All About March First
Written By: The Gnarly Gnome
Photography By: The Gnarly Gnome
The Beat Of Their Own Drum
March First was the first brewery in Cincinnati to manage to tackle the combined brewery/distillery idea. They opened their doors “around” March 1st, which is the date that Ohio was founded, and they did things a little differently than most other breweries have lately – kicking things out into distribution before their taproom was open to the public.
Doing things a little differently quickly became synonymous with the brand. They haven’t been afraid to try new products and lean into what customers want while moving from what they don’t. They were among the first to produce seltzer in the city, and their line of ‘Astra’ seltzer quickly became a crowd favorite (and remains that way today).
It’s not just their unique production strategies – the brewery also hasn’t been afraid to bring new brands into the March First family. From house-created brands like Astra Seltzer or Cincinnati Distilling to acquired brands like FigLeaf, Woodburn, or Stillwrights Distilling, they continue to grow the brand family into a multi-faceted company that shifts and evolves constantly.
This unique model has enabled the brand to keep growing over recent years, moving them up into the top breweries by production volume in Greater Cincinnati and garnering plenty of fans along the journey.
March First uses their multiple taprooms to provide different experiences, personalities, and feelings to the city. No matter what you’re looking for, they have a space that meets your expectations.
It starts with Blue Ash. This is the headquarters of the Brand Family and features a wide-open taproom space perfect for groups. A huge bar along one side of the room features everything from beer to spirits to seltzers. They have multiple event rooms that can be rented out and a considerable patio along the front side of the building that is perfect for summer evenings. The food in Blue Ash is simple: pizza and salads. Great drinking food!
The Fountain Square taproom starts with a concept remarkably similar to Blue Ash but adds a seated dining concept perfect for lunch crowds downtown. The back of the taproom features an upscale dining and cocktail concept called Laveau with a Creole-inspired theme.
Heading to Milford, we get to the flagship location for their Cincinnati Distilling brand. It takes the upscale experience and spreads it out even further. The food selections take a massive turn into steaks and more “fancy dining” options. Obviously, cocktails play a significant role in this location, and if you head to the roof, you get a great rooftop patio that is themed for their Cooper Island Rum.
FigLeaf is a brewery in Middletown that will feel extremely familiar if you’re a brewery fan. The brewing equipment is part of the space, and they use the same pizza-focused menu you’ll find at Blue Ash. This space features an oversized patio on the front of the building and is perfect for craft beer fans wanting to hang out and talk beer!
Woodburn is their taproom in Walnut Hills and combines a cocktail bar with a great kitchen for a place perfect for lunch and after-work cocktails. They’ve continued to let the space evolve after they opened, and adding a big beer garden out back has been a beautiful piece of what makes the Woodburn experience so wonderful.
The March First Brewing Timeline
- 6/29/2016 – First pop on to the radar when they take place in a ‘Brewing a Beer Brand’ event
- 3/4/2017 – The brewery hosts a tap takeover, introducing the city to their beer before their taproom is open.
- 3/16/2017 – March First Announces that they have started distributing their beer to stores (You can see notes about their packaged releases here)
- 4/28/2017 – The Blue Ash taproom opens to the public.
- October 2017 – March First debuts their pizza kitchen.
- 10/18/17 – The debut of Sycamore Whiskey, their first spirit
- 10/2018 – March First announces their Distillery plans for Milford
- September 2019 – The brewery acquires FigLeaf Brewing in Middletown, Ohio.
- December 2019 – Their smash hit seltzer, Astra, hits cans for the first time.
- December 2020 – March First acquires Woodburn Brewery.
- November 2022 – The Cincinnati Distilling location at the Millcroft opens in Milford
- August 2023 – The new March First taproom on Fountain Square opens for business.