When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times. It’s a quote often attributed to Mark Twain, but it’s actually an old Bavarian standard (Cincinnati having a rich German, Over the Rhine heritage). Being a Cincinnati native (now migrated north to Cleveland), I’ve been known to say Cincy was certainly 20 years behind when it came to the craft beer movement, but the Queen City actually has a long, regionalized brewing history that a lot of us dismiss.
Brands like Rhinegeist Brewery, Fifty West Brewing Co., Rivertown Brewery and Ale House and MadTree Brewing Co. have definitely put Cin City on the map for the craft beer movement, but southwestern Ohio has long been known for its classic local brands Hudepohl and Christian Moerlein (the latter reborn as a craft brand). Also, Cincinnati has long been a Sam Adams brewing hub, but nobody seems to talk about it much. Why? Probably because it’s a testament to the myth that Sam Adams is a Boston beer from the Boston Beer Co. brewed only in Bahston.
Well, Boston Beer is ready to set the story straight and pay homage to its southern Ohio roots. To celebrate Cincinnati’s importance to Sam Adams, the brand is releasing its first-ever Cincy-inspired American lager aptly named Samuel Adams 513 (that’s the local area code, Copernicus). And just in case you didn’t know: Cincinnati is actually the hometown of founder and brewer Jim Koch. In the 1940s, Koch’s father apprenticed at the Hudepohl brewery in Cincinnati, which Sam Adams purchased in 1997. In fact, Koch is actually a sixth generation brewer.
Of course, he didn’t start off as a brewer. Koch was a Harvard MBA who decided to give up consulting (which sounds fairly lucrative) to brew craft beer. So the legend goes: To find his signature brew (Boston Lager), he first retreated to his family’s attic in Cincinnati to seek out his family recipes. Pretty cool, right? Today, Sam Adams brewery is the largest local brewery located in the Over the Rhine district of downtown Cincinnati, employing more than 150 people.
The brewery was built in 1933 at the end of Prohibition as Schoenling Brewing, and beer has been brewed there ever since, making it the oldest running brewery in Cincinnati. The brewery brews a wide variety of Samuel Adams beers including Kosmic Mother Funk from the Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection, seasonal beers like Summer Ale and drinker favorites like Rebel IPA.
The brewery celebrates the city’s rich brewing history with two 6-foot by 8-foot stained glass windows in the Barrel Room of the brewery as well as a mural located on Central Parkway in the West End. The stained glass window pays homage to the stained glass often found in German breweries and depicts Sam Adams brewer and founder Jim Koch, those in his family who brewed before him, as well as historical brewers Christian Moerlein, Ludwig Hudepohl II, John Kauffman Gottlieb Mulhauser and notorious bootlegger George Remus. The mural on the façade of 1624 Central Parkway showcases the city’s significant history and vibrant future. The mural features images of historic Cincinnati, King Gambrinus, Cincinnati’s Genius of Water, the beloved Tyler Davidson Sculpture on Fountain Square and hidden details related to Cincinnati.
What’s up with this 513 beer already?
Inspired by the fighting spirit of Cincinnati’s men and women, Sam Adams brewers utilized Warrior hops for the first time in any of their beers. This distinctive American hop variety contributes a smooth, pleasing bitter flavor as well as a mild, herbal and pine aroma not found in any other Sam Adams brews. The final official 513 recipe was decided upon by Cincinnatians themselves. At last year’s Zinzinnati Oktoberfest, drinkers had the chance to sample three Cincinnati-brewed beers and voted on their favorite style. The Sam Adams brewers heard local residents’ voices (and palates) loud and clear that day and went on to brew the crowd favorite lager recipe that is now known as 513.
It’s not just the beer that was inspired by the great city, the unique tap handle pays homage to the Union Terminal with pigs paying tribute to the city’s nickname “Porkopolis” which was coined in the 1800s.
“Cincinnati has such an amazing, rich brewing history and culture, and means a lot to me personally,” said Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch. “It’s been 20 years since we purchased our Cincinnati brewery and for those 20 years we’ve brewed hundreds of great beers, and have made them available for drinkers across the country. It’s exciting that for the first time we are releasing a beer just for the Cincinnati Tri-State area as a way to pay homage to drinkers in my hometown. And we’re excited to tap the first keg at the Great American Ball Park for the Reds’ season opener!”
Samuel Adams 513 is a classically dry-hopped American lager that blends a complex, malty backbone with bright hop notes for a refreshingly balanced beer. The beer’s toasty, biscuity aroma and rich malt forward flavor finishes with a citrusy note and spicy bitterness – solidifying itself as a brew you’re not soon to forget. The lager’s crisp flavor pairs perfectly with Cincinnati chili, a bratwurst at Great American Park or a chili dog with cheese at Kings Island Amusement Park.
Samuel Adams 513 will be available on draft year-round, exclusively in the Tri-State area. To find where you can enjoy a pint of Samuel Adams 513, search the Beer Finder at www.samueladams.com/find-a-sam.