I spend a lot of time talking about what to drink and not nearly enough on where to go to drink it. This is partly because I’m a lazy shut in and partly because I live in the country. The popular downtown spots to drink are all 45 minutes away from me. Luckily I’ve recently discovered The Village Wine Cellar in downtown Lebanon.
If you’ve never been out to old towne Lebanon then you owe yourself a trip. It’s got that 50’s charm of a quaint small town as well as loads of antique shops and that ice cream parlor from Milk Money. When you make your way out here be sure to check out the Village Wine Cellar. Sure, the name is wine but they have almost as much beer as wine. They sell both by the bottle for home consumption as well as on premise. Thus making it the best better beer seller near me. As far as their bottle selection goes it isn’t as numerous as Jungle Jim’s or Party Source but the quality of what is available really seals the deal. Also these guys have proven themselves great to work with,both in holdings bottles and taking requests to carry stuff.
Sadly their draft system isn’t much to write home about. It’s just 2 kegs run through a Jockey Box (which is a keg line run through an insulated cooler with a bunch of ice in it to cool the beer), but don’t let this scare you too much. The beer still comes out great, just like it would from any other tap (not including nitro systems). Luckily all the staff here has been highly knowledgeable regarding craft beer, knowing nothing about wine myself I can’t speak to that but I’ve heard good things about them.
The atmosphere in here matches that of the town. The walls are all ancient looking bricks with vintageish posters here and there. The posters are mostly for different small/local craft brewers. The night I went the place was jammed pack with people to drink Cellar Dweller and listen to the fantastic bluegrass sounds of Bibs and Barefeet. Based off what I’ve seen on the Village Wine Cellar facebook page the music seems to be country/bluegrass oriented.
Mentioning their Facebook page brings up a big gripe for me. Their web presence sucks since that Facebook page IS their web presence. If you Google them the top result is some place in Arizona, then some place in New York, the a couple social-review places like Yelp and Google+ for the correct place. But Yelp and Google+ hardly provide any useful information about it. Seriously guys, please get a real website. Facebook is important in this day and age to connect and communicate with your customers. But you still need a solid web presence.
The last thing I have to say about the Village Wine Cellar itself is that it has a small menu. Having never eaten off of it or studied it very thoroughly I don’t want to say much. As I recall it has some sandwiches on there as well as some flat-bread pizzas. This is another great reason to have a real website so they could have a section to post the menu.
I don’t want to sound too negative about any of the above. If you want some place north/east of 275 to buy/drink/discuss great beer then this is that spot. Sure Brazenhead is nice, has a bigger selection of draft, and loads of great food. But the atmosphere isn’t as cozy, all the times I’ve been to Brazenhead I’ve never felt like I’ve “known” my server. Nor have I ever felt that they knew more about the beer then what was printed on the menu.
Anyway, on to the beer!
The night I went and wrote this up they were having a Cellar Dweller tap takeover. Cellar Dweller is one of the new breweries in the Greater Cincinnati Area, which is to say they’re out in Morrow which is 45 minutes northeast of downtown. They’ve been open since February and operate at the Valley Vineyards winery. The following are my quick notes about the beers I had that night. These are not meant to be my best reviews and were typed up on a smartphone so bear with me. Hopefully in time I’ll have full reviews of these beers as well as an interview with the brewer.
Copperhead – Great brown color with hues of orange and amber. Slightly bitter taste with brilliant balance of hop flavors and malt back bone. Very easy drinking beer.
Shawsome – Black IPA at 9.25%. Hard to tell the color in this dimly lit bar but it looks a solid blackish brown. Doesn’t taste anything like 9% I’d guess it’s more around 7.5% if I didn’t know better. Also, it’s not as aggressively bitter and hoppy as some black IPA’s I’ve had but is deliciously malty. Per the brewer its got an addition of chocolate malt, which adds a nice layer and helps cover the strength. Surprisingly easy drinking for the strength.
Cellar Blues – “Light Ale” aka Kolsch. Honestly should have started with this as that black IPA is still lingering on my tongue. But this is a nice golden wheat color that is super cloudy, again this is based on dim bar lighting. The taste is nice, light, crisp, and clean. Look forward to trying this again on a nice hot summer day.