Kyle Hackbarth is co-founder of Cartridge Brewing in Kings Mills, but he could certainly add “ghostbuster” to his title.
“We wanted to truly build a community-centric, welcoming of all types and all people whether they’re right off the bike path or out of a canoe on the river, that you are welcome here,” Hackbarth says in Chapter 2 of Cartridge Brewing’s “Our Story” video. His words resonate like a priest giving a house blessing, warding off evil spirits and inviting a positive future. If that was the intention, it appears to have worked.
The brewery that Hackbarth founded along with partner Anthony Cook comes from what many would call a haunted past. Built in the 1860s, the large building complex was established to support the Peters Cartridge Company. The factory began by producing shot and cannonballs for the Union Army during the Civil War, and then continued to produce American munitions into the 1950s. And, as one can assume given the danger of producing such a product, the factory was not without its share of accidents and deaths.
By the time of my teen years in the late 80’s, Peters was an abandoned shell of a building referred to as “the old powder factory”, the subject of local ghost-story lore. During the dark drive-by’s along Grandin Road in our thrill-seeking teen years, the driver would slow to a crawl past the legendary location. The back seat would ring with screams that quickly turned to laughter as the car sped off. In those days, I doubt any of us could have imagined that we’d one day be back, feeling relaxed and happy while toasting glasses filled with local-brewed goodness.
The Revival of Peters Cartridge Factory
Thanks to a long-time dream on the part of Hackbarth along with the vision and guidance of Cook, the only ghosts that remain are in the stories. For locals like me, watching the transformation that has occurred over many months during the revival of the Peters Cartridge Factory building is nothing short of a redemption experience. Knowing the history of the factory and its importance to the livelihood of many, including my husband’s great grandfather, witnessing the ghostly shell transformed into a new opportunity to build community is both root affirming and soul satisfying.
Now completely revitalized, the brewery is holding true to its goal to “capture the history of the space and honor its unique past – brewing its future while restoring it to its place as a vibrant, vital part of our community.” Some may breeze over the words on Cartridge Brewing’s website or dismiss them as marketing fluff. In the hearts of locals, though, the message is taken to heart. What was once a skeletal reminder of a disastrous history is now an opportunity to see how far we’ve come and feel inspired to a more hopeful future. On the heels of a pandemic year, that’s a feeling we are all in desperate need of.
Fulfilling Day Trips and Delightful Dinner Dates
For those experiencing the Kings Mills area around Cartridge Brewing for the first time, you will find it a huge opportunity to get a taste of, and possibly develop a taste for, the unique character and culture that is rooted deep in the banks of the Little Miami River and those who call the region home.
First, there is the enjoyment of the outdoors. If you head to Cartridge Brewing you may want to plan it around biking on the bike path or canoeing/kayaking on the river. There are bike racks, outdoor seating, and a large open indoor seating area that is casual enough to feel at home in river sandals or bike helmet hair. On one weeknight visit, we biked from the brewery to Loveland and back (roughly an hour) and then enjoyed dinner at the brewery before returning home for the evening.
On the flip side, Cartridge Brewing is also an appropriate venue for a fun date night or gathering of family and friends. A stroll along the bike path before or after transforms lunch or dinner into an event. The bike path is also conducive to walking (or skating/scootering/skateboarding) and in general, everyone remains courteously aware of each other and does their best to follow the rules and share the space.
A Winning Combo of Good Eats and Local Brews
In addition to a long list of craft brews sure to please any palate, Cartridge Brewing serves up plenty of their popular Pathfinder Ale, the 2020 Ohio Craft Brewers Cup Bronze Medal Winner for an American pale ale. One of my personal faves is the Schofield Coconut Stout, which pairs perfect with their Arugula Salad.
There is absolutely everything on their menu for every mood and whim, from carb-loading on Mac n’ cheese or loaded fries before your ride, to a satisfying Bacon Beer Cheeseburger or Detroit-style pan pizza after. Nothing we have tried has disappointed–and we keep going back to try more on the menu!
Before You Go
A Visit to Cartridge Brewing is fun and relaxing, but there are a few things to note before you go. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll need at least one person to arrive and put your name in. Also, the restaurant is not dog-friendly, so leave the pooch as home. For more FAQ’s about Cartridge Brewing before you go, click here.
You can also check out Cartridge Brewing’s upcoming events, including Saturday workouts, Tuesday night “Singo”, and a paired dinner.
Love to check out local food and drink? Get more delicious ideas for your next bite or beverage here.
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