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Moerlein halts production at Moore Street taproom

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Posted at 11:06 AM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 08:48:30-05

CINCINNATI — Christian Moerlein Brewing has announced they will be ceasing operations and letting go of employees at the company's Malt House Tap Room on Moore Street.

The company said it would still produce its iconic Cincinnati beer brands, but the parent company's name has changed to Cin-Bev.

"We knew we couldn’t let these legacy Cincinnati beer brands go out of business, but the current model wasn’t sustainable. So we turned to a different model to keep these brands alive, and are working with a local production partner to bring our brews to you," the company said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

As for the facility on Moore Street -- one known not just for producing some of the region's most well-known beers but also for its history and its ongoing reputation for hosting large events -- the future is a little less certain.

"Part of their taproom was actually a pre-prohibition brewery," said Steve Hampton, executive director of the nonprofit, The Brewery District. "It was just a fantastic synergy of past and present."

Hampton said it will be a big loss for local brewing.

"Not having beer brewed in the middle of the brewery district, it's sad to lose," he told WCPO.

The company said the COVID-19 pandemic's shutdown of bars, stadiums and events took a toll on their Moore Street Malt House. Owner Jay Woffington took over the business just as the pandemic was starting back in the early spring.

"I feel a little bit like the group that founded a distillery right before prohibition," he said in a June 2020 interview. WCPO caught up with Woffington by phone Thursday morning, who said closing the taproom was a "last resort" decision.

While it is unclear where Moerlein beer will be brewed going forward, the company said a new beer is still in the works for 2021.

"The upside is that this keeps these brands alive, and helps improve the quality, consistency, and reliability of getting these beers into your hands. We are confident this move will improve everything from seed to sip. In fact, we have a new look and new liquid coming to you in 2021."

Another element of Moerlein's legacy: Bockfest.

"There will be a Bockfest," Hampton said. His nonprofit runs the annual festival, and Moerlein historically was a major partner and hosted the event.

"While we've had it here at this physical location for quite a long time now, in its history, it always moved around," Hampton said. "So we might get back to our roots as part of Bockfest, bouncing around the neighborhoods ... And that's really the spirit of Bockfest, is no matter what you throw at us, we're going to party and have a good time."