Cold, frothy, flavorful beer is enjoying a renaissance in Cincinnati. To celebrate the growing craft brewing scene, Cincy has compiled profiles on the region’s leading breweries, a map of their locations, a profile on its oldest tavern, a reader’s poll on beer and some of our own favorite brews. Prosit!

Fifty West Brewing Company
7668 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45227
513-834-8789 • fiftywestbrew.com

U.S. Route 50 is a coast-to-coast highway that weaves its way through the American West. It’s the ideal road for creative minds on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, two essential ingredients at Fifty West Brewing Company.

“We’re looking at our business as one big road trip west,” says Bobby Slattery, Fifty West Brewing distribution manager. “Every beer we have is like a different road trip you might take on Route 50.”

Since opening in 2012, Fifty West has kept 12 to 15 rotating taps, but their brewing ingenuity has spawned almost 50 different “road trips.” Their past concoctions include Are We There Yet Saison, a pale ale with flavors of bubble gum, hay and grass, as well as Fox Paw, an English Pale Ale flavored with banana, cantaloupe, mango and custard.

Their Mariemont taproom dates back to 1827. Notorious bootlegger George Remus once supplied the location with liquor while it served as a speakeasy and brothel. It’s rumored that Abraham Lincoln stayed there as well. While the former president and the mansion’s women of ill repute have faded into history, the tall brick fireplace, dark wooden walls and beamed ceilings still emit a classic quality.

Samuel Adams Brewery
1625 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214
513-241-4344 • samueladams.com

Since acquiring the former Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewery building in 1996, The Boston Beer Inc., the maker of Samuel Adams Lager, has continued to expand.

The latest project, reportedly costing about $6 million, is the addition of several beer aging and fermentation storage tanks.

“This will enable us to increase the capability of our brewery so that we can keep up with the brewing demands as we introduce new, innovative styles of beer like our Barrel Room Collection,” says spokeswoman Suzanne Pace.

Boston Beer founder Jim Koch, who helped give birth to the craft beer boom in the United States in the mid-1980s, shares another connection with Cincinnati.

He discovered the recipe for Boston Lager, which originally belonged to his great great grandfather, in the attic of his parents’ Indian Hill home in the early 1980s.

Boston Beer Co. brews more than 50 styles of beer. Sam Adams is the country’s largest-selling craft beer.

Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Co. LLC
530 York St., PO Box 721811, Newport, KY 41072
859-414-6949 • wiedemannbeer.com

Wiedemann’s Beer, one of Cincinnati’s iconic beers, is back on local store shelves and on tap in many local bars and restaurants thanks to former journalist Jon Newberry and his wife Betsy.

German immigrant George Wiedemann began brewing in Newport in 1870 and by his death in 1890 Wiedemann’s was Kentucky’s largest brewery. The beer was a regional staple for decades before and after Prohibition, but the brand changed hands several times before disappearing completely about seven years ago when the last owner filed bankruptcy.

Newberry, a homebrewer who developed a taste for Bohemian-style lagers while working in the Czech Republic in the early 1990s, acquired the abandoned Wiedemann’s name but didn’t have a beer recipe. He ran into local brewer Dan Listermann, a Wiedemann’s fan, at Bockfest a couple years ago and Listermann and his then-brewmaster Kevin Moreland crafted a new Wiedemann’s Special Lager. Originally sold only on draft, they now sell Wiedemann’s Special Lager in bottles and soon 12-pack cans. Wiedemann’s is available in 70 area Kroger stores, Jungle Jim’s, The Party Source, other area pony kegs and a number of local restaurants and taverns.

By year’s end, the Newberrys plan to have their own 15-barrel craft brewery and tasting room on or near Monmouth Street near George Wiedemann’s brewery.

Newberry, who used retirement savings to restart Wiedemann’s says, “It’s a lot tougher than I thought.”

One of the biggest challenges, he says, is getting enough beer to meet the demand, “They love that Wiedemann’s in Newport.”

Cellar Dweller Brewery
2276 East U.S. Rt 22, Morrow, OH 45152
513-899-2485 • valleyvineyards.com

Beer and wine each have reputations for attracting different crowds. Instead of strictly catering to one, Valley Vineyards decided to fuse the two.

In February 2012, the winery dipped its toes into the region’s beer scene and created a brewery. While the vineyard’s wine has been well-received since 1970, the new brews quickly found a loyal drinking base.

“We’re about 12 times bigger than when we first started,” says Steve Shaw, head brewer at the Valley Vineyard’s Cellar Dweller Brewery.

With one part-time staffer, Shaw plans to brew 1,000 to 1,500 barrels this year. He hopes to get at least two of his brews canned and on store shelves by summer. While he planned to self-distribute, Cellar Dweller’s increased production has forced him to outsource.

“We truly underestimated the takeoff point,” he says.

Cellar Dweller brews eight various seasonal beers and rotates them quarterly at the 30 bars and establishments in which they’re located. Like other breweries, Shaw wants to keep innovating new brews that please beer enthusiasts, as well as him.

MadTree Brewing
5164 Kennedy Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45213
513-836-8733 • madtreebrewing.com

With simplicity and practicality, aluminum cans capture the essence of American beer drinking.

“Cans are beautiful,” says Kenny McNutt, co-owner of Mad Tree Brewing. McNutt along with his partners, Jeff Hunt and Brady Duncan, listened as naysayers assailed their plans to trap beer in aluminum. Fortunately, environmental concerns, product distinction and cost logic prevailed and Mad Tree became Ohio’s first new-age brewery to can.

“It’s just better for the beer and [cans are] more likely to be recycled,” says McNutt. “Cans are going to begin to take a bigger a chunk of the market.”

While beer snobs might scoff at drinking from a low-density metal container, aluminum limits exposure to light while blocking oxygen, beer’s two worst enemies.

Mad Tree’s lime green, amber red and golden yellow cans contain Pyschopathy IPA, Happy Amber and Gnarly Brown ale. You can find Mad Tree’s cans on store shelves in Northern Kentucky, Dayton and Cincinnati. For the draught connoisseurs, Mad Tree has 12 seasonal and experimental beers flowing at its taproom.

Rhinegeist
1910 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
513-381-1367 • rhinegeist.com

A brewery with a name that means “ghost of the Rhine” has a mystique unlike any other establishment in Cincinnati. Housed in the old Moerlein bottling plant in Over-the-Rhine, Rhinegeist maintains historical lineage to the German neighborhood by operating in a building built for beer in 1895. Deutschland traditions are also found in Rhinegeist’s wheat ales, golden ales, IPAs and hoppy beers. Enjoy a frothy glass at their taproom, or pick up a six-pack of cans on your way home.

MillerCoors LLC
2525 Wayne Madison Rd., Trenton, OH 45067
513-896-9200

The craft beer movement has the attention of the major beer makers.

MillerCoors LLC’s Trenton brewery, for example, in February began producing Miller Fortune, a new high alcohol content beer. Trenton is one of two of MillerCoors’ eight breweries making Miller Fortune.

“Now more than ever, consumers are looking to experiment with craft beers, ciders, imports and flavored malt beverages,” says Denise Quinn, vice president and general manger of the brewery.

“We are evolving to meet our customers’ needs and tastes by leveraging our innovations and craft brands. We had a lot of success in 2013 with innovations like Redd’s Apple Ale and Redd’s Strawberry Ale. We’ll follow that success with the launch of Smith & Forge, a hard cider, and Miller Fortune.”

A golden lager, Miller Fortune contains 6.9 percent alcohol by volume compared with 4.6 percent for Miller Genuine Draft. It’s one of 500 different product lines including Miller Lite, Coors Light, Keystone Light, Miller64 and Miller High Life produced by the massive Trenton plant.

With an 111-acre facility and employing more than 500, the Trenton brewery produces up to 11 million barrels of beer annually.

Blank Slate Brewing
4233 Airport Road Unit C, Cincinnati, OH 45226
513-979-4540 • blankslatebeer.com

Tucked away near Lunken Airport sits a nondescript warehouse where Scott LaFollette, a former polymer chemist, concocts the latest from Blank Slate Brewing. LaFollette’s brewery has the dubious distinction of being the only Cincinnati craft beer location without a taproom. Nonetheless, his no-frills operation found a way to take hold of drinkers since opening in 2011.

After brewing 690 barrels in 2013, LaFollete is eyeing 1,000 barrels in 2014 with plans to gradually expand. The 38-year-old says brewing allows him to marry “the engineering side of the brain with the artistic side of my brain that never got out of my head.” The marriage has resulted in the conception of brown ales using shiitake mushroom, a rye saison accentuated with peppercorn and a host of other innovative flavors that compliment barley, hops and yeast.

Ei8ht Ball Brewing
18 Distillery Way, Newport, KY 41071
859-291-0036 • ei8htballbrewing.com

Ei8ht Ball Brewing in The Party Source is all about serving fresh beer.

Ei8ht Ball, named for the Ky. 8 highway signs in front of The Party Source, opened in late November with a unique growler filling system that removes the oxygen from the growler allowing the beer to stay fresh as long as bottled beer does.

The Party Source’s “Grab and Go Growler” program keeps an assortment of Ei8ht Ball growlers stocked at the front of the store so customers can pick up their favorite and be on their way.

“What makes craft beer special is that it’s made locally and it is perishable. It isn’t pasteurized. Pasteurization kills everything in the beer,” says Mitch Dougherty, Ei8ht Ball’s brewmaster.

For several years, separate from Ei8ht Ball, the Party Source has operated Quaff Brothers, a “gypsy” beer brand that invites other local craft brewers to create limited run beers in its barrels.

That’s how Dougherty, who ran a brewery for Rock Bottom Brewery on Fountain Square, got to know The Party Source. They asked him to produce a beer for Quaff Brothers and he became friends with Danny Gold, who heads the Party Source’s beer operation.

Ei8ht Ball is an outgrowth of The Party’s Source’s extensive craft beer selection. The taproom in the back has a rotating series of 42 craft beers on tap including six brews from Ei8ht Ball.

Dougherty says variety is one of the things fueling the craft beer market.

“Craft beer drinkers like change. They always want to try something different,” he says. Only two of Ei8ht Ball’s beers never change: Tarnished, a golden ale, and The Wheel, a tap with rotating “hoppy” beers.

Hofbrauhaus
200 East 3rd St., Newport, KY 41071
859-491-7200 • hofbrauhausnewport.com

Some time in the next month or two, the Hofbrauhaus in Newport will pass a big milestone. It will mark the brewing of 4 million liters of beer at the authentic German bier hall since it opened 11 years ago.

All of that beer has been consumed on site because the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich, which licensed the Newport restaurant, doesn’t permit growlers.

“Craft beer is fresh beer. It isn’t pasteurized. We only serve fresh beer,” says Conrad Freilhofer, head brewer. “When I pour beer into a tank, it has to be gone in a week.”

The Newport Hofbrauhaus, the first outside Munich, makes about 2,500 barrels of beer, produced to more than 400-year-old German standards, annually.

Each month Hofbrauhaus produces a seasonal offering. During April, in a bow to the American drinker’s love of high hop beers, Hofbrauhaus will produce Hallodri, a beer with twice the hop flavor.

“German beers typically have more malt,” says Freilhofer, “They’re made for eating and drinking.”

Eating, drinking and having a good time is what the Hofbrauhaus is all about, says Freilhofer.

Taft’s Ale House
1429 Race St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
taftsalehouse.com, Expected to open in early 2015

Well-known local brewer Kevin Moreland’s dream is taking shape in a 164-year-old former Over-the-Rhine church.

Moreland got hooked on the beer business when his future wife bought him a homebrewing kit about 13 years ago. He and two partners are investing about $8 million to convert the former St. Paul’s Church into a brewpub to be known as Taft’s Ale House, with tongue-in-cheek references to William Howard Taft, Cincinnati native and 27th U.S. president.

“He’s really a larger-than-life character, with many local historic connections,” Moreland says.

Spread over three levels, Taft’s Ale House will have the capacity to brew up to 6,000 barrels of beer annually in a variety of styles and feature other local and Ohio beers on tap. Moreland says creating the brewpub has been his goal for several years. “I knew the local brewery scene was going to grow, but I wanted to do something new and different.”

Triple Digit Brewing Co.
1621 Dana Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45207
513-731-1130 • tripledigitbrewing.com

If you’re not careful, imbibing several high-gravity beers, such as Decimation, Gravitator and Aftermath, will induce a feeling similar to their namesake. Originally known for popularizing homemade brew kits, Listermann Brewing has entered the boutique beer market with Triple Digit Brewing. At 10 to 10.5 percent alcohol, these beers can knock your socks into next month. But if taken as just one beer, a frothy glass of Triple Digit proves to be a smooth libation with which to unwind.

Paradise Brewing Supplies
7766 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45255
513-232-7271 • paradisebrewingsupplies.com

Paradise Brewing is a different kind of craft brewery. Owner Jeff Graff isn’t so much interested in selling you beer as he is the kit and supplies to make it yourself.

Jeff and his wife Tammy opened the Paradise Brewing Supplies store in 2007.They’ve developed a successful niche selling brewing kits that mimic top-selling craft beer and brands like New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Guinness Stout. They now offer more than 48 different clone kits.

“Craft beers can be expensive—$8 or $9 dollars a six-pack. You can make beer at home for about $4 a six-pack. I want people to know they can get into this and have a great time for not a whole lot of money,” says Jeff.

In March, Paradise converted a storeroom in the back into a small, wood-paneled tasting room where patrons can buy some of Paradise’s own brews by the glass.

“This isn’t a destination as much as [it is] a stopover,” he says. “[It’s] a place where you can come in, try a couple [of] beers and maybe buy something and continue with your day.”

Initially Paradise’s tasting room, open Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday noon to 4 p.m., is offering four beers.

Eventually, Paradise plans to brew more varieties and add growler sales, but it doesn’t plan to compete with other craft breweries.

“I enjoy talking about beer and brewing,” he says. “What happens is when you get bigger,you have to go through distributors and they drive you to make more beer to make more money. I’m 50, and I don’t want to do that.”

Great Crescent Brewery
315 Importing St., Aurora, IN 47001
812-655-9079 • Gcbeer.com

For Dan Valas and his wife Lani, making beer comes naturally.

“We always can our own vegetables and smoke our own meat, so why not make our own beer?” says Dan.

They opened the Great Crescent Brewery in 2008, built on the roots of Aurora’s early history. Industrialist Thomas Gaff and his brother James opened a distillery in Aurora in 1843 and later started the Crescent Brewing Co.; the Aurora Lager was so good it was exported to Germany for a time in the 19th Century.

The Valases bought a four-story warehouse built by the Gaffs to house their brewery and taproom. Great Crescent produces Aurora Lager in tribute to the town’s brewing history along with more than a dozen other styles of ale, lager, stout and porter.

Great Crescent has the capacity to produce 4,000 barrels annually and its own small canning line. The taproom, which is open Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. in the summer), has most of Great Crescent’s beers on tap and offers an assortment of appetizers.

Valas says his philosophy is that a local beer has to be more than just local.

“It has to be good,” he says. “We make good, solid beer with a little something different.”

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
10 Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH 45202
513-621-1588 • rockbottom.com

Rock Bottom Brewery on Fountain Square is the granddaddy of the local craft beer scene. The brewpub, which produces 1,200 barrels of beer annually, has been brewing on the square for 18 years. It was one of the first locations for the Denver-based chain, which now has about 40 locations.

Like most craft brewers, Rock Bottom likes competition. “We think, ‘the more the merrier,’ ” says Keith Malloy, general manager.

Rock Bottom brews mainly ales and lagers and typically has 8 to 12 different brews on tap. It also offers growlers if you taste something you really like.

People like to get their picture taken in the brewery. “We’re the second most photographed site on the square after the [Tyler Davidson] Fountain,” he says.

Bad Tom Brewing
4720 Eastern Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45226
513-871-4677

On May 26, 1895, after confessing to the murder of six people, “Bad Tom” Smith uttered his final words before meeting a hangman’s noose in Breathitt County, Ky.: “Bad women and bad whiskey have brought me where I am. I give you this warning: Don’t drink bad whiskey and don’t do as I have done.”

While he doesn’t think highly of his great-great uncle, Sean Smith, Bad Tom co-owner, has turned his relative’s evil deeds into a namesake for a local brewery. “My penance is to make good beer for all the bad whiskey he drank,” Smith quips.

Formerly Double Barrel Brewery, the business received a cease and desist order from the makers of California-based Double Barrel Ale in 2013 and decided to change its name. After talking and sharing his great-great uncle’s story with Charles Boucher, co-owner and master brewer, they settled on Bad Tom as the company face.

Boucher’s beer list includes the flagship Bad Tom Ale, a reddish brown ale. Other favorites are Brother Clement, a white Belgian ale brewed with more than a 100 pounds of clementines, and Old Abe American Ale, an American-style ale based on English beers with a dark amber color.

Moerlein Lager House
115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati OH 45202
513-421-2337 • moerleinlagerhouse.com

Ten years have passed since Greg Hardman reintroduced Christian Moerlein. His decade-long effort put an iconic local brand back in beer-drinking hands. Hardman sat down and spoke with Cincy Magazine about Cincinnati’s passion for beer.

How does it feel when you hear people call you the Cincinnati beer baron?

It’s a humbling feeling to know that Cincinnati really recognizes the efforts that we were trying to make happen. At the time, I was just trying to return Cincinnati’s grand brewing traditions because we had almost zero and there just wasn’t anything happening that much in 2004. We took a position that if we can go out and take a lead on this, it would a great catalyst for our community.

Can you describe your first encounter with Cincinnati beer?

In 1985, I was selling beer for a distributor in Athens and I was walking into a new account and, lo and behold, the bartender tells me the story of Burger Beer from Cincinnati. He said it was the number one brewery in town for a long time before they sold out to the Hudepohl. He then says “Oh, by the way, my first keg order is 60 kegs for a 25 cent beer night.” When I told my boss he said, “Greg, let me tell you something—we haven’t sold 60 kegs of Burger Beer in two years. If we place this order and we don’t sell all of it, you’re drinking every single drop.” So, as a good beer salesman should, I helped promote the beer and the event and at 1:45 a.m., he tapped his 60th keg of Burger Beer. I’ll never forget it.

Why do you think it’s important to know Cincinnati’s brewing history?

We come from a great lineage of beer. There were a ton of breweries here, and tens of thousands of people were employed by these breweries. Their relatives, grandfathers, great-uncles worked in these breweries and it identifies with the soul of the city. It’s a reason to celebrate beer in this city and when people come to Cincy, they can hear our great beer story. We just haven’t done a great job of telling that story. Through the Brewery District community, we’re doing a better job of telling it.

Who do you think made better beer—you or Christian Moerlein?

I think I make better beer than Christian Moerlein did, and the reason why is because the ingredients today are much more specific. Back then, you had to wait to see what came through on the Ohio River or down the Miami and Erie Canal to see [with] what you could brew. Now, it’s much more scientific where we order specific malts with temperature-controlled conditions.

Rivertown Brewing Co.
607 Shepherd Drive, Unit 6, Lockland, OH 45215
513-827-9280 • rivertownbrewery.com

Partners Jason Roeper and Randy Schiltz originally wanted to open a craft beer brewpub, but no one would finance the restaurant side of the business. As it turned out, that was probably a good thing.

Today, their Rivertown Brewing Co. is one of Cincinnati’s largest craft brewers, producing 10,000 barrels this year with distribution in five states.

But Roeper, a former financial analyst for Ford Motor Co. who got turned on to craft beer’s potential after winning the Sam Adams Longshot homebrew competition in 2007, says Rivertown isn’t focused so much on growth as making sure its business is sustainable. “If you grow too fast, you fail,” he says.

Schiltz, who also wanted to start a brewpub, heard about Roeper and called him out of the blue and asked if he wanted a partner. The partners soon found out that the production brewery route had just as many hurdles as a brewpub.

Many distributors wouldn’t talk to them. “We knocked on doors all the time, but they always said, ‘No,’ ” says Roeper. That was until they approached Stagnaro Distributing in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, which has a niche in supplying craft and specialty beers.

Rivertown brews six year-round beers, including its popular Hop Bomber, Rye Pale Ale, and its newest, Lil Sipa, India Pale Ale. It also produces half a dozen seasonal brews and an assortment of limited releases.

The company has its own bottling line and recently introduced 16-ounce cans with an outside vendor.

The on-site taproom is open Wednesday through Saturday for tasting with brewery tours, for those over 21, on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.