Cincinnati doesn’t want for much in the beer department, but there are certainly breweries that stand out among the rest. I think of it like French fries: they’re all great, but some are simply better than others. Blank Slate is one of those standouts. I have never met a Blank Slate beer I didn’t like and they even brew my favorite beer of all time.
Sadly, it wasn’t until I started working at a craft beer bar in December did I have the pleasure of trying anything from Blank Slate. And soon thereafter I got to check out their taproom — what was once a one-man operation expanded and opened the brewery to the public in late 2014. It is one of my favorite taprooms in the city, as it is relatively small, friendly, and unassuming. The bartenders have always been personable, flights are super reasonable (four tasters for $5), there is seating outside, there are chalkboard walls in the bathrooms (that part gets pretty immature in the witching hours post-flights), and they even have food once in a while (think food trucks and hot dogs).
But back to the beer.
The majestic collaboration brew that is the exemplary marriage of roasted stout goodness and BonBonerie’s Opera Cream Cake, Blank Slate’s Opera Cream Stout is the best beer I have ever had (out of about 200 distinct beers to date, according to Untappd). Scott (“founder, proprietor, janitor, and yeast farmer”) and his team somehow perfected the Opera Cream Stout without it becoming too rich, but man, did they do it. Its popularity prompted a pretty massive production and distribution (for what was supposed to be a limited release beer, anyway), but now it sits dormant until — I am hoping — dark beer season returns.
In addition to The Best Beer I’ve Had, Blank Slate features many wonderful options that vary pretty widely in the land of brew. Always go for a flight, as there are four+ great beers on tap at all times. Some other favorites include:
RYEsing Up – rye saison with peppercorn
Shroominous – brown ale with shiitake mushroom (not “mushroomy” so much as “earthy”)
Fork in the Road – India amber ale
Orchid’s Bloom – saison/farmhouse ale (limited release)
Blank Slate does beer so well and so expansively. If you’ve never had any of it, do. If you’ve never been, go.