New microbrewery planned for Hamilton at former electric substation near downtown

Co-owner says city on a trajectory ‘like a comet.’

A new microbrewery that will be called Amp House Brewing plans to move into a former Hamilton electric substation on Maple Avenue. Its owners hope to further energize Hamilton’s entertainment scene beginning in early 2022, to coincide with the opening of Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill.

“This is so perfect,” Greg Snow, of Fairfield, one of three co-owners, said about the building at 514 Maple Ave. “It looks like Batman could live there. And inside, it’s so cool. It’s got super-thick concrete walls.”

The interior, saluting the building’s past, will have electric themes. Its name, Amp, is short for ampere, a unit of electrical current.

Snow, Ryan Harper and Matthew Seto are owners of the parent company, Great Miami Brewing Co., LLC, and are working to buy an unused property owned by CSX and to rent a field owned by a neighboring body shop for use as a beer garden. They have offered to buy the city-owned building for $10,000 and invest $1.5 million in it. Originally, they offered $100,000, contingent on cleanup they knew would be required after a preliminary environmental study of the former electric facility.

They plan to cut a hole into the ground floor and set the stainless-steel Italian brewing equipment on the floor of the shallow basement so it reaches up to where the customers are, and placing seating around it. A mezzanine with seating is planned because the building has 22-foot-tall ceilings.

With beer-making, “People want to see it, they want to smell it, they want to hear the bubbling,” Snow said. “That’s part of the music of a brewery.”

Snow, 62, graduated with the Fairfield High School Class of 1976, before he moved to Oregon and other western states. He has 30 years experience in the brewing business, most recently as a contract brewer for Dead Low Brewing in Cincinnati, near Coney Island, which opened as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.

As he did with the Dead Low brewery, which is located near heavily used softball fields, he plans to offer a wider variety than would be expected from a micro-brewery of refreshing American-style lagers and light beers. Those should be popular with the 10,000-plus crowds that will visit the immense Spooky Nook indoor sports complex, he said.

He also plans to offer stouts and porters, IPAs, Belgian-style and farm-house beers, as well as seltzers. There also will be a still that creates bourbons and vodka.

Hamilton “is on a trajectory that’s going to be like a comet,” Snow said. “It’s exciting to be a part of that. The people of Hamilton are just great people, and they deserve what’s going on in Hamilton.”

“We want to be part of the DNA of the city.”

“We’re still lining up investors,” said Snow, who has been familiar with the building and talking with city officials about three years.

“It’s all coming together,” Snow said. “Then lo and behold, the (CSX) railroad station about five blocks away ... .”

But after a recent decision by City Council to save the historic station that was visited by Abraham Lincoln and several other presidents, “They’re moving it right across the street from our new brewery. It’s tailor-made for probably what we would consider our second location.”

The company is open to eventually adding two or more locations, but with one condition: “We will only brew beer where Miami Aquifer water is available,” Snow said. “We’ve got a print of the aquifer (which extends all the way north to Lima), and any future development, that water has to be available. It is amazing water. When you drink it, you say, ‘This needs to be made into beer.’”

“Hamilton water from the tap is nearly perfect for brewing,” he said. “We might run it through a small carbon filter just to knock out whatever chlorine taste there might be, but it’s tailor-made for beer.”

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