Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine Neighborhood Celebrates A Brewery Resurgence
Once a hot spot for beer brewing, the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati hit a rough patch beginning in the early 20th century. But thanks to some innovative brewers, the suds are plentiful once again and the area is returning to its heyday popularity.
Pre-Prohibition, Over-the-Rhine was largely populated by German immigrants, and they bought with them their love and knowledge of beer. The area was a veritable brewing capital: at one point, it was home to 36 breweries. Biergartens and saloons, supplied by local breweries, adorned every corner.
But World War I brought mandates that limited brewing and slowed business, and Prohibition put a stop to the free-flowing ale altogether. When Prohibition finally was repealed, most brewery owners, having lost their major source of income, were unable to reopen their doors. Over-the-Rhine, once a kind of Little Germany, saw its residents disperse, and the area slumped and struggled to bounce back.
Now, however, the beer is beginning to flow again. A number of breweries are opening shop and tapping the kegs, and Over-the-Rhine is seeing a renaissance as other businesses begin to move in.
Rhinegeist (“Ghost of the Rhine”) opened in the old Moerlein bottling plant and boasts a massive rooftop deck and brewery tours. Taft’s Ale House resides inside Cincinnati’s oldest Protestant church and has within it three distinct spaces for completely different drinking/dining experiences. Christian Moerlein Brewing Company follows in the footsteps of its pre-Prohibition predecessor and brews the only American beer to be up to snuff with the strict Reinheitsgebot Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, which limits the number of ingredients in a beer to just four.
Additionally, visitors can take an underground tour offered through American Legacy Tours, which affords tourists and locals the opportunity to get a taste of Over-the-Rhine’s storied beer-brewing past in the cavernous lagering tunnels where beer was chilled before the days of modern refrigeration.
Brewers in the area are excited to be mentioned once again in the same hoppy breath as St. Louis and Milwaukee for boasting some of the nation’s best craft brews. In the meantime, locals can sidle up to the bar and enjoy their countless new options.
Photos courtesy of American Legacy Tours and Rhinegeist.