America’s first strip club brewpub
By Kevin J. Gray
Photo: Nova and Prue, two employees of Pinups and Pints, sample the beer
It started as a bizarre phone call from my editor: “We need to push back your column by a week, but we have another story for you,” she explained. “It’s for our annual Sex Issue.” Pause. “Apparently, there’s a gentleman’s club that is now brewing its own beer. We need you to go investigate.”
A microbrewing topless bar? Who gets assignments like this?
The club in question is Pinups and Pints. Attuned to Dayton’s brewing scene, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it. I was skeptical; so, I began my research.
The club is in Medway, just north of where I-675 dead-ends into I-70. I had never been to Medway, but it struck me as a sleepy little farm town just outside the ’burbs. My thoughts about strip clubs in tiny farm towns were not kind, but I tried to keep an open mind.
So, I dug deeper. Turns out, there are whole sites devoted to rating strip clubs. Think Yelp for nudie clubs. While I couldn’t find Pinups and Pints, I could find a club at the same address – Baby Dolls. I will spare the reader quotes from the somewhat incomprehensible – and almost always misogynistic – reviews, but suffice it to say, the reviews weren’t good.
At a bit of a loss as to how to cover this story, I called my editor. She recommended I talk to the publisher. When I got him on the phone, he offered some direction. Go in and meet the owner, get a feel for the place.
“Go have a good time. Find out about their beer, interview some of the entertainers.”
“This is going to be a shit show, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Go into it with an open mind,” he chided. “You might be surprised.”
My publisher gave me the number for Scott Conrad, the club’s owner. I called Conrad, who was more than happy to oblige, and arranged a visit for me to come with a few friends that Saturday.
So, four of us, including me, a fellow beer geek, a local brewer and the owner of a local beer-forward establishment, trekked to Medway, all expecting the worst.
“Wouldn’t it be weird,” one of us remarked, “if we got to the club and it was nice inside? Weirder still, if the beer was good and the entertainers were actually, well, entertaining?”
And that might be the weirdest part of the whole story.
When we pulled up, we were immediately surprised by the façade. The lighting was high-end, and the club looked out of place, like it belonged in some bigger, booming town. Inside, the surprises continued. The décor was tasteful and modern. Clearly, it had been recently updated with big, comfortable chairs and ambient lighting. The stage, with its requisite pole and mirrors, was tastefully subdued.
Conrad greeted us inside. He owns Pinups and Pints and is one of the partners behind Diamonds Cabaret, the regionally-famous club in Centerville, as well as Vue Ultra Lounge and Club Masque. We went to the back room, which was where the brewery was housed. The brewery is a small affair – only a 15-gallon set-up, but a SABCO high-end computerized system that homebrewers would certainly kill for.
Conrad confessed he hadn’t been an avid homebrewer, but the idea of making his own beer appealed to him. It also helped to renovate the club. Baby Dolls didn’t have a liquor license, and to get a license through the regional agencies can be tough. However, a brewer’s license is easier to obtain. Pinups and Pints’ type of license is the same one Fifth Street Brewpub, Lock 27 and several other local breweries hold. It allows them to not only brew and serve their own beer, but also to serve a full bar of guest beers, liquor and wine.
Pinup Pale Ale, Conrad’s inaugural beer, was being primed for release that Monday, but we sampled an early release. It was a solid pale ale, a good start on a new system and one that will get better as Conrad works out the kinks in his system. “If I’m going to have it, I might as well make it good,” Conrad explained. He plans to do an Oktoberfest as well, offering two beer styles alongside the full bar.
When asked about the impact the craft beer is having on business, Conrad noted, “It’s been great. We’ve been having people come out for the beer.” Alisha, the bartender, noted a similar occurrence: “People are interested in the beer. It’s fun to have more to offer.”
Overall, we had a great time. What we expected was light years away from what we experienced. With high-quality décor, attractive and enthusiastic entertainers and a solid bar centered around microbrewed flagship offerings, Pinups and Pints seems to have figured out a formula to turn around a struggling gentlemen’s club into something with the possibility of being a regional destination, as well as perhaps the only microbrewing strip club in the country.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com