The local beer brewing community, like everyone else these days, has seen a dramatic shift in the status quo since March. Fortunately for the thirsty crowd, Cincinnati’s sudsy industry is resilient by nature and has a good share of entrepreneurs who are determined to keep the beer flowing.
At a time when many folks feel like they could use a drink or two, there are new and exciting developments unfolding around the city to make sure no pint glass goes dry.
Housed in the historic Peters Cartridge Factory on the bank of the Little Miami River in Mainville, Cartridge Brewing is a brewpub poised to serve the public what it wants: fresh beer. Co-founder and COO Kyle Hackbarth wants public demand to decide what beers they’ll feature, but to start, there’s the usual suspects everyone hopes to find on a beer list.
“You get a lot of breweries now that announce their flagships before they’re even open,” Hackbarth says. “Our plan is to have eight to 12 rotating beers of all different styles that are made in-house on our 15-barrel system. Instead of us feeding the customer what we think they’re going to enjoy, we want the customers to determine what our flagships will be... the clientele are smart.”
The space, located along the Little Miami Bike Trail and Little Miami River, is part of a larger redevelopment operation by Bloomfield Schon, which will eventually renovate the former factory to offer 15,000 square feet of commercial space and 130 market-rate apartments, according to their website.
The hop seed was planted when Hackbarth and his now-wife Lindsey (brand experience director of the brewery) met in college at Purdue University and realized they both shared a love of craft beer. They dreamed of eventually opening their own brewery, but their plans were halted after the tragedy of 9/11, when Hackbarth decided to enlist in the army. After almost a decade of service, he was honorably discharged in 2012.
Several years later, Hackbarth embarked on a new career and he and his family moved to Cincinnati, where his brewery dreams were awoken once again. An opportunity to obtain space within the Cartridge Factory’s new redevelopment program presented itself, and after one site visit and a meeting, he signed the letter of intent to make his dream a reality.
The team behind Cartridge Brewing has partnered with several local businesses to build an establishment that extends beyond a place to drink house-brewed beers. In addition to their eight to 12 rotating brews — with varieties including (but not limited to) kettle sours, stouts and pilsners — Cartridge will also be a sit-down restaurant boasting a wine project and full-service bar.
And it seems certain Cartridge Brewing will have no trouble pouring whatever’s in demand with Adam Mills as head brewer. Mills is former lead brewer of Rockford Brewing Company and Raven Brewing & BBQ and winner of the “Brewer/Brewpub of the Year” award at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. 1411 Grandin Road, Mainville, cartridgebrewing.com.
Rebel Mettle Brewery
In what was once a parking garage on West Fourth Street in Cincinnati’s historic downtown, Rebel Mettle Brewery is now open for business. The usual grocery list of headaches and red tape were encountered prior to their grand opening, but the current pandemic posed a wholly unexpected obstacle that the brewery’s CEO, Mike Brown, has taken great care to address in as safe and responsible a manner as possible. The brewery, which specializes in lagers, had to turn away customers opening day so they could properly maintain social distancing guidelines.
“We’re Michael Phelps with an anchor strapped to our left leg,” Brown says. “It is the responsible thing to do. And, obviously, we’re a business and we need to maintain being afloat, but at the same time we’re not going to risk anybody’s health or well-being over a dollar. So, we’re going to adhere to all the CDC guidelines very specifically. And when those guidelines maybe lift or change, we will shift fire as well.”
Brown is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he left with an E-5 ranking. He’s taken the same patriotism and disciplined energy found within the ranks of our country’s armed services and focused it on beer.
The Stubentiger, a pale American lager, is one you’re sure to see a lot of folks drinking in front of the TV on game day thanks to its light body, utilitarian flavor and crisp, clean finish — perhaps Stubentiger is Rebel Mettle’s shot at a Bud Light killer, but that’ll be a question for Director of Brewing Joshua Deitner next time CityBeat stops in for a pint.
“Rebel Mettle is focused on our love of lager and love of community,” says Brown in a press release. “Above our doors, you will find signs that read, ‘Everyone is Welcome.’ We’ve created a warm, authentic and hospitable environment that celebrates opportunity, justice and freedom.” 412 Central Ave., Downtown, rebelmettlebrewery.com.
Braxton’s new Pendleton development is, as co-founder and CEO Jake Rouse puts it, more of a long-term win in regards to his company’s acquisition of 3 Points Urban Brewery’s facility, equipment and head brewer.
The transition began in late June of this year when Rouse started talks to take over the Cincinnati brewery after a 3 Points investor indicated they wanted to get out. The long-term win comes for 3 Points, Rouse explains, because the minds behind it are now freed up to focus their resources on Nation Kitchen & Bar, their core business. It’s a win for Braxton since this Pendleton spot is their first true Cincinnati location and a major milestone in the Rouse family-owned company’s growing influence over the region.
“We have wanted to put a brewery in Cincinnati for as long as we’ve been open. But it really had to make sense,” Rouse says. “We really didn’t want to build a brewery in the middle of a neighborhood that is already anchored by a great brewery. We knew if we really wanted to be in Cincinnati, it had to be an opportunity to take over something that may not have worked, rather than to build brand new.”
The building itself needed very little work done to the infrastructure, since its intended purpose hasn’t really changed; it’s only been handed over to new owners. While it’s going to take a little time before they’re ready to resume the daytime co-working space 3 Points was known for, that’ll certainly be on Braxton’s agenda to resume once the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
“We fell in love with the location because the neighborhood reminds us a ton of Covington. It’s got a great infrastructure and a great density of people living there. We wanted to create an environment that paid homage to Braxton and all the facilities that we have ... we braxtonized it,” he says.
The newly braxtonized facility was branded for Braxton with the painting of a mural and installation of a living wall (great for photo ops), but that doesn’t mean it’s a hard reset.
Patrick Mulrey, head brewer for 3 Points, was retained, so fans of the former tenant’s beer needn’t worry they’ve truly lost what once was. We can expect to see some location-specific brews coming out of Braxton’s Pendleton location, so be sure to keep an eye on their taps for something new soon. 331 E. 13th St., Pendleton, braxtonbrewing.com.