If you’re like me you didn’t realize Northern Row just opened their taproom on June 2nd. You probably didn’t know that they’ve been working on this idea since 2018 and until the pandemic hit they had a grand celebration planned to commemorate the occasion of finally opening their taproom. Since then everything has been lowkey.
Thanks to twitter I decided to visit the newly opened taproom on a whim. It had been a while since I had been to OTR but I thought it would be worth it to try out a new taproom. I’ve seen Northern Row beer here and there but I hadn’t seen a lot of it and knew they were doing Project Sanitizer during the quarantine so I was anxious to see what they’re all about.
The first thing I had to know is, why are they called Northern Row?
Our name harkens back to our roots prior to the 18th Amendment (Prohibition). Back then, Liberty Street was the north boundary of Cincinnati city limits. North of that street was the area known as Northern Row. It was the heart of the Cincinnati brewing industry.-Where the name Northern Row comes from.
Northern Row is located at 111 W McMicken Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45202. They’re the newest taproom to open in OTR. The building they occupy is said to have been part of the pre-prohibition Moerlein beer empire and built in 1895. They have a large, pet friendly patio off the side of the building with plenty of seating options. On the raised platform you’ll find a door and a hallway leading you to the taproom.
Once inside you’ll see a beautiful taproom. It almost looks perfectly preserved from the time it was in action before prohibition. The brewhouse and distillery are right off to the side of the bar. Wooden furniture ranging from booths, high tops, and barstools are scattered throughout the room. Accented by steel beams and tall matching windows it’s like stepping back in time when everything was handcrafted. The centerpiece of it all is, of course, the bar. It was too long to get a picture of the whole thing but social distancing isn’t a problem there, it seems to go on forever.
The taproom balances nicely to be a cool easy spot to stop in and grab a beer with a friend or a nice date night spot while you’re out on the town.
If you’re looking for food they have you covered with a full kitchen. I didn’t order food on my visit but their food menu is as diverse as their beer menu. The roast beef & cheddar sandwich, macaroni & beer cheese, and Northern Row Chicken salad are just a couple of things that sounded delicious.
I have to say as cool as the taproom was and as good as the beer was, it was the service that stood out the most. Keith, Samantha, Logan and the entire staff were all great!
At first glance their beer menu was solid, at a second glance it was pretty impressive. They had 14 beers on tap that day with the traditional styles you probably expect to find like a pilsner, IPA, and Hefeweizen but they had some not so wide spread styles such as the Dunkelweizen and Marzen too.
For the time being Northern Row isn’t doing fights, but pints are available as well as growlers to go. You also have the option of anything that might be stocked at a full bar. I’ve only had one beer from Northern Row before this outing to the taproom so I didn’t know what to expect as far as quality of the beer. Sometimes you might feel if a place is distilling and brewing the beer might play second fiddle but that’s not the case here. I quickly learned I had nothing to worry about, the beer is exceptional. I tried seven different beers while I was there, here are the three that stood out:
3. Boozer, an imperial stout that clocks in at 11% ABV. It’s big, it’s barrel aged, it’s boozy, and robust might be an understatement. Dark chocolate notes and a strong barrel presence are the stars in this one. 4/5.
2. Heckler, a juicy IPA. At 7% ABV this beer is hoppy, citrusy with hints of tangerine/grapefruit and finishes with a nice subtle bitterness. If you’re a big IPA drinker, order this one, you won’t’ be disappointed. 4/5.
1. Marzen. That’s right a marzen beer in June. Northern Row thinks it’s not just for Oktoberfests. It’s actually one of their core beers and it’s delicious. It’s 6.8% ABV with caramel and a solid roasted nutty character. I was surprised to see it on the tap list and I was blown away when I tried it. 4.5/5
Northern Row has a rotating slow pour tap. It’s only the second place I’ve been around the city with one and I’d highly recommend you try whatever they have on it at the time. On my visit they had their Helles Lager on the slow pour. It could be the Helles, Pilsner, or Marzen. Whatever it is, try it, you won’t be disappointed.
With a handful of places opening their taprooms for the first time do not sleep on Northern Row. The atmosphere is great, the beer is exceptional, and the staff is phenomenal. Their motto is “all outcasts welcome” but trust me you’ll feel like family.
Hours vary each day so check out their schedule and protocol.