CINCINNATI - Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. is less than two weeks away from brewing its first batches of beer in its renovated Over-the-Rhine brewery.
Production should begin right around the first of March, said Christian Moerlein President and CEO Gregory Hardman. That will bring brewing back to Over-the-Rhine, the historic neighborhood north of downtown that was once the heart of Cincinnati's brewing industry.
"We're committed to evolving that facility in Over-the-Rhine to a world-class production facility," Hardman said Thursday. "We could eventually get capacity up to about 400,000 barrels a year."
The capacity will start much smaller, however. Hardman said he expects the brewery will produce about 15,000 barrels this year and employ 25 people. Christian Moerlein lagers and ales will be brewed there along with Hudepohl seasonal beers, he said.
Hardman's company also is brewing beer at its Christian Moerlein Lager House , which opened on Cincinnati's riverfront last February.
Hardman said the lager house has met his expectations in terms of attendance during its first year. He declined to share specific financial results.
"Things are going spectacularly," he said. "We knew it would be really good. We just didn't know it would be fantastic."
The lager house employs 275 people. It has 800 seats inside the restaurant and another 600 in its beer garden. It can serve 4,000 meals a day, and the brewing operation there can brew 5,000 barrels of beer each year, Hardman said.
The riverfront brewing operation produced 3,000 barrels in 2012, which is the equivalent of more than 1 million gallons of beer, he said.
Hardman said his ultimate goal is to connect the lager house with his brewery in Over-the-Rhine, where he plans to open a sampling room in May.