New brewery near Kings Island plans more than beer

Sonder Brewing in Deerfield Twp. will offer outdoor activities when it opens in late fall.

A new brewery and taproom plans to open late this fall near Kings Island.

Sonder Brewing, which should be under construction at 8460 Duke Blvd. by late May, will offer more than just alcohol, according to partners Justin Neff, of South Lebanon, Daniel Schmerr, of West Chester Twp., and Jennifer Meissner, of South Lebanon.

Outdoor facilities for the new 16,000-square-foot business will feature two patios, a fire pit and a space for volleyball, bocce ball or a variety of other outdoor activities for both small and large parties, said Meissner, Sonder’s chief marketing officer.

It also doesn’t hurt that the outdoor area on 6.5 acres has clear sightlines to Kings Island’s nightly fireworks display, she said.

“We really want it to be a destination,” Meissner said. “We don’t want people to just come in for a half hour and leave. We’d like them to have something they can do with their family on a Saturday, or come in with 20 people after a baseball game and get some food and hang out, throw some cornhole.”

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Neff said he knew the business had to be something other than a place that created great beer.

“Sonder has to be a place that mom and dad feel great about coming and bringing their kids and also a place where people want to come on a date night,” he said.

Sonder Brewing will serve six to eight beers on tap on a regular basis and offer a rotating series of several more specialty and seasonal beers, Meissner said.

“It could be a sour. It could be a Tiramisu Brown,” she said. “It just depends on what our head brewer and what our team is going to want to see.”

The business also will serve cocktails and red and white wines and contract out food services, Meissner said.

The brewery’s second floor and outdoor facilities will be made available to rent for private corporate or personal events.

Also planned are hops trellises to create a festive-looking area for celebrations.

“Kind of like going to a winery for a wedding,” Meissner said. “That kind of thing.”

Neff, who started home brewing a decade ago, had a business plan in mind about five years ago after he and his wife moved from Illinois to Ohio, then put that plan on hold for a while. He eventually met Schmerr and the two friends expanded Neff’s initial plan of a 5-barrel to 20-barrel brewhouse to a now-planned 30-barrel brewhouse.

“I just love the creativity (of brewing) and the ability to be able to see joy and create things that people love that I knew that I was directly a part of doing,” said Neff, Sonder Brewing’s president.

During a weekend trip to Cincinnati area breweries, the two men happened upon some friends from the region’s northern suburbs and realized they could fill a need for a brewery just north of the Interstate 275 loop.

The two recruited Meissner, a friend and neighbor, as the third Sonder partner after asking her to help with marketing ideas for the business.

“I’ve had a business doing graphic design and marketing for about 16 years but it’s been a part-time thing, while I work full-time, as well.” she said.

Chase Legler, a lead brewer with New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin, will handle brewing operations for Sonder, focusing on brewing Belgium-style sours and wild ales, plus barrel-aged and other types of beer, Meissner said.

“Chase won’t shy away from brewing any particular kind of beer,” she said. “He’s definitely open to brewing whatever comes up.”

The trio named the business “Sonder Brewing” because “Sonder” means “that every person you pass on the street has a story, a story that’s as unique as yours,” Meissner said.

Sonder eventually plans to grow its own hops and fruit for brewing purposes by its second or third year in operation, as well as can its beers for distribution. Live music will be added along the way, as will additional family-friendly events and activities.

“A lot of people are searching for things to do and that goes beyond enjoying a good beer or good beverage,” Neff said. “It’s more than that. Now it’s about (being) a place that gives them something to do.”

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