened in 2013 in a very small location, said one of the five co-owners, Aaron Osborne. Only 10 gallons of beer could be brewed at a time.
“After we did that for several years, we decided it was time to upgrade our building, our brew equipment,” Osborne said.
Three of the owners went to elementary school together and are Van Buren grads. The other two are one person’s parents. The friends started homebrewing in 2007.
“I really love the hands-on nature, kind of creating your own thing,” Osborne said. “People love to cook. I don’t cook so much, but I call it cooking beer, in a way.”
Osborne explained that his hobby led him to investigate what other cities are doing in this arena.
“Whenever I go to a town, I check out whatever the local brewery is. Different breweries offer different experiences,” Osborne said. “People in Findlay really love their food. So we knew that we wanted to go the route of making sure we’re offering really, really good food to people.”
The full-service restaurant, which welcomes children, features huge hamburgers.
“When you come into our tap room … there’s always something new popping up almost weekly,” Osborne said, describing a new kettle sour with chili and key lime they were making for Cinco de Mayo. “I have a lot of fun.”
The brewery often has special events.
BY THE NUMBERS
Barrels of craft beer brewed in Ohio in 2018: 1,398,358 (up 3.2%)
Rank among the states in craft beer production in 2018: 4 (2017: 5)
Craft beer industry’s economic impact in Ohio in 2016: $2.675 billion
Rank among states in economic impact: 7
Jobs supported by the craft brewing industry in Ohio: 15,000+
Number of craft breweries operating in Ohio: 299
Number of breweries opened in 2018: 50
Number of known breweries in planning: 65
Craft beer consumption per capita in Ohio: 4.9 gallons per adult
Rank among states in craft beer consumption: 11
— Courtesy of Ohio Craft Brewers Association
“Before Prohibition, Ohio was one of the top barley growing states in the country and possibly one of the most productive barley growing regions in the world,” Hemminger said.
The demand died, and it never really recovered.
Until now, when demand has risen.
“You can’t have a boom in beer without having a boom in barley and hops. They’re necessary,” he said. “All these industries are related.”
Ohio farmers are starting to raise barley again and dabble in hops. Of course, wheat is also key to beer.
The brewery owners contacted for this story said farmers are inquiring about what they need for their operations. Currently, brewers have to source some of this from Michigan or the Pacific Northwest. It’s at the beginning stages, but we could see a beer made out of all-Ohio-raised ingredients in the future.