OH Beer Travels: Mother Stewart Brewing (Springfield, OH)

Death and Temperance: sounds like it would be a great name for a high-powered craft beer brew, right?

Well, if anyone does brew it, there may be no current craft beer brewer more qualified than the newly established Mother Stewart's Brewing Company in Springfield, Ohio. This brewery, founded by the Loftis family and open to the public in the summer of 2016, seemingly came out of nowhere to land a spot on Beer Advocate's "Class of 2016: 34 of the Best New Breweries in the US," We figured a visit was more than in order after dropping by some of the antique shops in the area.

The first thing one notices when pulling up to the brewery is its rather large size space, more than holding its own if not exceeding that of any Ohio craft brewery residing within earshot of I-70. This is related to the building's past existence as the Metallic Casket Company. Opening operations in 1884, Metallic Casket was part of a group of local coffin makers which gained enough of a reputation to make Springfield something of a coffin manufacturing capital. However, it was Metallic alone that earned world-wide renown as one of the best producers of metal-based caskets, regularly sending their products to buyers outside United States borders.

Like other breweries, Mother Stewart's has a collection of games
that will keep both adults and the youngsters occupied during a visit
These coffin makers were part of a healthy business cadre that made Springfield a prominent business hub well into the 1960s. These companies included the likes of James Leffel & Co. (a turbine manufacturer that still operates today) and Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick (later Crowell & Collier), who in 1924 was the largest magazine publisher in the world. The latter's closure in 1956 started the slow decline of Springfield's employer base, with Metallic Casket eventually falling as a victim when it closed up its factory in November 1974.

Mother Stewart took over the space as part of a concerted effort by area officials to revive both the downtown and the declining fortunes of the city of Springfield itself. As you walk around the space now, you will see that the metal that made up caskets has been replaced by the metal of brewery tanks and the metal frames of patio-style wood-slat tables and chairs. An indoor stage offers the opportunity for regularly scheduled musical and other entertainment events.

The outdoor space offers a large courtyard which gives the brewery even more flexibility in hosting entertainment events, or giving people who want to play some cornhole while enjoying their beers during warm outdoor days. The garage doors on the wall offer a tantalizing peek at the brewing space inside, and colorful murals on the top of the walls provide a pleasant visual distraction.

Of course, the brewery's namesake has a history all her own. Mother Stewart, who was born as Eliza Daniel Stewart, was a key and almost tireless figure in the Ohio Temperance Movement in the 19th century. Actively crusading against the evils of alcohol, Stewart wrote books, worked the lecture circuit and helped or founded several Temperance leagues and associations during her 90-plus year life on this earth. Of course, one might would say that this is a fairly ironic name choice, but the beer list here revealed a list of fairly temperate (ABV-wise) inventory of lagers and ales.

As we discovered from the staff on hand, this was definitely done on purpose: despite the massive growth of craft beer, there are many communities like Springfield out there who have not been exposed to this world at large. So while Mother Stewart's beers may not hold the excitement to the well-traveled beer geek seeking out more adventurous brews, we have learnt that doesn't mean the brews aren't worth the price you pay.

In this case, we found all their offerings to be well-crafted, all worthy of consideration for a pint future visits depending on the mood of the moment.  Of course, we had our mutual favorites, which here fell to the Golden Ale (an all-Ohio-ingredient brew) and the Belgian Witbier (my spouse gave thumbs up to the Vienna Lager.)

Of special interest to Columbus area craft beer followers is Mother Stewart's contract brewing of the historic Gold Top Dortmunder Lager for the revived Hoster Brewing company. I couldn't resist not having a pint of this satisfying lager on this visit when I saw it was on tap.

For those who would like practice a little true temperance, the brewery offers up Frostop Root Beer, a local Springfield institution that has also seen a revival.  Paired up with some food delivered from local eateries (we were given three eateries to choose from) or one of the regularly scheduled food trucks, and you could have a nice, lengthy visit that anyone, even a mother, could love.

Mother Stewart's Brewing Company
109 W North St. (Google Maps)
Springfield, OH 45504
(937) 717-0618
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