Rivertown Brewery might have quietly made the savviest play of the Cincinnati brewing scene.
In late-2015, founder Jason Roeper decided to move operations from the Lockland industrial park, where he started, to a much larger space. Why? Fundamentally, to brew more beer. The Lockland facility maxed out at 15,000 barrels/year, and that wasn't nearly enough for the growing brand. (They’ll brew more than 30,000 barrels in 2017.)
Naturally, Rivertown settled into one of Cincinnati’s thriving hipster enclaves and everything was chill thereafter.
…Except, that’s not what happened. Rivertown settled into Monroe Township. Because there’s good water there, and that’s important for brewing. But also because, as you’ll see on Friday and Saturday nights, the area was an untapped market for something this good.
THE MONROE BARREL HOUSE
Good luck getting a table in under an hour. In the meantime, you can taste one of their beers. That would include the IPA for which they’re best known. But if you’re in a branching-out mood, you might try a Rivertown sour like Kriek, which according to them is “sweet, acidic, funky and vinous with a tangy, lingering aftertaste.”
They also reserve 10 of their 30 taps for other local breweries, which is really cool. And they serve wine from Valley Vineyards in Morrow and liquor from StillWrights Distillery in Fairborn and Watershed Distillery in Columbus. Also really cool.
As for the tap room, it’s 4,000 square feet of industrial chicness. Most intriguing are the large windows that allow views into the brewing facility, so you can see the very tanks your beer was brewed in as you drink it—sort of like the lobster aquariums in seafood restaurants but ever-so-slightly less morbid.
Speaking of... well, eating things, when your name is called, you’ll be led to a table and immediately served a plate of cornbread and pickled jalapeños. Then you’ll have your choice of some really good barbecue and barbecue-adjacent food (e.g. wings, burgers, tacos, flatbreads, etc).
But Rivertown is a different kind of place. The kind that deserves massive props, because they're vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Of the vegetarian dishes, the BBQ jackfruit street tacos deserve special mention.
Tours of the brewing facility are available and come highly recommended. Makes sense, considering the people who operate Rivertown are super nice.
So give ‘em a chance. And if you can’t get up to Monroe, there's always the closer-to-home option. Yep, they kept the Lockland tap room open too.
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Rivertown Brewery's Monroe Barrel House is located at 6550 Hamilton Lebanon Road, Monroe 5044. For more information, visit the website.