Over-The-Rhine's Craft Brew Haven
HalfCut owners Jack Heekin and Tom O’Brian
Photography by Wes Battoclette
It’s no secret to residents of Cincinnati that the streets of Over-the-Rhine are changing. Boarded-up buildings and abandoned houses are being pried open and lit up once more by the many businesses moving into the area. Over-the-Rhine has become a hub for local entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses while simultaneously working to help Over-the-Rhine thrive again.
One such business venture, started by Cincinnati natives Jack Heekin and Tom O’Brian, opened in 2014 with the help of ArchitectsPlus, a Cincinnati architecture, design and construction firm that provides services to both commercial and residential clients. Heekin and O’Brian were inspired to create a home for craft beer in Cincinnati while on a craft-brew sojourn (pilgrimage?) around the United States.
The duo struck out on their cross-country road trip in 2012, traveling to myriad microbreweries and beer hubs. They sampled beers, explored the beer culture of different areas and looked for new ideas to bring home with them. After the 6,500-mile journey, Heekin and O’Brian returned to Cincinnati and began working on HalfCut, a beer café featuring the craft beers they discovered during their trip. Think a more hipstery version of Starbucks, with exposed brick and unvarnished wood and the wafting smell of delicious, delicious beer.
HalfCut has several beers on tap at any given time, including a healthy variety of seasonal beers, IPAs and lagers, says Heekin.
The beer café provides craft beers from all over the country, as well as many from Ohio and, specifically, Greater Cincinnati. And why not? With Rhinegeist, Christian Morelein and Rivertown (among others) right in their back yard, Heekin and O'Brian have enough local brews to get us all through the year.
As of Feburary 2015, HalfCut has 16 beers on tap, 18 packaged beers (including our favorite, Rhinegeist Truth) and eight wines.
Customers are able to sample new kinds of beers, as well as consult “beeristas” on the intricacies of the brews available. “The goal is to bring something to Cincinnati that will help customers understand where they’ve been through the beer process, while then working to help them find something new they might like,” says Heekin.
HalfCut also sells growlers of craft beer for customers to purchase and take home. “We installed a sliding window behind the bar for walk-up orders as well,” says O’Brian.
Heekin and O’Brian hired ArchitectsPlus to help take the ideas and concepts they acquired during the road trip and bring them to life. “We really liked the work Architects Plus did on Fifty West Brewery,” says O’Brian.
Shouldering all the work themselves, O’Brian and Heekin worked with Nora Wiley to create and shape HalfCut into the unique location it has become. “They really put in a lot more effort with us because we weren’t as experienced in working on a space like this,” says Heekin. O’Brian adds that the company was a huge help in dealing with red tape and codes and permits laws. “They really went to bat for us,” he says.
Architects Plus is located at 10816 Millington Court, Cincinnati, OH 45242. You can reach them at 513.984.1070 or visit their website at www.architectsplus.com.
HalfCut is located at 1128 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.halfcut.com.