Cincinnati area breweries are poised to make 2016 bigger and better, and the accolades keep coming: BeerAdvocate’s January issue named Taft’s Ale House and Braxton Brewing Company as two of the 33 best new breweries from 2015. And with winter in full force, it’s a good time to huddle inside with some local brews — or leave home for a beer event or two.
In early January, MadTree announced a plan to open a new $18 million brewery and taproom in Oakley. They will have 64 taps, a 10,000-square-foot beer garden, 100-barrel brewhouse, a larger Catch-a-Fire Pizza café and private event spaces. Apparently they’ve been struggling to keep up with high-demand and the expansion will allow them to distribute their beer to more locations across the U.S. With the expansion, they hope to brew up to 100,000 barrels per year. (The new brewery probably won’t be ready until 2018, though.)
On a smaller scale but equally as important, East End’s Blank Slate upgraded this year: They are tripling production and plan on bottling and canning some of their beer versus just having it on tap in their PourHouse.
More like an addition than an expansion, Lockland’s Rivertown Brewery recently opened Barrel House BBQ, a barbecue joint inside the brewery. The menu consists of meats marinated with their brews, such as Soulless-brined pulled pork shoulder and collard greens infused with Lil’ Sipa Session IPA. Pair the food with one of their beers, like their spiced winter ale. The Barrel House is open 4-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and noon-8 p.m. Saturday. Rivertown is also planning on opening a new location in Monroe this year.
• Orchids at Palm Court and Blank Slate’s ongoing seasonal collaboration continues with the recently released Orchid’s Repose, a cranberry stout. It can be found exclusively at Orchids in the Hilton Netherland Plaza and at Blank Slate’s taproom.
• Moerlein also just released a new beer. It’s called Big Piney IPA and is described as a “bold, hop-forward IPA straight from the forests of the Pacific Northwest.” Brewed with Chinook hops and coming in at a 7 percent ABV, it has a pine scent and a picture of a Bigfoot-like creature on the can.
• Taft Ale House’s latest offering, Louisa’s Dark Side, is a stout aged in American white-oak casks and fermented with brettanomyces (a type of yeast), lactobacillus and pediococcus (lactic acid bacteria).
• MadTree turns three this month with a big, beer-y birthday party. The MadTree Winter Bonanza on Jan. 30 will have timed tappings of special brews like a barrel-aged Levanto Peach and a barrel-aged Wild Turkey Lift. They’ll also have guest taps from local and regional breweries. Besides the beer, the Bonanza will have food trucks, live bands and DJs. Admission is free and beer tickets cost $5.
• Listermann wants to teach you how to brew beer. The Basically Free Beginner Beer Class takes place 6-10 p.m. Feb. 2 at the brewery and costs $20 to hold the spot (you’ll get the money back in the form of a gift card). The Basically Free Advanced Brewing Class occurs 6-10 p.m. Feb. 9 and is the same deal as the beginner class; pay to reserve a spot and get a gift card in return. Call 513-731-1130.
• The ninth-annual Cincy Winter Beerfest runs Feb. 12 and 13 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Vendors will pour more than 350 craft beers from more than 100 regional, local and national breweries. Tickets range from $45-$95 per day (the $95 is a Connoisseur ticket that includes food and access to rare beers) and $20-$35 for designated drivers. Unfortunately, the coinciding Cincy Beer Week was pushed back until June, but expect some new and exciting collaborations with that. Purchase tickets at cincybeerfest.com.
• Braxton Brewing Company wants its customers to read more books, so they’ve partnered with the Kenton County Library to do a monthly series called Books on Tap. Each month they’ll pick a book and everybody will meet at Braxton to discuss it. February’s book is The Martian by Andy Weir (now an Oscar-nominated movie!). The event takes place 7 p.m. Feb. 4, and, of course, there will be beer on hand. ©