I’ve been woefully slow in sharing a lot of Cincinnati’s beer news – it’s been a little busy on my end. Excuses aside, it’s given me a lot of time to think about some of the stories that I’m going to be sharing with you over the coming weeks. This new article came out last month, and sure – folks got excited – but I don’t think people were talking about the things that they should be with the news of Fretboard’s next taproom project in Norwood.

Before we dive in too deep – let’s get the basics out of the way…

All About The Factory 52 Fretboard Taproom

If you are thinking to yourself that this Factory 52 development sounds familiar – it should. This is the former US Playing Card factory that is now ground zero for a massive development project in Norwood. It’s also the home of Cincinnati’s upcoming HiWire Brewing Company taproom. Fretboard is joining not just Hi-Wire but a whole slew of businesses coming into anchor the new development.

They’ll be in what Factory 52 is calling the ‘Gatherall’ a food hall that is housed in the former cafeteria of the factory. The space will house 14 different restaurants and even a rooftop deck where you can soak in the sun with a cold beer in your hand.

This will be the third Fretboard space, locally – and no actual brewing will be taking place on-site. Their current production facility/taproom in Blue Ash will keep handling all the heavy lifting, while Norwood will focus instead on the taproom experience.

The space is going to be the real deal, though… 3200 square feet with a big outdoor patio space bringing the total closer to 6,000 square feet.

Make no mistake, in 2023 – when this all starts opening up, you’re going to want to make a visit.

Why You Should Care About All Of This

The obvious side to this is that if you live in Norwood, or close by – more taprooms are obviously a great thing for any beer lover. I think there’s more to it, though.

I know we’re all sick of talking about the pandemic – but we have to a little bit with this one. Fretboard built its brand around live music, around a taproom filled up with people watching live music with a beer in their hand. When the world shut down in 2020 – one of the breweries I was worried about was Fretboard. They hit a brick wall and had to shift their mindset from a place that lives on live music to one that operates a little differently.

Watching Fretboard navigate the world as it was, and watching them adjust and come back into things afterward has been fun. It’s a perfect showcase of how breweries can get a little scrappy and figure out how to make things work when they aren’t.

This taproom is a different side of Fretboard. It’s not a music venue – it’s not even designed to make beer. It’s a taproom that fits the mold of what expansion looks like for a lot of breweries in 2022 and beyond. It’s an early anchor in a new development. It’s tucked right next to housing, to shopping… it’s different than anything that they have done before and different from what I think I would have pictured them doing when they opened their doors in Blue Ash back in 2017.

Growth is important, evolution is important, and the growth and evolution of Fretboard make me feel great about where they’re headed as craft beer keeps changing around all of us.

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