Ohio is on the verge of having another combined winery-brewery. Merry Family Winery in Bidwell in southern Ohio is launching a nanobrewery this year under the name Old Mill Craft Beer.
“We feel like a craft brewery will really offer something new for the tourists who come to our winery,” co-owner Lisa Merry said. “We do get a lot of requests for beer from our customers. We thought we would give it a try. It’s something we already do as a hobby.”
Her husband Tim has built a small brew system and will serve as the brewer. The initial plan is to offer three year-round beers and some seasonals, and sell them in 12-ounce bottles at the winery-brewery. There are no immediate plans to sell at retail locations or to offer draft beer.
“We’ll see how it takes off and we’ll go from there,” said Lisa Merry, who added that they already have Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels available for aging some special beers.
The other winery-breweries in Ohio are Debonne Vineyards-Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison and Valley Vineyards-Cellar Dweller Brewery in Morrow.
The Merry Family Winery opened in 2006 and grows eight varieties of grapes. It also grows some hops, which the family hopes to offer to area homebrewers.
“It’s been a family hobby that we grew into a business,” Lisa Merry said about the winery. “My husband’s family has made beer, wine, brandy, cold duck as a hobby out of items they grow in their gardens. It’s just been a family hobby that we’ve taken to the next level, so to speak. ”
The Old Mill name stems from the winery’s location in a barn that once housed the Jewell Evans Grist Mill. (Jewell Evans was the wife of famous Ohioan and restaurateur Bob Evans.)
“For our area, the mill has a lot of history,” Lisa Merry said. “And the folks in the area know our building as the Old Mill. We thought what better name than Old Mill Craft Beer.”
The family had hoped that their brewery would be open already, but there have been some unforeseen delays in obtaining their federal permit. Lisa Merry said they hope to open as soon as possible, or at least by Thanksgiving or Christmas.