With the heat of summer fading and fall beginning to turn the trees a dappled golden-green, resident Soapbox
food and atmosphere critic, Vincent the dachshund mix, thought carefully about the next stop on his culinary tour. He chose to visit the popular and picturesque Little Miami Brewing Company
. Vince insisted this decision was mainly due to the beauty of the changing seasons – and not the scrumptious wood-fired pizza offered by the nearly 6-year-old brewery.
At any rate, Vincent donned a festive flannel bandana and, upon arrival, found himself captivated by the patio’s scenic river view. The relaxed, casual atmosphere was enchanting on a lazy, late summer afternoon. Kayakers drifted downstream amid the cloudy skies reflected in the waters of the Little Miami. Friendly patrons offered pets and conversation. The smell of savory foods wafted here and there on the breeze, taunting Vincent’s taste buds.
Vince and his human companions agreed upon “The Old Milford” pizza – featuring sausage, bacon and pepperoni.
The Old Milford specialty pizza
“A classic, indeed,” thought Vince, who loves a good meat trio. But surprisingly, it was the sauce that really struck his fancy. The taste of freshly crushed tomatoes was unmistakable. “No need for too much seasoning. Freshness speaks for itself,” Vince commented, licking his teeth. He also admired the crust. It was tough, chewy and perfectly tinged with black on the edges – just as a wood-fired pizza ought to be, he noted.
Co-Owners Dan Lynch and Joe Brenner warmly welcomed the esteemed critic after his meal, waiting in the wings and attending to business while Vince sampled the meaty, made-from-scratch specialty. Lynch and Brenner are brothers-in-law who realized their dream of opening a craft beer establishment in 2017.
“We aren’t brewers. We just drink the beer,” Brenner informed Vincent and his human companions with a chuckle.
For the crafty and creative end of the business, Lynch and Brenner called upon longtime friend Jim Strelau. A friend of Brenner’s since kindergarten, Strelau had taken his brewing talents west to Colorado and Arizona after pioneering the Cincinnati craft beer scene in the 1990’s.
“He used to work at Watson Brothers and Main Street Brewery,” Lynch explained.
“We just kept asking him questions until finally we asked him to move back, because his parents still live here,” said Brenner. “After a long, long, long conversation he decided to move back.”
While the ever-changing list of unique craft beers on the large chalkboard over the bar didn’t interest Vincent much, the humans delighted in the many distinctive choices. They sampled the sweet and refreshing “Blackbird Fly” Blackberry Wheat and “Curveball” Belgian White brews – the latter being a summer tribute to The Cincinnati Reds, topped with a large wedge of orange.
Conversation soon turned to a Cincinnati fall favorite, The Bengals. Lynch and Brenner, both clad in Bengals gear, excitedly noted that Little Miami Brewing Company’s famous tailgate parties were just about to kick off for the season. Vincent listened attentively, recalling that tailgates involved sharing not only beer, but also tasty treats. Occasionally, excited humans even dropped portions to the ground, accidentally. Vince had worked as cleanup crew more than once before beginning his career as a critic.
“We’re a huge Bengals bar. Live music starts at 11am, and then everybody just sticks around for the game,” offered Brenner. “Next year, we’re also going to do a Taste of Milford Mayfest in our parking lot. And then we’re planning to do an Oktoberfest, too.”
A seasonal “Taco Trailer” in the parking lot takes the pressure off the main kitchen in the busy summer months – adding tacos, burritos and bowls to the restaurant’s offerings. To enhance the brewery’s appeal in the winter months, Brenner and Lynch have recently added more warmth to its popular outdoor space.
“We just redid the entire patio,” informed Brenner. “We’ve got, like, industrial strength heaters out there, and a new pergola with lights and heaters.”
Throughout the year, Little Miami Brewing hosts different events and entertainment almost every night, including live music and trivia. An event center in an adjacent building also hosts and caters weddings, receptions and the like. This was added two years ago.
Self-employed businessmen of a combined 50 years, Lynch and Brenner credit their savvy enterprising with cultivating downtown Milford’s current, thriving business district. They say that in seizing the opportunity to build on the site of an old car dealership that was hiding a striking river view, they set the bar for surrounding businesses back in 2017.
Vincent and new pals, Joe Brenner and Dan Lynch.
“Milford was kind of a sleepy town 10 years ago. It was falling apart a little bit. Going up Main Street, the shops weren’t keeping up appearance-wise,” said Brenner.
“We’ve really helped to revitalize downtown. It’s just a fact,” offered Lynch.
As they walked him to the parking lot, Vincent let Lynch and Brenner know he’d pull out his best sweater and join them for Oktoberfest next year, if not a tailgate next month. He bid them a fond adieu, adding that Little Miami Brewing Company had earned his coveted 5-paw rating.