Looking for the best breweries in Cincinnati? Thirsty as we are, we sure were. What we found was far more than we expected.
When you think of Ohio, your mind may go to *the* Ohio State University in Columbus, or Cedar Point near Cleveland. But Cincinnati, Ohio’s Queen City, deserves some love, too.
Cincinnati is home to Skyline Chili, Kings Island (Cedar Point’s less intense cousin), and the Bengals. But did you know that Cincinnati also ranks within the world’s top 5 cities for beer lovers?
Built by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, this is no surprise to native Cincinnatians. The city is even home to the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the US. However, it still tends to fly under the radar as a tourist destination. Why is that? We don’t know, but it sure ain’t for lack of beer.
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The Best Breweries in Cincinnati
Alright, beer lovers, buckle up, because we’re about to change the game. We’re coming at you with a list of the best breweries in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Let’s start with perhaps one of Cincinnati’s most well-known breweries, located in the heart of Over-the-Rhine. Rhinegeist exploded onto the map in 2013 and is arguably one of the pioneers of Cincinnati’s craft beer scene as we know it today.
Rhinegeist’s taproom attracts loyal customers both young and old, both city-dwellers and suburban families, and is a must-visit for any beer-lover in town. With a wide variety of brews on tap, every kind of beer-lover will find something to suit their palate.
Their year-round lineup is full of crowd-pleasers like Cheetah Lager, Truth IPA, and Bubbles Rosé Ale. Their seasonals are just as good, with locals looking forward to certain seasons in anticipation of the return of their favorite brews. These include barrel-aged beers, fruited ales, dunkels, and stouts. The Dad Hoppy Holiday Ale and Hustle IPA are standouts. They also have a line of ciders, known as Cidergeist.
On any given day, you’ll find their taproom abuzz with upwards of 20 beers to choose from at two bars. Dozens of people pour in each day to relax, socialize, and enjoy a friendly game of cornhole. If you’re looking for something to nibble on, neighboring restaurant OTR Chili has a stand in the taproom serving a few of their specials. If you’re lucky enough to visit Cincinnati during the warmer months, head up to the rooftop bar. Here, you can enjoy the view with a refreshing brew in hand.
Another of Cincinnati’s most popular breweries, MadTree is located just a short drive from downtown in the Oakley neighborhood. Established in 2013, MadTree has made it their mission to brew great craft beer while also taking care of the environment. MadTree dedicates itself to volunteer work, planting trees, raising awareness, and providing customers with ample opportunity to get involved.
MadTree boasts 7 year-round beers, including their famous Legendary Lager, Psychopathy IPA, and Happy Amber Ale. Psychopathy is arguably one of the best IPAs in Cincinnati, while Happy Amber adds a hoppy twist to your typical amber, making it a crowd favorite. Their seasonals also deserve some love. The ¡Ahuevo! Mexican style-hot chocolate stout is a standout among many others. On any given day, you’ll find over 12 beers to choose from at the taproom.
As for food, MadTree has an in-house kitchen called Catch-a-Fire Pizza whose menu items will pair perfectly with your beer. The taproom itself is spacious, with an outdoor patio that’s covered and heated during winter. It’s worth noting that they don’t take reservations, so get there early!
They’re also getting ready to open a new bar and restaurant in Over-the-Rhine in March 2022: Alcove by MadTree, so be sure to stop in.
Located about 30 minutes north of downtown, Sonder Brewing opened in 2016. Sonder was founded on the principle that everyone has a story, and that beer is no different. They’ve dedicated themselves to releasing a podcast with each core beer explaining the story behind its creation. The goal is to really bring their customers into the brewing process.
Sonder boasts 4 year-round beers including their Voss kolsch, Blanc white ale, the award-winning You Betcha! NE IPA, and Record Hop IPA. While this is a solid lineup, their unique seasonal and limited-release creations are what stand out. They feature quite a few milkshake IPAs and dessert beers for adventurous drinkers to try. They’ve also teamed up with Kings Island, the local amusement park, on a few brews. This includes their Giga Coaster lager and the seasonal Blue Ice Cream Ale.
In the taproom, you can find upwards of 10 beers on deck. Their taproom also features BrewRiver Kitchen, serving up apps like loaded tots and gumbo, along with salads, burgers, and more. There’s also a large outdoor area featuring fire pits and a giant Jenga set to get some competitive spirit going.
Fretboard Brewing Company
Located in Blue Ash about 20 minutes north of downtown, Fretboard was voted Ohio’s best new brewery in 2018. Fretboard is focused on – you guessed it – music. Fretboard strives to foster creativity and create a community for those who share a love for music and brews. True to their mission, they host open mic nights weekly and they have live music every Friday and Saturday. Check the schedule on their website to see what’s coming up.
And what would live music be without some fresh brews? With 7 year-round beers including their Trey amber ale, Vlad pilsner, and a wide selection of IPAs, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Fretboard is also home to the 3x Gold Medal IPA Bootsy Brewski, brewed in collaboration with the Bootsy Collins Foundation.
When you visit the taproom, you’ll typically find about 15 beers on tap: their year-rounders along with some standout seasonals. When you get peckish, chow down on some barbecue and bar bites from the Smoked Out Cincy kitchen onsite.
March First Brewing and Distilling
March First, named for the founding date of Ohio (March 1, 1803), is the city’s only brewery, distillery, and cidery all rolled into one. Opened in 2017, in just a few short years March First has made a name for itself among no easy competition. They specialize in “drinkable craft beers”, hard seltzers, ciders made from purely Ohio ingredients, and craft whiskey, gin, rum, and vodka.
Their taproom is located in Sycamore Township, about a 20-minute drive north of downtown. Their lineup includes some year-round favorites along with creative seasonals. If you’re looking to try a mainstay, check out their Craft Lager, Highpoint IPA, Irish Red, or Red Cream Soda. They also offer 6 flavors of cider, 5 independently-branded craft spirits, and a line of hard seltzers. At any given time, they have upwards of 15 options on tap for you to choose from.
The taproom itself includes an event space and an outdoor patio with fire pits, perfect for almost any weather. They have pizza, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers onsite in case you get hungry. They also host trivia nights and sports watch parties if you’re looking for a place to watch the game with an enthusiastic crowd.
Located in Northside, Urban Artifact’s taproom is in the basement of St. Patrick’s Church.
Specializing in fruited and sour beers, this is one of the most unique breweries in Cincinnati, but it’s found its niche. Opened in 2016, Urban Artifact has gathered a cult following within the city. They pride themselves on using real fruit and brewing several styles of sours, including traditional gose and barrel-aged sours.
Their perennial beers consist of their beloved Spyglass lemon lime tart, The Gadget raspberry and blackberry Midwest fruit tart, and Finn tart pale ale. They also specialize in small batch beer, most of which are enticing flavors of fruit tarts. Their impressive lineup of seasonals is what catches most people’s eye, though. If you’re a fan of The Gadget, you’ll love the seasonal flavored versions. You’ll also want to try the Waterbird pink guava fruit tart, Tumi yellow mombin fruit tart, and Pinwheel orange fruit tart.
The taproom seats several hundred people, and their courtyard is one of the best outdoor spots to have a beer in the entire city. They also have Wildfire Pizza Kitchen onsite if you’re hungry. With this unconventional taproom, a live music venue, and a full bar, Urban Artifact is the place to be in Northside.
Braxton Brewing Company
With several locations in the Greater Cincinnati area, Braxton is one of the city’s classics. Family-owned and operated, Braxton’s first location is in Covington, KY, a short drive across the river from downtown Cincinnati. This taproom is their mainstay and the one we recommend you visit if you want an authentic taste of Braxton. It also boasts a rooftop area you can enjoy during summer. If you visit during winter, you can rent a heated igloo on the rooftop for your group.
Braxton Brewing boasts a number of year-round beers that have quickly become essential items for locals. Their year-round roster includes their Storm golden cream ale, Tropic Flare NE IPA, and Garage Beer premium lager. They have tons of seasonals, limited releases, and a new line of hard seltzers available, as well. They’ve also teamed up with Cincinnati ice cream chain Graeter’s on a special edition: the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip stout.
If you visit the taproom and still want more, visit the Braxton Barrel House, located just south of Covington. In addition, Braxton will soon be opening another location in the Pendleton neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati. Finally, you can visit their most unique location: Braxton Labs. Located inside the Party Source store in Bellevue (Covington-adjacent), Braxton Labs is used to experiment with different types of beers and get feedback from customers. If you want to have a say in the creative process, head to the lab.
Christian Moerlein Brewing Company
Established in 1853 by Bavarian immigrant Christian Moerlein, the company was on the leading edge of brewing until Prohibition. However, Moerlein bounced back with a vengeance in 1981. True to Bavarian principles and the wishes of Moerlein himself, the only ingredients they use today are malted barley, yeast, hops, and water. The brewery has won upwards of 10 awards within the city of Cincinnati and beyond.
Today, the Moerlein Lager House operates as a popular pub with a full kitchen, a bar boasting over 100 craft beers (including all Moerlein beers currently available), and a microbrewery. Located across from Great American Ballpark, this convenient location is hard to beat.
Moerlein has stuck with the classics for their year-rounders: Smithy Helles lager, Rivet West Coast IPA, and Groove hazy IPA. Many of their seasonals pay homage to Moerlein’s German heritage, featuring their Wootz Marzen Oktoberfest, Billet Munich dunkel lager, and Bar Bender doppelbock. You’ll also find pale ales, hefeweizens, and cream ales at the Lager House when they’re in season.
If you’re feeling peckish, choose an item from their extensive menu, featuring everything from burgers to filet mignon and traditional German sausage plates. They also do brunch on weekends, so don’t miss out.
Taft’s Brewing Company
Founded in Cincinnati in 2015, Taft’s Brewing Company has built an empire that has now spread throughout the great state of Ohio. Their headquarters and brewing facility remain in Cincinnati, using equipment imported from Germany to ensure the highest quality beer is brewed.
Taft’s has an impressive lineup of both year-round and seasonal beers. Some of their most popular year-rounders are their Gavel Banger IPA, Cold Boy lager, and Cherrywood Amber Ale. Seasonal favorites include their Santa’s Bribe Christmas Cookie Ale, Nellie’s Winter Ale, and Oktubberfest Festbier.
Taft’s Ale House is situated in Over-the-Rhine, just a short walk from Washington Park. The Ale House is located inside what was once St. Paul’s Evangelical Church – the oldest Protestant place of worship in the city built in 1850. Along with a selection of year-round and seasonal beers, the Ale House serves bar food like burgers, sandwiches, salads, and delicious appetizers. They also host trivia nights, mixology classes, and other events, so check the calendar for what’s on while you’re in town.
Taft’s Brewporium is located at the main headquarters on Spring Grove Road. The Brewporium has more of a traditional taproom feel and typically has more options on tap than the Ale House. They also have a pizza kitchen onsite.
Humble Monk Brewing Company
Located in Northside, Humble Monk focuses on brewing beer with a strong Belgian influence. Opened in 2019, about 80% of their brewing equipment has been repurposed for the brewhouse and taproom. Their taproom and beer garden are quite cozy, the perfect place to grab a pint.
They typically have upwards of 10 beers on tap, which include some of their year-rounders and seasonals. Crowd-pleasers include their Goldi Lincks Belgian blonde, Krampus Krumps wheat ale, Haze Goggles IPA, and Peaceful Pear saison.
As for food, NYPD Pizza delivers to the Humble Monk’s taproom for free. They also occasionally have food trucks onsite, or you can bring your own food in.
West Side Brewing
Located in the Westwood neighborhood, this brewery has relied largely on Kickstarter campaigns to make this one of the best taprooms in town. The space offers at least 30 draft beers daily, including year-rounders, seasonals, and limited releases.
This brew team likes to keep it simple, brewing traditional styles of beer with the highest quality ingredients. In fact, they don’t even name their beers – they let the taste speak for itself. The core lineup is strong, consisting of their amber ale, session IPA, DIPA, hefeweizen, and common ale. Their seasonals include variations of IPAs, a pilsner, an Oktoberfest, a stout, and many more.
They also have a jam-packed events calendar. They host different food trucks, live music, BBQ nights, trivia, and even yoga and kickboxing classes.
Fibonacci Brewing Company
This unique nano brewery is located in Mount Healthy. Focusing on hybrids and non-traditionals, a visit to Fibonacci is an experience for casual beer drinkers and beer connoisseurs alike. The brewery also operates as an urban farm and has an Airbnb onsite. Fibonacci takes pride in locally sourcing ingredients for at least 80% of their beers, whether that’s via local farms, foraging, or producing it themselves.
Their entire current lineup is available on tap at the brewery at all times. They have 4 year-round roster members, including their Tollhouse American Stout, Earth Daisy DIPA, Hoy Tripel Belgian tripel, and Oberhausen Kolsch Style Ale. Their seasonal lineup, however, is what’s most impressive. They brew everything from several flavors of session mead to sour ales, cream ales, and goses. Their creativity shines with items like their American Stout with Indian Spices and their Irish Red with Honey. And to expand their roster even more, they also operate as a winery, serving Vidal Blanc and Cabernet.
If you visit during summer, check out their onsite Farmer’s Market on the first Sunday of the month. They also host workshops and live music on weekends. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, you can carry in food from local restaurants or visit one of the food trucks on site.
50 West Brewing Company
Located along Route 50 West, this brewing company has locations in both Cincinnati and Chillicothe. 50 West’s mission is to bring customers a taste of the 50 West road trip, stretching from Sacramento, CA, to Ocean City, MD.
Their tap beers include year-round favorites as well as limited releases and seasonals. Members of their year-round roster you have to try are their American Lager, Doom Pedal white ale, Coast to Coast IPA, and Turn This Car Around raspberry sour. Seasonals include their Blindspot Spiced Oatmeal Stout, Dark Czech lager, and German Chocolate Cake stout. There’s also a burger bar at the taproom.
Located on Wooster Pike along the Little Miami River, there’s plenty of outdoor adventuring to be had here, as long as there’s a beer in hand. You can play beach volleyball, pickleball, and cornhole onsite.
Nine Giant Brewing
Located in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood, Nine Giant Brewpub offers 10 rotating taps daily. Nine of these are Nine Giant beers, while one is a guest tap reserved for beers from other local breweries. The cozy taproom seats about 70 and they also have a back patio space.
Their award-winning small-batch beers include their Lost Positives IPA, Cherry Tree Lager, Save Ferris Sour, and Midnight to Morning porter. The Brewpub also has an onsite scratch kitchen, and the food at Nine Giant has won awards of its own accord.
They also recently opened a second location around the corner from the Brewpub: the Fermentorium. This location specializes in barrel-aged and small batch beers along with tiki cocktails. If someone in your group has a hankering for something other than beer, this is the place to go.
Cincinnati Best breweries Wrap-Up
There you have it: the 14 best breweries in Cincinnati. Of course, there are many more to explore in and around the city. However, these are perhaps the most representative of the quality of Cincinnati’s ever-evolving craft beer scene. These local favorites will never disappoint. If you manage to visit all these and are thirsty for more, check out these honorable mentions: