As this article states , "For a century and a half, the Christian Moerlein name has been synonymous with Cincinnati’s storied brewing tradition." Well it appears that the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company is finally solidifying its local presence in the form of the Moerlein Lager House - a restaurant/brewery that will be part of the Cincinnati Riverfront Park (adjacent to The Banks development). Needless to say, this is great news for so many reasons. The plans sound impressive, situated on the river next to the ballpark and with a mind towards reviving the local beer culture and heritage which the Queen City once thrived upon.
From the mouth of company President and CEO Greg Hardman himself: “Our mission is to breathe new life and vigor into the grand brewing tradition that made Cincinnati one of the world’s greatest brewing meccas over a century ago. The Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati Riverfront Park will become an economic driver that will significantly propel Cincinnati’s heritage tourism industry. Patrons will experience what is authentic and historically unique about this city and its compelling history with every visit to the Moerlein Lager House.” For more information, here's another article for your perusal.
Initiated in Munich in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, we in the Ohio Valley picked up on the tradition relatively recently in comparison, as this year marks the Germania's Society's 39th annual Oktoberfest. Festivities include feats of strength, such as log-sawing competitions and a tug-o-war, a "Magic show by Denny," along with music and, naturally, the tapping and drinking of kegs of beer. This year's Burgermeister is Channel 19 Weatherman, Steve Horstmeyer.
Free shuttles leave from Pleasant Run Middle School and Elementary, as well as Vinoklet Winery. Get ready for a good time, as the Germania Society guarantees that "FUN WILL BE HAD BY ALL." After spending a bit of time with various Germania Society members, including President Walt Pegram, at the Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest keg tapping Wednesday night, I'd be inclined to believe the disclaimer.
It's a long established fact that alcohol makes things funnier. So what more obvious yet genius idea could there be than an event that merges comedians and beer? Cincinnati just happens to one - a FREE beer and laughing festival - this very weekend called Brew-Ha-Ha! 50 comedians, 80 beers, all found at Sawyer Point this Friday and Saturday. The selection is copious, and featured local brews include different varieties of the following: Moerlein, Little Kings, Mt. Carmel & BarrelHouse.
Completely randomly, I originally found out about Brew-Ha-Ha on an airplane last week, as it was featured in whatever Delta's in-flight magazine is called as one of their "To-do" festivals of the month. As Brew-Ha-Ha's website states, "Cincinnati has a proud brewing history and this event pays tribute to it." Alright then. Make me laugh! Which is really not that difficult, as I'm easily amused.
So here it is! A little teaser of things to come.... Above you're viewing a snippet of the cover image for "Cincinnati's Brewing History," to be published with Arcadia late winter/early spring! Anyone have ideas as to what exactly this very interested man is looking at? Send a comment!
"The great glories so many people are proud of - palaces, factories, and monuments, the emblems with which we identify - are nothing more than relics of an extinguished civilization."
While brewing in Cincinnati is hardly an "extinguished civilization" these days, when I came across this quote (which actually refers to post-civil war Barcelona), I was immediately reminded of a recent expedition to the old Hudepohl Brewery. Looming over the 6th St. Viaduct, it would indeed be easy to mistake this massive, decaying shell for a bombed-out victim of war. This behemoth, however, has fallen victim to the far more silent killer that is neglect.
Apparently there were/are big plans for the remaining structure(s) at some point along the way. Gordon Bombay of Queen City Discovery, who invited me to tag along on this recent exploration, let me know that the current owner aimed to turn the former brewery into a multi-use condominium complex. The potential for a highway to cut right through this land, however, has apparently put this plan on hold for now.
After viewing the state of this building first-hand, having seeing it only from the elevated vantage point of an expressway until this point, I can't help but be pessimistic. For me, this experience was an incredibly sad one. A building that once represented a vital cultural and industrial lifeline, literally reduced to rubble. For historians, preservationists, beer enthusiasts, and lovers of Cincinnati and its cultural legacy, the state of this historic building is a poignant sight. Large portions of the Hudepohl brewery complex still stand, but I wonder for how much longer.
Are you looking for a way to spice up that dull weekend gathering you're only slightly not dreading? Well Wiedemann's has the answer for you! Try out this HILARIOUS party gag - you'll surely have the room in stitches...
(Image taken from a 1950s Wiedemann Brewery Guide to Beer pamphlet, courtesy Beer Dave)
So.... Is this how drunk people amused themselves before flip cup??
Having recently relocated to the southern side of the river, I spend a lot of time roaming the streets of Newport, KY. Now there are many aspects that give Newport and other Kentucky river towns old-school charm and appeal, but one of my favorites is the beer signage. Lingering above local watering holes and grocery stores can be found the remnants of what was once - and will someday again be - one of this region's most powerful industries.
"Pure Grain" Hudy sign above the Mansion Hill Market, steps away from Mansion Hill Tavern.
Peluso's grocery sports an old Burger sign, next-door to a new(ish?) skate shop whose signage displays a nice vintage style as well.
Momentarily skipping across the river is one of my favorite beer ads of all time - the Little Kings mural on Central Parkway. This has been around for as long as I can remember, and I distinctly remember being really freaked out by the King as a kid. I think it's the combination of the crazy eyes and the fact that he kind of looks like a Fraggle. Either way, I've become quite fond of him as a grown-up.
Best name for a neighborhood bar EVER.
While we're on the subject of best names ever, here are two more of my Newport signage faves, completely unrelated to the topic at hand but nonetheless amusing to yours truly.
and salvation. Could the Brass Ass and the Old Time Holiness Church be any more quintessential?
The answer, if you read the local paper, websites, blogs, etc., is probably yes, but I'll tell you again anyway... Findlay Market will play host to a summer biergarten with a Grand Opening Happy Hour this Friday! The Over-the-Rhine BierGarten, sponsored by the Brewery District CURC, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation, and the Corporation for Findlay Market, will be open Saturdays 11:00-5:00 and Sundays noon-4:00 from now through Labor Day. Tap beverages include Moerlein Lager and OTR Ale, but if you prefer your brew in a can, Hudy Delight will be waiting your arrival as well. Might want to get it while it's cold, however, as plans are to serve Hudy on tap along with others eventually.
I took a little trip down south last weekend, all the way to Florence, y'all. I was on a journey to meet a mysterious man known only by the name of "Beer Dave." Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. Who IS this man? How on earth did he earn such an illustrious title? Can we rent him out for party entertainment?
After some twists, turns, and mis-labeled roads, we finally found Dave tucked inside his (not really) secret hideaway, the beer-cave. First impressions upon entering this realm: somebody likes - I mean really likes beer. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, there's something wonderful about that, because Beer Dave's passion is about so much more than flavor and intoxication (I think?) - it's about a deep and abiding appreciation for, and love of the history of brewing in these parts. Boxes stacked from floor to ceiling in his basement, all filled with full bottles of beverages, vintage coasters proclaiming Bavarian to be "a man's beer," pictures of inundated KY breweries taken by his grandfather during a 1930s ('37, perhaps??) flood, an actual copy of a newspaper article celebrating the repeal of that dastardly legislative act known as Prohibition, Wiedemann patches from the uniforms of the company's delivery truck drivers, and SOoo much more. Since I am slightly less than talented in the photographic arts, you'll just have to wait for the good stuff to be revealed in the book. :) But here's that manly coaster I previously mentioned: Beer and beer history has been Dave's passion since he started collecting cans as a youth. He's worked in the industry his entire life and shows absolutely no signs of waning interest. His dedication is remarkable, especially for someone like myself, who would fall in the focus-challenged category. This man has A LOT of breweriana, and what was even more impressive was that he had a story to accompany every single piece. Dave spoke about someday building a "brewseum" in his backyard to house and display all his artifacts - while he might've been speaking facetiously, he could curate the pants off that place.
Moerlein, Wiedemann's, Little Kings, Burger, the list goes on and on. Once upon a time the streets of this town ran golden, overflowing with barrels upon barrels of locally brewed beer. I'd heard the names, I remember watching my mustachioed uncles contentedly down cans of Hudy Delight at the backyard barbeques of my youth. But it wasn't until recently that I realized the true extent of Cincinnati's brewing heritage. Since then, I've been hooked on this facet of Queen City history. So far I've found the research to be fascinating, eye-opening, social, and downright delicious.
I'm currently writing a book to be published with Arcadia Publishing about this very topic. Considering my constant search for people with information, images, and breweriana, as well as a funny story or two, I thought it might be a good time to get my feet wet in this newfangled contraption they call "the blog." I'll share some stories of my brewery-related experiences and research, and you will hopefully be entertained. Cheers!