Cincinnati takes its beer seriously. The city’s long and proud tradition traces its roots back 200 years to 1812, when Englishman Davis Embree opened Cincinnati’s first commercial brewery on the banks of the Ohio River. By the middle of the 19th century, aided by waves of German immigration, three dozen breweries were flourishing in the Queen City, going so far as to dig massive underground tunnels to lager their beer and keep it cool. In a way, the city is literally built on its brewing tradition. Prohibition put Cincinnati’s breweries out of business, but a resurgence has taken hold of the city with microbreweries popping up everywhere, churning out high-quality beers and restoring Cincinnati’s proud brewing tradition.
Here are six of the best breweries in the Queen City:
3301 Madison Road, Cincinnati
MadTree secured its place in Ohio brewing history in 2013 when it became the first craft brewery in the state to start canning its beer. This brewery has grown rapidly, expanding in 2017 to a new $18 million brewery, taproom and event center in Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood. The facility evokes an upscale, industrial chic vibe with high, open ceilings, polished concrete floors, and wood furniture filling the expansive venue. If you’re hungry, be sure to try a wood-fired pizza from the folks at Catch-A-Fire—baked fresh inside the brewery.
Fan favorite: Happy Amber (Red Ale)
115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati
Moerlein Lager House developed its style to evoke comparisons to the 19th-century beer gardens of old Cincinnati. Its menu and brews—with rotisserie dishes like honey glazed chicken and hefeweizen and pilsner brews—harken back to a Cincinnati of 1853, when The Christian Moerlein Brewing Company was originally established in Over-The-Rhine. Their upscale take on bar food features a menu with grain spent breads, hand carved sandwiches and smoked rotisserie meats. The brewpub offers a lot more than just Moerlein’s award-winning beers (though you’ll definitely want to try those), with over 100 drafts on tap at any given time.
Fan favorite: Se7en (Hefeweizen)
1429 Race St, Cincinnati
Named after Cincinnati’s prodigal son, Supreme Court Justice and 27th President of the U.S. William Howard Taft, Taft’s Ale House serves up more than a dozen original brews ranging from milk stout to citrus saison. Taft’s is located in the old St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, which was constructed in 1850 during the height of OTR’s historic brewery district. The space has been renovated and modernized, but maintains the architectural integrity of the original church, complete with raised ceilings, a choir loft and floor-to-ceiling windows. If you’re hungry, be sure to try the Tri-Tip steak—trimmed and aged for 21 days, massaged with a secret dry rub, charred, smoked for two hours in a hickory wood chip smoker, and finished in the oven.
Fan favorite: Gavel Banger (American IPA)
910 Elm St, Cincinnati
You can’t mention beer in Cincinnati without mentioning Rhinegeist, Cincinnati’s most well-known brewery on the national stage. The brewery’s name translates to “Ghost of the Rhine,” paying homage to the long tradition of brewing in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine Brewery District. It’s fittingly built within the skeleton of the old Moerlein bottling plant. Rhinegeist’s most popular brew is the Rhinegeist Truth IPA, voted Cincinnati’s favorite beer by Cincinnati Enquirer readers. The popular brewery shows no sign of slowing down—growing its business by 80% last year and expanding distribution to Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Fan favorite: Truth IPA (India Pale Ale)
1660 Blue Rock St, Cincinnati
Urban Artifact is one of the newer breweries to come onto the scene in Cincinnati. The taproom is located on the Northside at the historic St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, first opening its doors in 2015 and serving beer with live music nearly every night since. Urban Artifact is known particularly for its loud, lively environment, and the brewery is famous for its tart, sour brews, which can be found for sale in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Fan favorite: Sliderule (Choc. Raspberry Gose)
2800 Woodburn Ave, Cincinnati
The Woodburn Brewery is a rising star in Cincinnati’s revived brewing landscape. Opened in 2016, this industrial brewery is built in a historic building from 1909 which was once a former theater. Today, it serves more than 10 original brews inside a fully-renovated space accented with copper, wood and concrete features to give off an industrial feel. Be sure to check out the Breakfast Porter, brewed with chocolate, honey, graham cracker and stone fruit—it tastes just like a Teddy Graham. Other offerings include a Pale Ale, Belgian Wit, Pineapple Saison, Cedar IPA, Chocolate Cherry Stout and Steinpils.
Fan favorite: Breakfast Porter (Porter)
Did we miss any? Sound off in the comments to let us know of other great breweries in the Queen City.