Moerlein Lager House
In the craft beer world, it’s all about the beer. And it should be. However, food is an element often overlooked and forgotten about. But not at the Moerlein Lager House where the food and beer work together to create the ultimate Cincinnati experience.
Declaring that Moerlein Lager House offers the ultimate Cincinnati experience isn’t something I take lightly. Born and raised in this great city, I am completely aware of many other venues that would want to be considered for that kind of praise.
It gets this kind of recognition from me because it offers amazing beer, food, service and view of the city. It does all of this without being pretentious or unapproachable.
Let’s dive into what this brewpub is all about.
Origin Story: Why This Brewpub Exists?
If you read my recent article about the History Of Christian Moerlein, then you’ll know much of the history of this iconic beer brand.
The short story is an immigrant from Bavaria found himself in Cincinnati in the mid 1800’s. He began brewing beer and by the time that he passed in 1897, Christian Moerlein had established one of the larger breweries in the region.
Prohibition eventually forced the brewery to close until the brand was revitalized in the late 1980’s. At that time it would help usher in the craft beer movement that we know today. Yes, there were many influential brands at that time but the Moerlein brand was unique because it followed the German Purity Laws (Rheinheitsgobot) for brewing.
Eventually, the brand was brought back to Cincinnati by Greg Hardman. Since 2004, he has been working to build this brewery back to it’s original glory.
Part of that plan included a brewpub that opened in early 2012.
Christian Moerlein also has a full scale brewery, packaging facility and taproom that they operate in the OTR area of Cincinnati. But that story is for a future article.
What To Expect
One of my fears is not giving this venue the credit it deserves so please note that going here and really looking at the details is the only way to truly understand. But take this as an introduction to what you’ll experience.
Changes To Downtown Cincinnati
The Moerlein Lager House is part of the huge riverfront development that Cincinnati has gone through in the past few years. The development focused on two areas: the riverfront area and the space between the Red’s and Bengal’s stadiums.
The riverfront area has become the beautiful Smale Park which uses the Roebling Bridge as the focal point. It has lots of green space as well as places for all types of people to gather.
The area between the two stadiums became what we call The Banks. It’s a mix use space featuring restaurants, offices and residences. The Moerlein Lager House sits on one of the main corners in The Banks facing Smale Park – directly across from the Great American Ballpark which is home to the Red’s.
This development was a huge shift in how many viewed downtown Cincinnati and brought new life to this area. And this brewpub is a key part to this strategy.
Christian Moerlein Lager House
As described, this restaurant and brewery is an anchor in this grand development and the architecture is as much modern as it is timeless.
Upon entering, you’ll notice the brew house to your left. On brew days, you’ll find my friend Eric in there. To the right of the brew house, is a gift shop.
Immediately in the center of the lobby, is a huge display that shows what the brewery would have looked like back in the 1800’s. The Moerlein story is told via a timeline across the bottom while vintage bottles on the right give a visual of how times have changed.
Continuing to the right, you’ll see a hostess stand with a large bar immediately behind it. The first floor features plenty of seating as well as a biergarten area.
Upstairs there is another bar as well as more seating which includes a balcony level if you want to sit outside. This is where I prefer to sit as long as the weather permits as it gives an amazing view of the Roebling Bridge.
Most of the exterior walls are glass which gives sweeping views of the river, downtown spaces, Smale Park and of course the Roebling Bridge. It is a stunning view and really highlights everything that this development is about.
This brewpub has identical kitchens on both floors which allows them to meet the demands of any size crowd. And considering that it can seat up to 500, that’s quite a feat.
Everywhere you look, there are unique touches that gives it character. There’s a mural featuring the Cincinnati Beer Barons of the 1800’s along with Greg Hardman. Some of the walls mimic the underground lagering tunnels used at the original brewery. And the private event space has beautiful doors along with display cases featuring ornate Rookwood steins.
There are details everywhere you look that make you realize this is more than just a brewpub; it is uniquely Cincinnati.
Despite having a full scale brewery just up the road, they have a very impressive brewing setup onsite.
Here’s what they are working with:
- 3-Vessel 15 bbl Brewhouse – Mash Mixer, Lauter and Kettle
- Two 15 bbl and seven 30 bbl Fermenters
The brewhouse is on the main floor as you walk in but the fermenters are one level below.
They brew a wide range of beers at the brewpub; including many experimental beers. The large brewery focuses on putting out their tried and true products that are primarily packaged while the brewpub gets to have all of the fun.
Eric Baumann is the VP of Brewing for all of Christian Moerlein’s brands but he is stationed at the brewpub where he can work on expanding their portfolio and evolving the brand through new beers.
So if you think you know what to expect from them, make sure you pay attention as I think they will continue to surprise and impress us.
There’s a lot to love about the craft beer that you’ll find at the Moelein Lager House.
- They have over 20 craft beers on tap
- More than a handful of those are guest taps
- Of their house beers, many are lagers
- More can/bottle beer than you can imagine
Add all of that up and you’ll have well over 100 different options to choose from. If you can’t find a beer you like here then you must not like beer.
And it bears repeating, they are quite proud of the lagers they offer. It is in their name for a reason, they truly embrace this part of their heritage. This is a huge advantage for them as they can meet the taste of any beer drinker.
They also offer a Stein Club for the ultimate enthusiast. Your Rookwood stein will be kept in a locker onsite and you’ll enjoy discounts on everything from beer to merchandise.
What To Eat When You Visit
When I write about breweries, this part is normally kind of simple. But that is where a brewpub’s advantage really comes alive.
I’ve had quite a few meals here and I’ve always been really happy with the entire experience. Service has been top notch, the venue is beautiful and the food fits perfectly.
I’ve had sandwiches, fish tacos, appetizers and more. Every dish has had it’s own indivdual taste and stands on it’s own. Many of the dishes pay homage to the German heritage of the company’s namesake and the culture of the area.
In addition, they like to change up the menu with the season so always be on the lookout for something new.
If I had to make a recommendation, I would say “don’t skip the appetizer”. The short rib poutine is amazing. It will require at least four people to eat it but you won’t regret it. The meat and cheese board is a lighter option that you can’t find at most restaurants and is also really good.
Craft Beer Dinners
To take it to the next level, The Moerlein Lager House offers monthly beer dinners. These occur on the third Wednesday of every month.
They feature a different brewery each month. The chef is given the beers in advance and a full menu is created with the beer pairings in mind. In fact, the beer is often used in the cooking process where possible.
These are a ticketed events and often sell out so if you are interested then follow them on Facebook. And be sure to buy tickets early because these dinners sell out.
Monday – Thursday 11 AM – Midnight
Friday & Saturday 11 AM – 1 AM
Sunday 11 AM – 11 PM
Connect With Moerlein Lager House
I love Cincinnati, our breweries and our food. The deep history we have as a city is something to be celebrated.
And that’s why I appreciate this brewpub as much as I do. They truly embrace the past while providing an experience that is paving the way for the future of downtown Cincinnati and craft beer.
I often suggest this brewpub to those that visit Cincinnati because I can guarantee that they will have a complete experience. An experience that only Christian Moerlein and Cincinnati can provide.
And it doesn’t end there. The Moerlein Lager House hosts events on a continual basis. From Bengals Nation during football season to the Red’s Opening Day events to FC Cincinnati viewing parties, they are an intricate part of Cincinnati Sports.
They are also looking to add more beer and food events to help everyone better understand how they become better together.
So keep an eye on this modern, traditional brewery as they have a lot to offer from great beer to great food to special events.
Have You Been To The Moerlein Lager House?