On a snowy Sunday in mid-January, how about some Tequila Aged Stout to warm up your insides? I imagine the look on your face is probably the same one I made when I was reading the beer list on the wall at Lucky Star Brewery. Who on earth would brew a stout in a tequila barrel? Verdict: don’t knock it until you try it.
I obviously won’t say the “riding season is over” but with a thick layer of salt on the asphalt, along with polar temperatures, I’m back to expanding my waistline in the pursuit of entertaining the masses. In recent days a few potential Pubs and Street Eats locations have been weighed and measured, but found wanting, however Lucky Star made the cut with some decent Mexican fare, and some the most unorthodox beers I’ve ever had.
For those unfamiliar, the owner of Lucky Star renovated a 170 year old building in downtown Miamisburg, opening the doors of the brewery in 2014. I’m quite the frequenter to Miamisburg considering its motorcycle friendly neighborhood combined with some decent, privately owned, establishments in the revitalized downtown area. Walking into the “Lucky Star Brewery and Cantina”, I was rapidly greeted with smiles and a friendly staff. Perhaps a side effect of my upbringing, I’m a “grab a seat at the bar” kind of person; so I occupied a stool while I waited for some friends to join me. Gazing across the bar, I was perusing the beer list when the bartender snagged my attention to let me know they also do beer flights. Walking into the place, I knew virtually nothing of the establishment short of the words “brewery” & “Cantina”, so a flight was definitely the way to go. For a mere $7.50, newcomers can enjoy six, four-ounce pours of anything on the beer list. Coors Light connoisseurs may find $7.50 a bit steep for draught beer, but 24 ounces of craft brew for under eight bucks is a fair price in my book. As previously stated, I’m a card carrying beer snob, but make no mistake, I don’t turn down PBR on draught. At any rate, I like my beer like used motor oil, so I typically start with the darkest brews first.
Lucky number 15 on the list was “Te Ke La Mutha”, apparently a Tequila Aged Stout. I’ve never heard of such a thing, but it seemed like a ripe candidate along with “Wicked Mutha”, a sweet stout. Honestly the Tequila Stout was almost as odd as its name; very smooth among stout beers, with almost a flavor of “Tex Mex” if such a thing is possible. Very unorthodox, but honestly that made it memorable. The “Wicked Mutha” Sweet Stout was also satisfyingly Smooth, but regrettably unremarkable; I suspect that it was on the verge of being flat, that probably played a role. That said, on a normal day, I expect that the sweet stout is probably a good intro beer for folks working up to dark beers; although I might recommend something with more bold vanilla flavors. Moving down the spectrum I also tried the “Pour’N Ur Wookie” Red Double IPA. Normally I shy away from IPA, too hoppy for my taste, but like Oskar Blues “G’Knight”, I really enjoyed Lucky Star’s rendition of Red IPA, enough bold flavor that I didn’t feel overwhelmed with hops.
Taking a break from the beer tasting, there was also an abbreviated menu to choose from. These days micro-breweries seem to be popping up all over town, no complaints by me, however many of them have no kitchen, which makes even a short menu is a welcome addition. If I recall correctly, the bartender mentioned that a lot of the ingredients are made fresh in-house, however I was overly distracted by trying to match the numbers on my beer flight with the names on the wall and missed that detail (failed you again…). At any rate, She also told me the Sunday special was sliders served with chile con queso & Anaheim peppers. I certainly couldn’t pass up the special, but I also threw in a chicken quesadilla and chorizo taco to get the full “experience”. The chicken quesadillas were the typical cheesy American fare I would normally expect, but dipped in some of the home made salsa, green Habenaro or Red “mild”, it did hit the spot. After my so-so chicken taco experience at the famous Taco Truck, I decided to stick with the unfamiliar and try a chorizo taco. I’ve never had chorizo, to my knowledge, but the Mexican sausage turned out to be a winner. The tacos were traditional home baked shells, not the ultra-crispy deals you get at Taco Bell. A little lettuce and sausage (chorizo) and it was a solid choice for $2. The special didn’t disappoint either; three beef sliders slathered in chile con queso with hint of heat from the mild Anaheim peppers, delish! Coming back to check on our meal, the bartender mentioned that Tuesday night is “Taco Tuesday”, one dollar tacos and the menu is expanded to include fish tacos, among others. Thursday night is also apparently 69 cent wing night, making it another worthy weeknight destination; I do love me some hot wings…
Grazing over the Mexican fare on my plate, I moved on to the other beers from my flight. To my knowledge I had also never had a saison beer until this visit. If the name “Ball and Chain” isn’t enough to spur your interest, the saison was pretty stellar, in fact it was probably the champion of the six beers I tasted. Funny actually, as the bartender practically had to talk me into it, despite my preference to dark beers, it didn’t disappoint. I would say the saison was very comparable to a traditional wheat beer, but far more “complex” which really made it shine. I also tried the Belgian strong ale, aptly named “The Belgian”. The Belgian was good; very traditional in my opinion, not unlike Blue Moon, but unfortunately it was simply overshadowed by the saison. And then there was that one… the “Nector of the Gods” grape beer. If you woke me that Sunday morning and told me I was about to enjoy a fruit beer, I would have laughed in your face… for like ten minutes solid! Blueberry this, pear that… no. Not No but… wait a minute, that grape beer was amazing! Stunned, I was, simply… stunned. Fruit beers are typically garbage in my option… well until I found Lucky Star Brewery. Look, I’m not giving up Dragon’s Milk or Ten Ton Oatmeal Stout anytime soon, but for dessert, this Nector of the Gods deserves some street credit. Somewhere in the middle of all this tasting the bartender also mentioned that Lucky Star has a competitive pumpkin beer in the Fall. Pumpkin beer is almost as bad as blueberry beer as far as I’m concerned, but after having my mind blown by this mystical grape beer, I’m going to mark my calendar, we’ll see if my expectations can again be shattered…
Beyond the six beers I tasted, the beer list also contained a couple Mexican lagers, which seemed like a good staple and middle of the road beer for non-craft beer aficionados; while they also help fulfill the Mexican theme that really sets Lucky Star apart from a lot of the local pubs and micro-breweries. They also have a honey wheat and kolsch that I want to try, and there’s also a “chili” beer that I might build up the nerve to taste. If you’re passing through south of town, I recommend stopping in for a taste and maybe a taco (Open Sun-Thurs until 10PM, weekends until midnight). I imagine I’ll be back to figure out what these wings and fish tacos are all about. Hopefully I’ll even hear a little more about the history of the building, and maybe even meet the brewers.