Pull open the heavy doors, walk up an imposing staircase and into a soaring space. It might feel like you’ve stepped into a church. And you have, sort of. This is Taft’s Ale House, formerly home to the oldest protestant congregation in Cincinnati—and now home to one of the city’s newest craft breweries.
Taft's Ale House
The space is spectacular on both macro and micro scales. The former sanctuary of St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, built in 1850, retains all of its majesty, with nearly 50-foot ceilings and towering gothic windows. Every detail—renowned Rookwood tiles, hand-turned woodwork, ironand-glass interior walls—was locally made.
Taft's Ale House
Head brewer and co-partner Kevin Moreland admits his obsession in creating Taft’s Ale House—after all, beer-brewing is all about the details, too. Moreland drew inspiration from the William Howard Taft National Historic Site
in Mt. Auburn, the birthplace of the 27th president. “It was all about capturing what the church may have been in the 1850s during Taft’s childhood,” he says.
Others in brewing, entertainment and hospitality are transforming landmarks in new ways. In Over-the-Rhine, Rhinegeist
crafts beer in a massive brick building constructed in 1895 as the Christian Moerlein bottling plant. Northside’s St. Patrick’s Church, dedicated in 1859, is home to Urban Artifact
brewing, while across the river in Newport, Grace Methodist Episcopal, completed in 1866, now showcases local and touring bands nearly every night as Southgate House Revival
. And in Covington’s MainStrasse district, owners Emily Wolff and chef Paul Weckman have updated a pre-Civil War brick building (which they saved from demolition) into a hopping spot, Frida 602
, for tacos, Cuban sandwiches and flights of mezcal, tequila’s trendier cousin.
“These great buildings are part of the fabric and history of their neighborhoods, and communities want to hold onto them,” says Michael Burson, president of the city’s Historic Conservation Board. “Whatever we can retain enhances our city.”
Moerlein Lager House
Crafting beer since the 1800s
Cincinnati’s craft beer boom is more a recurrence than a novelty. Before Prohibition began in 1920, the city was home to 36 breweries producing beer in the lager style favored by its growing German population. Today, there are more than 20 breweries in the region, plus those slated to open in 2016. Local
craft brewing has expanded beyond lagers to embrace heavily hopped styles, seasonal brews, barrel-aged and wild-fermented beers. Classic local brands like Christian Moerlein and Hudepohl have returned to market. Just as they could in the 1800s, Cincinnatians and their guests can raise a stein of beer
brewed right in their own backyard.
Written by Bryn Mooth.