ILLERSBURG: William Baker and Duane Yoder know there’s plenty of interest in their new craft brewery — the first located in Ohio’s Amish country.
“We have a lot of nose prints on the windows out front, if that means anything to you,” Baker said.
“We even have a couple lip prints,” Yoder added with a laugh.
“No butt cheek prints yet,” Baker said. “We haven’t seen that.”
Baker and Yoder, two businessmen who own the Bags Sports Pubs in Millersburg and Sugarcreek, have transformed a former antiques store and grocery store into the Millersburg Brewing Co.
Located across the street from the grand Holmes County Courthouse, the 3,000-square-foot space — complete with brick walls, exposed air ducts, tin ceilings in the bathrooms and original wooden floors from 1900 — opens to the public at noon today.
There will be six beers available: a blonde, amber, porter, vanilla porter, India pale ale and stout.
“Classic beers made with today’s taste,” Baker said.
Millersburg Brewing is part of a wave of new breweries in Ohio opening not in major cities or suburbs, but in smaller communities or even rural areas of the state. Bidwell, Flatrock, Heath, Findlay and Bryan all have seen or will see breweries open.
There are now more than 70 breweries operating in the state.
Holmes County, filled with rolling hills, farmland and curvy roads, is known for its Amish, antiques, cheese and furniture. Not its beer, especially given the Amish aversion to alcohol and the dry communities around Millersburg.
But Baker and Yoder are determined to provide a taste of craft beer for not only locals but the visitors who flock to Ohio’s Amish country each year.
“We thought this would be kind of a cool thing for Millersburg,” Baker said. “We have a lot of tourism that comes through here. Let’s try to make a destination-oriented place instead of a drive-by place.”
Downtown businessman Brent Young, who has run Young Music & Sound since 1965, said he’s looking forward to the brewery opening, especially if it can attract more people to the community.
“I think it’s a positive thing,” he said. “It’ll be good for sidewalk traffic and downtown.”
The interior has an eclectic look. Some of the brick walls are exposed and there’s a giant hand-painted “Millersburg Brewing Co.” logo surrounded by pieces of farm equipment on one wall.
Above the bar, there’s galvanized steel surrounding a giant mirror featuring the “Millersburg Brewing” name. Metal pipes serve as foot rests at the bar.
The former “IGA Foodliner” sign hangs near the front.
Part of the bar is made up of cubbies once used to house roller skates.
An old door hanging on a wall in the back is signed by all the craftsmen who worked on the brewery.
Baker and Yoder estimated that they invested “north of a half a million dollars” in the project, which includes plenty of reclaimed items such as former wooden beams now serving as beer sampling boards.
The tap handles were hand-crafted by the Amish and feature slate, allowing the names of the beers to be written on them in chalk. Baker plans to put a bell on the tap handles so they ring every time a beer is served.
The beers themselves were named with local history and landmarks in mind.
The blonde is called Lot 21 — an homage to the first lot settled in Millerburg. The vanilla porter is Panther Hollow, a deep valley that legend has is haunted. And the amber is Honey Run Sun, a stream that meanders by.
Don’t expect to order a Bud, Miller, Coors, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
The brewery will serve only its own beers by the glass and growler. If you want a different brew, you’ll have to stop next door at Bags Sports Pub, an Irish-themed bar that has between 80 and 90 golf bags on display.
There will be more than just Millersburg beer on the drink menu, though. The brewery also will feature wine — ranging from $10 to $55 a bottle — and local cheese and meats that pair with the wines.
There’s no full kitchen.
At first, visitors may have difficulty spotting the actual brewhouse. It’s nowhere to be seen upfront.
That’s because the 10-barrel, copper Liquid Assets Brewing system is in the basement.
There are giant, paned windows in the back that allow visitors to peer down and watch brewer Marty Lindon at work — a setup similar to Barley’s Brewing Co. in Columbus.
Lindon, a retired banker who used to help brew at the Brew Kettle in Strongsville, said the brewery will help fill a need in the area because it’s difficult to find craft beer.
His initial goal, he said, is to sway fans of national brands to Millersburg beers before venturing into any unusual styles. Beer drinkers can expect a Belgian-style wit and wheat beer next on tap, he said.
Millersburg Brewing will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The brewery will stay open later on Friday and Saturday, depending on the crowd.
Those hours also may change.
For more details, go online to: www.millersburgbrewing.com.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com. Read his beer blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/the-beer-blog/. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrick.