Written by Leigh Taylor for dispatch.com and The Cincinnati Enquirer
Richard Dube is brewmaster at the Moerlein Lager House, which opens on Monday beside Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds.
When it opens to the public on Monday, the Moerlein Lager House will be a fine place to enjoy good beer and good food on the Cincinnati riverfront. • But that’s only half the story. • The rest of it is the long-awaited redemption of sorts for downtown Cincinnati, where development of more than 50 valuable acres along the Ohio River had been frustrated for years. Now, the new brew pub and restaurant has potential to be the destination for the between-the-sports-stadiums development that includes The Banks. At the same time, it provides a vital link to Cincinnati’s rich, but once-endangered, brewing heritage.
With all that on the line, this brew pub has a lot to live up to.
Previous reports have the Lager House as a $4 million project.
The true cost is more than double that: $10 million-plus, said Greg Hardman, the managing partner and beer entrepreneur whose vision created the Lager House.
“There was no cheapin’ out here,” Hardman said.
For him, the Lager House is the last piece of a grand vision to restore Cincinnati’s rightful place in brewing history. It’s a quest he has been pursuing for a decade, and the vision is about to be complete.
Built next door to Great American Ball Park, the home of baseball’s Reds, the Lager House is a sure bet to be party central before and after games.
Its indoor and outdoor spaces can hold as many as 1,400 people. Beer will flow through 90 taps.
Three kitchens will prepare food ranging from beer-braised pork belly with spaetzle (German noodles) and marinated mushrooms to grilled sea bass with butternut squash risotto, supervised by an executive chef from the Cunningham Group, the restaurateur partner in the venture.
A 50-foot bar on the main floor will open up to an outdoor beer garden in warm weather.
The restaurant will open on to Jacob Schmidlapp Event Lawn, a green space that can hold 3,000, with a stage at its western end.
“It’s meant to celebrate our past and take Cincinnati brewing into the future,” Hardman said.
Cincinnati’s beer history will be everywhere:
Visitors will be greeted with a built-in timeline showing every type of beer bottle Moerlein ever made since its founding in the mid-19th century.
Upstairs is the Schoenling Booth, an alcove that will hold the original stainless-steel Schoenling sign, donated by a descendant of the founding family.
The John Hauck Brewing Co. room, a private dining room, commemorates the founder of that local brewery.
The Windisch-Muhlhauser dining room calls to mind the old maker of Lion Beer.
The Hudepohl Bar will serve beer and food on the second floor.
In the Burger Hallway will hang memorabilia from that Cincinnati brewer.
The Beer Barons and Brewers Hall of Fame will honor Cincinnati’s founding brewers, beginning with Christian Moerlein.
Murals of Cincinnati’s beer barons, painted by Jim Effler, a Cincinnati artist who has designed labels for Moerlein bottles, will be on display inside and out.
The place is inside Phyllis Smale Riverfront Park, giving it a prime location with unobstructed views of the Ohio River, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and the northern Kentucky riverfront.