Ok, so maybe the fact that Middletown’s upcoming Rolling Mill Brewing Company will be brewing all of their beers free of gluten is a big part of their story. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t shape who they are to a large degree. If you think that they are a gluten free brewery that happens to be starting their story in Middletown, though – you’re missing the point of who they are.
I want you to get them – I want you to see beyond the Gluten free tag that it seems that the media that has written about them thus far is labeling them with. There’s a lot more to Rolling Mill Brewing Company than that.
Even if it’s not what Rolling Mill is about, their story certainly starts with Gluten intolerance. Owners Josh and Megan Laubach both have some kind of intolerance issue – Josh has been diagnosed with Celiac’s while Megan has a Wheat allergy. As people who love not just craft beer, but the entire culture and community aspect that goes along with it – this presented a few different challenges.
People with Gluten intolerances should not be doomed to Vodka, Wine or Cider for their entire lives…. and that’s a basic human right.
Josh dove in head first to learning about brewing. I’m not sure if any of you have done some exploring, but the choices for gluten free beer range from mediocre to downright gross offerings, and they are few and far between around here. The only logical solution for the Laubach’s was to learn to do it themselves.
Josh isn’t doing this half assed either… he’s got a love for traditional styles, which when you couple it with some of the more complicated malts that he has to use – it doesn’t make brewing a walk in the park (we’ll get into that a little bit more in a minute when we talk about his brewhouse.). Talking to him about his process, and the ideas that he has for what Rolling Mill will be was when it started to click for me – this isn’t even about just being gluten free… it’s about a much bigger picture.
Before we dig into what makes Rolling Mill who they are, we’ve got to talk about their beer – especially in a community like Middletown that is a little behind the 8 ball as far as craft beer in Cincinnati goes, your taplist can make or break your taproom. Focusing on traditional styles takes a certain skill set, that I’m convinced not a lot of homebrewers turned craft brewers often have. We’re talking traditional German styles… Pilsner.. Vienna Lager… some of my favorite beers to just hang out and drink. Lagers don’t just take longer, they take more complicated equipment to do them right, and they require a different skill set than most of the “simple” ales that are popular these days.
When you couple that with trying to do them all without introducing gluten into the mix – I’m thoroughly excited to see how it comes together (and how it tastes).
What Makes Rolling Mill Special?
You hear it over and over when people talk about this so called “beer bubble” that some people insist exists, but neighborhood breweries are going to be the majority of what you see in Cincinnati for a long time. Smaller brewhouses, with a massive focus on their neighborhood and taproom sales.
This is exactly what Rolling Mill is going to be. They have a 7bbl, four vessel (yeah… a four vessel) brewhouse that is going to be pumping out beer primarily just for their taproom sales. They don’t have some big goal to be another Rhinegeist, or MadTree, they want to be a brewery in downtown Middletown. And that is what it’s all about.
They want to become an anchor of revitalizing the downtown area of a city that has been ravaged in the last 20 years. Middletown was once an economic hub… an industrial power city. Rolling Mill doesn’t just pay homage to this (read about the history of the area and how it relates to their name). They want to help turn Middletown into something special again.
They chose a location downtown, but not right in the heart of current development, choosing instead on the outskirts of the revitalization because they want to help pull change outwards in a way that breweries are able to do so much better than most businesses. Would a business like Rolling Mill find more “success” in a neighborhood like OTR, or Northside? Would they be more suitable in a more trendy space like Oakley? I suppose that all falls on what the measure of success is. What makes them so special is how they measure success, and it starts and ends with the neighborhood around them that they call home.
See? It’s not about gluten… or lack of gluten. It’s about Middletown. It’s about a new Middletown, and they just happen to be making beer that doesn’t have gluten.
If you drive past 916 1st Ave right now, it’s not a lot to look at from the outside. The future Rolling Mill Brewing Company is a typical industrial building, situated among some other typical industrial buildings, right in the heart of downtown Middletown (in their entertainment district…). When you get inside you can start to get an idea even now what it’s going to look like. The big historical windows are all intact, and the walls inside are peppered with exposed brick and industrial piping. The space is wide open, and while spacious, it still feels like a warm and cozy place to hang out with your family.
The family first nature is a big part of what the brewery is going to be focused on – it’s about the community, after all. While the bar will be situated off in a nook of the space, the feature will be the main room that features a large indoor beer garden, and the brewhouse side by side so you can watch the beer being made. It’s being designed as a space that feels comfortable for all types of craft beer drinkers, and they are trying to play to the massive demographic swings that you’ll find in Middletown. This is a space for everyone.
What Can You Do Now?
They are crowdfunding a portion of their business, and if you’re looking to help jump in and get behind a project that you believe in – you should head over to their Kickstarter page and support them however you can. They are hard at work on their taproom right now, and their Kickstarter will go a long way to making that happen quicker, and might even define what that taproom looks like. Regardless if you’re a craft beer geek, or a “newbie” if you live in Middletown or on the other side of Greater Cincinnati – it still feels good when you throw a little cash at a project that you believe in. To sweeten the deal, the brewery obviously has some swag that goes along with different backing levels – so go check it out!
Of course… keep your eyes, and ears peeled in the coming months as more details come out about Rolling Mill. As always, you’ll find it all right here, as soon as I find things out! I’ll be watching this one closely, I’m excited about seeing it come together.