Springfield made its first big step in to Ohio’s booming $2.16 billion craft beer scene Friday, when Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company hosted a soft opening for area residents Friday night.
The $2.5 million brewery project is expected to be another big piece of recent redevelopment efforts in downtown Springfield. On Friday though, Kevin Loftis was just hoping people liked the beer.
“I just wanted some good, clean, drinkable styles,” Loftis, one of the brewery’s founders, said of the four beers on tap Friday.
The brewery will bring more people downtown, which would show other businesses they can be successful in Springfield, said Mike McDorman, president of the Chamber of Greater Springfield. Earlier this month, local leaders announced the creation of SpringFORWARD, a non-profit whose goal will be to spur development downtown.
“This is a real shot in the arm for what we’re trying to accomplish downtown,” McDorman said of the brewery.
>>MORE COVERAGE: Springfield brewery progresses toward opening
The brewery hosted a soft opening Friday, offering an India pale ale, an American pale ale, a Belgian ale and a kristallweizen, which Loftis described as a clear German wheat beer.
None of the beers have names yet, but Loftis said that’s something the brewery’s employees are still playing around with. Two to three additional styles will be available once the brewery has been operating for a several weeks.
The brewery itself is named after Eliza Daniel “Mother” Stewart, one of the leaders of the temperance movement in Springfield and Xenia in the late 1800s.
The brewery is located at 109 W. North St., which was part of the former Metallic Casket Co. campus. The property also includes an outdoor beer garden, and decorations and artwork from Springfield artists throughout the taproom.
A row of glass lamps along the bar for example were designed by Doug Frates, a glass artist who also operates a gallery in downtown Springfield. Local artist Rod Hatfield was instrumental in connecting Loftis with local artists and helping develop the brewery’s design, Loftis said.
Historical photos from the prohibition era line the outside of the building near the beer garden, alongside blown up prints of Hatfield’s photos of Springfield. Local artist Molly Matten redrew and re-sized the photos from the Clark County Heritage Center, while other local artists like Ryan Henry and Peter Rinko contributed art work to the brewery’s interior.
“All of the art is not only sourced from Springfield, but from the neighborhood,” Hatfield said.
The bar, benches and other items were mostly made from materials found while rehabilitating the building. Loftis also credited his brother John and staff at Mad River Craftsmen who were in charge of construction.
The brewery will have at least three full-time employees initially, and six others will work either full- or part-time, depending on demand from customers.
Loftis pointed to other improvements in the city, including attorney Jim Lagos’ efforts to renovate the Bushnell Building at 14 E. Main St., and the Turner Foundation’s work adding apartments at the former Firesale Warehouse at 122 E. Main St.
“It’s just one more piece of the puzzle and it’s an example of showing what can be done with older buildings downtown,” Loftis said.
>>LEARN MORE: Historic Springfield building nearly full
Mother Stewart’s will join an industry that added 39 new breweries across the state last year alone, said Mary MacDonald, executive director of the Ohio Craft Brewer’s Association. Ohio now has slightly more than 170 breweries in cities all across the state.
Breweries have also helped boost neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, MacDonald said. Owners of the new Goldhorn Brewery have said they have ambitious plans to help revive Cleveland’s Superior-St. Clair neighborhood as well, she said.
“They’re helping to revitalize a lot of neglected areas of towns big and small,” she said of breweries.
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