Craft brewing has a stereotype of being expensive. Maple Lawn Brewery in Pomeroy isn’t that way, however.
Hank Cleland would describe himself as a beer lover. He would also describe himself as cheap. When good beer began hitting his pocket a little harder than he’d like, he began homebrewing.
After doing that for a few years, and producing some good beers along the way, he and a few others decided to open Maple Lawn Brewery, with Cleland as the brewmaster.
Maple Lawn beers typically cost $4 a pint, even though they are made by hand in the basement of the brewery.
“I’m a little bit of a tight-ass,” Cleland says. “I got tired of paying way too much money for not very good beer.”
Following the brewery’s logo, Maple Lawn’s décor features a multitude of rooster-themed things. There’s even a 5-foot-tall rooster statue sitting outside the door.
Most of the bar furniture comes from refurbished wood coming from the Maple Lawn Poultry Farms on Hemlock Grove Road. That’s where the rooster theme comes from.
The bar and the high tops on the other side of the taproom were taken from the remnants of the turkey pen at the farm. Other parts of the bar’s architecture were all made from wood taken from the farm, which inspired the brewery’s name.
The farm is also where Cleland found the calling card of his brews. On the farm, there is a natural spring that runs down a sandstone formation. Cleland collects the water in a tote and brings it to the brewery, as the basis of his beers.
“It’s such good water,” Cleland says. “When I first thought about this place, I thought let’s try it. I made a handful of batches with it. A little bit extra effort was worth it.”
Once Cleland brings the water back to the brewery, the brewing process begins. The process can take up to two months to finish brewing. The ales he brews normally take about three to four weeks, with the lagers taking a little longer.
Lagers and ales are the beers that Cleland tends to stick to. They are lighter and fit in with more of the Meigs County crowd who prefer a lighter beer. The conventional Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light that are the typical beers found in the refrigerators of the locals. Cleland himself was a Coors Light drinker.
“You have to offer lighter beers to get them to enjoy a lighter craft beer,” Cleland says. “Then (they) slowly evolve their taste and evolve into a Double IPA or something like that.”
Tristen Wolfe has been working at Maple Lawn since June. As an Ohio University (Athens) student, he had some experience with craft beers from going to Jackie O’s, in Athens, with friends. Working at Maple Lawn made Wolfe’s taste for beer change.
“It makes all the generic beers — Bud Light, Miller Lite — all kind of taste the same,” Wolfe says.
Cleland’s process has helped move Meigs County into more of the craft-brewing scene.
“Hank is very knowledgeable, his staff is very knowledgeable,” Erin Rousch, a Meigs County resident says. “When you educate them (customers) about what they’re drinking and why it tastes the way it does, they’re more open-minded to try different things.”
By Trevor Colgan