Warren County’s Cartridge Brewing taps are ready to flow at transformed ammunition plant

Kyle Hackbarth, chief operating officer and co-founder of Cartridge Brewing, and his team are ready to serve guests with 20 locally brewed beers on tap at the full-service brewpub. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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Kyle Hackbarth, chief operating officer and co-founder of Cartridge Brewing, and his team are ready to serve guests with 20 locally brewed beers on tap at the full-service brewpub. ED RICHTER/STAFF

The owners of Cartridge Brewing in Warren County said they learned a lot during the pandemic and look forward to June 2 when the seven-month-old brewery will operate with fewer restrictions, as the state eases up on many COVID-19 safety protocols, such as limited capacity on seating.

Kyle Hackbarth is the chief operating officer and co-founder of the brewery located in the rehabilitated Peters Cartridge Factory on the Little Miami River just down the hill from Kings Mills and about two miles from Kings Island. The former ammunition plant has been rebuilt and contains 152 apartments.

A view of the Cartridge Brewing dining area and a window to watch the beer being brewed. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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A view of the Cartridge Brewing dining area and a window to watch the beer being brewed. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Hackbarth said the limited capacity helped the partners to hone their skills and taught them how to manage the business. He said it’s easier to scale up as restrictions are lifted than to scale down a brewpub business.

He and his partners, which include his wife Lindsey, the chief marketing officer; Adam Mills, the head brewer; and co-founder Anthony Cook, own the new brewpub, which also features a full-service restaurant, a full bar and full wine program.

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Hackbarth, who like the other partners are a “Kings Family” and grew up in the area, said the location found them instead of developing a plan and then looking for a location. The brewpub building has close to 10,000 square feet of space for the operation, according to Stephanie Meinberg, brewery communications director.

“This is a once in a lifetime location,” he said. “When the opportunity came to build a brewery and support the (Kings) school system, it was a no brainer... We had to figure out how much to build.”

Hackbarth said the brewery can produce 15 barrels or about 450 gallons per batch at a time - from lagers and IPAs to the light, eclectic and fruity beers.

“We have 20 beers on tap all made in house,” he said. “Five of the 20 are lagers, which are harder to brew.”

When asked it the brewpub market was getting saturated, Hackbarth said “as long as they continue to focus on serving the local community, I think we’ll be fine.” He defined the local community as Mason, Lebanon, Maineville, and Morrow. He said the community has been very patient and supportive.

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Hackbarth said they are fortunate to find “a rock star chef” in Jerry Johnson, who worked under top Cincinnati chefs Jean-Robert de Cavel and Jose Salazar. He also said Mills, a professional brewer, has developed a team that continues developing high-quality beers.

Cartridge Brewing is located off Grandin Road in Maineville inside the Peters Cartridge Factory development. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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Cartridge Brewing is located off Grandin Road in Maineville inside the Peters Cartridge Factory development. ED RICHTER/STAFF

He said the future is bright as the Warren County Engineer will be building a new wider bridge with a shared used path over the Little Miami River, a new bridge over the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail, and a new road up to Kings Mills.

The $15 million project also includes a roundabout, realigning the bike trail and a new parking lot. The project is under design and construction will begin in 2022, according to the Warren County Engineer’s Office website.

“That will open a new corridor for business,” Hackbarth said.

The brewery has four varieties of beer in cans, including the its latest creation Snare, an American Wit Ale. Meinberg, said the beer is a a soft, subtle and super-refreshing summertime wheat beer, evoking classic Belgian-style wits, but modernized (Cartridge-ized) with notes of sweet orange peel, citrusy Indian coriander and mellow-floral chamomile.

Snare is one of Cartridge Brewing's locally brewed beers and was created in partnership with the Kings Band Boosters. The cans are sold out but the beer is available on tap at the local community brewpub. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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Snare is one of Cartridge Brewing's locally brewed beers and was created in partnership with the Kings Band Boosters. The cans are sold out but the beer is available on tap at the local community brewpub. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Snare is also the brewpub’s second impact beer, brewed in partnership to support a local high school music organization (Kings Bands Boosters), raising awareness and funds through this special canned beer release program. Four-packs of Snare join the lineup of canned favorites, alongside Treaty Irish-style Red Ale, Radar American Dark Ale, and the award-winning Pathfinder Pale Ale.