Here’s a great ride I recently discovered. It took me from my Pleasant Ridge (Cincinnati) home to the awesome Rivertown Brewing in Lockland, then to Listermann Brewing right across from Xavier University.

Industrial. This building reminds me of Two Beer's building in Sodo, Seattle.

Rivertown Brewing. Industrial. The outside of this building reminds me of Two Beer’s building in Sodo, Seattle.

Both these places are great. I will get you started with a map of the route I took, complete with tips and relevant information.

http://goo.gl/maps/uKYte

Rivertown Brewing is one of my favorites in town. I am always reminded of a couple of the breweries in Poulsbo, WA and Kingston, WA. These two adjacent towns are, oh, how do I describe it, rather no-frills, blue-collar-ish towns. The naval base is relatively close which strengthens this effect. These two down-to-earth establishments stand in contrast to most of the breweries in Seattle, just a few miles across the Sound. You are enjoying the company of some really nice folks who aren’t overly concerned with how you dress or things of that nature. Many of them are open to striking up a conversation, though I am prone to receiving some “you ain’t from around here, is you” stares as I enter – especially having ridden a bicycle.

Rivertown has that same feel to me, and stands somewhat in contrast to MadTree, most certainly to Rhinegeist, and of course to Fifty West which is a brewpub complete with nice restaurant. As I write this, however, it strikes me that Listermann Brewing and Double Barrel Brewing are also similar in their blue-collar feel (forgive me for overusing the term). Maybe it’s this – the most significant quality of Rivertown Brewing – their $4 price point on pints. Both the aforementioned small town Western Washington breweries charge $4 for pints. Yes, the Rivertown  beers that are higher in alcohol are $5, but most of them are $4. That’s including tax.

I know many of you are thinking: “Come on, man! Live a little. What’s an extra dollar or two?” Well, while local craft beer is worth paying for, and their makers worth supporting, I have yet to hear an explanation of why some small breweries can pay their bills while charging $4/pint and others claim they have to charge $5. Rhinegeist, for some reason, has chosen to charge $6 as their starting point. It’s more than a matter of a few buck here and there. If local craft beer is one of your passions, it adds up; and face it: many of us don’t have a lot of money to throw around. Further, the price of beer is a very important thing. Question: How many of you don’t give a rip when the price of gas goes up? How about the price of a gallon of milk? Or the price of a pack of cigarettes (for you poor folks that smoke) (what is it, 5 or 6 dollars a pack now?) It matters. Not only does it have an impact on your budget, but once consumers accept a higher price, the price rarely ever goes back down. No, overall, it only moves in one direction.

So, thank you, Rivertown, for your $4 (and $5) price point.

By the way, if any of you are going to argue that quality has anything to do with the pint price, I give you Sound Brewing in Poulsbo, WA. Or, now that I think about it, Silver City’s Brewery Taproom in Bremerton, WA which I believe is also at $4. (See my posts on those two breweries).

SoundPorterPint27April2011

Poulsbo, WA’s Sound Brewery taproom goodness.

Silver City Taproom goodness.

Bremerton, WA’s Silver City Taproom goodness.

Go ahead and try to argue the quality of those beers. I will submit to you (though I don’t claim to be possessed of a particularly intellectual palate) that Rivertown Brewing’s beers are of fine quality. I don’t find anything better about Rhinegeist’s beer than Rivertown’s beer – though the people who run Rhinegeist choose to charge 50% more for a pint.

Now, I know I have just taken up for Rivertown mightily, but I will admit it’s confusing to me that in terms of the price of their bottled beer in stores, they are just as expensive as the other locals. The price of beer in Cincinnati is a topic unto itself and Rivertown falls in line with local convention when it comes to bottles.

Rivertown makes some tasty beers, and offers a nice variety. Standouts for me are their Roebling Vanilla Espresso Porter and their Hop Baron Double Down IPA. I just had the pleasure of paying another visit to Rivertown last night and was pleased to try their Winter Ale. Good, but sweeter than I like.

I have gotten a full flight of tasters in the past and found the beers to be fine, though I must say most of them are at least a bit more “sessionable” than I like. Their Hop Bomber is a good pale ale with pronounced hop flavor (which it had better have with that name). The Dunkel is good as well.

Allright, let’s hit the road. The route from Pleasant Ridge to Rivertown Brewing is pretty nice overall. I’ve sought out some residential street options and the route even includes a pedestrian overpass – always a favorite thing of mine. My written description of the route will be more brief than in some previous posts, as I have gone to greater verbal detail in the map. Just click the pins for information.

Head out from Pleasant Ridge at the intersection of Ridge Road and Woodford Road. Go south on the sidewalk of Ridge just a short distance until you reach Parkview Ave. where you take a right. This runs you along the north side of Pleasant Ridge Park, though houses separate you and the park. Turn left on Lester Rd, then right on Douglas Terrace.

There is a stop light at busy Montgomery Rd. Cross over diagonally and continue now on Langdon Farm Rd. The Saturday I set out on this adventure it wasn’t busy on this road. It was pretty nice going actually. It’s downhill this direction and I put myself out on the roadway due to my speed. Suddenly a very pleasant surprise appeared – bike lanes! This was getting good.

At Seymour Ave. you go by Cincinnati Gardens. I haven’t heard anything about this place other than seeing, by sheer coincidence, that a somewhat lesser known pro wrestling event was going to be held there sometime soon after this adventure.

Now, you’re looking for the entrance to a shopping center on the right which, on the map, is Hirsch Dr. It has a couple of smaller rectangular signs at ground level which display the name of the major current tenant, which is some sort of community outreach or something. Make your way in through this parking lot, but note that currently it is under construction, so you must go to the right of chain link fencing and skirt that line all the way out to Seymour Ave. Turning left, you must go along Seymour a short distance, crossing over where you can – perhaps at the intersection with Hirsch Ave.

Continue N, NW on Hirsch through what is pretty much a road through commercial properties. It has some curves and takes some turns through a less than idillic yet not overly dangerous-feeling setting. You arrive at Losantville where you turn left and cross over Reading Road. The road changes names to Kenova Ave. Shortly, turn right on Elmshade Ave., a residential road.

When you arrive at Section Rd., turn left. It takes you a short distance to a pedestrian overpass over I-75 where you have the pleasure of rolling in utter safety from drivers. Ahead there is a train track. I encountered a train on this day, but it was fast moving and cleared in about 3 minutes.

Pleasing.

Pleasing.

Suckers.

Happy to be in this cage.

The road comes to a T at a fairgrounds. Turn right onto Anthony Wayne Ave. It takes you, pleasingly,  under some busy roads. Continue, now, on what were not overly busy roads for me. The sidewalk on the right side (heading toward Rivertown) goes away before too long, but there is one on the other side. There is a short bridge you have to cross, and it has you out on the roadway. I don’t expect drivers in this region to be at all bike aware or friendly, though I had almost no bad experiences riding on the road here on this particular day.

After about three miles you reach the intersection at Shepherd Ln./Dr. Turn left. From there it’s a short distance until you see, on your left, the building that houses Rivertown and other businesses. I don’t recall ever seeing a sandwich board out, so you just have to recognize the building. As I point out on the map, the building is  sort of terra cotta colored (see the pic at the top of this post) masonry on the bottom and tan metal on the top half. The building is set back from the roadway and you will be looking at the end of it as opposed to the front or back.

Ride on into the parking lot, but please beware of something I discovered: There is a towing company called Millenium Towing located beyond Rivertown, and its employees, based on a couple examples that I have seen, irresponsibly and rudely drive insanely fast through the parking lot.

I have taken to locking my bike up to the gas meters/pipes a bit beyond the second of two doors with “taproom” on them. There is, of course, no bike rack at Rivertown.

Enter and find a no-frills, yet nicely appointed taproom.

Beers listed on individual signs complete with ABVs (thank you).

Beers listed on individual signs complete with ABVs

There is no self-serve water here, nor is there a sink behind the bar where the beertender might refill you water. But I am used to refilling my water bottle in the bathroom sink. Speaking of sinks, I imagine Rivertown’s serving their beers in plastic cups is due to the taproom not being set up to wash glasses. Do I enjoy drinking my craft beer from a plastic cup? Of course not. But I still like Rivertown. Interestingly, the other brewery I visit on this adventure also serves their beers in plastic. This is something I had no idea went on until I moved here.

One pleasure of visiting Rivertown is seeing and interacting with Nugget. Nugget is the brewery cat taken in off the street/parking lot. A beautiful little boy, this cat is pretty social. They do make a point of trying to keep him off the bar and tables.

Awwww.

Awwww. Young Nugget seems to have a good life these days.

A couple tasters and a Roebling. Oh, and free pretzels complete with mustard!

Rivertown’s theme of historic Cincinnati.

A couple tasters and a Roebling. Oh, and free pretzels complete with mustard!

A couple tasters and a Roebling. Oh, and free pretzels complete with mustard!

A particularly nice feature of Rivertown is the free pretzels, usually accompanied by mustard! I can think of three breweries in Seattle that offered free pretzels, and some that charged for them. Very nice to have this here. Again coincidentally, my next stop today, Listermann Brewing, would also offer, if a bit less freely, free pretzels and/or chips of some kind.

The price on growler fills here at Rivertown, is awesomely in line with the pint price. A note on the growler fills though: I noticed on past visits that they spray sanitizer on the top margin of the exterior of the growler after filling and capping it. On my most recent visit, I noticed they also spray quite a generous amount of sanitizer inside your growler prior to filling it. They dump the sanitizer out of course, but I really don’t like the idea. I have read that these sanitizers used in brewing are safe, but I don’t trust this. I requested to have my beertender refrain from using it inside my growler, and he readily agreed. I realize that Rivertown not having plumbing behind the bar is probably a big part of the reason for their sanitizer use (most places run some water into customers’ growlers before filling), but I like to opt out.

Thanks, Rivertown for being a friendly, down-to-earth, affordable brewery taproom.

Next, off to Listermann Brewing.

November 21 Update Follows:

Leave Rivertown and retrace your route on Wayne Ave going south for about 2.25 miles. When you get to the fairgrounds and find City Centre Dr., turn left.  Enjoy your pedestrian overpass again which take you to Section Rd. Next take Elm Shade right, then Kenova left. Cross over Reading Rd. and the name changes to Losantiville Ave. Shortly, turn right on Hirsch Dr. where you ride through the curves of this commercial road. Turn left at Seymour Ave. and find, on your right, the spot where you emerged from the under-construction commercial property and ride along the chain link fence. Emerge onto Langdon Farm Rd. and turn left.

After about 1500 ft., you deviate from your outgoing route as you turn right on Rhode Island Ave. (it may also be called Section Ave., but at the intersection it is called Rhode Island), a residential road that takes you south. Ride about 1.5 miles to where you cross over Norwood Lateral Parkway. Proceed to where the road sort of Ts just after a conspicuous small yellow building where you dogleg right then left. The road changes names to Allison St. Next, the road Ts at Hopkins Ave where you turn right, then after a short distance turn left on Ivanhoe Ave.

Ivanhoe meets up with Montgomery Rd. where you turn right. You may want to sidewalk ride on this stretch of crazy Montgomery Rd. It’s not too far until you find Dana Ave. I recommend crossing over Dana Ave. then using the sidewalk to ride the remaining 1000 to 1500 feet until you find Listermann Brewing on your left.

Cool entrance. By far the fanciest thing about Listermann.

Cool entrance. By far the fanciest thing about Listermann.

Lock your bike up to the street sign just out front (it should go without saying there is not a bike rack here). Enter through a very cool stone doorway with a glass door. Listermann Brewing’s taproom is fairly small and basic. Listermann is also a homebrew supply store. Perhaps this lends to the very no-frills taproom ambiance. The only thing that makes this place look and feel pub-like or tavern-like is the very small “bar” that accommodates something like 4 people.  This is all fine with me though. All I really require is good beer for a good price served with professionalism and/or friendliness. Listermann delivers on 1.5 – 2 of those criteria.

See the shadow of the street sign that is our bike rack.

See the shadow of the street sign that is our bike rack.

Beers here are good and fairly interesting if only in their names and graphic identities. You’ve got the 562 Lateral, the Leopold, the Jungle Honey, the revered Nut Case peanut butter porter, Intergalactic IPA, Friar Bacon smoked bock and so on. I’ve tried all these. Another revered one seems to be Cincinnatus which is apparently a bourbon barrel aged stout. I have not had the opportunity to try this one. You see though, the creativity in the naming and identities.

As for price: $5 is the starting point. Well, this is the new norm. Just recently I paid another visit to Listermann and was reminded that their Nutcase is $6.

In terms of service, Listermann is good and bad. I’ve had some very good experiences with a certain beertender who is quite genuine and nice but lacks a sense of urgency and an awareness of how to effectively move customers through the line. I’ve also had an experience or two with a guy who is apparently an important person there and is not very friendly (or is at least rough around the edges and quite gruff).

I’m going to get a bit controversial here and mention that I’ve seen a few instances at Listermann Brewing of benefits being given to those who are friends of the ownership – as in discounted tabs or free beer. Now of course I know this sort of thing goes on at every place that pours drinks. What I’ve seen happen here is simply less hidden, and it’s not too enjoyable for us poor unimportant folks to witness.

The front window.

The front window.

Listermann Brewing’s taproom has a few small tables with chairs where one can enjoy their plastic cups of beer. Points are scored with me by their offering free self-serve water in the form of a water cooler (as in the traditional workplace type water cooler). Nice. Not only self-serve water, but bottled water tastiness! A big TV is hung up in the corner behind the bar, and on my most recent visit was blaring ESPN complete with all its commercials. Not a very classy or enjoyable touch.

My favorite beer by Listermann is probably Nutcase, the peanut butter porter with its subtle peanut flavor.

There is another line of beers here under the Triple Digit name. As I understand it, they are also brewed in-house. I have yet to hear the official meaning behind the name, but it seems to imply more potent beers. From memory, I think they do tend, overall, to be stronger. The one that comes to mind and that seems to most often be on tap is Aftermath, the imperial, or double, IPA which weighs in at some 10% ABV.

A good place to be if your phone needs charging.

A good place to be if your phone needs charging.

If you are male and need to use the restroom you’ll find that Listermann is one of the places that features a beer keg urinal. This unit’s makers have thoughtfully used the cut-out piece of metal turned it upside down and welded it back on as a catch pan to help keep the floor a bit cleaner. I haven’t noted yet whether this keg urinal is made from an old macro brewery’s keg, such as Bud or Miller, as are the others I have seen (at Diamond Knot brewing in Mukilteo, WA, and Emerald City Beer in Seattle).

Listermann is a solid local brewery that I’m glad we have here in Cincinnati. I understand its founders are the folks who started it all in terms of modern craft brewing in this town. Not surprisingly, they have a loyal following that (judging by the turnout at their annual Oktoberfest) is none too small.
To return to Pleasant Ridge from Listermann Brewing, take Dana Ave. to the right to where you turn left on Montgomery Rd. Sidewalk ride until, after about 3000 feet, find Williams Ave. and turn right. Williams Ave. treats you to some nicer, and some not-so-nice riding as you make your way, crossing over I-71, where the road changes names to Markbreit Ave and takes you out to Madison Ave. at Oakley Square. Turn left if you’re going to Pleasant Ridge. Madison takes you to Ridge Road which, as I point out in the map, is quite bike unfriendly and requires me, at least, to sidewalk ride.

Thanks for joining me in checking out these two nice local breweries. I’m psyched to find a reasonably doable route. I look forward to our next adventure!

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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