Time and time again, Russell Rex says, couples would come into his winery, and more often than not, one spouse — usually the husband — would make it clear that he was more of a beer drinker than a wine enthusiast, and had come to the winery essentially under protest.
That spouse didn’t order much, either. “I was tired of losing out on business,” Rex said.
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So the co-owner of A.R. Winery in Arcanum decided to do something about it. A few weeks ago, he launched Briar Brown Brewing Company, offering the winery’s own craft beers alongside its wine selections.
The first batch, a signature brown ale, was released at Christmastime. “We went through it fast,” Rex said. A Hefeweizen was added to the roster late last week, and plans call for brewing a Black IPA and a Scottish Strong in the weeks ahead.
“Craft beers are just starting to catch on in our area,” Rex said. “This will give our customers more choices.”
A.R. Winery is actually the second winery in Darke County to launch an in-house craft brewery. Kennedy Vineyards started its Big Rack Brewery at 3911 State Route 722 near New Madison in southern Darke County in the summer of 2017.
Several other Ohio wineries have some the same in recent years, and the trend goes both ways: Star City Brewing in Miamisburg now makes and serves its own wines in its tap room.
A.R. Winery specializes in fruit-based wines as well as grape wines, often sold under creative names that include Forbidden Apple, Bluesberry, and “What The Foch” and “All Foched Up,” made from the French hybrid grape varietal named Marechal Foch.
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For more information, check out the A.R. Winery web site at www.arwinery.com.