Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beer Buffs Discover Cincy's Brewing History

I went underground this past weekend. Hi it’s Meghan. :) Zinzinnati’s rich German heritage wasn’t just celebrated at Oktoberfest on 5th St., but in Over the Rhine as well. I went on a walking tour of the old breweries and WOW was it cool!

If you are on Vine Street today you might not give these industrial looking buildings a second thought or glance. But knowing and imagining what once was there is amazing.

One of the stops was the old Crown Brewery (also known as the Schmidt Brothers Brewery).  It was kind of strange to walk into the basement of the building with all the modern day clutter and then travel down handmade steps deeper into a sub-basement that was once used to store barrels of beer. To get around a Civil War tax the brewers had to have the malt house and lager house in two separate buildings. They got around this by building tunnels to connect the two. The picture is of me and my sister walking through one of those tunnels (we teased her that this was her good side - haha).

We also went into the just opened tunnel that connected parts of the old Kauffman Brewery. The 1856 building now operates as the Guild Haus, and the above-ground industrial space has been converted into artist studios and apartment lofts. Recently, the owner discovered the original blueprints and saw that there were 4 not 3 levels as first thought. So he broke through the concrete floor only to find that 40 feet down is a enormous lagering cellar.  It’s 200,000 square feet! 

This building will be the new home of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. In April, owner Greg Hardman says beer will once again be brewed in OTR. It had become the old Husman Potato Chip Factory so not a lot of structurally work is needed. But as Greg told me, they have to buy, install and hook up $4 to $5 million worth of beer brewing equipment.

This is a huge deal for the Queen City because in 1870 there were 36 breweries in OTR and we were known for being the biggest and one of the best beer brewing cities in the country. Darn that Prohibition!!!

You can support this effort by clicking here to find out when more tours will happen or just buy Moerlein or another local beer. You can drink knowing you are taking a sip of Zinzinnati's past while supporting Cincinnati's future.

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