National Geographic Image Collection/Alamy
Elizabeth Preske
September 21, 2018

Cincinnati is paying tribute to its pre-Prohibition past.

On Friday, the city is opening the first phase of its Brewing Heritage Trail, an urban walking trail that invites visitors to learn about Cincinnati's brewing history by taking them through the Brewery District in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

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This 1.09-mile segment invites visitors to learn about Cincinnati's fascinating brewing history as they navigate pre-Prohibition breweries — such as John Kauffman Brewing Co and F. & J.A. Linck Brewery — as well as "iconic signage" and public art installations.

In the late 1800s, there were a collective 17 breweries in Over-the-Rhine and West End thanks to the thousands of German immigrants in Cincinnati. The 18th Amendment, however, rung in the Prohibition era. While only a few of the breweries survived, the area lays claim to one of the country's largest collections of 19th-century brewery architecture to this day. The Trail, in the works since 2011, is just one of many projects that the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CURC) has initiated to "preserve, restore, and redevelop" the city's history and Italianate architecture.

"The Trail tells more than just how much we made and how much we drank; it is the story of American immigration, ingenuity, ethnic conflict, industrialization, the labor struggle ... and the impact of a constitutional amendment on local economies told through the production and consumption of a single commodity — beer," executive director Steven Hampton told Ohio.org.

As you walk through the neighborhood, you can download the free Brewing Heritage Trail app to take yourself on a self-guided audio tour of the area and to learn more about the city's history via photos, stories, and augmented reality experiences.

Courtesy of Findlay Market

For a more unique experience, you can also sign up for any number of guided tours, some of which grant special access to sections of the trail not open to the general public, like the subterranean lagering cellars of historic breweries.

Although you will be touring a city once heavily influenced by Prohibition, you will find no shortage of beer on several of these tours.

The Brunch, Beer, & Breweries tour, for example, invites you to ride a streetcar through the Brewery District and sip on local craft beer at the award-winning Moerlein Lager House (while you brunch your way through the brewpub's rich history, of course). Likewise, the Heritage & Hops walking and bus tour takes you to three breweries for generous samples of craft beer.

And if you haven't had your fill of beer by the end of your tour, just know: BrewDog's beer hotel is only a two-hour drive away.

The Brewing Heritage Trail opens on Friday, September 21; sign up for a guided tour on their website.

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