New brewery-distillery March First an ode to Ohio, craft beer, spirits

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Hamilton County's first all-in-one brewery, distillery and cider maker will open its taproom this Friday.

March First Brewing will begin serving five beers, along with a dry hopped and traditional cider, at 4 p.m. Friday at 7885 E. Kemper Road.

“The community is excited,” said Kevin Kluener, March First’s director of operations.

Kluener said plans for March First began more than two years ago, when he met company president Mark Stuhlreyer while bartending and homebrewing on the side.

"I met with Mark, and we hit it off," Kluener said.

Kluener said he told Stuhlreyer about his plans to open a brewery some day after Stuhlreyer expressed interest in craft beer. Over time, their discussions grew serious. By March 1, 2016, Stuhlreyer had filed paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State to incorporate March First.

The two then came up with the brewery's name as a way to honor Ohio's rich history, Kluener said.

“March 1 is Ohio’s birth date, so we wanted to pay homage to the state,” he said.

The brewery began self-distributing craft and light lagers to about 20 local bars and restaurants starting March 1 of this year.

“The lagers are pretty drinkable,” Kluener said. “They’re light and allow people to have a few beers without getting too intoxicated.”

Beers that will debut in the taproom include Denali IPA, Heller Bock and Baltic porter, crafted by head brewer and co-head distiller Shae Pridemore. Pridemore came to March First with 15 years of homebrewing experience.

He will begin production of March First’s rum, brandy, vodka and whiskey by the end of May.

“Honestly, there are not enough days of the week,” said Pridemore, joking about March First’s timetable for production and distribution.

March First’s production facilities include a 10-barrel brewhouse, two 20-barrel fermenters, a copper still and quality-control lab. Kluener said they plan to add two more 20-barrel fermenters and machinery to start canning their beers and ciders soon. The brewery owners hope to produce 2,000 barrels of beer a year.

“We’re also in the process of building a rickhouse down the road to age our spirits in,” he said.

Ultimately, March First hopes to distribute its products throughout Ohio and beyond, Pridemore said.

“Our main focus is to get our product out to bars and restaurants,” he said.

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