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An Adventure To Cellar Dweller Brewing

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Join me as I roll up to Morrow, OH to Cellar Dweller Brewing. This adventure was mostly on separated trail!

CellarDwellerLogo

I have known about Cellar Dweller pretty much from the beginning of my living here in Cincinnati. It was, however, one of the two local breweries that I considered unbikeable (the other being the very nice Mt. Carmel Brewing). Then came the day I went to the Lunken Beerfest a couple months ago or so. I stopped by the Cellar Dweller booth for some tastes. The conversation turned to the fact that I had biked to the Fest. The man told me that they sometimes have cyclists visiting the brewery (well, I think he might have said “all the time” but I think that has to be an exaggeration). He said they’re located just a bit off the trail.

That’s pretty much true.

Cellar Dweller’s beers are good! I was impressed at the Beerfest and I was again at the brewery. The experience at Cellar Dweller was a bit of a departure from the norm. See, Cellar Dweller is a fairly young baby of the larger and far more prominent business, Valley Vineyards. Cellar Dweller’s beers, as their slogan suggests, come from the cellars of Valley Vineyards. The place is basically a big restaurant with a big patio. Now, I say restaurant, but I don’t think they really serve food. They have some sort of thing going where they sometimes offer cheese plates, and they have big grills on the front patio where guests can bring their own meat and cook it. I guess they offer salads, desserts, etc. to go along with it as well.

It was interesting for this guy who is simply out for local craft beer. I found myself in a restaurant-like atmosphere. As the hour progressed, I saw more and more people, mostly elderly and not appearing to be hurting for money, filter in and take their reserved seats. Well, it is a winery I guess, and not exactly Napa.

See my fellow patrons. I feel young and rowdy.

See my fellow patrons. I feel young and rowdy.

By the way, I love wine and wineries. My wife and I used to make the 5 hour trek from Seattle to Walla Walla for spring wine release. We had a handful of neat wineries on Bainbridge Island as well.

I rolled in after some confusion as to where exit the trail. I was drenched in sweat on this 90 degree humid day, having pedaled some 35 miles. My bike locked up to the bike rack out front (that’s right, a bike rack!), my soaked shirt draped over the rack and my backup shirt donned, I entered the air-conditioned building after observing the expansive front patio and the guy lighting up the big barbecue grills.

As mentioned, I kind of blew it on my directions. I had investigated the route a couple days prior, consulting Google Street View to get an idea what it looks like where I was supposed to leave the trail and ride on-street the fairly short distance to the brewery. I should have boned up the day of my trip. When I neared Morrow, I saw a cross street that I suspected was where I needed to exit the trail and turn. I doubted myself and proceeded just beyond the street. Stopping to see if my phone could help me, I encountered a nice guy who slowed to ask if everything was okay. I took the opportunity to ask if he knew where Valley Vineyards was and if the street just behind us was the one that led there. Well, I thank the guy who was very nice, but between him and my phone, I was encouraged to proceed on the trail which turned out to take me some three miles too far. Then, I got off the trail and onto a busy road that began to go steeply uphill. My legs and body were not excited. I pulled over, checked my phone and decided I needed to go the other way. After trekking that way for a while on the busy road, I again pulled over, deciding to place a call to Valley Vineyards. Talking to the woman and thinking things through, I got an idea where I had gone wrong.

Yes, I had gone too far on the trail then pedaled around Morrow in vain. This as I was about drained of sweat.

Cellar Dweller is located a bit before you get into Morrow on the trail (coming from Cincinnati). The road at which you exit the trail is named Stubbs Mill Road, people. Remember it. One of the women at the brewery told me they had a sign up on the trail for a while, but it kept getting removed. There is actually a small wooden sign across the road as you approach on the trail that bears the road’s name.

THIS is the road.

THIS is the road. Get off the trail here and turn right! Then turn left at the light.

As you approach your road.

As you approach your road.

It looks like this once you're on the road. Barely visible in this pic is the big gravel pit on the left – a major landmark.

It looks like this once you’re on the road. Barely visible in this pic is the big gravel pit on the left – a major landmark.

 

Looking the other direction you would see the giant wine barrel Valley Vineyards sign. I didn't photograph it but I'm pretty sure you can find a pic of it.

Looking the other direction you would see the giant wine barrel Valley Vineyards sign. I didn’t photograph it but I’m pretty sure you can find a pic of it. Notice the little market where the proprietors of this place sell their own fruit and vegetables. Neat!

Right away I saw the red tap handles behind the counter and on the right, though visually they play as significant a role as does Cellar Dweller to Valley Vineyards. I knew what I was there for and, for me, there was no missing those tap handles. Oh yes, I was getting my Cellar Dweller beer.

That's Cellar Dweller over there on the wall.

That’s Cellar Dweller over there on the wall.

I was greeted by a nice young woman in what appeared to be almost a uniform. Tasters were my poison of choice here. They offer a set of seven tasters for $8. The woman readily offered, though, that they offer individual tasters for $1. This suited me better, though I ordered tasters of six of their currently available seven beers. It was a good deal, Pedalpinters. The tasters were unusually large (though they appeared to intentionally fill them less than full). As you see in the menu, Cellar Dweller’s beers are essentially $5/pint save a couple which are of the feebler variety. Yes, this seems to be the law of the land at breweries and beer establishments: only the beers much lighter in gravity come at a more affordable price. Maybe this is a foregone conclusion to most, but I don’t remember it always being that way. Is it an Ohio thing? Is it a Midwest thing? I’d have to go back and visit the Pacific Northwest to find out. Sadly, I am actually glad to see they only charge $5 at a maximum. The price of beer just keeps going up my friends. $5 is the new $4.

CellarDwellerTasters

CellarDwellerTasters2

I took my paddle of tasters and – no, actually the woman offered to carry them for me – I found a table in the cool somewhat dim dining room. All the tables had cards displayed on them with names and the time of the reservations. I was prepared for this, as I had called a total of three times leading up to my adventure to get a feel for the atmosphere there. More importantly, I needed to confirm that they would be open before I blew a day of travel in vain. The deal is, comrades who are just out for a bit of beer and a bike ride, the place takes reservations and fills up with diners and winers at 4 o’clock. Prior to that, though, you are welcome to visit and enjoy the beer (and wine). Just make sure you are ready to vacate your table before the reservation time unless you want an uncomfortable moment.

Makes you want to settle in and have a nice dinner with friends or family eh? Nah. I think I'll ride 30 miles home now.

Makes you want to settle in and have a nice dinner with friends or family eh? Nah. I think I’ll ride 30 miles home now.

Of the six Cellar Dweller beers I had, I enjoyed Dead Dweller the least. Dead Dweller is good. This tells you how I feel about these beers. Standouts for me are the Ryno amber which tasted a lot more like an IPA or hoppy pale than an amber. It is listed at 27 IBU but has to be hopper than that. The Lookout Stout and the Hoppy Poppy IPA are very good as well. Shawsome black IPA is good but not, to me, quite as good as the aforementioned. Just a matter of taste, but all quality beers! I’d like to try their wines sometime.

CellarDwellerBeerMenu

At first I sat at a table for two not far from the gift shop/counter. Later, I moved to a big table diagonally across the room that was next to a front window, as I craved more light and a view outside. This table had a reservation time of 6:00 compared to the 5:00 at my first table. It was getting close to this hour because I had left home later than I wished, having had to deal with a flat tire before departing and of course getting a bit lost on the way.

When I saw a significant amount of people saunter in and fill the area around the counter I figured I’d better get up there and pay lest I be caught waiting behind a crowd of distinguished guests, my time ticking away. I joined the crowd and settled up with the responsive friendly staff. To my surprise, there was a lull in the action a bit later for which I should have waited. 

From my window I was able to see my bike and the two other bikes locked to the rack that were there when I arrived. Yes, there were a couple other cyclists there, though I couldn’t tell who they were. I have the strong suspicion that most people that bike to Valley Vineyards do so from somewhere around Loveland (home of Cappy’s a place detailed in another of my posts), or maybe from some point to the North of the winery. I don’t know that the place sees many visitors from Cincinnati, a 65-70 mile round trip away.

After thoroughly enjoying my tasting experience, I finally used the restroom. Yes, I had downed about 1.75 liters of water since leaving home in addition to my beer and just now had to pee a little. That’s how much I sweat. It was time to take off and start the ride back home.

I exited on the gravel drive that runs parallel to the road, then joined the road. It’s not far until you reach the road where you turn right to reach the trail which is probably 1/3 mile away.

The ride on the trail this day was peaceful and pleasant but tiring and, frankly, boring. Two hours each way does get old. Of course there is also the ride to and from the trail from my neighborhood which you will see on the map.

I’m glad to have had this adventure and thus made it to the final Cincinnati brewery I had not visited. I’ll do it again, though maybe in the winter!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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Updated July 14: An Adventure To Cappy’s Craft Wine And Spirits

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Join me as I play recreational Cincinnati cyclist and finally try out the Loveland Bike Trail. There’s one major difference however: I didn’t drive a car, park it, then start my ride. I rode from my house. Yes, take that. I believe most of the time a bike ride should not involve gasoline and an internal combustion engine.

Cappy’s Craft Wine And Spirits is a place I’ve heard of a few times and finally had brought into the forefront of my consciousness by the web presence known as Hoperatives here in the Cincinnati area. It clicked that this was a place not far at all off the Loveland Trail that fills growlers and carried a lot of craft beer. Sounds like an adventure to me.

Allow me to take a moment to address something: One day as I was at Rivertown Brewing recently, there was a guy I’d just met talking about cycling with me and the Loveland Bike Trail came up. Suddenly from my other side came a loud, adamant, somewhat obnoxious voice proclaiming that it’s not the Loveland Bike Trail. It’s the Loveland Multi-Use Trail! The man, a cyclist, insisted that walkers did not want him blazing along the trail at 30 miles per hour or something like that. You know what? He has a point, albeit a point I already understood. It is indeed a multi-use trail and cyclists should yield and give as wide a berth as possible to those on foot. His point I do think bears repeating here, as I believe most folks call it the Loveland Bike Trail. Many cyclists – almost exclusively those clad in bright Lycra and atop expensive road bikes – ride fast, disrespectfully and unsafely to others on trails such as this.

I feel bad leveling a dig at serious and somewhat serious roadies, or even wannabe lookalikes. I love and promote all forms of cycling. The more people in bikes the better! People, though, need to be respectful and considerate of others. I love to ride fast, and would like to think I’m pretty good at it. I, however, almost always slow down, and put as much space as is reasonable between me and slower riders, and those on foot.

Something else very much needs addressing here: Pedestrians have their own serious burden of responsibility in sharing paths and other ways of travel. So many people traveling on foot (cyclists too) are oblivious to the world around them, but particularly anything and anyone behind them. Walkers, please, if you’re going to spread out and take up most or all of the way of passage (as is apparently human nature) please put in some effort toward periodically checking behind you or at least listening!! Almost every time I come up behind people walking, whether I am running or whether I am cycling, my attempts to get their attention with anything less than a loud, rude holler, fail. Pay attention, or don’t spread out and block the way, people! This should be basic.

Now, back to beer adventuring.

Pretty nice selection for what feels and looks like a traditional small town.

Pretty nice selection for what feels and looks like a traditional small town.

Cappy’s is located in Loveland, in case I haven’t mentioned it. The ride from my house, I think, was about 25 miles one way. This place is part of the trend – one that amazes me – of offering beer on tap at stores. There is a grocery store in Cincinnati that fills growlers, and this is one of two convenience stores that I know of in the area that also do. Cappy’s has a very nice selection of bottled beers as well of course. It’s a place to find nice wine too, though I didn’t take the time to check that out on this maiden voyage. I refer you to my post on Chuck’s on 85th, known now as Chuck’s Hop Shop for a writeup of a place that is doing the same thing in Seattle. The main difference, aside from the fact that Chuck’s has a lot more on tap, and more in bottles, is that Chuck’s is allowed to serve glasses of beer to be consumed onsite. Cappy’s currently is limited to offering four tiny samples for $1. The guy who helped me this day at Cappy’s, though, told me that this coming fall they would become allowed to pour beer for consumption on premise. Two pints he thought would be the limit. Neat! Guess it must be up to Loveland lawmakers, as the Whole Foods in Cincinnati makes no mention of a pint limit.

Nice stuff.

Nice stuff.

Getting to Cappy’s from my location in Hyde Park was not bad. Basically you ride the same route you use to get to Fifty West Brewing, but you proceed a fairly short distance past it, crossing the intersection at Newtown Rd. and then find the beginning of the trail on your right.

I will provide a map next, and further describe the ride and the growler filling experience at Cappy’s.

July 12 update follows:

Here’s the map:

http://goo.gl/maps/IkeRN

The ride from Hyde Park to Cappy’s brought back memories of Seattle. How? Think Burke Gilman Trail. From my home on Bainbridge Island, WA I’d ride to the ferry, take the boat, then sometimes ride a handful of miles to where I could pick up the Burke Gilman then head off to my destination. Here, I rode a handful of miles where I could pick up the Loveland Trail and head to my destination. Of course a major difference is that there are far fewer useful places the Loveland Trail can take you compared to its Seattle counterpart.

I took Erie to the east, followed it and enjoyed the bike lanes that are present on parts of it, and at Murray Rd., turned right. See, there is another short separated multi-use path to enjoy here that takes you into Mariemont. On this trip I had a nice experience talking to a fellow cyclist on the Murray Trail. An older gentleman in riding gear pulled up alongside me and asked where I was headed. Informed that we had moved here last fall from Seattle, he shared some information about the Loveland Trail with me that I already knew. A nice experience that you just cannot get driving a car. Human connection.

The Murray Trail ends and leaves you to ride on a residential street with, oddly, another residential street running parallel to it. Take this to the intersection with Plainville Rd., a stop sign intersection where you cut diagonally across and proceed on Madisonville Rd. which curves right and takes you down to the heart of Mariemont’s business/entertainment district. Cross the stop light intersection, turning left onto Wooster Pike/50.

From there you ride on the roadway with no bike lane or appreciable shoulder through the eastern part of Mariemont. There is a great downhill stretch before you pass the big grocery store. Not too long after that you pass Fifty West Brewing which is on the left. Proceed past the intersection with Newtown Rd. and shortly after that find the entrance to the Loveland Trail on your right.

Before long you pass a park. This is always great, as you can possibly fill a water bottle and use the restroom unless these facilities are closed for the winter (hate that!).

The rest of the ride is pretty self-explanatory. There are some places where you deal with intersections with roads. At least a couple of them are pretty treacherous.

When you get into Loveland, get off the trail and go left on Loveland Ave. (I recommend staying on the near side of the road, dismounting and walking/running on the sidewalk) It’s not far to where you cross an intersection then see Cappy’s on the left.

Cappy’s, frankly, doesn’t look very nice on the outside. Well, neither does it on the inside. This is pretty much on par with Seattle’s Super Deli Mart and Chuck’s Hop Shop however. It’s a quickie mart that has beer on tap.

Notice I didn’t say it pours beer. Not until this fall according to the guy who helped me.

On this visit to Cappy’s I filled two growlers – one with the local Mt. Carmel Snapshot Series Imperial IPA (very good) and the other with Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. I’ll quickly mention Mt. Carmel Brewing since I probably won’t document an adventure to that brewery. See, it’s not possible as far as I can tell to ride a bike there. One day I had to drive to Eastgate Mall and I made the trip more worthwhile by finally visiting Mt. Carmel. I was quite impressed. The tasting room space is very nice, the service is friendly and the beer is good. You’re inside an old house and can proceed back into other areas of the house that are very tastefully appointed. Outside there is a sitting area and a pond complete with two fake ducks and sometimes two real ones. Any time I have to drive out that way I’ll be stopping in (if they’re open).

Back to Cappy’s. Well, more on Cappy’s next!

July 14 update follows:

Pull your bike up to Cappy’s and, of course, find no bike parking. I locked up to something out front and hoped no locals would complain. Yes I was struck by how, oh how to I phrase it, towny this place appears. I had heard good things about it online and was impressed that Cappy’s is smart enough to maintain an active web presence, providing Twitter updates showing their current tap lineup. What do I expect, I guess. It’s a convenience store in a relatively small town in the Midwest. Even the two quickie marts in Seattle that pour beer are frankly pretty crummy in appearance, and only one of them has a bike rack out front. The standard macro beers occupy a surprising share of Cappy’s coolers and floor space.

On to the good: Cappy’s does have a nice selection of both bottles and draft beer. If I recall, they have as a standard offering Bell’s Two Hearted Ale for a decent price per growler fill. The prices on the rest of their fills are typical – mostly somewhat overpriced for this bargain hunter.

On this visit there was a mixup. The cordial, genuine young man helping me filled one of my growlers with the wrong beer. This wound up being a slightly bigger issue than I would expect. He couldn’t see his way to pouring the beer into another vessel where it could serve another purpose. Instead he offered, to my dismay, to swap out my growler for a new one. I got the feeling he didn’t fully understand the basic tenet of growlership that states that the growler is the property of the customer. This was my growler from Seattle’s Peddler Brewing Company – a bicycle-themed brewery that I’ve written about. There was no way I was letting him keep it, and I was offended that he seemed to think he had the right to take it. I don’t want to be hard on the guy. He was nice and in the end came up with a solution that was agreeable.

An interesting thing about Cappy’s: They offer 1/2 size growlers pre-filled with beer that comes out of their lines just prior to their cleaning the lines. I really appreciate their finding a use for this beer that otherwise would go wasted. It’s sold at a decent discount, however, this discount is wiped out by the fact that you must purchase the new 1/2 size growler glassware at the same time. I wish they would provide this offer while allowing you to exchange a 1/2 size growler of your own, thus relieving you of purchasing the new glassware each time.

The selection of bottled beer at Cappy’s is fairly impressive. I have some pics of the bottled beers that I may share at a future date, but my wife and I have switched phones temporarily. You get the idea regarding Cappys though. It’s a solid place that I’m glad to have available. I look forward to their beginning to offer beer for consumption on premise. I wonder if they will install a seating area, and how far this will be taken. I don’t personally need seating, as wandering around a bottle shop while sipping a beer is a favorite activity.

Well that’s Cappy’s, folks – at least from my unique perspective. The ride home is just a reversal of the outgoing trip and of course can feel sort of long. I stopped in Fifty West on the way back and found it overrun with what I found out to be a load of tour bus revelers. Don’t get me started on the whole craft beer tour van/bus thing taking root in Cincinnati.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. Look for an adventure that may take place in the immediate future that will see me on the Loveland Trail again and blazing all the way to Morrow, OH for a visit to Cellar Dweller Brewing!

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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