By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
At Sugar Ridge Brewery the beer isn’t relegated to the tap, it finds its way into every course on the menu.
Mike Mullins, the owner and the brewer, said the restaurant’s chef J.R. Hernandez “incorporates it in everything” – the sauces, the brines, even the desserts.
Sugar Ridge Brewery opened at 109 S. Main St., earlier this month during the Black Swamp Arts Festival. A ribbon cutting will be held to celebrate the new eatery Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. Contact the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce to RSVP at MarissaMuniz@bgchamber.net or (419) 353-7945.
Mullins opened on Dixie Highway in October, 2010. He operated it there until he closed it two years ago in preparation for opening the Bowling Green restaurant in the old Millikin Hotel.
The new microbrewery was a long time coming. The walls had been covered in plaster and dry board and the tile covered with carpet. Mullins put a lot of “elbow grease and sweat equity” stripping the place to brick and mother of pearl tile. That renovation was done “one brick at a time” exposing the historic hotel’s original interior.
Mullins started as a chef. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he worked in Columbus as a sous chef at the One Nation and then as an executive chef two top restaurants in Charleston, West Virginia.
He started brewing back in 1992. “I just always wanted to brew beer and see how it would turn out.”
He has seven varieties on tap. Many of the names are a tip of the tap to nearby locales. The Falcon Ale is an American Amber Ale. Rossford Red is a Belgian-style pale ale. Sylvania Stout Mark Daniels is a foreign extra stout. Not available currently is Perrysburg Pale Ale, a strong English ale. That was the first beer he brewed.
He has a dozen varieties registered with the state, though he has more that can be added as soon as he fills out the paperwork and pays the fee.
Customers can sample a variety of beers with four- or six-taste flights. Or they can bring a growler if their favorite brew home.
Because he operates with a brewer’s permit he can only sell alcoholic beverages brewed in house, though he’s pursuing a license to add wine sales.
The food is designed to showcase the beer. Hernandez was trained at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. He also apprenticed at Cohen and Cooke, a restaurant that occupied the space a couple of tenants ago.
The Bowling Green High graduate, is a fourth generation cook, Mullins said. The menu includes a chorizo burger using his family’s recipe for the sausage.
He can work in 22 different cuisines and brings those together in a fusion of approaches and flavors.
The menu will change with the season. Mullins sources as much as he can locally working with Belleville Brothers Market and Rheim Farms.
Mullins said they also bake their own bread.
The appetizers include pork belly bites, mussels in mustard sauce, tacos with ale-braised pork butt, blackened chicken livers with a house giardiniera, and Middle-Eastern spiced black beans.
Entrees include Moroccan fried chicken, pulled pork sliders, a grilled hake served with mashed Kennebec potatoes, parsnips, and turnips, and a 30-day dry-aged cowboy-crusted ribeye also served with the mashed root vegetables.
And how is beer worked into the desserts? Well, there’s blueberry beer whipped cream, stout in the chocolate sauce, and the Falcon Ale in the caramel.
Sugar Ridge Brewery will have a laid back atmosphere attracting an adult crowd, Mullins said.
Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m.