I and Nancy were at the Moerlein Lager House Thursday prior to seeing "Merchant Of Venice"...

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Cliff Radel

What to get a guy for his 194th birthday? Induct him into the Beer
Barons Hall of Fame.

That happened to Christian Moerlein during Saturday’s inaugural
induction ceremony for the hall held – appropriately – at the Moerlein
Lager House in the John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park next
to Great American Ball Park.

The birthday boy – Moerlein was born on this date 194 years ago in
Bavaria – did not attend. He remained in Spring Grove Cemetery where
he was buried after his death in 1897.

Photos: Moerlein Lager House opening

But, 24 people with Moerlein blood in their veins and his beer on
their lips gathered with the standing-room-only crowd in the
restaurant’s Beer Barons Hall of Fame room to hear speakers praise the
brewer and see strangers raise pints in his memory.

“This ceremony unnerved me,” said Mary Born of West Bank, British
Columbia. The Canadian artist is Moerlein’s great-great-granddaughter.

“Moerleins are behind-the-scenes people,” she whispered. “Christian
Moerlein quietly made lots of donations.”

His obituary called him “a modest man ... avoiding display or

Added his great-great-granddaughter: “We don’t do things to be

Steve Moerlein, from South Bend, Ind., stepped up to say: “But, it’s
nice to see Christian Moerlein and his accomplishments being noticed –
finally! – after all these years.”

Christian Moerlein was the lone inductee in the hall’s first class.
That’s only right.

He was the Babe Ruth – a man who also knew his way around a pitcher of
suds – of Cincinnati’s beer barons.

“Christian Moerlein was way up here,” said Greg Hardman, the managing
partner of the $10-million restaurant and CEO of the revived Christian
Moerlein Brewing Co. He raised his hand way above his head to indicate
Moerlein’s standing. Lowering his hand to his belt, he said, “this is
where the list of the other great brewers in town starts.

“That’s because,” he added, “Moerlein and his brewery in
Over-the-Rhine set the standard for Cincinnati’s great brewing

Hardman has carried on that tradition by reviving a stable of Queen
City beers, opening the Lager House and establishing the Beer Barons
Hall of Fame.

“This hall is a dream come true,” Hardman said, while sipping a glass
of water. “The hall celebrates the brewers who came to this city and
built Cincinnati.”

Moerlein’s beers were not just hometown beverages. They won national
and international awards. And, they went across the country and into
foreign ports.

Don Heinrich Tolzmann, author of the just-published “Christian
Moerlein, the man and his brewery” (Little Miami Publishing, $18.95,
www.littlemiamibooks.com), noted that the brewer “came to Cincinnati
with 50 cents in his pocket.”

“He started brewing beer when he was 35,” Tolzmann said. “When he was
60, his brewery was the largest in Ohio and the fifth largest in the
nation.” At his death, his three-block-long Elm Street complex was
brewing 500,000 barrels a year. By contrast, the Lager House’s planned
annual output is 5,000 barrels.

“Moerlein,” Tolzmann said of the self-made millionaire, “epitomized
the realization of the American dream.” And he paved the way for
dozens of other Queen City brewers to follow his trail from Germany.

Two of his fellow brewers, said Michael D. Morgan, author of
“Over-the-Rhine: When Beer was King” and a member of the hall’s
selection committee, will be honored in the fall in the second class
of inductees. Those beer barons are John Hauck and Ludwig Hudepohl II.

Their descendents will have a tough act to follow.

“They will have to match,” Morgan said, “the number of Moerleins who
turned out to honor their boy.”

Cliff Radel welcomes e-mail at cradel@enquirer.com.


Cincinnati Rising - Moerlein Lager House
CINCINNATI - One of the newest attractions on Ohio's riverfront has received
attention from around the world, and is more proof of downtown Cincinnati's rise
back to popularity and fun.

The Moerlein Lager House, located next to Great American Ball Park, promised to
be a staple of this city's nightlife and brewing heritage, and it has not

Head there any weekend night and you'll be greeted by huge crowds, and with the
opening of Smale Park, it's only going to get more popular as it has become the
diamond on the necklace of Cincinnati parks.

 Moerlein Lager House CEO and President Greg Hardman said he worked closely with
a team of advisors so the Moerlein Lager House captured Cincinnati's rich
brewing history.

"I've worked over a decade to return Cincinnati's grand brewing heritage and
it's been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, a lot of blood sweat and tears,"
said Hardman. "We really look to bring Cincinnati's brewing back and I knew it
would come."

Hardman made sure the building design showcased the connections between
Cincinnatis brewing history and todays culture.

"From the Beer Baron Hall of Fame, you can look to the north and see into
Over-the-Rhine where Cincinnati's brewing heritage started in the Over-the-Rhine
brewery district and this was the exact route the beer traveled in the late
1800's from Over-the-Rhine down Main Street to the Port of Cincinnati to bring
Cincinnati beer to the world," Hardman said.

The restaurant cost around $10 million to get off the ground, it holds 500
people inside and the outside beer gardens adjacent to Smale Park hold another
600 people, it has three kitchens, two bars, a concession stand, an underground
lab and wheat shredder, a hops garden and an ornate microbrewery that brews six
Christian Moerlein brands on site and two additional seasonal beers every month.

"Right here, I brew it and I serve it from my serving tanks, I can walk around
and talk to the customers and have a direct feedback and that's what is so
exciting about it is to be so close to that feedback," said Richard Dube,
Brewmaster for Moerlein Lager House.

The Moerlein Lager House also features artwork from Jim Efler, a local artist.

"The Beer Baron mural faces to the west, which is to our outdoor beer garden,
and Christian Moerlein is to the east and he is welcoming you to his beer garden
back in the 1800s while he is looking out in the future of Cincinnati's brewing
over the western beer garden," Hardman said.

The Lager House is meant to serve as one of the main organs pumping life into
Cincinnatis riverfront; Hardman had serious visions about the revitalization of
the citys urban core, and he chose beer as the conduit.

And the Lager House menu transcends typical biergarten fare with classics like
pretzels and beer cheese, a spaetzle-accentuated pork belly entre, onions rings
and a whole slew of meals cooked, roasted or marinated in beer. Other dishes may
come as a surprise: Fish tacos with cilantro aioli, saffron-accented paella,
crab cakes with tomato chutney and spinach risotto signify executive chef Carl
Chambers commitment to providing modern American fare to match the fresh, sleek
interior with just a hint of ol
d-timey influence.

For the full Lager House menu:
http://www.moerleinlagerhouse.com/menus/dinner-menu/ .

Of course, its only proper the menu would span such a vast range of palates.
Thats been designed to match the giant beer selection. The house holds a total
of 90 taps, including eight consistent taps of strictly Moerlein selections and
up to 20 guest taps. Altogether, Hardman has created something of a beer museum
 drinkers can choose from up to 200 styles of beer from around the world.

Just like the fresh batches of beer crafted in the brewery at the front of the
restaurant, the Lager Houses design has been executed with great care. The
second floor, Hardman says, is designed for parties looking for a more intimate,
quiet dining experience, while the first floor is garnished with TVs and modest
furniture for a more casual time. He points to the Stammtisch table on the first
floor, which provides four taps of free-flowing beer.

If you haven't made it down to this Tri-State gem that has found its place among
the great pub/brewery/restaurants/historical buildings in the U.S., you're
missing out on a huge part of what has made Cincinnati so great the past year.

For more information on the Lager House, go to www.moerleinlagerhouse.com/ .


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