On a rainy Saturday night in downtown Bowling Green, Mike Mullins mingled among visitors to the Sugar Ridge Brewery inside the Hotel Millikin building at 109 S. Main St.
The building has been a mainstay in Bowling Green since 1910. But for the last two years, Mullins, and sometimes a friend, would work deep into the night at the building, donning masks while stripping away plaster and drywall to reveal the beautiful brick walls underneath.
From left, chef J.R. Hernandez, owner Mike Mullins, and bartender Joel Rider are offering an upscale menu and beer at Sugar Ridge Brewery in downtown Bowling Green.
Mullins, the owner of Sugar Ridge, has been homebrewing since 1992, but he also received culinary training in French cuisine at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has been a chef in a couple of restaurants. He started Sugar Ridge in 2010, originally brewing in Perrysburg. But the new location inside the former Hotel Millikin gives him an opportunity to combine his two loves — food and beer.
“I like creating. This is something I haven’t been able to do until now. I like to create new products and pleasing people. I also like beer,” Mullins said, chuckling.
Besides offering seven of his beers on tap, Mullins and chef J.R. Hernandez, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh, serve up a limited but tantalizing food menu. There are upscale options like blackened chicken livers; a 30-day, dry-aged, Cowboy-crusted ribeye steak; pulled pork, Moroccan chicken; a chorizo burger, and lobster bisque.
“Everything I make is from scratch in the beer, and it’s the same for the kitchen,” Mullins said. “The french fries are hand cut, the meat is grinded each morning. The only thing that isn’t freshly made is the ice cream.”
His beer selection leans heavily toward ales. Many of them are sweeter than typical ales — hence the Sugar Ridge name — and are along the line of European ales.
“I just prefer European ales. It fits my taste. But I’ll be doing an Oktoberfest lager,” Mullins said.
Sugar Ridge is open Tuesday through Saturday. The hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 5 p.m. to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays. There will be live entertainment most Saturday nights.
Friday night was the official grand opening, and the historic building was close to capacity. Mullins did not leave until 3 a.m. It has been hard, but rewarding work so far.
“I love being around the kitchen and I love being a brewer,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “but I am really glad to have a job.”
Beer and doughnuts
Fall Fleetfest Donuts and Drafts will take place at Fleetwood’s tap room and Hensville Park from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Holey Toledough will serve up a variety of doughnut samples at Hensville Park, and several local taps will be available at Fleetwood’s.
A Baker’s Dozen VIP package is $35 and will include early entry, 13 doughnut samples, and 13 craft beer or hard cider samples. The Beer & Donut package will include four doughnut samples and four beer or cider samples for $15.
Entertainment will take place throughout the day on the Hensville Park outdoor stage. Tickets can be purchased at hensvilletoledo.com.
No local breweries earned medals at this year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver, but seven Ohio breweries brought home nine medals at the nation’s top brewing competition.
Fat Head’s breweries in Middleburg Heights and North Olmsted combined for two medals, with Apenglow winning the gold for German-Style Wheat Ale and Midnight Moonlight taking home the bronze.
The front entrance to Hotel Millikin which houses Sugar Ridge Brewery.
The BottleHouse Brewery and Meadery in Cleveland earned two bronze medals. Cincinnati’s Fifty West Brewing Co., Brink Brewing, and Taft’s Ale House earned gold medals. BrewDog Brewing Co. in Canal Winchester and Cleveland’s Masthead Brewing also earned bronze medals.
Tap room coming
Wild Side Brewing Co. of Bowling Green has announced that it will open a tap room in Grand Rapids, Ohio. The tap room will be at 24194 Front St. and should be open in late December or early January.
Fun library addition
Rick Armon, the preeminent craft beer writer in Ohio, has published 50 Must-try Craft Beers of Ohio, an entertaining read that is sure to spark some debate among beer lovers. Besides offering a little history of craft brewing in Ohio, Armon details 50 beers that every craft-beer lover should try, plus 10 Ohio breweries to visit, 10 cool brewery names, and 10 influential individuals in the Ohio craft brewing industry.
Spoil alert: Northwest Ohio is severely underrepresented on the top-50 list, but Maumee Bay Brewing Co.’s Total Eclipse Breakfast Stout makes the cut. Armon features Bryan’s Father John’s Brewing Co., the Maumee Bay Brewing Co., and Put-in-Bay Brewery & Distillery on his breweries to visit list. Black Cloister Brewing Co. makes Armon’s cool brewery names list.
50 Must-try Craft Beers of Ohio is available at amazon.com for $17.95.
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