New Fantasy-Themed Craft Brewery and Meadery Fabled Brew Works Opening in Erlanger

The unique tap list places its focus on stouts, dessert-inspired sours and mead.

click to enlarge Fabled Brew Works - Photo: Katherine Barrier
Photo: Katherine Barrier
Fabled Brew Works
In fantasy literature, all the best quests begin in a tavern. It’s where villagers gather ‘round tables with mead in hand, trading tales, or where a weary traveler stops for a drink and meal only to have their plans upturned by a wizened, old man with a task only they can do. These taverns are in the heart of the setting and the story, because, as the founders of Fabled Brew Works in Erlanger understand, taverns – or, in their case, a brewery – are more than just drinking establishments.

“Having a beer is an opportunity to share with family, a chance to trade tales with friends, and a vessel to toast an accomplishment at the end of an epic journey,” the Fabled Brew Works team said in a press release.

A small craft brewery and meadery opening June 1, Fabled Brew Works’ story begins with our main characters: Kent Wessels, Jon Lawlor, Mike Turvey, Aaron Daniele and John Ewers – five friends who love a good beer.

Lawlor says they’ve been traveling around the country nearly eight years trying different breweries and beer styles, and they wanted to bring that experience to the Cincinnati area.

“We wanted to bring similar styles that we’ve seen in other places – Florida, Virginia, California. A lot of breweries nationwide do different styles and do different things that places around here didn’t,” Lawlor told CityBeat. “Our head brewer [John Ewers] has done similar styles to that over his career, so that was the first intention was to create a place that offered different beer styles and choices than were in the geographic area.”

The idea to craft those kinds of beers in the fantasy-folklore concept that is Fabled Brew Works came from the team wanting to differentiate themselves from the other breweries in the area, as well as honoring the stories they grew up with.

“We wanted to do something that allowed people to be more involved and more comfortable and more immersed in something than just your same kind of aesthetic you see,” Lawlor said.

What came from that is a sylvan-like taproom that looks like it sprung from between the pages of a storybook – a fantasy forest that leads to the door of a thatched-roof cottage, a half-timbered storefront with books in its “windows” and an apothecary. A hollowed tree sits behind the bar. You almost feel like the hero or heroine about to embark on an epic journey.

And those elements of fantasy, folklore and myths also make their way onto the tap list, featuring brews with names like Gnome Sayin’ (a hazy IPA) and Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum, a series of ice cream-inspired imperial fruited sours (peach pie, coconut cream pie, key lime pie and blackberry cobbler, respectively). The brewery and meadery put its focus on fruit-forward beers and things you don’t find a whole lot of in the region: bold stouts, meads and dessert-inspired varieties.

“We want to have traditionals that meet the standard styles that other places offer so you don’t alienate anybody looking for your lagers, your pilsners,” said Lawlor. “But then from all of our traveling and what we like personally, you get your sours … Ice cream sours, Berliner Weisses – very fruit-forward beers – New England IPAs, milkshake IPAs and then stouts – more heavily flavored stuff. We’re going to get into barrel-aged stuff as quickly as we can, and then we have our mead.”

click to enlarge Lawlor behind the bar at Fabled Brew Works - Photo: Katherine Barrier
Photo: Katherine Barrier
Lawlor behind the bar at Fabled Brew Works

While Ewers heads up the beer brewing on-site in a seven-barrel system, Brad Ryles is in charge of the mead, which is similar to a sweet honey wine. An experience mead brewer, Ryles helped Listermann Brewing Company start up their mead program and formerly owned the Lebanon meadery, Dysfunctional Delights.

Apart from the taproom, Fabled Brew Works also has an outdoor patio and they’ll have a rotation of food trucks Thursday through Sunday. Lawlor says they have limited space, but they’re hoping to add game nights or trivia into the mix in the future.

But above all else, the treasure at the end of the journey to Fabled Brew Works’ opening day for this fellowship is making sure their patrons have an experience that keeps bringing them back again and again, just like a good story.

“I hope guests get their favorite beers in the area, first and foremost, but secondarily, at least a unique experience. The phrase ‘haven’t seen that before’ would be nice to hear a lot because, hopefully, that’s true. We try to incorporate a lot of unique stuff that you’re not going to find elsewhere,” Lawlor said.

Fabled Brew Works opens Thursday, June 1 at noon.

Fabled Brew Works, 331 Kenton Lands Road, Erlanger. More info:
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