Dam Brewhaus in Marshall County will begin brewing its beer in-house

DEREK OPERLE | The Sun

Stefany Carroll pours a beer for eager customers Sunday at Marshall County's Dam Brewhaus -- a Benton taproom that acquired its license to brew beer June 6. Jeff and Sheri Swatzell, the business's owners, hope to have the first batch of in-house beers available by late June or early July.

BENTON -- Marshall County's craft beer outpost, the Dam Brewhaus, is really pouring it on now. With two years of serving suds in Benton under its belt, the business acquired its brewing license June 6 and plans to start producing its own product.

In a county that was "dry" -- the sale of alcoholic beverages was legally prohibited -- until just four years ago, this is a big decision, but for Jeff and Sheri Swatzell, the taphouse's owners, it's just the next logical step.

The launch of the business in April 2017, Jeff jokes, was sparked by a "moment of insanity" and a good opportunity.

"There wasn't a taphouse in Marshall County and they had just went wet," recalled Sheri. "Why not take the chance and jump on it?"

Community support for the taphouse, Sheri said, has been "overwhelming" and the business has welcomed visitors from as far afield as Germany and Switzerland, in addition to people from across the country who come to visit the Kentucky Lake area.

"We've just tried to carve a little niche in the county and we're still carving, apparently," Jeff said. "With the help of the whole team, everybody here has helped bring craft beer in Marshall County to the forefront."

First up on the brewing docket is a blonde ale, likely to be called the Dam Dirty Blonde, which Jeff hopes will be one of the business's staples moving forward, along with an IPA and an Irish Red. The first batch of brews, Jeff hopes, will be on tap in late June or early July, with the intent of keeping three in-house brews on tap going forward.

"We want to start out small and then, just like everything else, we'll shoot from the hip," Jeff said.

Set in a renovated house on the side of U.S. 641, the Benton watering hole is truly a public house, as the Swatzells, along with their five employees, have worked to make the Dam Brewhaus a welcoming environment where people can just hang out.

"It's a very laid-back scene where you can just come in and have a conversation. We don't have TVs blaring," Sheri said. "We do have music and on the weekends live music. There's a great outdoors setup and people can bring their dogs."

The staff tries to keep as many events on schedule as possible, with annual ones like the Dam Brewfest in September and their Hog Roast in October, as well as weekend specials in their kitchen, run by Brenda English and Kim Boss. To keep track of what's going on at the Dam Brewhaus, visit the business's Facebook page.

More importantly, in the Swatzells' eyes, the Dam Brewhaus is a place for unfamiliar consumers to learn about craft beer.

"We were the only ones in the county that served craft when we opened this place. There's a lot of those people that were your Busch and Bud Lite drinkers that are now craft because they've been introduced to it," Jeff explained. "We started selling commercial beer and using it as an educational tool. You have to start somewhere.

"If you're a beer drinker, we can find you something that you'll like."

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