Taft's Ale House: Over-the-Rhine scores new three-level Race Street brewpub

CINCINNATI -- A new brewery and restaurant is coming to Over-the-Rhine and it will have a face familiar to Cincinnati’s brewing scene at the helm.

Kevin Moreland, the former head brewer at Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Company, will be the brewmaster at the new Taft’s Ale House.

The new brewery and restaurant will take over the historic St. Paul's Church at 1429 Race Street. The site is in the heart of Over-the-Rhine and only one block north of Washington Park.

The church was built in 1850 and abandoned in the 1980s, according to Anastasia Mileham, 3CDC’s vice president of communication.

The city of Cincinnati acquired the church and tried to make repairs over time but the funds to do more than patchwork never materialized.

photo of renovation at 1429 Race Street

Mileham said 3CDC acquired the building in 2010 for about $350,000 and later made about $450,000 worth of repairs to the structure, including a new roof and internal work.

She said all that needs to be done now is the tenant build-out. That includes the walls, stairs, elevator, kitchen, brewery equipment, finishing touches and more.

The development company considered several tenant ideas for the church, including office space and other commercial options.

“We conducted feasibility studies on a number of different tenants. About a year ago we connected with Dave Williams, Dave Kassling and Kevin Moreland who had formed a partnership to bring a new brewpub concept to town. The church seemed the perfect fit and the perfect size for the project. The team is very conscientious of the mixed-use neighborhood, surrounded by residential units and other types of commercial businesses and are excited to be a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. OTR was, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, home to many small breweries and multi-family, mixed-use housing, so it seemed a good fit as these old buildings are brought back into use,” Mileham said.

Mileham said they hope construction on the brewpub can begin in the first quarter of 2014 and to have it open by September or October.

photo of floor plans for brewpub

The theme of the restaurant features many tongue-in-cheek references to William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and Cincinnati resident, who was known for his rotund size and progressive politics.

The promotional campaign for the brewpub has already been launched and features a cheeky Twitter persona and Facebook page , as well as an interactive teaser site .

Investor/restaurateur David Kassling and investor David Williams will partner with Moreland to develop the brewpub and offer “house-made brews and delicious fare with high-end hospitality.”

The developers said Taft’s Ale House will brew 10 to 15 beers in-house, three of which will be staples while the rest will change with the seasons.

The restaurant side will hail from Kassling’s past successes in New York City. It will feature tri-tip steak sandwiches and other pub fare. When starting his restaurants in NYC, Kassling brought the tri-tip cut -- a steak cut mostly unique to the West Coast -- to the Big Apple.

Taft’s Ale House will feature three floors, each with a different experience in mind.

The beer hall will be the main seating area with shared picnic-style seating. It will also have the brewing tanks in full view to allow patrons to see the process. 

The mezzanine level will have private rooms and a separate bar, overlooking the beer hall.

The final level will be “Big Billy’s Cocktail Lounge,” an upscale cocktail lounge – “but for beer.” The lounge will offer some appetizers but will focus on drinks with the aim being a place for people to wait when the beer hall and mezzanine are full.

The developers said the brewpub will employ 40 to 60 people and have an emphasis on hiring Over-the-Rhine residents.

Follow #9Beer's Jesse Folk on Twitter at @wcpojesse and Facebook at Jesse Folk

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