The Greater Cincinnati area has seen an explosion of new breweries over the past 3 years. One of those is Wooden Cask. Located in Newport, Kentucky (just across the river from Cincinnati), Wooden Cask lives by the motto that “you deserve a well-crafted more flavorful beer”.
With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at what makes Wooden Cask stand out from the crowd in a busy Greater Cincinnati craft beer market.
Origin Story: Wooden Cask – 2 Decades In The Making
Back in 1998, Randy started homebrewing. It started in the kitchen (as most do) and soon it had gotten too large so his wife, Karen, made him move to the garage.
After a decade of brewing for himself, he became a professional brewer and partner in a Cincinnati brewery. While he had a lot of success in the five years he was there, not everything is made to last forever.
So Randy and Karen set out to open their own brewery. After looking for a building for over a year and then renovating for another, they opened Wooden Cask on November 12, 2016.
They chose the Northern Kentucky / Newport area because craft beer is all about community. Randy and Karen wanted to open a brewery that was close to where they lived. In addition, that area was lacking a strong craft beer presence compared to other areas in the region.
A quick note about the name of the brewery, a wooden cask is the traditional serving method for beer. This is a direct reflection of who they are and the beer they sell. More on that next.
What To Expect
You can’t miss Wooden Cask as you drive down York Street. They are the large brown building on the left side of the road with their name down the side of the building.
They have their own private lot which is a rarity in this part of town. So you can rest assured that visiting them will be easy.
Once inside, the taproom opens up in front of you. The space is very wide which I think makes it a great space. You can easily find yourself a spot off to one of the sides if you want or sit at the bar which is in the center of the space.
The taproom can hold at least 150 people with a dog-friendly patio that can accommodate 50 more.
The wood bar has elements that remind me of a traditional pub but with a modern touch. Randy and Karen refer to the style of the taproom as Industrial British Pub. The building is quite old and many elements (like the original ceiling) give it a lot of character. There are high and low top tables, and couches so you have lots of space to relax.
They have 18 taps which means there is always a wide variety of styles on tap at all times; I’ll get into the beer styles a little further into this article.
History Of Their Building
Just as interesting as their beer, their building has a long history.
Built in 1887, it was originally a 2 floor bowling alley. Fast forward a few decades and you’ll find a time period when the mob was very active in this area. They forced the bowling alley out and converted the building into a casino and club. The marble floors are still there to prove it. The Newport Gangster Tour uses this as one of their stops to help tell the history of the area.
There are stories of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe being there when it was in its prime.
For a while, this building was known as the Jockey Club which was a premier punk rock venue in the 80’s. Bands like the Ramones played there as it was the mecca of punk rock in this area.
It had a less exciting recent history as it was used by a cab company for the last few decades.
Now Wooden Cask calls this building home and is leaving their own mark on its history.
Unlike many breweries, you can’t see the brewhouse from the taproom. It is in the back part of the building which is sectioned off. In many ways, this is a positive as it allows the taproom to stand on its own as a great place to meet and drink.
But since you have to brew beer in order to drink it, the brewhouse is important. Here is what Wooden Cask is working with.
- 15 bbl brewhouse
- Three 15 bbl fermenters
- Two 30 bbl fermenters
This size system gives them a lot of flexibility. They can brew half batches to produce a small 7 bbl run all the way up to a double batch at 30 bbl.
They are able to keep a wide variety of beer on tap at all times which keeps their customer happy and coming back for more.
Just as the name of the brewery suggests, Wooden Cask brews traditional craft beer.
They focus in on English, Irish, and Scottish styles. This gives them a wide range of flavors to bring into their beers as well as some fun options for barrel-aging.
They have 18 taps, two of which are nitro. While they offer a lot of options at all times, they consider these to be their flagship beers:
7th Street Runoff
Brown Ale | IBUs: 25 ABV: 5.2%
Dark reddish-brown ale, infused with the sweet malt aroma of toffee and a dry finish. Light body with low carbonation gives the perception of a much bigger beer.
English Ordinary Ale – Nitro | IBUs: 25 ABV: 4.4%
Complex style beer has a bready malt flavor with an earthy, hop aroma. A fine, off-white head combines with rich amber color to make this beer impressive in sight and taste.
This is Randy’s favorite which makes it a must-try beer when you stop in.
Scottish Stout – Nitro | IBUs: 32 ABV: 7.5%
Chocolate with hint of roasted grain, this dark brown beer has a long lasting head. A hint of dark fruit and low carbonation means this beer glides across your tongue.
English Brown Porter | IBUs: 22 ABV: 5%
Dark brown in color with ruby highlights and a long lasting off-white head. The toasted bread and dark fruit flavors combine for a very rich palate.
They are constantly expanding their offerings and have a barleywine that will be released soon as well as some Belgian beers too.
The Wooden Cask team is dedicated to producing high quality beer that has its root in tradition but still meets the flavor profile of the modern craft beer drinker.
And you can take their beer home with you. Currently, they bottle 11 beers that can be purchased in the taproom or at many retail shops in Northern Kentucky.
One of my favorite topics is learning how breweries are giving back to their local community.
Wooden Cask has partnered with the Newport Professional Firefighters Local 45 I.A.F.F to brew a special craft beer.
It is called Local 45 and it is a light bodied American Ale that the firefighters really enjoy. Wooden Cask donates $1 for every pint of this beer that is sold. These funds help the firefighters do good in the Newport area including a scholarship program and outreach during the Holidays.
And it doesn’t stop there, Wooden Cask works with local charities to host special events where they give $1 of any beer sold to that charity. That’s 20% which is quite high for a program like this.
Randy and Karen truly love supporting their local community in this way.
What To Eat When You Visit
Wooden Cask doesn’t offer food; however, they are considering leasing out a portion of the taproom to a restaurant in the future.
For now, they often use food trucks to meet the need for food. In addition, the Newport area offers a ton of food options, here are a few to check out:
Feel free to grab food from one of these spots and bring it into the taproom so you can eat while you enjoy their craft beer.
Related Article: Impact Beer Vs Drinking Beer
Monday 3 pm – 10 pm Tuesday 3 pm – 10 pm
Wednesday 3 pm – 10 pm Thursday 3 pm – 10 pm
Friday 3 pm – 11 pm Saturday 12 pm – 11 pm Sunday 12 pm – 8 pm
*Note: Their Hours Do Change With The Season As They Offer Longer Hours During The Warmer Months
Connect With Wooden Cask
It’s hard to standout in a crowd of nearly 50 breweries but Wooden Cask does that by providing a great taproom experience and first-class traditional styles of craft beer.
Now for some, when they hear traditional, they may think boring, light, low ABV or only lagers. But that is not the case at all. Wooden Cask is focused on English, Irish and Scottish ales that have big flavor, a wide range in ABV and I have a feeling you’ll really love what they make.
My favorites from them have been the Newporter, Reformation and their barrel-aged Corruption. All three of these beers have nice body and big flavor.
And if you get a chance, ask Randy why he likes the Yorkshire. Chances are he’ll make you a fan of that beer before you leave.
What Are Your Favorite Traditional Ales?