Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More Than Just Beer

It's finally happening. Cincinnati's Riverfront is becoming THE destination in town.

Sheila here.
The opening of the Moerlein Lager House last week is a major development in the riverfront re-birth. It opened last week, and I couldn't wait to go. Rob, Brad, Dan, Stephanie and I went to lunch on Friday, and it did not disappoint. The river view - virtually at the end of the Roebling Suspension Bridge - is breathtaking. The place is all windows on that side, so the interior really reflects what the weather. On one side of the Lager House, you can walk right out and enjoy it. An Enquirer feature says the 50-foot bar on the main floor will open up to the outdoor beer garden in warm weather. And the newspaper says the restaurant will open onto the Jacob Schmidlapp Event Lawn, a green space that can hold 3,000 people, with a stage at its western end.

You can also see Smale Park coming together right in front of the Lager House, and The Banks is right behind it.

The business is the brainchild of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company President and CEO Greg Hardman. An article in CityBeat says "Don't call it a restaurant," and it's really true. Instead, Hannah McCartney calls it a beer mecca. That is is, but I think it's also a tourist attraction. Dan Wells asked Greg when he was live there for us last week, whether he plans to offer tours. There is that much to see inside the 15,000-square-foot facility. It's two floors with two bars, three kitchens, a microbrewery...and on and on. This is the brewmaster, Richard Dube' (right).

There are so many little touches which make it special. The brick reminds you of the tunnels under Over The Rhine, where the beer was made back in the 1800's. You can look at historic photos of the old Shoenling brewery, and see classic posters from international beer expositions here in Cincinnati more than a century ago. Overhead lights are made from the bottoms of beer bottles. Wood beams give the inside an old world feel. And it should be special. It's been widely reported, the Lager House cost $10 million dollar to build.

Located in the shadow of Great American Ballpark, one can only imagine the crowds we'll see on game days with visitors from all over the country taking in the atmosphere. (The Lager House has indoor and outdoor seating for 1,400.) While it may be all about fun for you and me, for Greg Hardman, the mission is also about keeping our city's beer history alive and carrying on Moerlein's commitment to "simply a better beer." (I recommend the Helles!)

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