New Butler County brewery took advantage of coronavirus down time

N.E.W. Ales Brewing on First Avenue in Middletown will be releasing four new craft beers this weekend. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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N.E.W. Ales Brewing on First Avenue in Middletown will be releasing four new craft beers this weekend. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

The novel coronavirus forced the closure of a number of businesses, but for N.E.W. Ales Brewing, it actually helped to get the business started, putting its plan about six months ahead of schedule.

Elizabeth “Beth” O’Harra, of Lebanon, and Wes and Nikki Heupel, of Middletown, co-own the brewery and taproom which shares the same building as All About You Catering, 1521 First Ave., has already created a handful of craft beers. They plan on adding four more beers this weekend.

“We got our license in January, then the COVID(-19) hit in March as we started our taproom,” O’Harra said of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “We started to do growler fills and use the shutdown time to focus on distribution.”

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She said they didn’t think their taproom would be ready until later this year or in early 2021.

N.E.W. Ales opened on Memorial Day weekend when they opened their Biergarten that features eight picnic tables at the brewery/taproom.

“Business has been good and stable,” O’Harra said. “We’re excited about the new release (of beers).”

N.E.W. Ales is already in several places in the area such as the Swire Inn; Spoken Bicycle; Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen and Bar, all in Middletown; Doc’s Place in Lebanon; Franklin Tavern; Hidden Valley Orchard; Ameristop in Waynesville; and at two places in Hocking Hills.

O’Harra said they will continue to focus on the distribution of their products this fall.

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She said the brewery currently has on tap three Hazy IPA’s; an Imperial IPA; a pineapple/blackberry sour; and a Kolsch. She said the beers would be rotated through the seasons and they are currently working an Oktoberfest beer and a pumpkin beer.

N.E.W. Ales is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays.