Buckeye Brews – A Brewery Tour of Ohio

There are plenty of suds around the Buckeye State. Here are some highlights for travelers and locals alike.


Christian Moerlein, brewers of Cincinnati’s iconic historic beer, will open Moerlein Lager House later this year in a 26,000-square-foot space in the magnificent 45-acre Cincinnati Riverfront Park. The 500-seat restaurant and 600-seat terraced beer gardens will serve food inspired by turn-of-the-19th-century dishes. Brewery tours will be available. www.christianmoerlein.com; www.crpark.org

Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, which specializes in superb craft beers, offers tours though has no license for tasting. But you can buy their all-natural, handcrafted beers at the on-site store and have your own tasting at home.

The Hofbrauhaus, just across the river in Newport, Kentucky, has a huge traditional German bier hall and garden with live entertainment nightly and a show-stopping view of the Cincinnati skyline. The Bavarian-style beer, brewed under the license and supervision of Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in Munich, includes lagers, wheat beers, bocks and seasonals. The menu features Bavarian dishes and American favorites. There’s a keg-tapping celebration the last Wednesday of each month.

There’s still time to take in the Lager Tour in Cincinnati’s Brewery District, which is offered Saturdays and Sundays through September. This walking tour explores the Queen City’s rich brewing history, beginning at Findlay Market’s Over-the-Rhine Biergarten. From there the tour visits the original Christian Moerlein complex and pre-Prohibition breweries such as Clyffside Brewery and Jackson Brewery.

Drink a craft beer and enjoy Kobe Sliders while viewing the brew house at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery on Fountain Square. If you’re lucky you’ll spot its highly praised brewmaster, Mitchell Dougherty.


Neil House Brewery is Columbus’ newest brewery. It started unofficially when brewmaster Patrick Kelleher, studying for his degree in organic chemistry at The Ohio State University, began to make beer as a hobby. Following graduation, he turned his hobby into a business. While Kelleher works with a distributor to broaden availability of his drafts, he holds tastings at various local bars. Check his website for current locations.

When it comes to brew pubs, it’s hard to beat the Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus, located downtown. The Elevator carries 12-13 of its handcrafted beers on tap – including some cascading stouts and light beers – and its menu features a signature “Rock Filet,” a beef tenderloin or ahi tuna, seasoned and then seared tableside on a tulikivi firestone. No need to rush away. Dart boards and antique pool tables are available for further amusement – and a few more brews.

It makes sense that Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant decided to locate south of downtown. That is, after all, where the city’s German residents chose to settle – and some of them were premier brewmasters. Columbus Brewing Company carries on that tradition. Enjoy their pale ale, IPA or Scottish ales – or one of their seasonal brews, released the first Friday of each month. In addition to their traditional menu, diners here can order a pizza and brew Monday through Thursday for just $12.95.

Barley’s Brewing Company has two Columbus locations – Ale House No. 1 in downtown Columbus, and Ale House No. 2, or Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub, in Dublin. Fresh draft choices here include IPA, pale ale, pilsner, stouts and an Extra Special Bitter. Cask-conditioned real ale is also available as well as “guest taps” from other breweries (including Weasel Boy’s Paw Paw Pale Ale).

Cleveland and Akron

Great Lakes Brewing Company enjoys cult status among Northeast Ohioans. Their brewpub, across the street from the West Side Market, is a Cleveland institution that serves a superior sausage and pierogi plate. Don’t miss the Christmas Ale released every November. Known for his commitment to the environment, co-owner Patrick Conway taps a few kegs of the special ale at Burning River Fest (a fundraiser for Great Lakes and tributary water quality) for a little Christmas in July.

The Market Garden Brewery, also near the West Side Market, is a new addition to Cleveland’s craft beer scene. Talented brewmaster Andy Tveekrem (a.k.a. “the striking Viking”) honed his skills at stellar craft breweries such as Great Lakes Brewing Company, Frederick Brewing Company in Maryland and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware. The restaurant is open for dinner seven days a week.

Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon in North Olmsted is on the site of former Danny Boy’s Farm Market. The agrarian theme is still evident in hop vines that stretch to the building’s apex. It’s a classic neighborhood place where regulars and newcomers feel equally welcome. Their succulent smokehouse wings are hearty and whole; they pair excellently with their award-winning Head Hunter IPA, which Draft magazine selected as one of 2010’s top 25 beers. Fat Head’s IPA festival is scheduled for October 8, 2011.

Akron currently has no brewpubs, but America’s polymer capital has the molecular formulas for creating some noteworthy brews.

Hoppin’ Frog Brewery owner and brewmaster Fred Karm says their brewery is a destination because “we sell to the public right on-premise. There’s nothing fresher than beer made at the brewery.” Hoppin Frog is distributed in 15 states, and locals can get it at the brewery, grocery stores, specialty shops and restaurants such as West Point Market, Mustard Seed Market and rocker Chrissie Hynde’s vegan eatery, VegiTerranean.

Thirsty Dog Brewery is a must-stop for beer and canine lovers. Although pesky ordinances ban dogs from its lovely tasting room, dog bone-shaped tap handles and beers such as Old Leghumper and Barktoberfest keep patrons focused on man’s best friend. Thirsty Dog gives public tours on Saturdays and group tours by appointment. Sip Siberian Night Imperial Stout (better than a sable hat for warding off winter’s chill) while munching popcorn and sampling velvety Siberian Night cheese made by Mayfield Road Creamery.

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Our goal is to educate, in a reader-friendly fashion, and take the intimidation out of wine, beer and spirits in order to enhance its enjoyment.


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