Review: Craft Connection

By now you all probably know how much I love my breweries (archived brewery posts here), so when the opportunity arose to go on a Craft Connection tour, I had to do it. And, well, I decided to double it as Monthiversary Vol. 13.

The initial tour I signed up for ended up being cancelled because it was scheduled the week after Blank Slate closed. (Wahhh. Still too soon.) With Blank Slate out of the equation and having been to every brewery on the tour, I decided on three that I love and am happy to visit whenever possible: Listermann, Nine Giant, and Fifty West.

We met at Nation Kitchen & Bar and from there we set off on a 3.5-hour tour to three breweries in the area. The rules on the tour bus were basic, though I didn’t care for the “No Justin Bieber” rule. His music is way better than most people give him credit for.

I digress.

Our tour guide was John, a homebrewer and current brewery employee who was extremely knowledgeable about the brewing process and the breweries we visited. He really knew his stuff, and for someone like me who’s been to every brewery in the city, I was looking for a unique experience I wouldn’t get during any ol’ taproom visit. I specifically chose those three breweries because they are some of my favorites, and I learned a lot about each. In fact, I’d never been inside the production facility at any of them. Plus I got to try a number of new-to-me beers. Wins all around.

Photo Oct 15, 6 44 42 PM
Craft Connection tour bus
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Brewery list

I’ll break down the trip by brewery, including some background information and the beers we got to try at each — 12 brews hand-picked by our tour guide to provide a full spectrum of beer styles for the group of us on the tour.

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Pouring some of the goods at Listermann
Photo Jul 29, 12 35 54 PM-edited
Interior at Listermann – “Beer is good at every hour.”

Listerman Brewing Company
Size: 7 barrel production facility with taproom, indoor beer garden, and Renegade Grille.
Brief history: Started as an online brewing supply store in 1991 before brewing began in 2006 and the taproom opened in 2008 (when it became legal).
Fun fact: They get their hops from Yakima Valley in Washington.
Beers:
Pre-Prohibition Lager (lager)
Jungle Honey: Godmode (pale ale)
Hank The Dumpster Kitty* (New England IPA)
Blueberry Pancake Cider* (cider)

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Tap handles at Nine Giant
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Nine Giant kegs and branding
Photo Jun 03, 7 17 08 PM-edited
Interior at Nine Giant (taken earlier this summer)

Nine Giant
Size: 5 barrel production in a 3400 square foot facility (including restaurant, production, and taproom).
Brief history: Opened in 2015 after Mike, cofounder and head brewer, had been homebrewing for more than 20 years.
Fun fact: They try to rotate a full spectrum of styles regularly: high gravity, seasonal, IPA, sour, saison, etc. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Beers:
Hibiscus Heartbreaker* (witbier)
Crooked Rain (New England IPA)
Happiness is All the Rage (guava ginger Berliner Weisse)
Fountain & Fairfax* (milk stout)

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Kegs with branding at Fifty West
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Decor at Fifty West Production Works
Photo Sep 23, 1 44 38 PM-edited
Interior at Fifty West Pro Works

Fifty West Production Works
Size: 20 barrel production facility — the largest of our tour.
Brief history: Fifty West Brewing opened its brewpub in 2012 and has since expanded into the Production Works as a “lifestyle brewery,” featuring canoeing, volleyball, and bicycling.
Fun fact: Fifty West has managed to become one of the largest breweries in Cincinnati with self distribution and very little can and bottle production. Expect more of the latter as they’ve recently signed an agreement with Stagnaro to handle distribution in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Beers:
Doom Pedal (white ale)
Joint Ops Dry-Hopped Sour (dry-hopped kettle sour)
Blaketoberfest (Oktoberfest)
Backpacker’s Breakfast* (breakfast stout)

I really enjoyed my experience with Craft Connection and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a unique way to visit breweries in the area. Even if they’re breweries you’ve previously been, I’m going to bet that you’ll learn a lot more than you already knew.

To view the calendar and sign up for a Craft Connection tour, click here. With the holidays coming up, it’s a great way to shop local for the beer fans in your life.

*New to me beer

—————

Some background
Every month on our around the day we got married (the 8th), we decided to challenge ourselves to try somewhere new. This seems easy enough, but we want to be sure that we are still exploring, trying new places, and essentially still dating each other, even now as an old married couple.

In 2013, after about six months of dating, I started Tour de Cincinnati. I set out on a journey to try a new place or restaurant every week for 52 weeks of that year. I’m happy to report that I achieved that goal in both 2013 and 2014 despite the fact that it got to be pretty expensive and obligatory at times. We got to try so many places in this area and I am thankful for that, but over the past few years we have exhausted ourselves by always trying somewhere new (and not often being able to return to places we like). Making a point to do this once a month is not only a way to commemorate our marriage, but also give us the motivation to get out and explore this great city without breaking the bank.

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