New Pleasant Ridge gastropub Nine Giant looks to appeal to both beer fans, foodies

CINCINNATI -- New brewery Nine Giant is looking to capture a slice of Cincinnati's craft beer and foodie markets when it opens June 25 at 6095 Montgomery Road.

The Pleasant Ridge brewery is going to function as a gastropub, though the word co-owner Brandon Hughes used to describe the food side of the business is “snackery.”

“We are going to offer upscale, shareable plates. Everything will be made from scratch in-house,” he said. “If we serve deep-fried pickles, we’re starting with the cucumbers. We are going as food-nerdy as you can get.”

Hughes envisions a menu of eight snack items and one rotating sandwich of the week. Zach Breedlove will be working the kitchen at Nine Giant after a stint at Taft’s Ale House, and the kitchen is larger than one would expect for a smaller menu.

“We overbuilt off the bat, but there’s room to play,” said Hughes. “I hate menu bloat. When you have a large menu, it’s impossible to do everything well. If you’re going to do it, do it right.”

That philosophy carries over to the beer side of the house, where Hughes’ brother-in-law Michael Albarella will put his 20-plus years of brewing experience to use. Nine Giant has a 5-barrel system that it will use to supply 10 taps, and the brewers plan to rotate the beers on each tap.

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“Since we are not distributing, we aren’t beholden to the same rules distribution breweries are,” Hughes said. “We don’t have to have flagship beers. The goal is to change every tap with every new brew. We want to keep taps true to the style but not necessarily have the same exact beer.”

What that means for the brothers-in-law is more creativity in their brewing. What that means for patrons is they shouldn't expect the same experience twice at Nine Giant.

“What we don’t want to do is chase trends,” Hughes said. “Mike and I got into it for the creativity. We want the customer experience to evolve and change all the time.”

For its opening, Nine Giant expects to have a pale ale, an IPA, a hybrid lager, a saison, a Belgian, “darkish” (such as browns or lighter porters) and “darker” (more traditional stouts) beers on tap. Nine Giant plans to do one gravity tap, although not for the opening, and according to Albarella, it won’t immediately take advantage of the recently lifted ABV restrictions. It also will keep a rotating style tap, which is going to be a sessionable (4.1 percent ABV) amber ale, called “Kid A,” at launch.

Nine Giant will have guest taps during the grand opening, and Hughes said it will continue to carry guest beers, both for variety and to ensure there is always beer available. Blank Slate and MadTree will supply specialty beers for the grand opening, and the neighboring Overlook Lounge will use a Nine Giant brew to make a beer cocktail for the event.

The taproom is set up to draw in passers-by. The windows fold in, which gives Nine Giant streetside seating on a busy intersection. There are counters by the windows made from reclaimed bowling lanes.

“There will be a lot of 'Big Lebowski' references,” Hughes said. “We’re super happy with how it turned out. The sun backs up around 4 p.m., so this will be perfect for happy hour.”

The taproom will combine a mixture of high-top and lower tables and will seat around 70 people. A banquette on the east wall will provide seating for five two-top tables. There also will be a patio area behind the building that could seat another 30 people, weather permitting. The bar itself, as well as the fencing for the patio, is made of reclaimed cedar from a 150-year-old barn.

“When we decided three years ago to do this, most taprooms were just taprooms,” Hughes said. “The food was provided by trucks. We thought we could provide a better experience and execute on both the beer and the food side. Having everything under one roof with the same owners will make this a more holistic experience.”

In the spirit of inclusivity, Nine Giant also will serve wine and artisan sodas.

“The wine will be smaller vintner type of stuff,” Hughes said. “It will mostly not be California wines. We want to make wine approachable for people.”

Hughes is pleased with the Pleasant Ridge location, as it is both busy and up-and-coming, with more restaurants set to open nearby this summer.

“A lot of young families are moving to this area, which is a good demographic for us,” he said. “The amount of support we’ve gotten from the community has been beyond our wildest dreams.”

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