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On Friday, April 9, Yellow Springs Brewery will open its second taproom, the Barrel Room, at 1475 Xenia Avenue. Here, Yellow Springs Brewery’s head brewer, Jayson Hartings, and Barrel Room manager, Jaclyn Klaus, recently gave the News a tour of the former bowling lanes turned taproom. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Yellow Springs Brewery’s second taproom set to open

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Barrel aged beers, mixed fermentation sours and brand favorites will be among the beverages featured at Yellow Springs Brewery’s second local taproom, the Barrel Room, set to open in a former bowling alley on the south side of town.

The grand opening will be Friday, April 9, at 3 p.m., with a special bottle release of an imperial milk stout aged in maple syrup-bourbon barrels. The Barrel Room, located in the brewery’s South House location at 1475 Xenia Avenue, will be open regular hours Friday through Sunday.

It’s the latest move for a local company that got its start in the Millworks industrial park in 2013.

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The Barrel Room will allow Yellow Springs Brewery to venture out into more experimental beer styles, offer space for special ticketed events, such as beer and cheese pairings, and allow for more socially distanced seating, according to those interviewed this week.

The brewery has used the 9,000 square-foot South House for warehousing and barrel aging since 2016, and initially planned to add a special event space there, according to Yellow Springs Brewery co-owner Lisa Wolters earlier this year. But the pandemic changed their plans, and they pivoted to accommodate the demand that was limited by COVID-19 restrictions at the Millworks taproom.

“It turns out it was a perfect space for a secondary taproom,” she told the News.

The Barrel House is so named because it will be where barrel aged beer and mixed fermentation sours are produced. Here are 15-gallon foeders filled with sour beers that rely on wild yeast and friendly bacteria, along with some beers aging in chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and port barrels. (Photos by Megan Bachman)

Ultimately, on March 9, Planning Commission approved the brewery’s application for a conditional use permit to use the space for a public taproom with regular hours. Previously, only special events were permitted in the space.

For head brewer Jayson Hartings, the Barrel Room will afford him the opportunity to try his hand at sour and barrel-aged beers, some of which will be fermenting before customers eyes in the taproom.

“It’s my playground,” Hartings, a villager who has been head brewer since 2018, said of the space.

Because they use wild yeast and lactobacillus, a “friendly” bacteria that lives in the digestive system, the sours must be brewed in a separate facility from the brewery’s mainstay products, Hartings explained. That’s because traditional beers, brewed exclusively with brewer’s yeast, could suffer from cross contamination.

The sour style is often described as “sour, tart, funky and barnyardy,” he added, and the tartness is often offset by the addition of fruit, he said.

On a recent visit, one of the taproom’s two 15-barrel foeders was fermenting a Belgian table beer that will be used as a basis of many of the sours. The cultures actually take up residence in the wood, developing and imparting a unique flavor. Some beers, Hartings said, “will take years to develop.”

Hartings also hopes to capture a wild yeast strain in Glen Helen or elsewhere in Yellow Springs to use in his brews.

There are 12 taps at the Barrel House, which will serve only YS Brewery beers, including crowd favorites and some more experimental ales. The serving area was fashioned out of an old shipping container.

“We’re developing a local, native culture unique to Yellow Springs,” he said.

Despite a year of challenges related to COVID-19 and a worldwide aluminum shortage, the brewery is expanding again, said Hartings.

“Between the pandemic and the can shortage it was a huge challenge, but we’re poised to be in good shape this year,” he said.

Staff figures are back to pre-pandemic levels, and the brewery is hiring three new bartenders for the Barrel House, he added. Meanwhile, production is picking up thanks to a faster canning line recently installed at the Millworks site, and beers are reaching new markets in the Dayton and Columbus areas.

All told, Yellow Springs Brewery has grown from producing 700 barrels to 5,000 barrels annually in 2020, according to a press release.

Part of the brewery’s success in surviving the pandemic was the popularity of its Boat Show IPA, Hartings said. Last year, it accounted for 60% of production, in part, due to the inability to get other labeled cans. It’s also become a fan favorite.

“It’s a phenomenon,” Hartings said.

Boat Show will likely be on the menu when the Barrel House opens. In total, there are 12 taps. However, the brewery’s current alcohol license for the facility, a permit specifically for beer manufacturers, only allows them to sell their own products. As a result, there will be no outside beverages such as wine or cider, absent a ballot measure for a full liquor license.

And, at least for the time being, the taproom age requirement will be 21 and over, with no children permitted.

YS Brewery’s head brewer, Jayson Hartings, stands in the brewery’s South House location, home to the new taproom, the Barrel House. The location also includes warehousing space for the local company.

On a recent tour of the facility, Barrel Room manager Jaclyn Klaus, of Dayton, shared how she is looking forward to the space coming to life. With a capacity of 60, three times the size of the original Millworks taproom, she expects patrons will feel safe.

In addition, the brewery has been permitted by the Planning Commission to construct an outdoor patio on the side of the building facing U.S. 68.

Food trucks, including some “new options,” will be stationed at the taproom, Klaus added.

Describing the unique features of the space, Klaus pointed to the use of two shipping containers and copious amounts of wood for a “rustic, industrial feel.” Previously, the space was Village Lanes, and some of the wood from the former bowling lanes has been rescued for the taproom’s chairs and tables.

Architect Ted Donnell designed the space, which was built by local contractor Tomaso Gregor.

Hartings said he was interested in how the second taproom’s clientele and vibe may be different. Previously, brewery representatives have referred to the space as a “little neighborhood taproom.”

“I’m curious if it brings in more locals from the south side of town,” he said.

The brewery is co-owned by local couple Lisa Wolters and Nate Cornett.

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