Another month, another volume of the Year of Beer is upon us. In this installment, I’ve ventured further out to spread the love to both the east and west sides of our city. For more information on what the Year of Beer is, check out Volume 1.
Thank you for continuing the journey with me through some of our city's great haunts, dives, and watering holes. Let’s get into this.
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West Price Hill
Sam’s Golden Fleece Lounge (inside Price Hill Chili)
4920 Glenway Avenue (45238)
Entering Price Hill Chili feels like you’re Henry Hill walking into the Copacabana in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. It’s a labyrinthian, with its many rooms, nooks, and crannies. You’ll likely be walking past a politician, an Elder grad, and a business person while finding your way to the bar, too. While Price Hill Chili is known for its history and delicious chili, it’s also a fantastic spot to grab a drink. When I stopped by, I entered Sam’s Golden Fleece Lounge (the name of the bar connected to and run by Price Hill Chili, named after PHC founder Sam Beltsos). It was a steady Wednesday evening with folks starting to pop in for dinner. The bar was full of folks debating politics and ragging on one another. I met up with my friend, and one of Price Hill Chili’s best customers, Pete Witte.
I immediately asked Pete and our bartender, “What is the Price Hill Chiliest drink you all have?” To which they both, almost simultaneously, said: Miller Lite. While Miller Lite isn’t my drink of choice, I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. Price Hill Chili is a blue-collar, no-frills joint. Miller Lite is perfect for washing down a 3-way any day of the week. So, even if you’re not a West-Sider, I can promise Price Hill Chili is worth the trip.
936 Hatch Street (45202)
I sometimes wonder what a bar in the Lord of the Rings' Hobbit town, the Shire, would be like. And when I do, I just picture the Blind Lemon. Tucked halfway underground with a beautiful patio and a cozy bar indoors, it’s a fantastic respite for the local and the weary traveler alike.
I popped in on a cold Tuesday evening and was greeted by bartender and assistant manager, Kiersten, who also happens to be the co-founder of the fantastic Women of Cincy. It was great to hear more about her work there while checking out their extensive menu of all sorts of alcoholic concoctions. But, since this is the Year of Beer, I went with a Banana Bread Beer from Eagle Brewery. Kiersten recommended this delicious, light and fluffy drink because she said most of their regulars love it. If you’re into something unique, but really approachable, I recommend it. Which is perfect because that’s exactly how I’d describe the Blind Lemon.
4163 Hamilton Avenue (45223)
If you’re at all into our city's fantastic local music scene, you’ve likely been to Northside Tavern, which hosts free music from local and national acts every night of the week. I popped in on a rainy Monday night right after work and took a seat at the bar where I was helped by Shelby. She told me the Brink Blonde had been getting a lot of attention lately, so I went all-in on it. Brink is a local brewery just up the street from the Tavern in College Hill. Their blonde was simple, with a touch of sour on the backend. Definitely recommended if you’re into light, airy beers.
At the bar was a general assortment of hipsters, hippies, and artists. Next to me was Eric, an illustrator who has illustrated children’s books for the last five years. He was newer to Northside but said the music scene was his favorite part about being in this community. On the other side, there was a fella enjoying a Michael Chabon book and not so interested in chatting it up with the likes of me. No offense taken, though, since he obviously loves reading. I just hope he reads this and finds out he missed out on his 15 minutes of fame.
So, definitely stop by Northside Tavern for a drink and some good tunes or to catch up on your favorite author. It’s chill enough for either.
Oakley Pub and Grill
3924 Isabella Avenue (45209)
Oakley Pub and Grill is a relatively nondescript sports bar in the heart of Oakley, just off Madison Avenue. But don’t let that fool you: their wings and nachos are the perfect food to wash down with a beer while watching a game. I stopped by late on a Monday night with a friend, we ordered the aforementioned deliciousness, and I snagged a Hi-Wire Lo Pitch Session IPA which also didn’t disappoint. The bar was half full with regulars chatting sports. Our bartender, Katelyn, was incredibly fast, kind and friendly, joking with us throughout the night and sharing stories about other bars she recommends I visit. OPG isn’t going to wow anyone with its decor, but it’s not trying to. You go to Oakley Pub and Grill because you want to eat fried food and drink good beer in good company. And that’s exactly what you get when you go. So the next time you’re trying to catch a game, pop in, order some wings and give Katelyn a high five.
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Missed the first volume? You can read it here. And come back in March to see the next four neighborhood bars I'll visit for Volume 3!