When it comes to, well, just about anything someone can possibly write about, never let it be said that I was content to sit back and allow a few hundred words to suffice for a topic that I might easily run into the ground with a thousand more.
Wait, wait, wait. Come back! Please. I promise, there won’t really be a thousand words in this post. I hope.
That said, I feel compelled to add a few words about the announcement that Tom so effective (and more concisely) covered yesterday regarding the all-local tap transition coming soon to Arthur’s Café in Hyde Park.
I mean, holy cow, people, you do realize the significance of this right? I mean, admittedly, it’s not quite as astounding as, well, sending a human being to the moon, or circumnavigating the globe by the power of the wind alone, or well, the Bengals becoming a source of civic pride, or anything. But it’s almost there.
Honestly, in my opinion, the magic isn’t so much that it’s going to happen, because, really, if you think about the current state of local brewing, someone was going to do it before too long. Good for Arthur’s Café for being the first ones to seize the opportunity and make an event from it. What amazes me, really, when I stop to think about it, is that we’ve gotten to the point that such a thing is a realistic – aka potentially profitable – possibility for a local bar.
As Tom wrote, this wouldn’t have been possible when he and Carla started Hoperatives. For that matter, it still wouldn’t have been an option when I started writing for them nearly two years ago. In a very short period of time, we’ve come what seems like a very long way in getting back some of past brewing glory.
Of course, that’s not to say we’re likely to ever return the city’s brewing industry to the levels seen back in our 19th Century heyday. Some say that’s fine, so long as someday the name Cincinnati is spoken in the same breath as the other Meccas of America’s craft brewing renaissance, such as Portland, Denver, and San Diego. And you know, maybe someday we’ll get there. It’s not like the brewers around town are hesitant to deviate from brewing with a single strain of yeast and a business plan that says you have to have a pale ale, a red ale, and a brown ale. No, we’ve got award-winning brewers happily dreaming of experiments with crazy-sounding things like brandy barrels, local espresso, wild yeasts, etc.
But then again, maybe we won’t ever get that kind of notoriety.
Here’s the thing, though: it doesn’t matter. Because the best damned thing about this city (sometimes) is that we do things our way, to our liking. In this case, that’s meant building a brewing industry focused on community, not competition. It means that for Cincinnati Winter Beerfest, our brewers get together with their white mad-scientist lab coats and brewed something together, for everyone. It means that when the taps at Arthur’s go all-local – not for an evening, mind you, or a weekend, or even a week, but an entire month – and representatives from each brewery come to the big event, there won’t be any nasty looks, snide remarks, or childish brewing melodrama between them. In fact, from what I understand, they’re like as not to each get a round of the other’s brew and talk shop.
Cincinnati may not be the flashiest craft brew city in the US; it might not have the most breweries, or the biggest ones, and we might still have a ways to go to make that list above. But we’ve come a long way, baby. You can see it and feel it all around town. And next month, just how far we’ve come will be made manifest in a line-up of shiny, familiar tap handles at Arthur’s Café in Hyde Park.
I, for one, am positively giddy that we’ve reached such a milestone, and that I’ve had the opportunity over the past few years to support our local brewers along the way.
And because that industry is comprised of good people make good products, I’m even happier to continue that support, whether that be at the bar, in the store, or heck, even with just with a bit of cheerleading.
It’s (finally) a new day for brewing in Cincinnati, and it’s got me me wondering how far, together, we can go.
I suppose the only way to find out is bottoms up!