CINCINNATI -- Sixteen local craft breweries are coming together this Thanksgiving weekend to welcome people returning to the Queen City for the holiday.
The breweries will participate in the inaugural Ale to the Queen City beer festival, scheduled 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday on Mehring Way between Elm Street and the Roebling Bridge. The festival, which is being produced by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, will feature 39 craft beers on tap, live music and local food such as LaRosa's and Skyline Chili.
"This started several months ago when there was a group of different organizations throughout the region to talk about how we capture everything that's changed in Cincinnati for people coming back for the weekend," said Cynthia Oxley, director of the chamber's corporate and community events. "We took control of what we could add here. We just started kind of working at what this would be. The craft beer scene here is so amazing and booming. Anyone who lives here sees it day in and day out."
Ale to the Queen City is part of a larger regional initiative tied to Thanksgiving called Home, which showcases Cincinnati's growing food, cultural, shopping and arts scenes through multiple events all weekend.
Breweries participating in Ale to the Queen City range from established beermakers to new brewers.
"This sounded like a really cool thing to have all these breweries in one place on a big weekend," said Kathie Hickey, who along with her husband, Brian, and son Garrett opened Streetside Brewery in Columbia Tusculum in October. "It's our first beer festival that we've been invited to."
Streetside will serve its Flocc So Hard Session IPA and Cafe Con Leche Stout at the festival. Garrett Hickey will participate in "Tales & Ales," small sessions where brewers discuss different aspects of their craft. He will share his experience as a home brewer, which is how Streetside Brewery got its start, at 6 p.m. Friday.
More established regional breweries, including Rhinegeist, MadTree, Mt. Carmel, Fifty West and Rivertown, will be on hand as well.
"It's amazing," said Lindsey Roeper, self-described "dream facilitator" and spokeswoman for Rivertown. "We've been open since 2009. There were about six local craft breweries when Rivertown opened. Now there are over 30 breweries in Cincinnati, and we're all doing really different things from each other."
Rivertown will serve Soulless Red Ale, a sour beer, and Roebling Porter, a beer the brewery has been known for since its inception.
"We're excited to be able to pour Roebling right next to the actual bridge," Roeper said.
Jim Goodman, co-owner of Hamilton's Municipal Brew Works, said he is excited to introduce a new audience to his brewery, which opened in June; he is hoping to entice Cincinnatians to visit.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the exposure," he said of the beer festival. "It can be a haul for some to come to Hamilton to see what we have. This has an opportunity to bring our beers to them."
Municipal Brew Works will tap its Approachable Blonde ale and Dark Shell Black IPA at the festival, and Goodman will share a bit of Cincinnati's brewing history during another "Tales & Ales" session on Friday.
Oxley said many smaller, newer breweries approached the chamber about being part of the festival but worried about making enough beer to meet demand.
"There are some that wanted to be a part of it but couldn't produce enough beer," she said. "To me, that was fascinating."
The location of Ale to the Queen City, nestled between the Banks and Smale Riverfront Park, also helps showcase the riverfront growth that both the festival and Home initiative hope to reflect, she said.
"Look at everything that is new down there," Oxley said. "If you don't visit every year, every year something new comes in there. It's quite different. When you stand down there on Mehring Way on the street, no matter which way you look it's a beautiful view."
Ale to the Queen City
4-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Mehring Way between Elm Street and the Roebling Bridge