Breweries aren’t just establishments that brew and serve beer. For many people they are a home away from home. Unlike most city bars these businesses encourage a family atmosphere, including children and pets! Breweries, particularly new ones, immediately draw in a crowd that quickly becomes regular customers. The brew masters and bar tends aren’t there because it’s just a job; they helped build their business from the ground up. They’re the friendliest folks you’d ever hope to meet, and that keeps the customers coming. It takes dedication and patience to exclusively brew a certain style of beer. It’s an art. I was lucky enough to get to experience the rich atmosphere of the Wooly Pig Farm Brewery this past weekend.
A little about the farm: Kevin Malenke and his wife Jael bought the land when it became available in 2014. They had always wanted to start a craft brewery that united the areas of brewing, farming, and a sense of community. While Kevin was touring in Bavaria, he developed a keen interest in classic German styles of beer which inspired him to replicate those styles and brewing practices back home in Ohio. While there he also admired the mangalitsa pigs that roamed the countryside. Luckily for Ohioans, he also keeps them on his farm to not only draw the attention of tourists, but also produce cured meats for the tasting room. I was fortunate enough to visit when a mama pig had recently had a litter of babies. The pigs are, of course, in enclosures and fenced areas, but it was still possible to pat their cute, curly heads.
As far as the beer is concerned, I was certainly pleased that I found something that I loved. I am not a fan of “dark beer:” the kind that leaves behind bitter flavors such as coffee, chocolate, or firewood. I’m definitely partial to sour beer and blonde ales. They had a selection that favored the darker beer drinkers (my fiancé) but they also had a selection for me. After trying a flight* of all the various brews that I thought I’d like, I finally settled on a full pour of their Wooly Pig Fruited Gose*. This salty beer offered a soft hibiscus sweetness with a floral dry cranberry and a subtle ginger finish. It was a perfectly fruity Gose that would delight anyone’s taste buds.
Although my visit took place in the winter, I’m definitely looking forward to returning in the Spring. Their tasting room features a beautiful bar with stools and three long, wooden tables with chairs. Weather permitting, you may enjoy sitting outside around the fire or overlooking the vast wooded areas and fluffy, curious pigs. Wooly Pig Farm and Brewery is located in Fresno, OH and it takes a little over an hour to arrive there. If you have a free Saturday, this destination makes for a remarkable experience and a close to home day trip for you and your friends and family.
*A flight is a sampling of various beers on tap that can be arranged from dark to light, alcohol by volume (ABV) level, or the order that they come on the tap list.
* A Gose is a top-fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany. It’s characterized by its lemon sourness, an herbal quality, and a strong saltiness.