New microbrewery looking to open in Middletown

A new microbrewery and taproom that would specialize in gluten-free lagers and ales is looking to open in Middletown.

But first, co-founders Joshua and Megan Laubach must appear Wednesday before Middletown Planning Commission for their application to start Rolling Mill Brewery Co. at a commercial warehouse at 916 First Ave., just west of South Main Street.

Joshua Laubach told the Journal-News he has more than five years of experience in both brewing and management in the local steel industry, and that “brewing is a passion” for he and his wife.

“As a craft, it’s something we feel strongly about, while at the same time we also feel strongly about being connected to the community of Middletown specifically,” said Laubach, a Middletown native. “It’s a way we can serve a community and be connected to Middletown by revitalizing an older facility and being connected to downtown.”

The brewery would be located in a warehouse that sits not only in the Historic South Main District, but also within an Urban Core Support Zoning District, where microbrewery operations and taprooms are not a permitted use, according to documents obtained by the Journal-News.

The company would produce and distribute craft beer to Middletown and the surrounding communities.

“Our beers will be very unique to this region and to the U.S. beer market, in general,” the couple said in a letter to the city’s planning commission. “We will specialize in a range of ales and lagers that are completely gluten free being produced in absence of wheat, barley and rye while still using traditional brewing techniques.”

The 5,648-square-foot warehouse was built in 1943, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office. It sold in May for $25,000, according to real estate records.

Changes to the facility could start as early as December with a planned fall 2017 opening on tap, Laubach said. Canning is expected to launch by the brewery’s third year, when staffing is projected to reach between five and seven employees. Production is slated to grow each year until the small start-up churns out 1,000 barrels per year.

The business gets its moniker from the continuous strip rolling process designed in Middletown many years ago, he said.

“It’s a process that’s revolutionized the steel industry and I think it had a lot to do with the growth of industry in the city and the growth of community and opportunity in the city, so it’s something we really wanted to speak to,” Laubach said.