Mike Mullins is the owner and brewer at Sugar Ridge Brewery, a small production brewery in Perrysburg outside of Toledo. Sugar Ridge is available only in the Toledo area (check the website for specific locations). Mullins, by the way, has a restaurant background, including a restaurant management degree from The Ohio State University and a culinary arts degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I began homebrewing 19 years ago because it was something I had always wanted to try and I finally decided to make time for it. After having spent a large part of my life in the restaurant industry and ultimately as executive chef, brewing replaced cooking as my creative outlet. It didn't take long to discover that this was something that I truly loved. Not so many years later I decided to turn my hobby and love for beer into a brewing business ... a means to share my craft product with those who appreciate creative and interesting flavors. I now deal with restaurateurs from the supply side.
Q: What sets Sugar Ridge Brewery apart in the crowded beer industry?
A: Sugar Ridge Brewery produces truly handcrafted ales. Our ales are produced in small batches and delivered fresh to customers. The flavors of our beers are very well-balanced and are characterized by a slight edge given to body and malt versus bitterness ... the Sugar Ridge. This is accomplished while brewing beers that fall within published style guidelines.
Q: What is your favorite beer that you brew and why?
A: My favorite beer that I brew is my Perrysburg Pale Ale. I have brewed this particular English pale ale since early in my brewing career. Admittedly, it has undergone a couple iterations to improve and mellow its round flavors. It is a full-bodied ale I am proud to call my own and share with others. It's lush and vibrant malt flavor coupled with a good slug of hops to balance its body have earned this copper-colored ale the moniker "nectar" in and around the brewery.
Q: Since you're still a relatively new brewery, share a little bit about how difficult or easy it is to open a brewery and get people interested in trying your beer.
A: Opening a new brewery from the ground floor has its high and low moments. It takes a lot of patience to burrow through the labyrinth of government paperwork necessary to get established and licensed. Though I found everyone in the government (both state and federal) friendly and willing to help, it's just a long arduous process. These were the lows, however. When I finally received that license allowing me to brew and sell, I was ready and excited to begin the new journey (after a couple double-fist pumps)! Getting people interested in tasting the beer is one of the more rewarding and fun aspects of my job. I enjoy interacting with owners, managers and bartenders in the quest to sell my beers.
Q: Which beer — any beer in the world – do you wish you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: Guinness Stout! What else would you expect from a brewer with the name Mullins! Tremendous flavors, rich malt, coffee, mellow hops and light on the palate. Very traditional, very successful brew.