Saturday, August 1, 2015

Amish Country Brew Pub

Jim and I visited Ohio's Amish country a couple of years ago.  When we recently realized the area now has not only beautiful farms and scenery but also a brew pub, obviously we had to make a second trip. So Thursday we headed toward Holmes County, the center of the largest Amish community in the world.

First we drove to Kidron, just north of Holmes County and advertised as home to Ohio's oldest livestock market. The Kidron Auction is held every Thursday; Hereford cows and Holstein male feeders were on the auction block. Although I grew up on a farm, I wasn't sure what the term "male feeder" meant, although I should have been able to guess: male feeders are castrated cattle purchased to fatten up before slaughter. So sorry, guys.

The indoor auction hall consisted of a half circle of tiered platforms holding folding chairs and facing a small pen. The hall probably could have held two hundred people if you got all cozy.  Most of the attendees had to be Amish or old order Mennonites as beards, hats, bonnets, dark clothing and bare-footed-kids were everywhere. 

One by one the action folks brought in cattle, a helper poked the animal with a stick so it would move and people could view it from all angles, the auctioneer chattered, and someone made a purchase without a visible (to us) nod or raise of the hand. The poking and prodding bothered Jim, so we left after two cows - thankfully without accidentally buying either one. But later we did get a half peck of peaches from a Mennonite family.

Then we drove through Berlin, Ohio, in the heart of Holmes County. What a traffic jam. I'm guessing anyone navigating a buggy avoids downtown Berlin. We didn't stop, other than when vehicles were at a standstill. If you like browsing in gift, antique, quilting and cheese shops, it looks like the place to be.

Then it was on to Millersburg. Millersburg is a pretty town of about 3,000 people and the Holmes county seat. It has an imposing town hall and a gracious-looking brick building that was once a jail but now houses local government offices. I don't know anything about Holmes County politics, but maybe that's appropriate. We walked around town and then headed for Millersburg Brewing Company.

First, despite a prim appearance, I don't believe the Amish have a blanket prohibition against imbibing. However, the Millersburg Brewing Company is not owned or run by the Amish.  But then again, you probably didn't think it was.

If you want food at the brewery, you can buy a plate of trail bologna and Swiss cheese. We passed. Later that got me to thinking: What the heck is trail bologna?  Apparently it's bologna that's been made in nearby Trail, Ohio, since 1912. Trail is also known as Dundee, Ohio, because Trail is too small to have it's own post office. If you want, you can take your own beef or venison to Trail and have it ground into bologna.  Good to know.

As for the beer: Jim tried the Major Holmes IPA and ordered a glass of the French Ridge IPA; both were only OK, he said.  I had tastes of the Imperial Pumpkin Ale and the State Route 39 Stout. I and liked them both -- so I ordered a glass of the two mixed half and half. Very good.

One more thing:  When I was a kid, an Amish couple and their children lived on our farm in a former chicken house remodeled by my dad.  Their names were Nevin and Emma Byler and Nevin worked on our farm.  Nevin, Emma, and kids:  If you are out there somewhere we still think of you. Hope all is well.

Home of the Kidron Auction.
A line of bonnets at the Kidron Town and Country Store next to the auction house.  The Amish I'm familiar with do not wear printed fabrics.  But there are many different Amish and Mennonite sects with different rules/traditions and apparently someone out there wants these bonnets.  Or maybe they are purchased by tourists.
Waiting cattle at the Kidron Auction.  When I was a kid my dad bought a Shetland pony for me from the Kidron Auction, and later bought some sheep for me. Mom remembers that he sold calves there.
Horses and buggies waiting for drivers to return from the Kidron Auction.  

An Amish man with a horse-drawn rake. I read that Holmes County is 42 percent Amish and that in about 15 years it may be the first majority Amish county in the country. 

The Holmes County Commissioners have their offices in this former jail in Millersburg, Ohio.
The taller building in the middle is the Millersburg Brewing Company in Millersburg, Ohio. It opened in 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment