Queen City’s New Brews

Lesser-known taprooms and nanobreweries are popping up all over the Tristate

click to enlarge Bircus Brewing Company will combine beer with the circus in the old Ludlow Theatre.
Bircus Brewing Company will combine beer with the circus in the old Ludlow Theatre.

In the fall of 2014, Ohio hit the milestone of having more than 100 active breweries, according to craft beer trade group Brewers Association, with more than 30 currently in the planning stages. Craft beer today takes up 14 percent of the beer market, and its rapid growth has taken a bite out of national breweries. Americans now drink more craft beer than Budweiser, a trend the multinational corporation clearly responded to via a Super Bowl advertisement depicting sweater-and-glasses wearing dudes “fussing over” and “dissecting” their craft beers. “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale,” the text reads. “We’ll be brewing us some golden suds.”

Budweiser’s shrinking market share and growing concern underscore what we in Cincinnati already know: Our town’s rich brewing history is being resurrected by a growing number of active local craft breweries. Cincinnati is home to more than a dozen today, from historic brands like Christian Moerlein to recent upstarts like MadTree and Rhinegeist. And Northern Kentucky will soon play a bigger role in the craft renaissance with the opening of Bircus Brewing Company, Braxton Brewing Company, a new Wiedemann brewery and more.

The following eight breweries are either in their infancy or slated to open in the next few months, proving that the city and its enthusiastic brewing community aren’t slowing down. Needless to say, now would not be a good time to curtail your tippling.

Bircus Brewing Company

Last year we reported how Covington, Ky., was getting the state-of-the-art Braxton Brewing Company, but now Ludlow, Ky., which is a few miles away, will also have a new brewery. Paul Miller plans to combine his love of circus performing and beer into Bircus, a name and concept he legally lifted from Ghent, Belgium. Miller runs Circus Mojo, an organization that teaches kids and adults juggling, plate spinning and other circus-y antics, and will integrate his circus and beers into the old Ludlow Theatre. Many of the beers are named after local historic references: Lagoon is named after an old amusement park in the area and Ludlow is named after Israel Ludlow, one of the original founders of Cincinnati. The clowns might be scary but at least there’s beer to squelch your phobias. 322 Elm St., Ludlow, Ky., bircus.com.

DogBerry Brewing

Apparently suburbanites are cerevisaphiles, too. Two homebrewers (and former scientists) translated their love of beer into nanobrewery (smaller than a microbrewery) DogBerry, a West Chester taproom that opened in January. The name has nothing to do with dogs but instead is a hybrid of the names of the streets the owners, Tony Meyer and Chris Frede, live on. You could call DogBerry a weekend brewery; it’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays right now, usually from 2-5 p.m. or 3-6 p.m. They have about 10 rotating drafts, including an extra IPA, a smoked porter, a dry stout and an IPA called Hop Springs Eternal. 7865 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester, twitter.com/dogberrybrewing.

Fibonacci Brewing

This nanobrewery from husband and wife Betty and Bob Bollas will merge head-scratching math and beer. In the 1200s, a dude named Leonardo Pisano Bigollo, aka Fibonacci, came up with a number sequence and a cool looking thing called a Fibonacci spiral. Anyway, the Bollas’ like math and they like beer, so they’re going to open a taproom in Mount Healthy and make two to six barrels of beer a week, including Belgians and stouts. Consider it the thinking-person’s beer: It’s hard enough to pronounce “Fibonacci” while sober, but after a few, try saying it. The brewery is slated to open by April. 1445 Compton Road, Mount Healthy, facebook.com/fibonaccibrewing.

Mash Cult

Party Town, basically Florence, Ky.’s Party Source, is known for its stellar 18-handle growler station, but they quietly started their own nanobrewery a couple months ago inside the store. In December, Mash Cult released Brownin’ Out, an American brown ale that sold out after a day. They’ve also released a Galaxy/Mosaic IPA called 3rd Hop From the Sun and, most recently, a jalapeno Gose (a top-fermented German-style beer) named I Got Gose in Different Area Codes. They brew in 10-gallon batches (1/6 barrel), and their goal is to release an experimental brew each week, with each type of beer tasting different from its earlier batches. Look out for a Baltic porter, followed by a wheat beer and eventually a barrel-aged imperial stout — it’ll have an ABV of 14 to 17 percent. 6823 Burlington Pike, Florence, Ky., 859-371-4466, partytownky.com.

Nine Giant Brewing

Brothers-in-law Brandon Hughes and Michael Albarella are planning to open this Pleasant Ridge brewery and “snackery” by late summer. Albarella, an experienced homebrewer, will take over beer production to create rotating taps of draft-only beers, which can be enjoyed in-house or via growler. And the “snackery,” which will be heavily influenced by Spanish tapas-bar culture, will feature locally sourced ingredients. Nine Giant will also anchor the “Sixty 99” Pleasant Ridge redevelopment project — a walkable retail and entertainment district at the corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads. 6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, ninegiant.com.

Taft’s Ale House

Located inside St. Paul’s German Evangelical Protestant Church, the ale house will be an ode to William Howard Taft, the pudgy and mustachioed 27th U.S. president, former chief justice of the Supreme Court and Cincinnati native. If all goes well, Taft’s, which is slated to open in early spring, according to its Facebook page, will have three bars, a full-service restaurant and a bathtub honoring the story of how Taft supposedly got stuck in a tub once. 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/taftsalehouse.

Urban Artifact

Northside is poised to get its first brewery when Urban Artifact opens in the gymnasium next door to the old St. Patrick’s church. A taproom and listening lounge will inhabit the church’s lower level and an event space will be built inside the sanctuary. One of the four co-founders is Dominic Marino, who plays in the The Cincy Brass and runs Grayscale Cincinnati, a music digital distribution service. The guys plan to start brewing this month, and if all goes well their brewskis will be available this spring.. 1662 Blue Rock St., Northside, artifactbeer.com.

Wiedemann Brewing Co.

Jon and Betsy Newberry purchased the 142-year-old Wiedemann label a few years ago. Wiedemann Brewing, which at one point produced a million barrels of beer a year in Newport, Ky., went kaput in 1983. Up until 2006, though, you could find Wiedemann beers in some markets, but that went away, too. With the help of Listermann Brewing Company, the Newberrys developed Wiedemann’s Special Lager, which brews in Wisconsin. But now that the Newport brewery will be operational again — this time in Watertower Square — local history will be restored this spring. 601 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., wiedemannbeer.com. ©