Thankful For the Better Beer in Cincinnati (and beyond, too)

Lo, the many years ago, when I first started writing for Hoperatives (that is, back in the fall of 2010, when I had way more free time and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), one of the very first posts I rambled out in typical Puddin fashion was for Thanksgiving that year.  It related my experience from the turkey day the year prior, when I was appallingly inconsiderate to the point of offering my guests nothing but tasty craft beers for the day. Such gall I had! The cooler was conspicuously (and pointedly) free of anything I considered somewhat flavorless.

After all, it was my party, right? If you’re going to eat my turkey, then you should be prepared to drink my beer, too.

As likely comes as no surprise to the readers of this blog, the experiment was a smashing success. At the end of the day, the number of bottles remaining in my cooler equaled the number of complaints I’d received about having the audacity to skimp on the InBevMilloors options: ZERO.

The following year, then, in that first ever Hoperatives Thanksgiving post, I pondered what beers I should offer in the hopes of both making everyone a little happier while maybe taking things up a notch. You know, rolling everyone up to that fabled next level.

In the end, I came up with a solid list, one that I’d still proudly offer today.  But, of the five types of beer I iced down that day as the Detroit Lions were executing their annual march to NFL defeat, only two of them were local brews. And even those arguably strained the definition of “local”.

Finding myself now less than twenty-four hours away from having the whole fam damily over again for a day dedicated to turkey, football, each other, thankfulness, and (who am I kidding) pie and tasty brews, it’s time to settle on the beer list for this year.  As I contemplated that very question last night (yes, that likely explains the faint burning odor you thought you smelled), I realized something fairly important.

Oh, what a difference three years makes.

Because, this year, it’s not only feasible, but kind of favorable, to offer my guests beers brewed solely in the greater Cincinnati area. As anyone who’s been a Hoperatives reader for any length of time knows, today is glorious day to be a beer drinker in Cincinnati. While we’re not quite offering the volume that pre-Prohibition brewers did, we are still blessed with an embarrassing bounty of malty, hoppy riches, all produced in a twenty miles radius around downtown. I won’t name all the brewers and breweries again (the list is so long now!), but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I find the near-meteoric rise in our local brewing community a bit staggering.

Could I have cobbled together a local’s only list of brews three years ago? Sure, yes.  But my options would have been limited. Too many of the same labels all in the same ice bath. This year, though, there will be no repeats. I’ll be slipping the offerings of four or five different brewers into that ice, each one local, and each capable of going toe-to-toe with the brands and bottles of brewers hundreds of miles away.

Looking back to where this city was when I first starting writing for Hoperatives three years ago, I’d say that’s something to be damned proud of.

From all of us at Hoperatives, then, to all of our fellow believers in better beer out there, here’s to a full glass, a full plate, a full stomach, and a happy Thanksgiving all around!