Slice of Cincinnati: Urban Artifact

With sour beers and live music with state-of-the-art audio quality, Urban Artifact brings people together for “wild culture” — its tagline — all housed within a historic Northside church.

The craft brewery, which opened in April 2015, offers house-brewed sour beers, including seasonal flavors, as well as five signature staples. Liquor and wine are also offered for those who do not care for sours.
If you visit Urban Artifact this month, be sure to try their Abacus gose, which pairs the flavors of raspberry and chocolate for a surprisingly smooth treat. (I am not much of a beer drinker myself, but Abacus is the only beer I have ever liked.) One of Urban Artifact’s four owners, Scott Hand, boasts that it is probably the only beer of its kind in the world.

“We like to combine the activity of getting together with great beer,” Hand says. Urban Artifact beer is complemented with live music nearly every night of the week. With a different band playing each night, Urban Artifact’s crowd also changes nightly. The venue invites all different types of artists to play there, but the strongest emphasis is on local and regional acts.

The brewery’s taproom and listening lounge are located in the old church basement, unique for its high quality acoustics. Artists who play there are left remarking on how great the sound is. This excellent sound comes thanks to Hand, who used his expertise in designing theater spaces to craft the music venue.

Urban Artifact plans to move into the sanctuary part of the church after renovations are complete. Converting this space into the ideal music venue will be the most difficult part of the process, but Hand says he is ready and excited for the challenge. He is currently in the planning phase for this project.

The idea for Urban Artifact sprung from Hand’s interest in music. In fact, he started an independent music label while in college at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. His label, Grayscale Records, was meant to represent all music in the indie spectrum.

After writing a plan about the future of the music business, Hand decided to focus on connecting an audience directly to musicians instead. Beer was added to the mix in order to create the Urban Artifact brand.

While Hand moved to Chicago after graduating from UC, he returned to Cincinnati almost five years ago for his family. Here, he met the right business partners to bring his vision to life. He remarks on how Cincinnati is the ideal city for a project to sprout.

“You can do everything here,” he says. “You can come here with a dream and good business plan and make it happen.”

Urban Artifact’s location within the city is also ideal. The old church was chosen because it was in the middle of a neighborhood, which Hand says has been fantastically receptive to the new venue.

“While I would love to be a tourist attraction, it’s great to be appreciated by the locals,” he says.

At first, Hand was apprehensive about housing Urban Artifact in an old church. “I thought the church thing was going to be a deal breaker, but almost everyone who comes here thinks it’s hilarious,” he says. This includes a group of 18 priests who came into Urban Artifact dressed in their full traditional garbs to drink one day.


Check artifactbeer.com for complete music listings. Visitors can also look forward to URBAN ARTIFACT’s one year anniversary party April 23 and special events housed above the bar and music space. Drinkers in Dayton and Columbus can find Urban Artifact beers at select distributors throughout the area.

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