Mercer County Farm Bureau member Nick Moeller and his family are doing more than just brewing good beer in Maria Stein. They’re also bringing a new type of business to the countryside.
Moeller, a Casella native and graduate of Ohio State University, picked up his love of brewing beer on the West Coast, where he lived for just over a decade. When he and his wife, Monica, decided to move their family to Ohio, Moeller had already developed a home brew system that was brewing up to 20 gallons at a time.
“We just want everyone to have a great experience,” Moeller said, as he wiped down the bar of the sleek pole barn that has been transformed into a modern brewery. “As soon as we came up with the concept of Moeller Brew Barn, it just made sense,” he added as he looked across to the stainless steel tanks that brew the wide array of Moeller Brew Barn beers. “We knew that people would come as long as we made really good beer.”
So far the plan seems to be working. Moeller’s beers can be found on tap in bars all over Ohio and in cans in more than 150 retail stores. With names like Frogtown IPA (a nickname for Casella), Wally Post Red (a nod to a local baseball legend) and Burbank Blonde (named for Moeller’s wife, Monica), Moeller and his brewmaster Corey Everman love to pair hometown culture with their carefully crafted beers. They also love to work with local businesses to make their brews more delicious and efficient.
For example, the oats used for their Baked Oatmeal Stout are toasted at a nearby bakery to bring out the aroma and “almost oatmeal cookie flavor” before they’re used in the brew mash, Moeller said. The Brew Barn also works with a local farmer to dispose of its spent brewers grain as feed for dairy cattle as well as Ohio hops grower Heartland Hops in Fort Recovery. Heartland’s Cascade hops adds a citrus and grapefruit flavor and aroma to Moeller’s Frogtown IPA, he added.
At the Brew Barn, the entire brewing process is visible to customers and feedback is frequently given to perfect their brews. “People love being able to watch the process,” Moeller said. Everman agreed.
“Brewing is a lot like cooking in the kitchen,” Everman said. “Our latest release of Rooster Bock is a good example — we put together our recipe, most importantly the malt bill. Then crack the grains, hit ’em with hot water and heat the grains, get some starch to sugar conversion, then boil the runoff and add some hops to spice. Taste and customer feedback tells us how to adjust the recipes.”
The brewery, which opened in 2015, also has become a hub for the community, hosting events, live music, classes and visitors from across Ohio, the United States and the world.
“People love it, businesses bring customers here to show off their hometown,” Moeller said. The Brew Barn also employs 20 people from Maria Stein and the surrounding areas. “People want to support us because our beer is good, but also because their friends work here, that’s something great about a small town.”
This atmosphere of family, friendship and feedback makes the brewery a truly unique place. “When you sit down at the Brew Barn, you just want to talk to strangers and get to know them,” Moeller said. It’s rather like gathering around a kitchen table.
To find more information on the brewery, upcoming events and where to find their beer, visit moellerbrewbarn.com.