Top flight beer bars
Big selections and craft offerings make these places the home for better brewsMetromix
May 15, 2012
Legendary Dutch’s on Erie, which has undergone an up-scaling over the years, boasts a difficult-to-rival beer and wine list complemented by formidable in-house expertise. Once presented as a beer dock, Dutch's now has a small wine shop, candlelight-trimmed bar, and a patio with a bocce ball court.The bottles available at the dock present a gallery of imports and microbrews ranging from Ohio to Belgium. If you order a large bottle of beer, a bartender opens it, pours it, and keeps the remaining goodness in the fridge until you're ready for another glass.
This giant new monument to the city’s brewing history also fits right into a growing entertainment district. There are great views, a variety of seating options and food choices and a host of excellent brews on 90 taps, many made right onsite.
Clearing enormous platters of golden fish and chips, potato rags (Habit's famous hash browns topped with bacon, onions, cheeses, tomatoes and ranch dressing) and juicy ostrich burgers at Habit's is definitely one bad habit Cincinnatians plan on keeping. Habit's is first and foremost a bar, serving up more than 75 brews, but its food menu can't be beat. What other bars dish up extra lean, high-in-protein ostrich burgers? Check out the newly refurbished entrance, whose centerpiece is a gorgeous wooden bar that's accented by bright stained glass. If you can peel your eyes away from your plate, take in the comfy pub-like atmosphere, admire the antique art and adverts on the wall or play a few tunes on the jukebox. Habit's also features pool tables, darts and a daily $3 beer.
MOTR Pub continues the tradition of bringing rock 'n' roll bands and tasty fare to Main Street. Live bands take the stage several nights a week, with the big draws happening weekends. You'll want a brew and table for brunch or dinner: While the MOTR Burger is a rock star here, vegan and vegetarian items are great hits, too.
The Comet, located in the eclectic, artsy and unique neighborhood of Northside, draws in local musicians, artists and hipsters with its cool atmosphere, extensive beer selection and San Francisco-style burritos the size of your head. The burritos, similar in weight to a newborn baby, come wrapped in foil in basket, accompanied by chips and homemade salsa (be sure to try the salsa of the month!). Patrons can wash down their burrito feast with one of the Comet’s 150 different beers. Tunes from live local acts and the jukebox - rumored to be the best in town - resonate through the 1928 structure. If visual art is more your style, then peruse the walls adorned with pieces by local artists or create your own art in the bar’s photo booth. The bar is now open for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Take a stroll downtown on Walnut Street and as you approach the Aronoff Center, you’ll begin to hear the faint sound of Scottish bagpipe music. You’ll also spot a man standing on the sidewalk in a kilt--there you’ve reached Nicholson’s Tavern and Pub. After you’ve greeted the plaid-clad gentleman, walk inside and admire the high ceilings, gorgeous, large wooden bar and the surrounding intimate and cozy booths. Grab a stool and thumb through the extensive beer and scotch menu – owners of Nicholson’s traveled from pub to pub throughout England and Scotland to create a list of imported beers and fine scotch you won't find anywhere on this side of the Atlantic. Make sure to get the full pub experience by ordering Nicholson’s shepherd’s pie or bangers and mash.
Rock Bottom Brewery is located in Fountain Square, making this brewpub a great place to enjoy American cuisine before or after an evening downtown. Known for both its food and the beer they brew onsite, there’s something for everyone, whether sitting down to a hearty meal or trying a pint of the homemade beer. You can enjoy a hefty appetizer to start and move on to entrees of ribs, steak, burgers, chicken, seafood, pasta and pizza while enjoying the Fountain Square ambience with the outdoor seating available. Save room for original desserts, like the Pint Glass Sundae and for real lovers of the brewskie, join the Mug Club (free). Follow them on Twitter: @cincyrockbottom
Opened in German brewer Herman Lackman's old building on 13th Street, this place pays homage to its roots – the bar's sign reflects the label Lackman used on his beer bottles. Inside, it's posh and new. Hanging from the ceiling are three custom-made chandeliers by local artists Ted Gantz and Bob Dyehouse. The bar is 900 square feet of tile, exposed brick and the cushiest seats your rear end has ever met. The cocktail menu has been steadily growing.
Cock and Bull in MainStrasse serves as a restaurant by day, where you can sit outside on the sidewalk with a view of the Goose Girl Fountain, and handles the neighborhood bar crowd by night. The pub offers a sweeping drink selection--50 draft selections of beer alone--along with fish ‘n’ chips, burgers (including the black bean burger), wings, wraps, soups, salads and sandwiches. Catch the game by way of their eight flat screen TVs, or stop in to nab a half-priced bottle of wine on Wednesdays, or pint night on Thursdays.
It's your favorite Mainstrasse Cock and Bull English pub now with an additional location in Glendale, Ohio. The big differences? The Glendale locale is a spacious two floors – the bottom seems primarily reserved for traditional dining; the upstairs has more of a typical pub feel. It’s also smoke-free, unlike it's Covington counterpart. Otherwise you'll get the same great food and giant beer selection with dozens of drafts tap. If you can't find a draft you like, take advantage of their blends, which mix different selections together--or with unique mixers--like Sprite.
A third location of Cock & Bull English Pub is open in Hyde Park Square. The other locations are in Glendale and Covington. Their trio of patios make it a fixture on Hyde Park Square. This Cincinnati location offers dinner and lunch. They have 60 beers on draft, and you can mix many of them together to make tasty a taste blended concoction. And if you want to take dessert up a notch, try one of their beer milkshakes.
We whole-heartedly agree with Mainstrasse Village Pub’s motto: "Drink Better Beer." Some people are understandably forced into drinking domestic beer because it’s the cheapest stuff behind the bar, but that excuse won’t work here — MainStrasse Village Pub has $2 daily specials on select imports and microbrews. Don’t worry, you won’t be shamed if you order a Bud Light, but we suggest you try to expand your horizons and tastes by trying one of the 200+ constantly changing bottled beers. The bartenders know their beer, so if you’re not sure what to try, they’ll help you decide if you’re a lager, stout, ale, pale ale, bitters or heffeweisen kinda person. MainStrasse Village Pub is also a full bar, and has (what the bartender claims to be) the best popcorn in Northern Kentucky. No matter what drink you choose, you’ll definitely enjoy the lively atmosphere. The bar has multiple TVs, a jukebox with a great selection, multiple pool tables, darts and every Monday from 10 p.m.-midnight, the band The Turkeys plays to a packed-in crowd. People also flock to the pub during Reds and Bengals seasons.
Any beer connoisseur knows that when someone hands you a $2 pint of imported beer, it probably means you've died and gone to heaven. Most have only dreamed of such a deal. Every Tuesday, all day, Fox and Hound has $2 pints of imported and domestic brews, making that dream a reality. Sip on one (or a few) of their 36 beers on tap any night of the week. With plenty of sitting and standing room in the hunting lodge-themed establishment, a sizable menu and an arsenal of beer taps behind the enormous bar, Fox and Hound is well-equipped to provide good beer, food and atmosphere for the masses. Fox and Hound is known at the Best Party in Town and they are full of HDTV's for all of the sports action.
A classic beer joint with a vintage feel and for a reason: Fries has been a bar for more than 70 years. The main bar on the first floor is a great place to socialize and have the knowledgeable staff help you select the best beer, whether it's one of their eight drafts or a domestic microbrew bottle. Downstairs, pool tables, darts, and shuffle puck are great for shooting the breeze, and upstairs is a cocktail lounge and extensive patio for feeling the breeze. Since Fries was a smokers' bar before the smoking ban, the patio makes for an excellent smoking spot.
The Drinkery's layout works for rockers and talkers, featuring a wall that muffles some of the music blasting from the bar's stage. Simply put, the bartender can hear your drink order. Pizza by the pie is available late and there's a good selection of beer, whiskey, bourbon and vodka.
A bar with the feel of a neighborhood bar, but oh, what a neighborhood. It's a mix of college students, college professors, hippies, wanna-be hippies and YPs all out for a relaxing night with reasonable drink prices and good music. Hard wood floors, a beautiful shiny bar top, and much more space to hear the live bands that visit almost every day of the week. Stretch out your arms -- there's plenty of room to move about and mingle at the Northside Tavern. They have a good selection of craft and main stream beers in bottles, on draft and in cans.
This is a big yet cozy neighborhood tavern and grill. Build-your-own burgers combine with 28 beers on tap to make for a fine spot for any game or a break after a trip to Kenwood. Also on the menu: appetizers, salads, eight entrees such as pork loin with lemongrass ginger soy sauce, chicken with beer cheese sauce and a beef filet. As for entertainment, they have karaoke every Thursday night starting at 9 p.m.