Cincinnati has developed a brewing culture in the last 20 years that would have seemed impossible previously. Prohibition, combined with the anti-German propaganda of World War I wiped out the vibrant brewing culture that existed in that area of town known as Over-The-Rhine. A neighborhood that even today is being resurrected from its notorious reputation as an impoverished, crime ridden slum.
How bad was it? I had musician friend from New York City who in the early 1980’s took a bus ride up Vine street to see O-T-R and told me that as far as scary neighborhoods went, Over-The-Rhine was as scary as any blighted area in New York.
It was a low time. The original Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company was having difficulties staying afloat with Miller Lite, Budweiser and Coors claiming most of the attention at grocery stores, bars and ballparks. Beers that were not a part of the adjunct grain lager profile were few and far between.
It is difficult for beer enthusiasts who came of age when Samuel Adams is readily available that there was a time when the term beer seeker meant exactly that: travel and obsessive trouble, to locate those often rare, flavorful exceptions.
It is still somewhat difficult to grasp that 30 years later, in 2014, the choices for beer selection have never been better. It is possible today to enjoy many fine beers brewed locally that meet world class criteria.
A wonderful brown ale surprise comes from the Madtree Brewing Co. on Kennedy Ave. The Great Pumpcan is one of the best pumpkin ales I have encountered in awhile. Although Southern Tier’s PUMKING is held in high regard, compared to Madtree’s Pumpcan, it seems like a strong candy corn concoction. Madtree like my beloved Saranac keeps the ale emphasis in the recipe. Since there are no recipe style parameters, each brewer has a free hand to interpret this new world creation. In the case of Madtree, The Great Pumpcan it is a delicious Halloween wassail.
Another very tasty surprise is Christian Moerlein HELLTOWN RYE-OT . An American brown ale brewed with rye malt and dedicated to my own neighborhood of Northside, known for its artistic diversity. It was, back in the 19th century, known as Helltown, notorious for its exuberant night life
Yes indeed, that’s where The Beer Doctor lives!