Everyone keeps talking about what the brewery landscape here in Cincinnati is going to look like in the coming years, and I think that everyone can agree that ‘Local’ is going to become more and more important as our brewery count climbs higher and higher.This is definitely the case for Mason’s upcoming ‘16 Lots Brewing’ too – but in a really great way.
Spend a day driving around to a few of Cincinnati’s breweries and you’ll see a lot of things that tie it all together – from the local pride in each neighborhood to places that create spaces that make you want to stay for a while. And it’s not just in Cincinnati. In some parts of the country, a local brewery can become a big tourist attraction and a real pillar in the community – Kettell Beerworks, for example, has been named as one of the best things to do in Banner Elk NC. There is definitely a template that works. That being said, we are still fortunate enough that all our new breweries are finding their own personalities within that template and rolling with their own spin on things. You can find pieces of everyone within what 16 lots is doing, but when you take a step back and look at the big picture you find something that is extremely distinct, and dare I say it… really well done?
The sad part of a growing craft beer scene is all the naysayers. You’re going to hear it… as new breweries are announce people love to mention a bubble that is going to burst. They’ll mention about how they just don’t care about any place that isn’t in their backyard, or a place has to make this beer, or that beer before they’ll even bother to give them a shot. I don’t get the impression that 16 Lots is concerned about any of these things – their Model is about Mason.
Spend any time in Mason, and you’ll certainly start to notice something different about the city. The rapid growth of the area in the last decade or so has left it a little lopsided. If you fancy a drink, or something to eat you’re stuck with mostly two options: a lifeless chain restaurant, or a dive place that doesn’t exactly invite a night of hanging out with the family. There is no middle ground – and defiantly no middle ground that screams local pride the way that 16 Lots is going to.
What It Looks Like
I should say that this is what it’s “going” to look like, because when I poked around the space last week, construction (and brewing… but we’ll get to that) was still going full force. The space is a lot bigger than you’d expect it to be from the outside. After you pass through their covered patio which stretches across the front of the building you enter into a great big taproom space. To the right is a pizza kitchen that will be run separately from the brewery, called ‘Mad Monks’ (which I can vouch for… they were baking up some test pizzas when I was there and I might have snuck a piece…).
Straight ahead of you in the space is a massive ‘L’ shaped bar showcasing a bright, clean look that makes the 16 lots colors pop in the space. The taproom has plenty of seating for anyone looking to hang out for a while. If you do decide to hang out, there is plenty to do as well – shuffleboard, darts… it’s a really great gathering space.
Tucked into the back of the building is the brewery space. They’ve got a 10bbl system from Portland Kettle Works that will be pushing out their core beers as well as some fun seasonal stuff too. It brings me to the next big point:
The Beer is Fantastic.
As of my visit, there were only a few beers that were ready to sneak a sample of. I tried their Amber Ale, The Pilsner, and a pre-dry hopped version of their IPA. I was blown away by how great they were, tending to expect a product with a few rough edges for the first bit that a brewery works out the kinks.
When you do make your first visit, you’ll find a really great selection of core styles:
- War Horse – IPA
- Muddy Creek – Oatmeal Stout
- The Major – German Pilsner
- Treaty – American Wheat
- 1803 – Pale Ale
The idea of 16 lots (at least at the get-go) is to keep most of their beer in house. They have spent a lot of time and money to make sure that the taproom experience fits exactly what they are looking for in a brewery, and want their fans to be able to enjoy their beer in house.
When Can You Get Your Hands On It?
I’ve heard some rumblings of rumors of a date that might be floating around, but the brewery still has a couple hoops to jump through before they’re ready to make the (soon) date public. It’s safe to say that you need to keep your eyes and ears peeled on this one if you want to be one of the first in line for a taste of what they’re doing, though.
I promise… I’ll have more to come about this place!