I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt when a local brewery closes their doors. In fact, sometimes it’s extremely painful for a person who falls in love with a space, it’s beer, the personality, and the people who make it all come together. You’ve likely been there as a drinker in this city. We’ve lost some breweries that had some incredibly loyal fans.

We’re still experiencing that from time to time, and we always will. There are going to be places that close that you’re absolutely positive shouldn’t have closed. We’re going to be mad when a place we love closes and that other place that absolutely drives us nuts is still chugging along unfazed.

That’s just how it goes – but it’s not all doom and gloom, and I really want to illustrate that. It’s not a bubble. It’s not a failure of craft beer or some sign that Cincinnati can’t support more breweries. It’s just the natural progression of things.

As One Door Closes (or a brewery closes)

The last few years have been a little painful for brewery fans here in the city. We’ve lost a lot of places. Since 2019: Quarter Barrel in Hamilton, and Quarter Barrel in Oxford, Queen City Brewery of Cincinnati, The Old Firehouse, Rock Bottom, Moerlein OTR, Three Points, Bardwell, Mash Cult, Off Track, Rivertown, Rebel Mettle, Listermann’s Trail House, and Locoba by Platform is “temporarily closed”.

It’s been brutal in this regard. That’s 15 breweries and taprooms that have closed their doors in four years – more than closed in the previous 30-plus years before that. We’re not used to it, and it’s understandable that you would feel upset.

It’s been a few weeks since the news that Listermann Brewing Company was closing their Trailhouse taproom concept after just a hair over a year in business hit us, but it’s understandable that fans of the taproom are still feeling the sting. Meanwhile, Off Track quietly closed its doors at some point this year (or late last year) and folks didn’t seem to bat an eye (if you follow the Cincinnati beer social media groups)… but I can guarantee that there are fans that have broken hearts over the closure.

It’s easy to look at the last two years and blame Covid for killing off some of our favorite spaces, but it’s part of a much bigger (and much more painful) idea. Progress. All the pandemic managed to do for some of these breweries is open up wounds that were hidden before. It ripped them open and let what was already there do its horrible work.

One Door Opens (a brewery opens, too)

With fifteen breweries closing in four years – it’s hard to look on the bright side, but I beg you to try. In that same amount of time, there have been 23 additional breweries that have opened and are still operating. In the previous 30-plus years before that, there are also 50 places that opened and are still working their butts off to brew beer in this city.

We have a ton of great places that are still working hard at creating not only great beer but great experiences that you can fall in love with.

I don’t want to make this sound like a closed brewery is replaced by a new one – because that isn’t fair to a lot of these places that have closed. No one can really replace them. For craft beer fans, though – there are still plenty of places that deserve your love and support if your favorite might happen to close.

Don’t be afraid to try a new place, or try an older place. See what they are all about and allow yourself to fall in love all over again.

The Future Is Bright – Doors Are Ready

As of writing this, there are more than 14 different brewery and taproom projects that are far enough along in their planning that I’m confident that they’ll happen. I am going to guess that around five of those will even open up this year, with some of them only weeks or days away from a possible opening.

Things are moving. Things are growing.

The most important takeaway that I hope people have when a place that is important to them closes is that while it might not always be preventable… you can try harder. You can share more from these places on social media. You can visit more. You can bring friends and family to experience it, more often. Your support goes a long way and is contagious to those that are close to you.

TLDR – My Overall Thoughts

I hate watching a brewery close. There are so many hopes, dreams, life savings, and ideas wrapped up in these projects that if it doesn’t bother you, you might not be a “real” drinker after all.

With that being said, though. I love going to a new place much more than I hate seeing one close. This is the start of someone else’s dream, the birth of an idea, and something that brings a smile to my face every single time.

I hope that as this community keeps growing, evolving, and as places come and go, you can use the opportunity to welcome new faces into things and to heartily support the places that you have loved all along the journey.

Don’t mourn for what has gone – welcome what is coming and support what is here. – Be Gnarly… Support Your Local Taprooms.

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