Stouts. Stouts. Let 'em All Out. West Chester, OH's Grainworks Brewing Co.
Grainworks Brewing Company is in West Chester, OH... a suburb on the north side of town, heading towards Dayton on I75.
Like many breweries, Grainworks has found a home for itself in a business park of warehouse-type buildings that house businesses like trampoline parks, gyms, and yes... breweries and taprooms. The brewery stands out from the rest of the businesses because it has an inviting patio with sofas and covered tables out front, which kinda standsout amongst a bunch of other warehouses.
While these types of locations can be a little tricky for taprooms, as they don't get the built in foot traffic of an entertainment district or downtown area, they are often fun, as they look unassuming from the outside, and then you open the door and <BAM!> you're suddenly in the festive surroundings of a virbrant taproom. Grainworks splits the space between the brewing operation and the taproom, and while some brewers really separate those spaces with walls and at best give you a view of the brewing via a window, Grainworks literally has one big wide open area, with the brewing to the left, a low fence sort of dividing the space, and the taproom to the right. A good sized bar greets you straight ahead when you enter, and the rest of the room is filled with big wooden tables, and murals of the brewery's logos and designs decorating the walls. Food is provided by a variety of food trucks, and in the nicer weather the patio provides a lot of friendly space outside.
Grainworks Brewing Company – West Chester, OH
Beer is available on tap and via growlers and crowlers and cans in the taproom. Beer can also be found throughout the region at finer drinking and eating establishments.
Played: 7/24, 19, 10/30/19
On the nights they host music, the artists set up on the brewery side of the house, staying out of the way of the customers, and providing a cool backdrop for the bands.
From a beer standpoint, the brewery covers a lot of ground, offering a standing menu of many varieties, with a frequent rotating selection of experiments and seasonal offerings.
On a previous visit I had quite enjoyed the My Blue Heaven (5.3%) blueberry ale quite a bit, which let me know right out of the gate that these guys had an interesting take on formulating interesting beers. My Blue Heaven is kinda wild... it's a blueberry ale, with an almost purplish color, and while there is definitely a healthy blueberry aroma and flavor, it's based on an English Ale foundation, resulting in a drink that looks and smells like it's going to be rather fruity, but is actually very well balanced between a great traditional ale, with an overlay of blueberry that makes it very quenching and satisfying.
Another favorite is their Oatmeal Stout (6.9%), which is rich and chocolately and creamy and delicious and dark and all the wonderful things that you want your stout to be... plus with a decent alcohol content. Something pleasantly unusual about Grainworks is that actually have a decent lineup up stouts, whereas most breweries these days it seems like if they have one you got pretty lucky. Grainsworks at press time has this one, Old Motor Oil (9.1%) Russian Imperial Stout (delicious!), a 12.7% bourbon barrel aged version of Old Motor Oil (which I don't think I've tried yet), the McGinnis Irish Stout (4.1%), the Brewer's Breakfast (8%) Imperial Outmeal Stout w/Coffee and Dark Chocolate.... which is unbelievably great.... and finally, the Black and Blue... which is a 50/50 blend of the Outmeal Stout and the My Blue Heaven. I'm told this one is very popular, but I gotta say to my palate the blueberry and chocolate stout flavors don't mix so well. I wouldn't order the mix again, but hey, with a selection of stouts like this there's bound to be something that isn't for me, and it turns out to be a mix. Again, though, this is a popular item here, so I'm not saying it's bad, it just didn't appeal to my taste buds... everyone else seems to love it
But wait kids, there's much, much more.... pale ales and browns and sours and pilsners and Belgians, and more.
It being the season of the witch I decided to try the Resting Witch Face (5.8%) pumpkin spiced ale. Normally I avoid the pumpkins unless they promise me there's no nutmeg in them, as I'm not a nutmeg fan, but this one did have nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar... but I tried it anyway as these guys make good stuff, and it was quite delicious. Now, with brown sugar and cinnamon in there it was a bit sweet, so really I would call this more of a dessert beer... the one you sip on slowly at the end of the night before retiring. Not what I would call a pounder, but it really was quite tasty and I enjoyed it as my “last of the night” sipper. It would be a fantastic beer for Thanksgiving.
The other brew I drank on this evening was the Rusty Bumper (5.7%) brown ale. After a long Spring and Summer of drinking pale ales and sours and gosts I was really looking forward to an Autumn full of browns and porters and stouts, and Grainsworks didn't disappoint. The brown was a perfect blend of a little malty, a little nutty, but not sappy... nice and crisp and well carbonated, so you had a medium body with that nice brown autumn flavor, and crisp and refreshing enough to be satisfying and leaving you wanting to crush a good few of them.
The staff and crowd at Grainsworks are always friendly, and this is a brewery where my original music gets an even better response than the other stuff I mix in (which also gets a lot of lovin'), and that's always nice for me.
If you're in the Cincinnati region, or passing through, this is a brewery that should be on your must-do list. As I explain to folks asking about the Cincinnati market (which has a rich, long history as a beer making town), the larger, more publicized, and perhaps trendier breweries tend to be in the city... but if you want the guys who focus more on making spectacular beer, and might not have the big investor marketing budgets, but make the better beer... you have to go out to the breweries in the suburbs, and Grainworks is one of the best.
I hope to return to Grainworks, and next time we'll focus on other parts of their extensive menu!