It’s been hard to get out to new places this past year. My visits to new breweries are way down so when my good friend Max said he was going to Big Ash to celebrate his birthday I couldn’t wait till Friday night. I didn’t know what to expect, the only thing I had really heard about Big Ash was that it was self serve. A pretty unique concept if I do say so myself. It turns out Big Ash has a lot more to offer than just a novel beer pouring concept.
Big Ash Brewing is located at 5230 Beechmont Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45230. From what I can tell it sits in an abandoned shopping plaza. Something Big Ash uses to their benefit with a sprawling patio that seems to take up the entire parking lot. The patio area has dozens of tables and chairs, a firepit or two, an outdoor stage, and plenty of room to spare. It was a little chilly the night we visited but on warmer nights this patio with some live music would be a great spot to hang out.
The building itself had a very familiar feel as soon as I walked in but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t until I was about ready to leave that it hit me. The layout and some of the touches of the taproom reminded me of a Mexican restaurant or maybe a Tumbleweed. Turns out I was right, they transformed an old El Rancho Grande into their brewery. If the space works, it works.
As soon as you walk in you’ll see the taps. They’re unguarded by a bar or bartender but more on that in a minute. To the left and the right of the taps are seating with the main floor to the right of the taps. Inside that room you’ll find another stage. That night their was live music. It feels like it’s been forever since I experienced live music. I didn’t get the guy’s name but my group all agreed he gave off young Willie Nelson vibes.
Be sure to come to Big Ash hungry. They have a kitchen cranking out salads, delicious flatbread pizzas, and other pub fare such as pretzels and chips & salsa.
Big Ash is a self serve brewery. What does that mean exactly? I asked and the staff was very helpful and thorough in explaining. When you’re ready to get a beer you take your debit/credit card up to the checkout area and put it on file. In return, they give you a brewery card, think Dave and Buster’s play card but this one is for drinks and food, not skeeball. Once you sanitize and pick up a glass you are free to approach the taps and pour your own beer. Before you do so though, you have to put your brewery card into one of the slots in the wall (picture below) if you forget to do this nothing comes out from the taps and you’re left looking silly. Yes, I might have done this two or even three times. If you want to know more about the beer you’re thinking about pouring you can tap one of the screens and a description of the beer will pop up so you can learn more about it.
One of the plus sides of this is that if you don’t want a full pour you don’t have to get one. You’re the bartender so if you want a half pour, get one. Want to taste something before you commit to a full pint? They have tasting glasses for you. Honestly, you might want to do some tasting first because they have 28 taps to chose from. Most of them from the home team but some guest taps as well. If beer isn’t your thing they have options for you. They have a full bar right beside the taps with a friendly bartender serving up delicious cocktails. I’ve heard great things about the Moscow Mule.
On my visit I stuck to the brews as I tend to do. I had five different beers on my visit. Here are the three that stuck out to me for one reason or another.
3. Wolfship NE IPA – This hazy boi checks in at 6.7% and 50 IBUs. I probably would have skipped over this beer for another but it came highly recommended by a couple I was there with so I took a gamble on it and was glad I did. It’s tropical with a punch of coconut and melon. A great pairing with a patio and sunshine. 3.75/5
2. Full Sale Pale Ale – I love a good piney/citrusy beer. This one was the first beer I had on my visit and it didn’t disappoint. It balances the malts and hops nicely. At 5.25% and 43 IBUs it’s refreshing and light enough to have more than one. 3.75/5
1. Backbeat Coffee Blonde – For this beer the Big Ash team infused their blonde ale with a Guatemalan roast coffee from their neighbors at Luckmans coffee. Huehuetenango is a sweet and fruity coffee that gives a pronounced coffee flavor without any heavy roast making it a nice pairing for this light beer. I’m a sucker for a coffee blonde and this one is no exception. It’s good for any time of day and at 5.8% and 19 IBUs you might need to start your day off with one. 3.75/5.
Big Ash offers a novel concept with the self serving taps that’s a fun change of pace for patrons. The giant patio area is something I really want to check out soon and hopefully next time I don’t forget to put in my brewery card before trying to pour a beer. For a brewery that started with a group of friends brewing in their beer cave they’ve come a long way and are doing it right at Big Ash.
If brewery merch is your thing Big Ash had plenty to choose from and a cooler of cans for beers to go.
Big Ash is open six days a week with hours varying per day so check out their website for specifics.