If you’ve been around the Cincinnati craft beer scene there’s no doubt you’ve heard the name Woodburn echo around. Those echos have been getting louder as Dennis Chacón and Chris Mitchell have been putting the finishing touches on the brewery over the past few weeks. All of their hard work over the past couple years has finally paid off as the duo and their staff have actually had a few surprise soft opening days recently. I luckily caught an announcement on their Twitter that they were going to be open earlier this week so I had to take the opportunity to go check out the new digs before they officially open on Friday, August 26th.
Woodburn is located in East Walnut Hills on you guessed it! Woodburn Ave! It’s nestled in between shops, bars and other businesses on the small street with St. Francis De Sales Church watching over the intersection. The 4,000 square ft building it occupies used to be a theater in its heyday during the 1900s and has since been a bank as well as a dry cleaner. There’s a public parking lot with plenty of spots right next to the brewery which is also adjacent to the outside area that they will be developing over the next few weeks.
As I walked into the brewery I was met with the coziest feeling taproom I have ever been in. It was filled with warm brick, metal light fixtures, copper accents, and glass which rounded everything out. It truly feels like you are right at home.
There is plenty of space at their L shaped bar with tons of taps on each side. If you can’t find a spot at the bar there are high top tables as well as other seating around the whole taproom. It’s cozy, but surprisingly roomy. Currently there is no outside seating, but as you can see they have a back door that will lead out into a future outdoor area.
While walking around I met one of the co-owners Dennis Chacón for the first time and introduced myself. He offered to give me an in-depth tour of the brewery and of course I couldn’t say no! So we grabbed a beer and made our way into the back, where the magic happens.
Woodburn is the brain child of Chris Mitchell formerly of Listermann Brewing Company and Dennis Chacón an avid homebrewer from LA who had moved here several years ago for a job with Procter and Gamble. Dennis would come into Listermann to bounce recipe ideas off of Chris. Little by little the pair became friends over time and the idea of a brewery was sparked. Once Dennis left P&G the pair decided it was go time and work began on Woodburn.
They currently sport a 20bbl brew house and a smaller 3bbl system that will be for experimental one off beers. They have a 189bbl maturation capacity and plan on making a few thousand bbl of beer in their first year. An interesting fact is they will be pumping their flagship beers directly out of their brite tanks.
Woodburn will be inviting local home brewers to come brew on their 3bbl system. The fruits of their labor will be seen in the taproom on a limited basis. Dennis says they “plan to have a lot of fun on the 3bbl system.” I for one am excited to see what comes out of it! They will have some of these home brew beers at their opening as well.
So what kind of beers is Woodburn brewing? Their opening day list is quite impressive which covers a variety of styles. They will have their Pale Ale, Cedar IPA, Pineapple Saison, Chocolate Cherry Stout, Belgian Wit, and Steinpils which are their current core beers. Altbier, Wit’s End Wheat, Belgian Quad and the most intriguing to me Lactos ♥ Peaches IPA round out their Home Brew and limited releases.
As we talked about their beers I popped the question about sours and barrel aged beers as I could see some barrels near the door to the brewing area. While Dennis didn’t want to spill the beans completely he did tell me the barrel aged and sour process is definitely underway. I wish I could share more with you but I can’t!
After Dennis took me on the grand tour I sat down at the bar and grabbed some beers. What would a brewery preview be without some discussion on the beers?
I can honestly say that Dennis and Chris’s experience in brewing shone true with the beers that I had a chance to try. Dennis asked what my favorite style of beer was, which is a stout or a porter, and he instantly poured me a sample of the Chocolate Cherry Stout. Mother of God it was good. It was so smooth and rich with a ton of chocolate up front accented with the cherry on the finish. A true desert beer if I’ve ever had one. My next favorite beer of the evening was the Pineapple Saison. This was a super refreshing saison that would be best drank on the hot humid days we’ve been having recently. The pineapple lends a very pleasent tartness to the overall flavor. If they canned or bottled this it could easily become my summer time go to beer. If you’ve read some of my reviews you know I’m not the biggest fan of Belgians but I decided to grab a glass of their Belgian Wit and I loved it. Super crisp, wheaty taste with some underlying fruits and spices. The Cedar IPA was also a very solid selection. It’s got some citrisuy flavors that are nicely blended with the cedar notes. I can easily say I haven’t had this kind of IPA before but I was definitely a fan.
The rest of the beers I had small tasters of and I do have to say I loved every single one of them. I encourage you to grab some tasters yourself and find what you like and go from there on Friday!
For their grand opening on Friday, August 26th they will have a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:30 and the doors will officially be open to the public at 4pm. The party will go until 1am. In addition to good friends and great beer they will have Gomez Salsa serving food as well as After Party Radio/DJ Johnny Mack spinning some tunes. AND! Before I forget, they just announced that they will have a special Vanilla edition of the Chocolate Cherry Stout!
I think Woodburn is going to be a marvelous addition to the local brewery scene here in Cincinnati. With their current beer arsenal coupled with a stunning taproom I think they won’t have any issues putting people into seats. I look forward to see what new beers they dream up and to see how they develop over time. When I asked Dennis what is one face about Woodburn that no one probably knows and he says “We are veteran and minority owned business. I’m very proud of both those facts.” If you get a chance this weekend to visit Woodburn please do so and show your support as I think they’ve got some awesomeness brewing in their tanks! Cheers all!