Exactly how many breweries are there in Cincinnati? It’s tough to say, but by Brewminds’ count, it's 44.
Of those, a sizable chunk appeared only in the last 18 months. There are many from which to choose and equally as many to overlook if you’re sticking with the big boys.
On that note, here are six phenomenal craft breweries you might have missed:
5800 Creek Road, Blue Ash
Fretboard opened in November, but they’re already making waves. Sound waves, to be specific. Because the Blue Ash brewery stands at the center of a craft beer-musical studio Venn diagram. Like other breweries, its taproom is basically an open warehouse with tables—that’s not a bad thing. But what sets it apart is the performance stage, which is frequented by local musical acts.
Beers: Rider (blonde), Improv (American IPA), Jazz (American stout)
Food: In-house BBQ
5905 Hamilton Avenue, College Hill
After settling into a College Hill neighborhood that’s on the brink (harty-har) of revival, Brink Brewing Co. won over locals by crafting a stunning variety of great beers together with a charming tap room. The tap room is anchored by a 14-foot communal table. The boundary between neighborhood and brewery is further blurred by two garage doors that open in warm weather. No plans exist for Madtree-style distribution. These guys are focused on serving College Hill as best they can; and it shows. A big shout out to the giant scrabble board. It’s, in a word, amazing.
Beers: Lil Van Hoppen (pineapple IPA), Hold the Reins (English mild), Moozie (milk stout)
Food: Local food trucks
224 Fairfield Avenue, Bellevue
Say hello to another brewery that’s ensconced in its surroundings. Darkness Brewing isn’t the largest brewery on this list (it has just seven taps), but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. The taproom brims with all things industrial and exposed. The beer is brewed to match. Stouts, porters, and browns are the main focus here, but they brew several others that look quite as dark and turbid, though they’re packed with bright flavors. Best enjoyed during Wednesday night trivia.
Beers: Man on the Moo (milk stout), Hop Head Nebula (black IPA), Galaxy Anomaly (fruity black ale)
Food: Local food trucks
6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
“Nine is thirsty.” That cryptic bit of lore comes courtesy of Nine Giant’s Gorillaz-style backstory, which personifies Cincinnati’s brewing scene in a giant named “Nine” who fell asleep during Prohibition and only recently awakened. It’s all by way of talking about how fantastic the branding is here. But maybe you don’t care about that kind of stuff. Maybe you only care about beer. That’s fine; Nine Giant’s is perfectly balanced. It also has a stellar taproom with a “hipster craftsman” aesthetic (their words, not mine). But the best part is the upscale bar food. The pickle chips and Cubano are rockstars, and the rest of the menu follows suit.
Beers: Carry the Zero (tropical west coast IPA), The New Style (American pale ale)
Food: Good God, yes.
1445 Compton Road, Mt. Healthy
When you’re trying to fill out your exploding craft beer scene, a place like Fibonacci is exactly what you want to see. It’s the quirkiest brewery in Cincinnati, with a modern Cheapside-esque aesthetic, a mathematical theme, and decor to match—vintage science posters, coasters made from old textbooks, and beer flights served in beakers. I’ve only scratched the surface of the quirk; go there yourself to experience it in full. Fair warning, though... the brewery is small. Nano, in fact. But it's also rather adorable. And the small scale (just a one-barrel system) allows them to bring out more nuanced flavors in their brews. AND THEY HAVE A PAWPAW BEER!!
Beers: Pride of the Valley (wheat ale with pawpaws), Dummy Tripel (Belgian pale ale), Oberhausen (kölsch ale)
Food: Local food trucks
106 Karl Brown Way, Loveland
It was only a matter of time before Loveland got in on the craft brewing scene, and Narrow Path is a pretty good option. The interior is outfitted with rustic elements like brick and reclaimed wood, but don't go thinking this is a dime-a-dozen brewery. For one, its location abutting the Loveland Bike Trail is truly unique. A beer garden and picnic tables add to the experience in warm weather, though a fire pit ensures you can enjoy the outdoors even when its cold. And two, the brewery is philanthropy-focused. That is, they frequently partner with local charities to offer their patrons chances to give back. As for the beer, it's pretty good. Expect it to get even better as this fledgling brewery spreads its wings next year.
Beers: Dred Locked (Caribbean stout), unnamed key lime kölsch, unnamed apricot tart
Food: Local food trucks and bar bites from nearby Tano Restaurant
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Now I don't know about you, but I'm thirsty for some beer. Before you head out the door to one of these great breweries, be sure to scroll back to the top and peruse the photo gallery. Cheers!