For the past 28 years, Bockfest has been a weekend-long party celebrating the coming of spring, bock beer and OTR’s brewing heritage.
This year, the 29th-annual celebration will look a little different thanks to coronavirus protocols, but its foundation of bock beer from Cincinnati breweries and bockwurst from local butchers and a scattering of live music (and some goats) will stay the same.
If you’re not feeling up for in-person festivities, there are Bockfest packages so you can celebrate at home. The packages are pre-sale only with three options available. Each package includes Jim Effler artwork, a t-shirt from Cincy Shirts and a Bockfest pint glass. The package is available for pickup at the Woodward Theater 1-7 p.m. Friday, March 5.
Here’s a round-up of the can’t-miss participating venues this weekend. Be sure to check with each business about their COVID-prevention requirements.
Arnold’s is Cincinnati’s oldest tavern with more than 150 years of history, and you can expect to see “monks, goats, live music from open to close” at Arnold’s throughout the weekend, according to Bockfest’s website. Of course, there will be bock sausage and beer available with more than 10 bock beers on tap. Reservations are recommended. 4 p.m.-12 a.m., Friday and Saturday. 210 E. 8th St., Downtown.
Downtown’s Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant will be joining the festivities this year with a bock beer and special Bockfest menu. This menu includes Avril-Bleh bockwurst and roasted goat sandwiches. They are also offering free tours, where you can experience “19th century Cincinnati with a guided visit to the Washington Platform lagering rooms,” Bockfest’s website says. Plus, there will be live music all weekend with a New Orleans Goetta Bock Jazz Brunch on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. 1000 Elm St., Downtown.
Fibonacci Brewing Co. hails as the only local breweries with its own resident goats, and this year the establishment will welcome a new baby goat to the fest. Two bock beers will be available: Buttercup (Dunkles Bock), named after the baby goat, and Honey (New Riff rye whiskey barrel-aged Doppelbock), named after another resident goat. Live music and food trucks will also be a part of the celebration. 5 p.m.-midnight Friday; 11 a.m.-midnight on Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. 1445 Compton Road, Mt. Healthy.
Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park will be celebrating as an official venue for Bockfest 2021. The Porch will be serving Rhinegeist’s Bock Bock Goat, and The Lubecker will be doing a pop-up in the park with German food such as schnitzel sandwiches, bratwurst and pretzels with beer cheese from 5-8 p.m. on Friday and noon-8 p.m. on Saturday. Visit with live goats from from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Porch is open 4-8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine.
Wiedemann Brewery & Pub will be serving up bockwurst specials all weekend, including a sausage medley and mock bock soup. If you’re feeling extra festive, there will be a Bockfest costume contest Friday at 6 p.m. with live music starting at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Wiedemann’s Sausage Queen competition will happen Saturday at 4 p.m. so come prepared to party and drink classic bock beers. Noon to midnight Friday and Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 4811 Vine St., St. Bernard.
It’s no surprise that one of Cincinnati’s best biergardens has something cooking up for Bockfest. On Friday, there will be a fish fry with live music from 5-8 p.m. by the Polka Warriors. At 6 p.m., bock and doppelbock will be taking over the taps, with the inaugural keg tapping of Paulaner Salvatore, a classic doppelbock brewed in Munchen, Germany. Stop by on Saturday for some goat yoga, more live music and a sausage and smoked pig buffet. 3-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. 302 East University Ave., Corryville.
Third Eye Brewing Company in Sharonville will be launching a bock collaboration with Krampuslauf Zinzinnati called Total Debockery this weekend. A portion of the sales from Total Debockery will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. They will also be hosting a crowler pull for charity, stein hoisting competition, keg rolling races (weather permitting) and food specials with bockwurst and goetta balls on the menu. Noon to midnight on Friday; 11 a.m.-midnight on Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. 11276 Chester Road, Sharonville.
Northern Row Brewery & Distillery, one of the newest breweries on the block, is throwing their hat into the Bockfest ring this year. They will be pouring Copper Heller Bock and Jester Barrel-aged Doppel Bock along with grilling locally-made bockwurst. There will also be a keg toss and live music from Matt Waters Sunday at 1 p.m. Noon to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. 111 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine.
Iris Book Cafe in Over-the-Rhine will be offering a special menu for Bockfest this year, including an Iris Bockfest platter piled with sauerkraut, German potato salad, applesauce and salted rye with a choice of Avril Bleh’s homemade sausage trio. You can also opt for the vegan option with a Dopplebock brownie dessert to sweeten the deal. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. 1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine.
Downtown’s Rebel Mettle Brewery will be releasing new beer this weekend for Bockfest: the Colonel Copper and Bock & Roll. They will also have live music on Friday and Sunday with food by Village Pantry all weekend. Some featured menu items are Sauerbraten beef short ribs, a pretzel bun burger with hot slaw and German waffles with cinnamon apples and breakfast sausage. 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sunday. 412 Central Ave., Downtown.