Bottoms Up: Old Mill Brew Pub
After running several successful craft beer pubs in the Northeast, John Clinger and his family moved from Pennsylvania to Lexington in 2005 for a change of pace.
But once Clinger found what he considered a lack of craft beer in town, he set out to remedy that.
In 2013 Clinger and his wife, Kelly, opened the Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington, one of a handful of businesses that occupy space at the Old Mill. For close to two years, they enjoyed waterfront views provided by the adjacent dam. But that changed last fall, when the dam broke during historic flooding in the Midlands.
“The parking lot, which was well above grade, was completely filled and filling in the whole mill,” Clinger said. “The biggest impact that we had over everybody is the corner of the mill that supported our brewing equipment was devastated. The flooding almost created a cave underneath it. The concrete slab that was holding was precariously held together by this brick wall, which was barely hanging on.”
After three weeks of labor-intensive 16-hour days and an outpouring of support from the Lexington community, the brewpub was able to reopen its doors.
“In all my life, I’ve never seen such considerate, unselfish people,” he said. “Anybody who had the ability to help out in whatever capacity they could were here. We had more people than we had things for them to do.”
Now, the restaurant and bar are back to focusing on what good food and great beer. In under three years, they have brewed 60 different beers.
“Our head brewer, Matt Rogers, is phenomenal,” said Clinger. “Every beer he touches … he’s got the Midas touch.”
Five in-house brewed beers are featured among the 24 beers on tap, which will last anywhere from three to five days – just long enough for everyone to get a taste.
“Craft beer enthusiasts are the most disloyal … they want everything that’s new,” said Clinger. “That’s why we constantly rotate our spigots. We are always trying to stay one step ahead.”
The bar’s manager, Doug, chooses the wines and spirits served.
“We’ve been nominated for best martini, even though it’s a low percentage of what we make here,” said Clinger. “Our biggest selling drink is the Moscow mule. It’s extremely popular. It’s the meddling of the ginger beer, Russian standard vodka and lime.”
Clinger is looking forward to the day water is reintroduced into Old Mill Brewpub’s backyard view. But until then he’s just happy to have his head – and brewpub – above water.
“I can’t thank the population around Lexington enough,” he said. “It’s an ugly-looking land mass out there with no water in it, and they still come out and support us. They’ve been amazing.”
Old Mill Brewpub
WHERE: 711 E. Main St., Lexington
WHEN: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday
WORTH NOTING: Wednesday night, Bingo. Thursday night, Freeway Music live acts. A flood anniversary beer dinner ($60) will be Wednesday, Oct. 5. The brewpub is helping to spearhead the first Lexington craft beer festival Saturday, Oct. 15 ($30).