Ask nerdy Cincinnati craft beer fans about what they consider the saddest failures in Cincinnati brewing, and you’ll hear the name Barrelhouse a lot. This was one of the first brewpubs in the city (arguably the first) and one that so many of us wish would have made it to be around today.
They have an interesting history, which the timeline below only begins to explore…
When the brewery opened on 12th Street, a lot of locals jumped aboard, establishing a good fan base, that enjoyed “drinking local”. Head brewer Rick DeBar and assistant brewer Brian Sprance brewed on a 15bbl Century brewhouse for ten years under owners Mike Cromer and David Rich, making a whole slew of local themed craft beers in a brewpub atmosphere that was also known for booking some great musical talent. But news started surfacing in 2005 that the brewery would be sold and moving to make way for the Art Academy which took it’s place.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away at 544B West Liberty, Nick Sever, then owner of Indiana based Melanie Brewing was looking to start a Cincinnati brewery called Heritage Brewing Company. When he heard news of the sale of Barrelhouse, he jumped on the chance and purchased the brands, the equipment and hired head brewer Rick BeBar to keep the Barrelhouse name alive. With the purchase, and an investment in a new bottling line (the first for the brewery) it looked that things would work out for Barrelhouse, and for a while you could buy the bottles around town…but as you now know, it wouldn’t last.
2010 saw Barrelhouse beers becoming harder and harder to come by, and by the fall Nick Sever told news outlets that the brewery was no more. The word was that he still wanted the beer to be available, and would look for another brewery to buy the brands… time will tell…
Barrelhouse offered a few different beers that all tied into Cincinnati themes with their names:
- Boss Cox – Double Dark IPA
- Cumberland – Pale Ale
- Hocking Hills – Hefeweizen
- RedLegg Ale – Red Ale
- 1995 – The brewery opened on June 29th of 1995 at Jackson and 12th Streets in OTR.
- 2005 – Owner Mike Cromer sells the brewery to Nick Sever, and it becomes a microbrewery, ceasing it’s existence as a brewpub.
- 2006 – The brewery introduces bottled beer for the first time, with local artist Jim Effler (the same artist that does all the Christian Moerlein art) doing all their artwork.
- 2010 – Nick Sever sells the brewing equipment in August.