You’ll find Taft’s Ale House in the Over-the-Rhine District of Cincinnati, Ohio, a region still grappling with its rapid gentrification, a place where burned-out buildings will dominate one block, chick boutiques the next. Taft’s occupies the remains of a church here, rebuilt and converted into a working microbrewery/taproom, with long picnic style tables replacing the traditional pews.
Taft’s — named for the last president to come from this town — produces 10 or so beers at any given time, drawn from a rotating collection of recipes in its cookbooks. In our visit to Taft’s, we shot the breeze with GM Keith Maloy and bar manager Kiri Crawford, sampling the brewery’s full lineup as of late February 2018, and later visiting the smaller downstairs bar, where more traditional cocktails are whipped up. Thoughts on all of the beers tasted follow.
Taft’s Gustav – A nicely malty Vienna-style lager, some apple and pear notes; quite chew. 5.5% abv. A-
Taft’s Panic! Do Nothing – Juicy with bold grapefruit character, a classic hazy IPA. 7.2% abv. A-
Taft’s Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale – A wacky American ale brewed with key lime juice and coriander; you can certainly taste the lime, which gives it a particularly spicy finish. 4.8% abv. B+
Taft’s 27 Lager – A (very) German lager, burly with malt but crisp on the finish. 5.3% abv. B+
Taft’s Gavel Banger – A classic IPA, piney and very bitter, with a bit of a smoky bacon edge to it; chewy orange peel and pine hit hard on the back end. 7% abv. A-
Taft’s Cherrywood Amber – An amber ale brewed with cherrywood smoked malt. The smoke is light, but the cherry notes are bolder, lasting on the finish. 6% abv. B+
Taft’s Maverick Chocolate Porter – An evenhanded rendition of a brown porter, brewed with cacao nibs and husks from a local chocolatier; a lovely interpretation of this style, lightly raisiny at times and surprisingly engaging from start to finish. 5.5% abv. A
Taft’s Skronk Juice – Taft’s session IPA, simplistic and style and gently bitter, slightly green. 5% abv. B
Taft’s Kettle Sour #1 – Bold apple notes hit first on this big sour, along with lemon juice notes; after the first rush of sourness fades, elderflower notes emerge on the finish. 3.5% abv. B+
Taft’s Big Billy Goat – A Helles Bock — a big pretzel beer, through and through. A bit over-malted (or over-alcohol) though, and quite sweet at times. 6.8% abv. B