I know you’ve heard about these guys. I think that Andy Reynolds and his Alexandria Brewing Company project have been in some stage of planning since before many of my readers were even old enough to have a legal drink… so yeah, this has been a long time coming to say the least.
This weekend saw the brewery finally opening their doors, and if you didn’t make your way down to Alexandria yet to see what the fuss is all about, I hope that I can convince you after giving you a little peek at the place, as well as telling you a little more about their story and why I love these guys so much.
The Story Of Alexandria
I’ve written about Andy and his brewery before (you can go back here, or here to get a little bit of information), but I really want you as a loyal drinker here in Cincinnati to understand why they are not only very different than anything that is currently happening here, but why they’re going to also fit into this craft beer community wonderfully as they get some space to stretch their legs a little bit.
I won’t go into the entire story of some of the hurdles that Andy has gone through while working on Alexandria… but I will dive into the start of it all so you can see a little bit where this passion comes from. While serving in the military, and deployed in Iraq, Andy started brewing up small batches of cider. Alcohol might have maybe, kind of, sort of been forbidden to the soldiers over there… so shhhh… but those few batches of cider, fermented in the juice cartons that they came in, behind a television started something special.
I don’t think that it was just the love for the science of fermentation that hooked him, I think there was something more to the act of sharing something that you created with your buddies. When you have the ability to not just create something that people enjoy, but to create something that directly lifts people’s spirits and takes them away from whatever they are going through, even when the shit they are going through is as serious as these guys were dealing with. It’s more than a fun little hobby.
Throughout the years that have passed since… the idea has grown and changed. Andy hooked up with the right people that helped to nurture this passion and direct it into something that not only had the ability to help him, but is now gearing up to help a lot of other people in ways that I’m not sure Andy has even had a minute to sit down and think about. Gone are the days of fermenting in cartons with a rubber glove taped on top… it’s time for some stainless. Don’t make the mistake, though and think that what he is doing now isn’t directly tied into those first batches.
What’s Alexandria Like
Let’s get back into the nitty gritty of what you can actually expect when you step into the Alexandria Brewing Company taproom… it’s a big, open space – or really two big open spaces tied together with smaller third-ish space that houses the bar. The front room of the brewery is a nice, comfortable brewpub type atmosphere. They’ve got a food on one side (barbecue), and a massive projection screen to watch your favorite sports ball games that might be on. Tables are scattered around the room, and there is a really great shelf full of board games to keep the family entertained.
Entering the bar area straight ahead from where you walk in, you immediately feel like you’re in a barn. The walls are covered in reclaimed wood and the bartop’s massive solid piece is a centerpiece if I’ve ever seen one. Look for some of the details around this space (like owner Andy’s kids names carved into the wood, or my favorite the “Andy Loves Ann” carving up top.) This space is by far my favorite spot to sit in the brewery, with it’s low ceiling and dark colors, it has the ability to make any crowd feel intimate.
The back of the brewery is where the brewhouse lives, it’s also home to an “indoor patio” of sorts. They’ve got a bunch of high top tables back here, and you’ll also find their pinball and video games back here. This space is louder, and more of the traditional “warehouse-y” like brewery atmosphere that you’re probably familiar with.
Upstairs the brewery houses a future event space that will eventually have a window that looks out over the brewery… but you’ll have to wait for that part. They had to put a couple pieces of the project on the back burner so they could get the beer into your hands as soon as possible. Speaking of the beer… let’s do that.
There were only three beers on tap for the soft opening, but I snuck around a little bit to get a glimpse at some of the other things that were coming soon, and they had some great stuff that I can’t wait to try on my next visit!
- Licking River Water – Black IPA – This Black IPA was admittedly not exactly what they were looking for it to be. That being said, I really enjoyed the big bitter chocolate note and piney hop flavors that dominated the glass of beer. It was really nice, and seemed to be the one I heard the most people talking about.
- Alexandria Amber – Amber Ale – This was a really great easy drinking amber ale packed full of earthiness and a bready body that I think is going to be a big hit for anyone looking for something really quaffable.
- Garden of Heaton – Kentucky Common – This was my favorite of the night. It was really nice and soft with a well-balanced sweetness that made it go down really nice and easy. Don’t skip this one… really delicious!
Here’s some of the stuff that I didn’t get to try that is coming soon (or on now)
- Brothers In Arms – Knob Creek – a big Russian Imperial Stout, this beer is an homage to all of Andy’s fellow veterans out there. This version was aged in a Knob Creek 15-year-old barrel.
- Brothers In Arms – Elmer T Lee – the same Russian Imperial Stout that you see above, but instead of the Knob Creek, this one saw an Elmer T Lee barrel to get its boozy treatment.
- Random Rap Reference – NE IPA – If you got to try Alexandria’s collaboration with Bad Tom Smith called Hazy River, you’ll know that they not only like to explore the NE IPA style but that they also like to put their own spin on things.
- Up The Abbey – Belgian Dubbel – I can’t promise that this will be delicous, because I haven’t tried it yet, but after trying Andy’s homebrewed Tripel some time ago… and loving it. I have full faith that this will be awesome.