Brink Brewing to add its own story to College Hill neighborhood redevelopment

Like many Cincinnati neighborhoods, College Hill is on the verge of a major rebirth. The College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CHCURC) is at the helm of its revitalization and is systematically seeking out businesses that fit into its vision of a well-situated business district that serves all College Hill residents.
“We’re hoping to create a district that has a mixture of businesses that support or provide places for the community to eat, shop and play as well as be a destination for people from other neighborhoods to come and visit,” CHCURC Vice President Jake Samad says.
At its annual meeting co-hosted by the College Hill Business Association Feb. 3, CHCURC announced that its newest business recruit, Brink Brewing, would be opening as College Hill’s first brewery, melding beer and community into one.
When looking for a neighborhood to call home, Brink’s team had a set list of criteria. They wanted to be within Cincinnati city limits in order to be connected with its brewing heritage. They also wanted to be in a neighborhood where they could get in on the ground floor of its rebirth and revitalization and serve as an entertainment destination anchor. They also wanted to be on a walkable street in a neighborhood with a community feel.
“College Hill really fit all of these criteria, and the neighborhood is about to see a special kind of turnaround,” says Brink President Andrew McCleese.
The rest of the Brink team includes CEO John McGarry, marketing director Sarah McGarry, head brewer Kelly Montgomery and brewer Mark Landers. Each is an expert in his or her field, including homebrewing. Montgomery and Landers won “Best in Show” at the 2015 Hop Courage Homebrew Competition in Los Angeles for their Nut Brown Ale sponsored by Rogue Ales. As part of their prize, they brewed a beer on Rogue’s system, which then was tapped at its Portland, Ore. brewpub, The Green Dragon.
Brink is slated to open in the Fall at 5905 Hamilton Ave. The 3,200-square-foot taproom and brewery will be like a coffee shop but with beer, McCleese says. A large community table will anchor the space and help add to the connected feel Brink’s customers will have with each other and with the brewery.
“We want people to come together and enjoy good conversation and talk about beer as well as encourage the co-mingling of patrons and between patrons and our staff,” McCleese says.
On nice days, a garage door will open onto the sidewalk to help draw in passersby and drivers. A large garage door will also be installed on the back of the building to open onto a patio. The brewery’s final design is still in the works, but the Brink team wants to preserve some of the building’s historic charm, such as salvaging existing tin ceilings and exposed brick.
Brink will have 8-12 beers on tap at any given time, with a mixture of different styles — malty to hoppy, light to dark and higher ABV and lower ABV. Flagship brews won’t be available right away, but Montgomery and Landers will eventually settle on two to three styles that will always be on tap.
“Kelly prides himself on his knowledge of classic styles but loves to create beers with fresh seasonal ingredients as well,” McCleese says. “He also loves making big, rich beers like imperial stouts, barley wines and old ales.”
Food won’t be offered in-house, but Brink will allow customers to bring in food or have food delivered from nearby College Hill eateries. They also plan to partner with local food trucks and will offer a rotating schedule of street food options.
“This city has a proud brewing tradition, and we want to be part of bringing it back,” McCleese says. “Each brewery in the city is unique — that’s what makes breweries so special. They’re not your typical startups, and each has its own story to tell.”  
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Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.