Construction starts on Taft's Ale House in OTR

Brewpub slated to open Fall 2014

CINCINNATI -- Construction is set to start on Cincinnati’s latest brewery in historic Over-the-Rhine.

A construction kickoff ceremony for the new Taft’s Ale House took place Friday morning at the former St. Paul’s German Evangelical Protestant Church on Race Street.

Taft’s Ale House is slated to open in the fall of 2014. The brewpub will be in the heart of Over-the-Rhine and just one block north of Washington Park. The brewpub will also be along Cincinnati’s new streetcar route once the project is completed.

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The City, along with 3CDC, bought and stabilized the old church previously in hopes that it would be used as a mixed-used space but a project never materialized.

tafts ale house

The ceremony included Moreland, Mayor John Cranley, City Council members and representatives from the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, Fifth Third Bank and Cincinnati Equity Fund II.

“It’s a great day for Cincinnati. It’s a great day for Over-the-Rhine. … I think this is a perfect way to recapture the good of this great 19th Century village known as Over-the-Rhine by having a place in [Taft’s] name and I’m excited to be here when it opens and to have that first beer,” Cranley said.

Head brewer and part owner Kevin Moreland said the brewpub will have 10-to-15 beers on tap in-house, three of which will be staples and the rest will change with the seasons.

During the ceremony Moreland presented Cranley with a special beer made just for the occasion.

The restaurant side will feature tri-tip steak sandwiches and other pub fare.

“I think we’re bringing something special to this city. … This is going to be an amazing place full of craft been and amazing food,” general manager and part owner Dave Kassling said. “We want to be part of this community. We’re proud to be here.”

tafts ale house

Kassling -- proprietor of New York City’s Tri Tip Grill restaurants -- said the tri-tip beef, which is cut from the bottom sirloin, is originally a California cut but has become increasingly popular for its superior flavor and pension for grilling.

The theme of the brewpub will be a playful reference to William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and Cincinnati resident, who was known for his large size and progressive politics.

The three-floor brewpub will feature a beer hall on the main floor, a mezzanine with more seating for dining and private rooms, and a “beer cocktail lounge” in the lower floor. A separate entrance will be available for the cocktail lounge -- dubbed “Big Billy’s Basement” -- on the lower level. Big Billy’s will serve the brewpub’s own barrel-aged products on tap with one rotating tap serving beer from other local Cincinnati breweries.

When patrons sit in the beer hall, they will be able to view both the kitchen and the brewery itself. Fermenters and serving vessels will be stacked behind the main bar with a catwalk separating the top tanks from the bottom row and offering patrons an unparalleled view of the brewing operations, according to 3CDC.

Moreland said he plans on utilizing ingredients from Over-the-Rhine shops and restaurants, as well as local and exotic ingredients for his beers. He said he expects to produce 3,500 to 4,000 barrels per year.

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

More information on Taft’s Ale House is available at and on Twitter at @bigbillytaft .

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