Thursday, June 7

Infused: Christian Moerlein Lager House in Review

Where can you go with a hankering for a nice pint, views of two professional ball stadiums and food infused with various spirits, wine and beer? Only one place. In fact, you will need to trek to the nation’s Midwest region for such a high-maintenance request.

Cincinnati, to be exact.

Upscale Christian Moerlein Lager House, recently opened, offers a gourmet gastropub menu, gleaming taps and every sports fan’s dream – an up close and personal view of the home for the Cincinnati Bengals and the home of the Cincinnati Reds.
Being privy to a four hour private tour of the craft-beer lover’s version of Disneyland, I could only gawk and grin at the marvel of this, this … I don’t want to say beer joint … this, this …

World Class Beer Mecca.

Seriously, who thinks of things like this? Two stories high with seating for nearly 750 of your closest friends, a beer garden, wraparound outdoor seating, and, oh, just for fun -- live music in the park in which it resides, sitting majestically overlooking the Ohio River, paddle and steam boats cruising along for colorful scenery (in case the stadiums aren’t enough).
Although it would have been so simple for proprietor Greg Hardman to have gone over-the-top with the d├ęcor and atmosphere, he has instead, somehow created a blended ambiance of familiar congeniality and understated elegance. As friendly as a neighborhood pub, Moerlein’s pulls off its regal pose while keeping a mindful eye on the original brewing district of German settlers known as Over-the-Rhine.
Gone are the days of underground tunnels keeping barrels cool, giving way to the microbrewery setup Hardman has situated directly to the left of the grand entrance. Acquiring the entire Hudepohi-Schoenling Brewing Co. of Cincinnati's line of brands, Hardman is now the proud, yet somehow modest, owner of Christian Moerlein, Little Kings Cream Ale, Hudepohl Amber Lager, Hudy Delight and Burger.

Beyond the numerous, seasonally changing, tap offerings, the 28,000 square foot lager house has a menu to drool over. Rivaling the finest restaurants and surpassing the standard pub’s level of epicurean delights, Chef Carl Chambers, executive chef, has created a menu infused with beer, spirits and wine for every palate. Barbecue sauce with dark lager, smoked malt marinades, prime rib with Barbarossa demi and horseradish cream, mussels with white wine … oh, so many choices. The list is extensive without ever losing its original focus.

Elizabeth Recommends:
No matter what else happens upon being seated, order immediately from the meat & cheese boards menu for the taste bud teaser you’ll enjoy indicative of the pure delight your foodie palate is in for within this noblest of all craft beer establishments. It is a “choose two or three of each” style selection, including smoked salmon, Prosciutto, candied pork belly, King Ludwig beer cheese, and Cambozola to name a few options.

Beer flights: Get them, enjoy them and then decide which is your favorite beer for a full serving.

Desserts: Here is where it starts to hurt. You absolutely must save room (trust me it will be extremely difficult) for the desserts at this Cincy jewel. Some options include, Black Cherry Forest Cake with Kirschwasser cherry compote and chocolate ganache, Apple Almond Bread Pudding with toffee-crusted vanilla ice cream, brown sugar almonds and white chocolate sauce, Orange Panna Cotta with Grand Marnier candied oranges ... see what I mean?

Bottom Line: Greg Hardman’s Christian Moerlein Lager House brings the world’s attention to Cincinnati’s brewing heritage, sets the future standard for all craft beer establishments and puts ‘Cincinnati’ on the lips of every worthwhile beer drinker, brewer and expert.

Need to know:
Website: ChristianMoerlein.com
Reservations: Highly recommended due to baseball and football home games, concerts, etc.
Parking: Underground parking garage
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11a.m. – Midnight; Fri & Sat: 11a.m. – 1a.m.; Sun: 11a.m. – 11p.m.
Address: 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-421-2337
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living columnist, travel writer, and restaurant and performing arts critic. Find her new column, Infused at FoodandDrinkDigital.com, catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook. Gotta Go is published on BroadwayWorld.com, GottaGo.us and in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

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