Cincinnati was a major beer city prior to Prohibition, largely due to it's significant German immigrant population, and after some ups and downs it is once again thriving in a resurgence of its beer heritage, with a very healthy population of breweries ranging from nano-breweries to big marketing-pushed breweries like Rheingeist, to one of the regional Samuel Adams breweries. For some reason most of the breweries tend to be in the central city and eastern suburbs, with only West Side Brewing representing the city's west side. Today was my first visit to the brewery, and I was impressed.
The brewery, which has been open for a couple of years, resides in the Westwood neighborhood on Cincinnati's west side. The building is on Westwood's main street, with ample parking behind the building. The brewery is in the back of the building, with a sizable industrial-chic taproom on the main street, a large bar in the middle, and another large room for quieter seating and group events.
West Side Brewing – Cincinnati, OH
Beers are available primarily at the brewery, with cans and growlers to go. West Side's beers are also distributed throughout the area.
The first beer I tried on this night was their just-tapped Oktoberfest. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the genre, I don't dislike them per se, but everyone does one each year, and a lot of them are pretty mediocre, and some downright awful (Samuel Adams has a particularly putrid one). It might also be that there's so much hype around Oktoberfest each year, perhaps it's just destined to be a disappointment. That said, West Side's Oktoberfest (5.3%) was fantastic... the best I had had in years, and I've been trying every one I've seen since, and West Side's is still my favorite. Crisp and toasty without the sappiness that plagues many, it was quite enjoyable. Dark Amber in hue, crisp and true to the Oktoberfest tradition, I highly recommend this one, even if you're not a fan of ambers or Oktoberfest brews in general.
DIPA (9.3%) Double India Pale Ale was another favorite. Rather heavily hopped in a west coast style, this one packed a hoppy punch from both the floral and piney sides. If you like a hoppy IPA, you should check this one out. If you're not into particularly hoppy brews, a double IPA probably isnt for you in the first place.
The El Dorado (6.3%) Pale Ale is an American pale ale style, made solely with a newer hop strain called, you guessed it.. El Dorado. A deep golden orange in color with a light head, crisp clear pour, and the El Dorado hops deliver fruity overtunes, refreshing and clean on the finish. It was quite crushable, and certainly one that cried out for you to drink more than one.
Something the brewery was just launching and understandably excited about was their new
Braille Ale, which they believe to be the first beer can produced with braille on the can, as a partership with and benefitting the Cincinnati Association For the Blind and Visually Impaired. I didn't get to sample the ale yet, but I did see one of the cans, and it was pretty cool the way the braille was incorporated.
The West Side staff were all knowledgeable and helpful in recommending beers based on best sellers and their own personal favorites, and with this being my first visit I relied on their expertise heavily... and they did not disappoint.
The crowd was friendly, and I had a few people approach me during my set break to chat.
Food is provided by a rotation of food trucks, and honestly I didn't take notice of what was being served on this night... but it appears that they have a pretty good assortment of trucks wih different offerings.
Overall I'd say that the beers I sampled were some of my favorites of the region, so West Side would definitely now be on my short list of favorite Cincinnati area breweries. As their selection was deep and my ability to try them limited to only 3 or 4 in a night due to obvious reasons, I hope to add West Side to my regular Cincinnati rotation so I can dig deeper into their beer menu. I'd recommend you do the same!
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