Jim Stutzman and his wife, Julie, are busy trying to keep up with the demand for the beer they make at Lazy Horse Brewing. Business is booming in Ohiowa, Nebraska.
The other thing that keeps them busy? Explaining to folks that there really is an Ohiowa, Nebraska.
“At every beer fest we go to, we answer that question probably 100 times,” Stutzman said. “We had to make a map so we can just show them where Ohiowa is. It’s an out-of-the-way little town that nobody in Nebraska knows about.”
Ohiowa is a village in Fillmore County not far from Tobias and Lone Star Recreation Area. It’s on Road 20 between Highway 74 and Highway 4. Population: 112.
Ohiowa is for real. So is the emergence of Lazy Horse as a major player on the Nebraska beer scene.
“We expected to mainly do the beer through the taproom,” Stutzman said. “A couple of years ago, a distributor approached us and said there was some demand for our beer. We turned them down and said we didn’t want to go in that direction. They stayed with us. A few of the Hy-Vee stores and bigger retailers started contacting us, and we made the decision to expand.”
Now you can find Lazy Horse in stores and brew pubs all over the state.
Lazy Horse’s top sellers are their Blood Orange, Reckless and Salted Caramel beers. Their Coffee Kolsch and Cucumber Kolsch are also popular.
“We try to do different things to keep it interesting,” Stutzman said.
It’s all quite interesting when you consider that two University of Nebraska-Lincoln animal science majors and former cattle ranchers have become successful beer makers. Jim, who is from Cairo, Nebraska, is the brewer. Julie, who grew up in Ohiowa, handles most of the financial and business end. They have one full-time employee and several part-time helpers.
Lazy Horse, which opened in September 2015, also has a vineyard and wine business.
“We don’t focus on the wines as much,” Jim said. “The brewery has sort of overshadowed it. We will always have wines, because it’s a nice fit with the brewery to also have Nebraska wines. It just makes a good partnership.”
Their place in Ohiowa, which sits on 80 acres, offers wood-fired pizza and other menu items. Half of the land is beer garden.
“We have a pretty unique venue out here to give people an experience they will enjoy.”
They are giving people a good reason to visit Ohiowa and an even better reason to say, “I’ll have a Lazy Horse,” when visiting their favorite beer spot.
“Right now we’re just trying to keep up and figure out which direction we are going,” Jim said. “We are trying to stay flexible. Our main goal is to just give the customers what they want, and not expect them to be satisfied with what we think they want.”