Juniper Brewing Company in downtown Bowling Green offers 11 house-made craft beers, wine and cocktails, a full coffee bar, and a modern American fare on the restaurant menu.
As part of that American fare, owners Zach and Chris Tracy have created a comfort food that General Manager Beth Dennis said “will make your day.”
Juniper’s Hazy IPA mac and cheese sauce is not for your typical macaroni and cheese dish. Dennis says the IPA adds an extra level of flavor.
“They just wanted a good homemade mac and cheese recipe … a lot of it was to taste and that was how they labeled things,” Dennis said.
“Over the last eight to nine months we really honed it into making it a good mac and cheese sauce. It will stand up to any of the proteins that you put onto it and just has a good, robust flavor.”
It took some work to perfect the dish.
“It’s evolved,” Dennis said. “When I first started, we were using a homemade nacho sauce and it was a little bit spicy, and I said, ‘I don’t want a spicy mac and cheese. I want a nice, hardy comfort food.’
“If you’re having a bad day, mac and cheese is one of those wonder foods that can make you happy. It will make your day.”
If you are worried about the alcoholic content affecting your midday activities, don’t.
“The beer is very mild because they do cook it out,” Dennis said. “You are just getting the flavors of the IPA.”
Adding craft beers, IPAs and other homemade ales is typical for a lot of the menu items at Juniper.
“When they first did the menu, they were trying to incorporate the beer as much as possible,” Dennis said. “Our wings are also soaked in one of the beers, the pretzel mustard has beer in it.
“In our menu, you’ll find that each item has a pairing picked out by Chris and Zach. It (mac and cheese) kind of came to light and it is a good solid recipe. It’s a staple. It’s one of our better sellers.”
Zach Tracy’s brewery
The brewery in the back of the restaurant is Zach Tracy’s baby — he was a teacher in Cleveland Heights, but once he started making his own beer he got hooked. Now, he has a huge brewery to maintain.
Juniper’s Brewing Company co-owners Chris and Zach Tracy.
“It is a big, big space,” Dennis said. “We are a 10-barrel system and it’s just busy, busy, go, go, go and Zach is the brewer and co-owner.
“He got a home brewing kit 12 years ago, and he is a former teacher, former forensic scientist, became a home brewer, went to beer school and the rest is history. It is his passion and love and creating good, craft beer is at the heart of our DNA.”
Dennis’ family owns Incorvia’s Bene Italiano in West Toledo, commonly well-known as Inky’s Italian, so she has been around food service her entire life. She fit well into the Tracy’s scheme soon after they opened Juniper in 2019.
As a result, Dennis guarantees that the proper preparation will always go into an order of Hazy IPA mac and cheese.
“We train them in the correct manner of how to make it, so it is the full flavor,” she said.
The bacon jam that comes on it is also homemade.
“We use the bacon out of Tank’s in Elmore, Ohio, so all of our meat is from them and fresh. People say, ‘You don’t freeze your meat?’ No, our chorizo, our burgers, and our bacon all come in fresh twice a week.’
“They are very good quality, so we’re happy to work with a local community partner and provide the best for our customers. It’s all a nice, tasty bite.”
Little bit of everything
There is much more at Juniper besides the mac and cheese.
“We’re two years young in March and we’re excited to be putting down roots. We’re just trying to be a welcoming home for everybody,” Dennis said.
“You can come here to study, you can come here for meetings, you can host events in the back, we’re doing catering events, and come for dinner. It is the vision of Chris and Zach that you have something for everyone in the community.
“If you’re on the go, if you are a mom of three, if you just want to get your coffee, or if you’re a businessman wanting to have a little change of scenery for a meeting, or you are meeting your grandma for lunch. They truly try to have everything.”
Chris said that she and Zach, a BG native, “dreamed of becoming business owners even before we met. Both of us are naturally curious, imaginative and super stubborn; becoming entrepreneurs was inevitable.”
Recently, Juniper announced a new collaboration beer with Bowling Green State University. The beer that Juniper has crafted specifically for BGSU is “a light ale that’s well-rounded, bright and has a subtle, soft, malty sweetness with delicate floral aromas,” according to a BGSU press release.
Dennis said that the craft beer will remain available for fans of BGSU athletics even after its initial release.
Hazy IPA macaroni and cheese.
J. Patrick Eaken | Sentinel-Tribune
Hazy IPA Mac & Cheese Sauce
2 quarts nacho cheese
1½ pounds Velvetta cheese, cubed
4 quarts heavy cream
1 cup Hazy IPA or any IPA
½ cup roasted garlic paste
4 quarts shredded cheddar cheese blend
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Brown garlic in oil in pan, then put cream into the pot.
Add seasonings and beer, whisk.
Once the cream and seasoning mixtures start to simmer, start whisking in cheeses. When all the cheeses are melted completely, pull off heat and whisk in the nacho cheese to help with cooling the mixture.
Pour into a large plastic Cambro and place an ice wand in to help cool down.