I visited DankHouse Brewing Co.
(Newark, Ohio, USA) on their second weekend in business. It was a slightly chilly fall evening, and it felt prematurely dark because of the recent time change. It was a perfect situation for drinking craft beer. Newark is about an hour's drive east of downtown Columbus, and will soon be quite a craft beer destination, with more taprooms opening soon. But DankHouse was the first Newark brewery to open to the public and they've got the Newark market for now.
|Another promising Ohio brewery|
A Family Operation
Like many of the newer nano breweries, DankHouse is a family operation. Owners Josh and Heather Lange are homebrewing hobbyists turned entrepreneurs with the opening of their new brewery. Josh is the brewmaster and DankHouse is his fulltime gig. Heather is a school teacher when she's not at the brewery.
|Josh and Heather Lange, owners of DankHouse Brewing Co.|
Halfway through my customary new-brewery flight, Josh took me on a tour of the small but impressive facility. For a novice brewer, I was very impressed with everything that Josh knew. It was evident that he and Heather had done significant research before opening their business. They are doing things right.
|Behind the bar at DankHouse|
On the Friday night I visited, there was a vibrant crowd full of friends and family, as well as strangers (or new friends?) like me. Everyone seemed to enjoy the beer and the welcoming environment created by Heather and Josh. If this warm reception is any indication, DankHouse is going to do well in Newark.
DankHouse is a little off the beaten path if you're not familiar with Newark, but it wasn't hard to find. The simple, white cinder block building had a previous life housing a variety of industrial businesses. Inside, the open floor plan makes it feel larger than its square footage. The décor is clean and tasteful with pendant lamps resembling hops, fun, hand-painted mural elements, and a bar with multi-colored wooden planks featuring DankHouse-green accent boards. The bar top is stylish and is covered with BBs that Heather meticulously hand-set and covered with resin. Mood lighting creates additional ambiance. It's an atmosphere you want to stay in and have a second beer.
|The cozy, friendly taproom|
|Fun artwork spruces up the white walls |
|It's not really a hop flower, but when you're in a brewery, these lamps feel very hoppy|
|Laying the BBs on the bar top (via DankHouse Brewing Co. on Facebook)|
As parents, the Langes made sure to consider their customers' children and they built a designated play area just off the taproom, with a window cut in the wall for line of sight.
The brewing area is a couple steps down from the taproom, and a half-wall allows patrons to see the tanks. Josh operates a 2.5 barrel system, but it appears there's room to expand if business goes well.
|The brewing and fermenting area, as seen looking down from the taproom|
The free-standing building sits on eight acres, which includes free parking and future space for a patio and an outdoor gaming area (think bocce and cornhole), come springtime. Behind the brewery, an extension of the Buckeye Scenic Trail
is being built, so DankHouse has plans to attract cyclists and runners who need a respite once they've put in their mileage.
|It's a fairly non-descript building, but there is magic inside|
|If you have a truck, you're a real brewery|
|The best pic I could get at night of the patio area; come springtime, expect this place to be hoppin'|
I've discovered that these smaller breweries, at least in Ohio, start out offering more guest taps than house taps. And the reason behind this is two-fold:
* This may be a simplification. I am neither a brewer nor a lawyer.
- Liquor laws in Ohio won't allow a craft brewery to begin brewing their own beer until they are open to the public*. This means that "soft openings" with guest taps are common so that a brewery has something to offer while ramping up their own production.
- Small breweries have a limited capacity for brewing. When you can only brew one beer at a time, it takes a while to get multiple styles through the brewing and fermenting process and ready for consumption.
Guest taps give the first customers something to drink, while giving the brewery a revenue boost. So this explains why newly-opened DankHouse had only three of their own beers on tap (and seven guest taps) when I visited. In my flight of five, I made sure to try all three house beers, while sampling a couple other new-to-me Ohio brews.
|Front row: Super Fantastic IPA, A Blonde Moment, Coffee Drip; back row: guest taps|
Josh plans to brew a variety of styles, and that was seen in the opening week offerings. My favorite was the Super Fantastic IPA, which was a well-balanced example of an American IPA and an excellent debut beer. Also on tap were A Blonde Moment blonde ale and Coffee Drip stout, which I would have sworn was made with actual coffee, but Josh said that all the coffee flavor came from the malt. Another IPA was in the fermenter on my visit. Maybe it's ready to drink by now!
This little brewery is one to watch. I look forward to a return visit to see what new things Josh and Heather have in store. There will be more beers to try soon, and a whole new outdoor experience once the weather warms up.
DankHouse Brewing Co. is open five days a week: Wednesday-Friday 3-10 PM, Saturday 12-10 PM, Sunday 12-7 PM. They have 10 taps, offering a mix of house and guest beers, with growler fills available. The brewery is kid-friendly. They do not have a kitchen but will offer food trucks. You can learn more at dankhousebrewing.com
or follow them on Facebook
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