There is never a shortage of rumors about new breweries opening. Most of those rumors eventually materialize into reality but sometimes it takes years. Then there is the story of March First Brewing. I didn’t hear rumors or hype over a grand opening. Instead, out of nowhere, I started seeing social media from a brewery that was ready to start distributing their beer.
But wait? That’s not how this works. A brewery has to open up a taproom, grow a following and then consider packaging their beer. You can’t just start distributing beer. Furthermore, they were selling a lager. I don’t know any of modern brewery that leads with a lager. There was something different about this brewery so I had to learn more.
By the time I got to visit them, their beer was already on tap at my local bottle shop. They had also conducted a handful of promos at local bars. This was all very confusing because they didn’t throw a grand opening party and have people come to their taproom. I quickly learned their business model is a little different but in a good way.
What Makes March First Brewing Different
The team at March First invited me to visit their brewery in early April; I was anxious to learn more so I quickly agreed and made my way to their facility which is near the intersection of I-71 and I-275 – just north of Cincinnati. They are in an existing building that is primarily office space now but can be converted into more usable brewing space to accommodate growth.
March First chose their name as a reference to the state of Ohio which became a state on March 1st, 1803. And to support Ohio, they source much of their ingredients locally.
They have a 10 bbl brewhouse and six 20 bbl fermenters along with a centrifuge for superior filtration. That last piece of equipment is really important; typically only large breweries typically invest in a centrifuge. Using this filtration system will help them achieve a very high level of quality. They will be packaging in both in bottle and cans. They believe that there are times when cans are ideal and other times when a bottle is a better fit. While all of this is very important, there are two factors that make they truly unique.
If you’ve been following along with my recent articles, you probably spotted a theme – lagers. If you missed those earlier posts, go check them out now. Defining Lager sets the stage as an intro into understanding the difference between the brewing method and the beer style. Then I unpacked my thoughts on why I think Lagers Are The Next Big Thing In Craft Beer. So it is only fitting for me to spotlight a brewery that is focused on lagers.
Some may think focusing on lagers is a risky plan but in a city with almost 40 breweries, you have to do something to stand out. The team at March First knows that there are more macro lager drinkers than craft beer drinkers. Their goal is to make those macro lagers drinkers into craft lager drinkers.
Their flagship Craft Lager is clean, crisp and boasts more flavor than what most would expect out of a 5.1% ABV beer. And for the light beer lovers; there will be a Light Lager as well that clocks in at 4.2% ABV. The corn in their lager is locally sourced and adds the high quality taste to this brew. They will also be brewing other lagers including a Bock that had a full, rich flavor and is the kind of beer that I really can get behind.
But don’t worry; they will also be putting out some other styles including an IPA and Baltic Porter. And if that wasn’t enough, they have a cider program that is just as big as their beer program. They have a dry hopped cider as well as a traditional cider. The dry hopped version is spot on; not too tart, not too sweet. And of course, they love to experiment and I got to try one of them while I was there. It was a lime cider which would be perfect sitting on the beach. Their cider is made with apple juice from their state of Ohio and never made from concentrate. While this adds to the cost and process, they believe it also reflects in the quality of the product.
Big Distribution, Small Taproom
The modern craft beer world has really embraced the neighborhood brewery. These small brewery and taprooms focus on selling their beer on-site. They have large taprooms (sometimes larger than the brewery itself) and thrive on community acceptance and involvement. If you’ve talked beer with me then you know that I love these neighborhood breweries.
But that doesn’t mean that is the only way to sell beer. March First will focus on distribution and not the taproom. This is a really good fit for a lager focused brewery. They are directly targeting customers that currently drink American lagers. March First wants to be a higher quality, better tasting craft beer option for that that drink Budweiser, Bud Light and other macro beers. While this sounds like a lofty goal, there is a huge market of lager drinkers out there that will gladly choose a great tasting, high quality beer like March First.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a taproom. It is in the brewery portion of their building and even has a patio to take advantage of days with nice weather. The goal of their taproom is to give people a place to try their beer, take some to go and learn who they are. But their ultimate goal is to get you to purchase their beer around town.
Yes, March First Brewing is quite different and they might not even appeal to all craft beer fans. But that’s ok because they have a passion for bringing their beer to the masses. And I applaud and cheer them on because the craft beer community wants to invite the lager lovers to come experience higher quality and better tasting beer.
The People Behind March First Brewing
March First Brewing isn’t messing around and they have some huge plans to get their beer and ciders into your hands very soon. But you would be surprised to know that they have a relatively small team making all of this happen. Here’s the March First Brewing team:
- Mark Stuhlreyer- President
- Kevin Kluener- Director of Operations
- Lauren Haney- Director of Marketing
- Garrett Huber- Production Manager + Head Brewer
- Shae Pridemore- Head Brewer
- Andrew Klinker- Sales Professional
- Tyler Ahlert- Sales Professional
I got to meet Kevin, Lauren, Garrett, and Shae during my visit. It was obvious that they believe in the mission of March First and have a passion for great beer. And based on the rate that their sales team is signing up new accounts; Cincinnati is ready for a brewery like March First
The March First Brewing taproom opened up just days ago and their beer is available around town. So the next step is for you to go try their beer and ciders. You can visit their taproom Wednesday – Saturday 4pm to 9pm. Or use their “Find M1” feature on their website that let’s you know where March First is on tap.
For March First, they have some other alcohol related projects in the works that will add to the intrigue and excitement of this company – but more on that in the future.
For now, be on the lookout for craft lagers as they will play an very important role in the growth of the craft beer industry. While many other craft beer companies will increase their lager production, there are companies like March First Brewing that will put lagers first and invite more lager loving fans into the craft beer community.
Check out their website to learn more about March First Brewing
Have you heard of any new breweries opening that have a focus on lagers?