It appears Cincinnati is well on its way to surpassing Asheville, N.C. by aiming to have the highest brewery count per capita.
As a value, I believe every small town square should have a microbrewery to frequent; I know I would rather see one around every street corner than a Starbucks. So in the spirit of supporting and trying out neighborhood breweries, a friend and I met for drinks at Nine Giant Brewing, a new establishment on Montgomery Road in the heart of Pleasant Ridge.
We found ourselves there on a hopping midweek night. Nearly every seat was taken and the place appeared to be filled with all sorts of patrons — guys in dress shirts presumably there after work, younger couples with kids, couples and trios in their twenties and thirties, and folks meeting up with old friends. Nearly everyone seemed polite, jovial and just happy to be there.
My girlfriend and I grabbed a small table for two to the right of the bar, near the kitchen. It was perfect for us, as my 1-year-old was our third-wheel, but we felt like we were both accommodated and out of the way. It was from there that we could take in the surroundings and get a real sense for how the place worked.
Now, before I get into the brew and the bites, let’s get to the main critique: The place is really loud. Visitors know it, owners know it, even the brewery mascot Nine Giant himself knows it. There are signs hung around the room asking for patience as sound-proofing is on the way. I was warned ahead of time by my friend who had visited once before, and while the noise was definitely present, it wasn’t deafening. I wasn’t constantly leaning in to repeatedly ask, “What?” but there was an unmistakable buzzing undercurrent. Though rest assured there seems to be a plan in motion to resolve the problem.
Now, on to what we all came here for.
The first beer to catch my eye was the Nine Giant C.R.E.A.M. Described as crisp and light with notes of passion fruit, I figured it was a surefire option to start. However, with a name like C.R.E.A.M., I assumed it would be darker and, well, creamier in taste. Even though that was not the case, this beer was definitely good in the most drinkable way. For someone who strives to be a beer snob but also needs to keep it easy with light options, this one served me wonderfully.
My gal pal’s first order was the Amnesiac, which is what I drank following my C.R.E.A.M. Amnesiac is an amber and red ale with the richness of coffee, cocoa and berry. It was creamier than C.R.E.A.M. and drank more like a heavier after-dinner beer to savor and nurse. Even though I like my craft beers light, I also love a solid stout, and this seemed to be more like that; very satisfying.
Along with our beers, we tried a few key items on the Nine Giant Snackery menu. One thing I will say about the snack spread — it is not void of indulgent options. There are glutinous and fried items aplenty, so if you’re looking for something a little less sinful, you might be out of luck. Lucky for me, though, that night I decided to leave my diet at the door.
We ordered fried pickles and a falafel sandwich. Of the two, the pickles stood out like rockstars. The best part was that they were sliced as opposed to solid spears, which kept the fried-to-pickle ratio in check. I might be one to say that I pay attention to health-conscious eating, but I am not strong enough to deny my love affair with good fried food. Isn’t that why God invented cheat days (or cheat weekends or cheat whenever you’re out somewhere worthwhiles)?
The falafel sandwich was equally as tasty as it was guilty. It could have been eaten like a taco, but my friend and I were trying to be polite, so we ate it with a knife and fork. The falafel was rich and pretty yummy paired with a swipe of tomato, cucumber and tzatziki. Get all that in there with some soft and doughy pita and you’re on your way to something good.
My quick visit left me feeling like Nine Giant will live up to the fabled narrative detailed on its website. Introducing itself as the awakening of a giant, it is obvious that there is a life here bigger than the beer it is brewing. Something as big and as mythic as that should work out wonderfully in the center of a small town square.
NINE GIANT BREWING AND SNACKERY is located at 6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge. More info: ninegiant.com.