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- Garrison Hilliard
January 1, 2015, 9:53 pm
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Its been a big year for Cincinnati beer fans, with a meteoric rise of
local breweries and major expansions among the veterans who came
Some of the stories #9beer covered this year affect not only the city
and the Tri-State, but also the entire nation.
Without further ado, here are the Top 9 beer stories of 2014.
9. Bottle shops boom across Cincinnati
Craft beer connoisseurs cant always get to their favorite taprooms to
get their precious suds, and thats where bottle shops come in.
A good bottle shop is a boon to have for craft beer newbies and
collectors alike. The best shops not only have a wide selection, but a
knowledgeable staff that can point you in the right direction toward a
The greater Cincinnati area is lucky to have a great selection of
bottle shops to match the ever-growing list of breweries.
Often times the shops will also highlight other crafty industries such
as wine and cigars -- not to mention fine liquors. These shops also
often feature equipment or starter kits for homebrewers or vintners,
In 2014, the #9beer bloggers banned together to list some of the best
shops in town.
Click here to check out the list.
8. Reds hit home run with new craft beer bar
While the Cincinnati Reds didnt do so hot on the field this year,
they did hit a grand slam inside Great American Ball Park.
The team launched a major addition to the stadium at the start of the
season with its new Reds Brewery District craft beer bar.
The team also expanded its existing craft beer offerings to the
delight of both baseball and beer fans.
The team said it regularly seeks out new local beers to put on tap and
the brewers said it keeps them hard at work to keep up with demand.
For the full details on the Reds Brewery District bar, click here.
7. Big changes at veteran breweries
If 2013 was the year of new breweries opening, 2014 was the year of
veterans expanding and evolving.
Nowhere was that more apparent than at Rivertown Brewing. Owner Jason
Roeper bought out co-founder Randy Schiltz and capped off a major
shift in focus and branding.
The Lockland-based brewery will now focus on wild, sour and
Belgian-inspired beers in addition to a changed core lineup. #9beer
partner Queen City Fresh has more details on that here.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Find out What's Brewing in Cincinnati
Meanwhile, Mt. Carmel Brewing got a new head brewer, and former
Christian Moerlein head brewer Richard Dube left to help start the new
Over on the east side, Blank Slate Brewing finally opened their new
taproom amid a much larger expansion.
Not to be outdone, Rhinegeist and MadTree are both rapidly expanding
MadTree launched a partnership with Catch-a-Fire Pizza to open a small
pizzeria inside the brewery. The brewery also purchased the building
next door and is ramping up production for more markets.
Rhinegeist is now home to coffee roaster Tazza Mia with plans to
expand that business. The owners also opened the new Riverghost
distributorship across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky and bought
the rest of the building the brewery is situated in.
6. Craft beer tourism hits the roads
As more and more breweries opened in the city, it was only a matter of
time before tour services hit it big too.
As any craft beer fan who was traveled to Asheville, N.C., Denver, or
Portland can tell you; having a good beer tour bus industry is vital
to making a city a craft beer tourism destination. And on that point
Cincinnati is finally making the grade.
Two new providers opened up their buses in 2014. While the city
already had three others, Craft Connection and Cincy Brew Bus are
solely focused on getting fans to the wealth of local breweries.
Cincy Brew Bus has since expanded with a new bus and Craft Connection
already has plans to expand as well.
Both companies said those expansions are made possible by leagues of
For a complete list of local tours, click here.
5. West Side, far East Side get new breweries
With all the new breweries rising up in the core of the city, it was
high time the West Side got in on the trend.
Just barely making it across the wire before the end of the year, the
new Tap & Screw Brewery opened in Westwood community in early
The former Tom & Jerrys sports bar was rebranded and remodeled by
father and son team Tom and Adam Lorenz.
The team said their focus isnt just to bring craft beer to the West
Side; its also to bring a new focus on fresh food and a sense of
pride to the community.
Over on the East Side, a bit outside the I-275 loop is the new Old
Former firefighter Adam Cowan and his head brewer Ben Ramsay opened
the doors to their Williamsburg brewery in early September.
Since then its been a wild ride for the pair as they signed a
distributorship deal and learned the service side quick as thirsty
fans inundated their brewery.
BONUS: A quick note -- while their official opening isnt until
January, West Chesters new DogBerry Brewing nanobrewery is reportedly
taking customers as they prepare for their big unveiling. Plus
Paradise Brewing in Anderson is officially brewing its own batches.
Expect to hear more on them in 2015 from #9beer.
4. Stone Brewing passes on Ohio
To the disappointment of beer fans across the Buckeye State and the
Tri-State area, Stone Brewing Co. opted not to pick Ohio for its
Both Cincinnati and Columbus were in the running for the
When it came down to decision day, Richmond, Va., was chosen as the
site of the new brewery, bistro and tourist destination.
While the decision was a bitter pill for many local fans, industry
insiders say the decision was based on economics.
Virginia simply offered Stone a better deal.
Click here to learn more about the move and what it could have meant
3. Cincy brewers take home medals at 2 festivals
A trio of Queen City brewers took home some hardware from a storied
national competition, and for one brewery lightning struck twice.
Every year brewers across the city and the nation take part in the
Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Its one of the biggest
competitions in the world and THE biggest in the United States.
This year Listermann Brewing, Ei8ht Ball Brewing and Boston Beer Co.s
Cincinnati brewery took home medals.
Listermann won for its Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter. Ei8ht Ball
notched a victory with its Reintarnation Ale and Boston Beer Co. (Sam
Adams) won for its Double Bock.
A month thereafter, Ei8ht Ball won again at the Festival of Wood and
Barrel-Aged Beer for its Reintarnation Ale.
For more on the competitions and a list of Tri-State winners, click
2. Hops, malt shortage looms large in 2015
Its the talk of brewers and beer fans alike. A shortage of hops and a
bad malt harvest could driver beer prices higher in the coming year.
As hundreds of breweries keep opening every year, hops farmers are
having a hard time keeping up with demand.
Adding to that issue, many of the favorite styles of beer fans today
-- IPA, Imperial IPA, Pale Ale, Session IPA -- are hops-intensive and
brewers are pulling out the stops to see who can make the biggest,
baddest hop bomb around.
While many new hop farms are starting up, the process to get to
production is long and wont make an immediate dent in terms of
BONUS: Check out these local Imperial IPAs
Meanwhile, floods and bad weather wreaked havoc on the malt supply.
Farmers in the Northwest and Mountain states produce a large portion
of the countrys malt needed for brewing and Mother Nature was not
kind to them this year.
The three states that make up the bulk of the nations supply were hit
hard with bad weather and brewers said it could mean the price of
grain will shoot way up.
And without grain or hops, there is no beer.
1. Ohio fails to pass bigger beer bill
The biggest story of the year is also one of the most bitter.
A group of Ohio legislators tried to pass a bill allowing Buckeye
brewers to make stronger beer.
Unfortunately, the bill -- HB 391 -- failed to make it out of
committee and never got a shot at vote.
The bill would have increased the allowable ABV cap on beer to rise
from 12 percent to 21 percent ABV.
Ohio brewers would be able to brew and sell the stronger beer in the
first year after passage, but out of state brewers would have wait to
sell their beers for a year.
All is not lost for fans that would like to see the cap lifted.
Tri-State legislators have vowed to reintroduce the bipartisan bill in
hopes that a renewed push will finally get the bill to the governors
For more on HB 391, click here for the complete story.
For the latest Cincinnati beer news and entertainment, go to
wcpo.com/beer or follow Jesse on Twitter at @wcpojesse .
You can take part in the conversation at our #9beer Facebook page too!