Star City suds

Miamisburg’s craft beer scene foams over

Photo: A fine selection of craft beer at Lucky Star Brewery

By David Nilsen

Off the beaten path at the southwest edge of Dayton sits a beer lover’s hidden gem within this Gem City. Miamisburg combines small town charm with big city offerings in their historic, revitalized downtown district, and features two craft breweries within a block of each other.

When Star City Brewing (319 S. Second St.) opened their doors in November 2013 as the first Miamisburg craft brewery, they joined a long line of historic businesses to reside at that address. Their building was erected in 1828 as a mill drawing power from the Miami-Erie Canal, which ran right behind the current building. Stones from the canal lock that once operated behind the site have been incorporated as floor stones in one of the many cozy drinking rooms in Star City’s labyrinthine interior.

In 1929, the building was repurposed as the Peerless Inn restaurant, which was one of the Dayton area’s favorite eating establishments until closing in 2008. Star City co-owner Justin Kohnen hopes his brewery becomes just as integral to this town of 20,000 as the Inn once was, and it’s already well on its way. Even weekday evenings see a crowd of laid-back regulars trading jokes at the bar or enjoying the summer weather on the patio.

“We brew working men’s beer with character,” says Kohnen, and Star City’s beer list reflects the same eclectic but unpretentious atmosphere found in their taproom. Draft offerings at the time of this writing included everything from a German Hefeweizen to a Scottish wee heavy to an American double IPA, and their smoked porter was especially noteworthy. Star City also sells their own wines under the Peerless Mill label, and if you have the kids with you when you visit, there’s even a housemade, non-alcoholic “Butter Beer.” There are no food offerings on site, but food trucks frequent the brewery.

Just down the street, the folks at Lucky Star Brewery (219 S. Second St.) are dancing to their own beat while fostering a similarly laid-back vibe. Since opening in August 2014, owners Ana and Glenn Perrine have created a unique atmosphere in their brewpub, which is outfitted as a Mexican cantina. Bright colors match the lively mood, and live music and open mic nights make this a fun place to knock back a few beers.

With their brewery housed in a 170-year-old warehouse once used to manufacture farm equipment, Lucky Star owners Ana and Glenn Perrine seek to honor Miamisburg’s past while providing a unique new environment for its beer fans. Many of the accoutrements of the inviting bar space come from repurposed barn wood, and the bar itself was constructed from the building’s original wood siding. “We definitely picked the perfect home for Lucky Star,” says Ana.

While Lucky Star’s beers showcase a variety of styles and national origins, it’s their easy-drinking lagers you should pay attention to. Ojos Locos, a Mexican-style lager, and its variants Ojos Limey and La Chica (cherry) are seasonable enough to last through a long evening in the vibrant taproom or on the patio out back. They also pair great with Lucky Star’s Mexican-inspired bar snacks like tacos or chips with housemade salsa.

While Miamisburg’s locals might be spoiled with two breweries in town, that’s not where the town’s growing beer scene stops. If you’re looking for a tasty meal before heading to one of the breweries but see no need to delay your beer intake, head to Bullwinkle’s Top Hat Bistro at 19 N. Main St. Founded in 1986, Bullwinkle’s has the lived-in warmth of a college bar but with top-notch food ranging from barbecue to burgers to seafood. Their 20 taps pour national brands along with about a dozen craft options ranging from big names like Dogfish Head and Southern Tier to local favorites Warped Wing, Lucky Star, and Star City.

Just down the street, A Taste of Wine (90 S. Main St.) offers more than just vino, though for now options are limited to canned offerings from Ohio favorites Fat Head’s, Rhinegeist, and Warped Wing and three taps pouring national brands. Discussions are taking place with Star City to begin pouring hometown suds in this wine temple soon, however. Across the street, Dayton-area chain TJ Chumps (12 E. Linden Ave.) devotes a few tap handles to locals like Warped Wing and Dayton Beer Company, and offers a covered outdoor seating area for enjoying these final weeks of summer. Hometown favorite Ron’s Pizza (1 S. Main St.) pours Warped Wing and MadTree on draft and has numerous canned and bottled craft offerings.

Dayton is exploding with great craft beer, but not all of it is downtown or in the Oregon District. Take a trek south to where this charming neighborhood sits on the banks of the Great Miami River and spend a quiet weekday evening, lively Friday night, or lazy weekend afternoon enjoying Miamisburg’s thriving beer scene.

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David Nilsen is a beer writer living with his wife and daughter in Greenville. He is a Certified Cicerone and National Book Critics Circle member. You can follow him at and reach him at

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