5 Reasons Cincinnati is the Best Beer Town to Visit in the Country Right Now
We get it, you think we are biased, well you are right, but honestly this place is rocking right now!
In 2012 Ohio changed some laws to allow for Breweries in our area to have taprooms. This law changed the trajectory of our beer industry almost overnight and now we have one of the brightest most decorated beer towns across the country.
Prior to 2012 in order to get really good beer you had to travel to specialty stores like Jungle Jims, Party Source, Dilly’s, and there were very few actual breweries, beer bars, or craft anything.
In 2012 we had Cellar Dwellar, Rivertown, Mt. Carmel, Listermann, Blank Slate and Fifty West and the Moerlein Lager House as our lineup of breweries. Seven breweries has turned into sixty in just seven years with more on the horizon.
Cincinnatians have a natural thirst for beer, the founders of this city were known to drink two-and-a-half times the national average. Prior to prohibition we had one of the most bountiful beer cities in the United States.
In today’s beer market the local taproom is King and nearly every neighborhood has one, but this isn’t something that is special to our market here. With over seven thousand breweries nationwide every town is a “beer town”, so what makes this one so special and worthy of special planning?
- History. Cincinnati is a city that for over one hundred years ruled the world of beer. We were at one point producing 1.5 million barrels of beer here, and nearly ¾ of that production was in a 319 acre area called Over-The-Rhine. We consumed more than we could handle and 40% of our economy was based around the world most popular alcohol beverage. There are very few other cities in the United States that have multiple networks of underground Lagering cellars. These underground cellars were built in the mid-1800’s when there was no artificial refrigeration and many stand today. You can take tours with the Brewing Heritage Trail to see these awesome tunnels, walk the Brewing Heritage Trail and see installations of old breweries, facts, figures and celebrate that rich history we have. Places like Fifty West (George Remus bootlegging property), Rhinegeist (Old Christian Moerlein Bottling facility), Christian Moerlein (old John Kauffman malt room) are just a few active breweries with rich history. The stories of Beer Barons, Beer Chugging societies, hostile takeovers, Prohibition, and intense ambition are just a small piece of tale Cincinnati has to tell.
- Destination Breweries. With over sixty breweries in Cincinnati right now and over 7000 across the United States its hard to be different. Over the past six years of taking people on tour we have a good idea of “outside-the-box” places like Fibonacci Brewing in Mt. Healthy who has an Air-BnB, Goats and an urban farm. Rhinegeist Brewing who resides in a building constructed around 1895 for the old Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, it was the bottling house and now has a rooftop, event center, games, beer hall seating and as Cincinnati’s largest brewery a great tour with either the brewery or our company. Cincinnati also has one of the most beautiful church breweries in the Unites States, Taft’s Ale House rebuilt a 1846 Church (nearly demolished prior to reconstruction), this three level masterpiece has three bars, a kitchen, private dining and is one of the crown jewels of Over-The-Rhine. Then there is our other church brewery, Urban Artifact which serves primarily sour beers, has live music and entertainment every night and their sanctuary was recently named top rustic wedding venue in Cincinnati. On the East side of town Mt. Carmel, our oldest locally owned brewery (2006) in Cincinnati who recently moved taproom operations from the original farmhouse to the “Carriage House” right next door. It is surrounded by two ponds, a stage, a walking trail, rocking chairs, great food and beers this brewery is an escape to another place. Just a few minutes from Mt. Carmel is Fifty West Brewing which has locked down several acres on Route 50 dedicated to not only great beers but a bicycle shop, a canoe livery, running groups, volleyball, boxing, and a great exercise path on the Little Miami Bike trail. Christian Moerlein brewing in Over-The-Rhine has their taproom inside of the old John Kaufmann Brewing Malt House, arched ceilings with a stage, picnic style seating, pool, cornhole and authentic German pretzels and wienerwurst round out this quintessential German bier hall. Or Fretboard in Blue Ash, a music inspired brewery who brings in top acts from across the region nearly every weekend.
- The Juice. Let’s face it tons of cities are making great beers, just look at the GABF award list and you can see that across the country great beers are being produced. That is no different here where many of the local stops we make on our brewery tours have won awards at major award competitions like Great American Beer Fest, World Beer Cup, FOBAB and the U.S. Beer Open Championships. One brewery in particular has smashed the award scene being the only brewery in the history of Great American to win back to back “Best Small Brewery of the Year” awards at along with multiple Gold and Silver from multiple competitions is Brink Brewing in College Hill, their Hold the Reins, Moozie Milk Stout and Debbie Jean Blonde are some of the most well decorated beers in the country. Taft’s Brewing Company, Fretboard, Municipal, Listermann, Rhinegeist, Narrow Path, Rhinegeist, MadTree, Swine City, Sonder, 16Lots, Moerlein, Fifty West, FigLeaf, Streetside, Urban Artifact, and Mt. Carmel are all award winners in all parts of the region. The best part is that many of these locations have helped each other out along the way with tips, supplies, open labs, and collaboration. Regardless of the styles you love there is a brewery doing something amazing for you with world class barrel aged sours are at Urban Artifact, Fifty West, Sonder, Streetside, Rhinegeist, MadTree and decadent pastry stouts and New England IPA’s at Listermann, Braxton Labs, Grainworks and more.
- The People. There are typically ten brewery options or more for folks within a twenty to twenty-five-minute drive. Observing and interacting with local bar staff is something that we get a chance to do quite often. The people who work behind the bar embody the Midwestern spirit, affable, knowledgeable, hard-working, and helpful in every interaction. No pretense, no snobbery, just good folks serving great beer. It is a culture that starts at the top for most of these organizations as the ownership groups, general managers, brewers, and other staff work together to create a fun and inviting experience.
- The Food. There are very few foods that pair as well as German fare with Beer, which we excel at here due to our heritage and history. That being said there are many non-German in-house food selections across the city. Here are some can’t miss ones based on our guests reviews and ratings: Nine Giant Brewing in Pleasant Ridge Ohio has some of the very best upscale bar food in the city not just because they are a brewery but because their food is fresh, cooked to order and has made waves since their opening. Fifty West Brewpub opened in 2012 and has been making amazing food from Chef Tomain for the past 7 years, the incredible combinations pair well with their award-winning beer. Taft’s Ale House opened in April of 2016 and it was hard to imagine a brewery in a church being able to kick out great food and great beer, but they continue to succeed, specializing in smoked Tri-tip, Salmon, amazing salads, and beer infused deliciousness. Taft’s also opened up the “Brewporium” down on Spring Grove a couple of years ago in a completely different setting than the Ale House and they are pumping out some of the most delicious pizza’s in town. They get their inspiration from New Haven Connecticut and serve “Apizza” which highlights a charcoal fired oven that churns out a White Clam pizza that is totally unique to this area, and also pairs well with any kind of sour or blonde ale. In terms of Pizza one of the original brewery-pizza shops have been turning out chef inspired pies since 2013 when they were parked outside of MadTree brewing, Catch-A-Fire Pizza in Oakley inside of MadTree 2.0. Once a food truck parked outside of the Kennedy Heights taproom (affectionately called 1.0) they made a name for themselves with their soulful approach to pizza. The variety on their menu is rivaled only by the variety on MadTree’s Beer Selection which makes a beautiful afternoon if you have some adjustable waistline pants. Smoked Out Barbecue opened up inside of Fretboard brewing and has some delicious specialty BBQ items and amazing chicken wings. Speaking of Barbecue a new guy just opened up at Wooden Cask in Newport, Drunken Hog BBQ has fans raving over their brisket, bone in beef ribs and pulled pork. In the Northern burbs Sonder Brewing scored huge when they brought on the great folks from Brew River Gastropub on the Eastend of Cincy to their taproom. Specializing in creole and New Orleans style food Brew Rivers expansion has been a hit with their pulled pork Po’Boy (Cochon Du-Lait), Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Not your Grandma’s Pork Rinds, Lemon Garlic Hummus and the amazing Curried Short Rib Poutine. New on the scene to Cincy Beer but not to great food is High Grain Brewing, bringing on Chef Moeller to bring a farm to table feel to fresh food and beer with a menu boasting a Pastrami sandwich, a German-Inspired fried Bologna Sandwich, and Vegan Friendly Farro Salad. Don’t Miss: BBQ at Alexandria Brewing, “Carriage House” at Mt. Carmel, Wild Pizza at Urban Artifact, Wiedemann Chicken Wings, Monk’s Pizza at 16Lots, Menu at Moerlein Lager House, Darkness Brewing in house truck, Dead Low Brewing Menu, Happy 2 Brewing Co (at Mio’s), Renegade Grille at Listermann, Sarte Cart at Rhinegeist and Street Chef Brigade at Streetside.
Cincinnati (including Northern Kentucky) is once again thriving as one of the hottest brewery towns in the Unites States. After visiting many across the country we feel very comfortable in making the claim that this town is worth-while of a visit for the new beer person looking to explore or the seasoned beer traveler looking to dig deep into the history and flavors of this beer inspired city.
If you are looking to plan your next beer inspired adventure don’t overlook this affordable Midwestern town and all of the great things happening in the realm of history, beer, people, food and adventure.
If you are looking to check out a few or more breweries at a time with behind the scenes tours, tastings, and history included, book a tour with us here or just check out our website: Cincy Brew Bus Craft Brewery, Winery, Distillery and Food Tasting tours Today!