In the fall of 2017, seasoned consumer packaged goods marketing and general management professional Michael Burton founded 16 Lots Brewing Co. in Mason, Ohio. Del Hall, aka Sgt. Del, the Real American Beer-O and the Ohio Beer Fasting Man, joined Burton in 2020 as co-owner and chief commercial officer with a big vision of bringing the brand to Cincinnati’s back yard; about half an hour south of the 16 Lots HQ. After three years of conceptualizing and developing the Indiana Jones-meets-Disney’s National Treasure-themed brewery, the pair celebrated the grand opening of 16 Lots’ Southern Outpost at Newport on the Levee in mid-May, restoring the old Jefferson Hall space to its former glory.

Dedicated to beer exploration, romance and knowledge, 16 Lots’ Southern Outpost is a welcome reprieve from the everyday world. The 7,700-square-foot brewery is an ode to nautical travel and features design elements found in various corners of the country. Boasting a 2,000-square-foot patio with stunning views of downtown Cincinnati and the Ohio River, a cigar lounge, and stage for live music, the Southern Outpost has no shortage of entertainment offerings. Its menu includes craft beer, cocktails, and boozy slushies along with upscale, approachable pub food available Tuesday through Sunday. 

Sgt. Del sat down with us to talk about his new home base and the thoughtfulness that went into bringing this passion project to life. 

Talk us through all the unique design elements and experiences guests can enjoy at 16 Lots’ Southern Outpost. 

There’s so many…so I’ll just hit the highlights! Drawing inspiration from our location along the Riverwalk, we designed the Southern Outpost with a coastal mindset. Quick science lesson for you: anything near the water, whether salt or fresh, ages nicely and often ends up weathered, forming a beautiful green film (especially on copper or bronze material) known as patina – a style we focused heavily on incorporating throughout the space to give it that genuine nautical feel. You’ll see 25-year-old rope with a cool, natural patina that I found near Lake Eerie after it was abandoned in the New York City Harbor used as décor. Our brickwork is limewashed and has a verdigris patina applied, too. We even used a special effect copper paint throughout the space that has real copper in it so that it will acquire patina the same as solid copper! And pay attention to the mural in the Gallery – the center of our logo is painted using this same technique. 

Since our motto is “Exploration through Beer and Food,” we installed a world map where guests can mark their visit with us by pinning their country’s flag up. It’s our little gesture to celebrate cultures around the globe. I also scavenged thrift stores and antique villages throughout the U.S. looking for unique memorabilia that highlights our exploration theme. Stop by to see us and make sure your colors are flying!

What about the sea creature mural and its backstory?

The story of Tentakle’s tentacles?! The brief history is that Tentakle is a sea monster who lived in the Atlantic Ocean. He was caught in New York City and the powers-that-be had him bound by heavy nautical rope. He managed to escape his captors but was never able to remove all the rope they used to tie him up. He made his way from NYC to Buffalo and down through the rivers, canals, and locks in Ohio, until he settled in the depths of the Ohio River. 

Tentakle discovered a taste for beer throughout his long journey and would often sneak a cold one from the coolers of people fishing along the banks. One day, a group of folks fishing on the Ohio saw a rope-covered tentacle stealing a beer from their cooler. Instead of being afraid, these kind people removed all the rope from Tentakle’s tentacles that he had carried for so many miles.

I came upon this nautical rope and used it throughout my brewery! Now that Tentakle has found a home at the Levee, he slithers a tentacle – or five – through the brewery at night looking for a tasty beer. I have no problem with that because he’s such a gentle creature, but he does seem to leave his mark on LOTS of things because everything has a certain patina on it here at the 16 Lots Southern Outpost! 

Is your beer brewed in-house? And if so, how many beers do you make and serve? 

Absolutely! That’s the big difference in a bar or restaurant versus an actual brewery. First and foremost, we are a manufacturer of beer, cider, and other malt beverages. Brewing beer is a process that takes a lot of time and tank space. Currently we have eight beers and two seltzers on tap, but we have the capability for up to 24 different flavors on draft at any given time. I’m certain it won’t take Josh Wilson, our Brewmaster, very long to fill every one of the tap lines.

Are there any differences between the 16 Lots Southern Outpost and the original location in Mason?

“LOTS” of differences! Sorry, couldn’t help myself there. The original 16 Lots represents our genesis and is designed around the founder of Mason, Ohio, Major William Mason, who surveyed the first “16 Lots” of land along Muddy Creek that later became the City. When we first started talking about expanding, we knew an update to the logo was needed since it initially focused on the surveyor’s transit. As conversations progressed and we set sail toward opening a second spot closer to the heart of Cincinnati, we landed on using a compass to illustrate the varying geographies in which 16 Lots had roots. The elemental symbol for north is “land,” and the symbol for south is “water” (a nod to the way it runs and the nearby Ohio River), hence the emblem choice to encompass both our HQ as well as the Southern Outpost. That new visual identity then inspired the Levee’s nautical theme…and the rest is history! Additionally, the food offerings are vastly different. In Mason we serve a wide variety of pizzas whereas the Newport menu focuses on approachable pub food and snacks like pretzel bites, wings, and crispy brussels. The brewing system on the other hand is almost identical; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, am I right?!    

Learn more about 16 Lots’ Southern Outpost and watch Del’s segment on Kickin’ it with Ken here