Pumpkin Beer and Oktoberfest Season

Get ready for Oktoberfest and pumpkin beer season as Cincinnati heads into fall.

click to enlarge Braxton Brewing Company - Photo: Lindsay McCarty
Photo: Lindsay McCarty
Braxton Brewing Company

Heading into fall, Cincinnati now has almost 30 breweries, with Woodburn Brewery in Walnut Hills and Darkness Brewing in Bellevue being some of our most recent additions. A few more breweries are in the works for this year and next, including Alexandria Brewing and College Hill’s Brink. And along with our increase in breweries comes more seasonal brewers. Summer is over, and it’s time to shift from sweltering weather to pumpkin beer and Oktoberfest season.

New Beers

  • Blank Slate came up with an interesting idea to take their black saison beer — normally known as Midnight Terroir — and age it in bourbon barrels that Orchids had previously used for hot sauce. The result is an “oak character” and “vinegar tartness.” Spectral Fire, as it’s now called, is on tap at Blank Slate for a limited time, so get it while it’s, um, hot. And, like a lot of local breweries, Blank Slate finally jumped on the canned-beer bandwagon and released their Fork in the Road and Out and About in cans. You can purchase the six-packs at the taproom, Dutch’s, Cappy’s and more places soon.
  • Taft’s teamed up with Valley View Hop Farms in Milford to brew a fresh IPA made with locally grown Cascade hops. Hail to the Harvest wet hop IPA is currently at Taft’s taproom.
  • Summer is sputtering out, but that hasn’t prevented Mt. Carmel from releasing an apricot pale ale called Pondside Pale Ale and a clementine-infused farmhouse ale, Oh My Darlin’ Saisontine. Both are available at the taproom.
  • On Sept. 13, Fifty West will release Longtime Barleywine, brewed by Brian Murray, who won last year’s Best of Show award at the Brewmaster’s Choice Homebrew Competition. The beer will be available at Fifty’s taproom.
  • Rivertown and Quaff Bros. brewed Nian’s Legend, a 14.7 percent imperial stout, with maple syrup and molasses. It is named after a creature that has the body of a bull and the head of lion, aka a “beast of a beer.” Since the passing of House Bill 137, which eliminates a cap on beer alcohol percentages, we will be seeing more higher-ABV beers in the future. Try it at Rivertown’s taproom.


  • Braxton will host two beer dinners this month. On Sept. 8 from 6-8 p.m., they will pair three of their beers with pizza from Fort Thomas’ 15 North. Dead Blow Stout will be served with stuffed dates and Level Saison will pair with wild mushroom pizza. On Sept. 13, Braxton visits Packhouse Meats in Newport and pairs their Beta 1.0 Experimental IPA with meatballs, and their Haven Hefeweizen with a Bavarian radish salad. Both events cost $25. More info at braxtonbrewing.com.
  • Cincy Beerfest takes over Fountain Square Sept. 9-10. They will have around 300 local, regional and national craft beers to sample, plus food trucks and live music. Prices range from $35-$50, or just $10 for a designated driver ticket (though that's not as fun).
  • Cincinnati’s edition of The Cheese Fest takes place Sept. 10 at Smale Riverfront Park (the same fest is also held in Atlanta and Houston). For $35-$45, sample all of the cheese, mac and cheese and grilled cheeses you’d like and wash all of that cheese down with some brews.
  • MainStrasse Village hosts its 38th-annual Oktoberfest Sept. 9-11 — one week before Cincinnati’s big downtown Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Eat sauerkraut balls and pretzels larger than your head while drinking Braxton beer.
  • Also Sept. 9-11, Newport Hofbräuhaus celebrates their own Oktoberfest with three days of face painting, pretzel tossing, circus acts and, of course, German food and steins of beer galore.
  • Cincinnati becomes Zinzinnati Sept. 16-18 with downtown’s huge and festive Oktoberfest celebration. Expect the annual Chicken Dance, a lot of beer and the Running of the Weiners (dogs, not Anthonys).
  • Put on your dirndl and place a feather in your cap: German brewpub Moerlein Lager House also gets into the Oktoberfest spirit with their three-day Überdrome tent, which coincides with the main Oktoberfest Zinzinnati fest. From Sept. 16-18, enjoy German food and one-liter Das Boot beers.
  • September seems to be the month for brewery parties. Fifty West throws their fourth-annual Fifty Fest extravaganza at the brewery on Sept. 17. They will have three stages of live music, more than 20 craft beers and food trucks.
  • Be sure to save some room for Rhinegeist’s fourth-annual Franztoberfest, kicking off at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 with a Kegs ‘n Eggs breakfast at the brewery. They will have live music, hourly special beer releases and an inflatable joust competition.
  • Old Firehouse Brewery, located in Williamsburg, Ohio, celebrates their second anniversary on Sept. 17 with a street party from noon to 11:30 p.m. Besides Firehouse’s beers, there will also be keg wars and corn hole. Proceeds will benefit the Williamsburg police department.
  • From Sept. 26-Oct. 1, Ei8ht Ball commemorates Peanut Palooza, an event to say goodbye to their beloved taproom manager Peanut Kahles. The brewery will pour rare brews from Blank Slate, MadTree, Sierra Nevada, Great Lakes and Stone Brewing.

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