The Biggest Cincinnati Brewery Tour, Ever. – And How I Went To Jail.

I do a lot for our local beer community… lest any of you think that running a beer blog, and a local beer podcast is all about fun invites to soft openings, and drinking a ton of great beers, there is a lot of work involved.  There is a lot of time that goes into this thing.  I have always given 100% to a community that I hold dear to my heart.  I should say that at least I thought I had given 100%.  Then I got arrested for it.  Well… that’s not the whole story.

The Idea Begins

Let’s start with the big question people have asked when I talk about this project.  Why?  Why bother with this?  We have 38 breweries here in Cincinnati, all within 40 miles of downtown.  Every one of these breweries has a personality.  These taprooms are home to someone, and they are special.

When I started The Gnarly Gnome, I wanted to bring attention to a growing beer scene.  I wanted to give people a little glimpse at the community that I hold so dear to my heart.  I realize, however, when I talk to people just how many of you not just haven’t been to some places, but haven’t even heard about them.  I wanted to tie it all together.  I wanted to show people how expansive our beer scene is, while still being so close together.

I wanted to go to them all in one day.

“It’s not possible.”  “You can’t go to every brewery in one day.”  I have debated that with people so many times that I started to wonder myself… was it actually possible?  If it was possible, how could I make it happen?  I spent the last 3 months putting pen to paper and using mapquest, google maps and a lot of brain power to figure it out.  This was no easy task.  I had to recruit four people who would be willing to do a four hour driving shift… logging a ton of miles on their cars to haul me around town.  I had to make sure that I would be able to have a beer at each stop without getting too drunk.

This day wasn’t about the drinking… this day is about tying a community together.

I lined up a friend to help out with video throughout the day (that’s coming soon… and it’s awesome). Once I knew it was possible… I warned my wife… I stocked my car with water and snacks… and we did it.

The Beer

Let’s start this off by just laying the trip out, so you can see the route and what I had to drink at each stop.  This was where all the planning went into things.  Figuring out what route to take, and what times to be at each stop was crucial to the success of it all.  I’m extremely proud of how it all worked out… well… almost all of it (we’ll get there…)

  • Listermann Brewing Company – Taster of Pinky’s Out (5.8% ABV)
  • MadTree – Taster of Sol Drifter (4.3% ABV)
  • Fifty West Production Works – Full pour of Fifty West Lager (4.3% ABV)
  • Fifty West Brewpub –  Taster of Into The Sunset Golden Ale (4.9% ABV)
  • The Woodburn – Taster of Han Solo (4% ABV)
  • Nine Giant – Half Pour of Save Ferris Berliner (4.2% ABV)
  • Bad Tom Smith – Taster of American Outlaw Session IPA (4.8% ABV)
  • Streetside – Taster of Shadez And Bikiniz (4.7% ABV)
  • Blank Slate – Taster of Change In The Weather (6.2% ABV)
  • Paradise Brewing – Taster of Tropical Vanilla Porter (6.3% ABV)
  • Mt. Carmel Brewing – Taster of Queen Bee (5.1% ABV)
  • The Old Firehouse – Taster of Fire Escape (4.7% ABV)
  • Barwell Winery – Taster of Golden Buggy (5.5% ABV)
  • Cellar Dweller – Taster of Orange Ya Glad? (3.9% ABV)
  • Narrow Path – Taster of Good Work Brown (4.2% ABV)
  • March First – Full Pour of Pale Lager (4.7% ABV)
  • Queen City Brewery – Taster of  WKRP Chocolate Orange Wheat (4.1% ABV)
  • Rivertown, Lockland –  Taster of Divergent (3.8% ABV)
  • DogBerry – Taster of Hooked Leg ESB (6.6% ABV)
  • Figleaf – Taster of Pride of Cin-Day (3.9% ABV)
  • Rivertown, Monroe – Taster of Strawberry Blonde (5.7% ABV)
  • Municipal Brew Works – Taster of Weiz Guys (4.3% ABV)
  • Quarter Barrel – Taster of Sestina (6.75% ABV)
  • Fibonacci – Taster of Oberhausen (5.6% ABV)
  • Brink Brewing – Taster of Brink Berry (5.6% ABV)
  • Urban Artifact – Taster of Pinwheel (4.5% ABV)
  • Great Crescent – Taster of Blonde (5.3% ABV)
  • Mash Cult – Taster of ODJ’s Cut (Not Sure of the ABV)
  • Wooden Cask – Taster of Kinda Light (4% ABV)
  • Braxton Labs – Taster of Storm (4.8% ABV)
  • Darkness Brewing – Taster of Mandarin Anomoly (4.2% ABV)
  • Moerlein Malt House – No Sample… they closed early for Bunbury!
  • Rock Bottom – Taster of 513 Kolsch (4.8% ABV)
  • Taft’s Ale House – Taster of City Flea (4.7% ABV)
  • Moerlein Lager House – Taster of Se7en (4.7% ABV)
  • Braxton Brewing – Taster of Buzz (5.1% ABV)
  • Rhinegeist – Taster of Uncle (3.8% ABV)
  • Hofbrauhaus – This was where things took a wrong turn… no Sample here either…

Keep in mind, these aren’t high abv beers, and they are (for the most part) very small samples.  When the day was through I drank 36 beers of various sizes (mostly 4-5oz samples) – and the ABV of them all averages out to around 4.9% ABV.

I’m going to guess (without knowing exactly the size of everyone’s flight glasses that I consumed somewhere around 135 ounces of beer in the span of 16 hours.  When you spread your drinking out like that, it’s not the drinking that you struggle with – it’s the schedule.  It was a long day.  I was consuming much less than 1 beer an hour, because I knew that I wanted the day to be about something much bigger than getting drunk.

The Rundown

Ok, so trying to keep this as short and to the point as possible – The day went fantastically (the night maybe not so much, though).  We were an hour behind the schedule at one point, but managed to get caught back up as the evening set in (Thanks to Andy Reynolds from Alexandria Brewing Company for being the star driver of the day).

The breweries were (almost) all really amazing at helping to make this possible.  There were a few stops that let us in a few minutes before they were technically open, and there were a few that even though last call had been called, were kind enough to pour a small sample size to help make sure we could knock that little last bit out.  There were places that don’t typically pour and sell just single small flight size samples, but that did just to help me achieve this goal.  The fun at each stop, the kindness of busy and tired bartenders, it’s all a massive reminder as to why I was doing this in the first place.

It was awesome getting to at least stop in and say Hi to the people that I don’t get to see as often as those at the places that are closer to my house.  This experiment was eye-opening, and it achieved the goal it had near perfectly.

The Not So Happy Ending

The night was scheduled to end at Rhinegeist.  However, we were running around 20 minutes behind schedule at the end, and to facilitate my driver getting my video guy back to his car easier, we decided to flip our last two stops and wrap up at Hofbrauhaus.  We strolled up to the main doors at 1:40 (they close at 2am) only to find them locked.  Thinking the restaurant must have closed a little earlier than the biergarten (we had seen plenty of people back there, drinking still on our way down the sidewalk) we ventured back to the biergarten entrance.

Strolling into the biergarten, we were met by an employee of Hofbrauhaus who told us we had missed last call by 11 minutes.  Assuming that a quick explanation and reassurance that we just needed a small (tiny even) beer to check the last stop off, that we’d be able to snag one – we explained the purpose of our stop that evening, and our journey all day.  For the first time that night, we were met with someone who didn’t care.  No… Hofbrauhaus had no desire to be part of every Cincinnati Craft Brewery, or the Biggest Cincy Beer Tour Ever.  I took a seat on the bench closest to me in disbelief.  This was how it would end?  A denial?  The biergarten was full of drinkers still working their way through massive liters of beer, and here I was, a beaten Gnome, only needing 4 ounces of the lowest abv beer I could get my hands on.  I lost.  I had been beaten.

After a few moments… the frustration set in.  I knew I had to update those of you who were still following the progress on social media, so I fired up Facebook live to tell you about our failure.  Upon finish the video I had the sneaky idea – we struck up a conversation over the fence to a couple finishing up their beers.  Would they be willing to share a small sip of one to help me finish my task?  Of course… Hofbrau (rightfullly so) came over to tell us that we couldn’t do that either.  In sadness of a sure failure, we continued to talk to this nice couple who to their credit wanted to help very much, but couldn’t.  We were telling them about our journey, about the mission, about who I am and what I do.  They were wonderful people, and I was actually enjoying the conversation very much… almost starting to feel better about how our evening had ended.

Then all hell broke loose.

The Part Where I Go To Jail

I respect the police.  I respect what they do, and the difficulty of their job, but the two officers that were posted up in the Hofbrauhaus Biergarten that night to keep the drunks from getting out of hand left a horrible taste in my mouth for the way the Newport Police Department operates.  The officers came up to us and told us that we couldn’t get other patrons to give us beer.  Explaining that we understood, and that we were just talking to them now, we were told we couldn’t do that either, and that we needed to leave.  I expressed my disbelief that I wasn’t allowed to carry on a conversation, as long as I wasn’t blocking the sidewalk, or breaking any other laws.  The officer started to get angry with me, and his tone started changing.  “You’re not from around here, are you?” – “Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse” these comments were what started our disagreement, but it was quickly ended when abruptly I was told to put my hands behind my back.

When I was put into hand cuffs, I asked what I was being detained for. “You’re not being detained, you’re being arrested”.

In shock and well knowing that I had not broken any laws, I spent the next 8 hours alternating between attempting to sleep on the concrete floor of the large white room I was placed in at the Jail, to trying to figure out what I had done wrong.  In the end, I was charged with Public Intoxication (I found that out at around 4am after sitting in jail for a couple of hours). The law reads that meant I was:

manifestly Intoxicated, and a danger to myself or others.

This is where I get even angrier.  Both my sober driver and my sober “video guy” were there explicitly to make sure I was not a danger to myself or others.  Even if you want to say I was “manifestly intoxicated” which I also debate – its hard to say in good conscience that I was a danger because of it.  On top of that, the dishonest account that was written on the police report is frightening… it states that we were kicked out of the restaurant (which we weren’t) upon which time we went in the back door and tried to “sneak in” and get patrons to “buy us beer” (which isn’t what happened). The officer states that my eyes were red and watery, and that I was unsteady on my feet…. so I was arrested.

It’s bogus, and I can’t afford to argue it in a court of law.

I will pay a $200 fine and plead guilty so something I am not guilty of, because I have no other option.  This happens to people every single day, where they are falsely accused with misdemeanor crimes, and can’t afford to risk proving their innocence in a court of law.  It’s frightening that the Newport Police Department can get away with this.  It’s sad that Hofbrauhaus, a brewery that I used to consider part of the most loving community of like-minded people in any industry was willing to stand there and watch all this happen on their doorstep.

I’ll suck it up, and I’ll deal with it, but I won’t be quiet about it.

What I Learned

I think if I was going to take this to court, the judge would probably want to know that I learned something… and I did – but not really about preventing this in the future.  Here’s what I learned from my adventure:

  • It’s possible.  You can get to ever current “Cincinnati Brewery” in one day – which is 38 of them currently.
  • We are incredibly lucky to have a beer scene full of some fantastic people, who “Get It”.
  • When people ask me what my favorite beer or brewery is… I’m justified in telling them that I really have no idea.
  • The police can arrest you, even if you have done nothing wrong, if they want to… even if they have to stretch the truth to do it.
  • When in jail… toilet paper can make a great pillow (I didn’t learn that until much too late unfortunately.)
  • If arrested with Meth, swallowing your little baggie of it is an ok idea… but if you cough it up in the wrong spot, someone else might get your meth.
  • The whole phone call thing… it’s confusing, and people aren’t going to help you notify your loved ones where you are.

The Thanks

The day was a success.  That’s important for me to remember about all of this.  I went to every brewery in one day, and drank at almost all of them.  It wouldn’t have been possible without the help from a LOT of people.  My four drivers… The Old Man, My Wonderful Wife, Andy Reynolds and Finally The Old Lady – you guys did amazing keeping the schedule that admittedly was a little tight and tough to keep.  Andy… I love you for coming through for me on a day that I’m sure was already busy enough for you… Your wife and kids…. I owe them for this.  Chris Payne, for being the star videographer and editor that this project needed to show people what It’s all about  – Thank you, sorry you had to tell my Mom that I got arrested.  To (almost) every brewery for helping me achieve this goal – especially those that went out of their way to do it.  For the couple of you who were almost closed when I walked in your doors… or almost open when I pressed my face against your door – THANK YOU.  I exist to help places like every one of you be a part of something bigger.  To all the people who encouraged me during the day, and before and after the event.  Your memes and happy words were awesome.  If I ran into you during the day I’m sorry I couldn’t stay and chat longer – I owe you, and Thank You for supporting such a harebrained scheme.

Finally… To the city of Newport… I don’t thank you.  You have some very terrible people working for you… dishonest people don’t deserve to prosper.  Hofbrauhaus… I’m ashamed that you stood there, knowing the situation and watched things go down the way that they did.  It breaks my heart to see that you were ok with it.  People ask me what Craft Beer is about, and I often tell them that it’s hard to describe.  Do you see the list of thank you’s?  That’s craft beer.  What happened at Hofbrau – that’s not craft beer.

Comments

comments

16 thoughts on “The Biggest Cincinnati Brewery Tour, Ever. – And How I Went To Jail.

  1. Holly

    Not sure when this incident happened, but if it were me, and assuming in the end the two hundred dollars is all you’d be out if found guilty, I’d take my chances pleading not guilty. The arresting officer may not show up to court, and if they didn’t do any testing there is no evidence of anything. In fairness to the officers, they do have to deal with a lot of crap, no one has any idea exactly what the employee said to them, and while it appears they jumped the gun, I’d guess unruly people begging for beer over the fence is common and usually people leave when asked/approached, unless they are looking for trouble. Always gotta think about that other foot. Good luck on your future endeavors, you obviously have a passion for what you do, and that’s a lovely thing in life. You’ve inspired me to check out a local(ish) venue or two just to cross some interestingly named beers off my list.

    • GnarlyGnome

      While I agree, if I fight it there is a chance of a bigger fine and more jail time. I would never argue that if I had drank beer over the fence and been charged with an open container or something that they’d have been in the right… but we didn’t. As much shit that they have to deal with, they have to deal with infinitely more people obeying the law and can’t get away with arresting those that piss them off.

  2. I was wondering why your tweets suddenly stopped after you got there. You are right, that is so not craft beer.

    I recall watching Vice stories and entire documentaries dedicated to fighting this similar injustice. Sadly, like you had chosen, not fighting the system is easiest choice. I think if you had a way to rally us, the entire craft beer scene would have funded your defense though. I would have taken a day off work and shown up in court with popcorn to watch that.

  3. C Blake

    Wait… so a bar refused to server you after last call, you were visibly intoxicated from a day of drinking, were told by the police to leave, didn’t, and then were arrested for public intoxication?

    Kinda seems like the Newport Police did precisely their job.

    • GnarlyGnome

      If that was the case… yes. But that isn’t what happened.

      • Rachel C

        According to your own blog, that’s totally what happened and you’re in weird denial about it. Being told they’re closed, then sneaking around to the back and asking other patrons to sneak you beer outside the serving area? Among other things, you totally jeopardized that business’s reputation and then proceeded to try and drag it through the mud online when they were only being responsible.

        • GnarlyGnome

          We were told they were closed when we were around back… no sneaking involved. We left the biergarten when we were told we couldn’t be served because last call had been called. Although we talked with a couple about sharing beer, we didn’t do it because a HBH employee asked us not to (rightfully so). I am telling my story, not jeopardizing anyone’s reputation. I am fully admitting all the facts… you’ve just got a couple of them wrong. I’m not sure where your confusion lies?

  4. Richard

    222.202 Offenses of alcohol intoxication or drinking alcoholic beverages in a public place.
    (1) A person is guilty of alcohol intoxication when he appears in a public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol to the degree that he may endanger himself or other persons or property, or unreasonably annoy persons in his vicinity.

    Perhaps you should re-read the last six words there more carefully.

    • GnarlyGnome

      I don’t think I broke that law. That’s the whole point of what I’m saying. If the officer felt I was going to unreasonably annoy anyone, I can reemphasize that my driver was right there waiting to take me home. However the sober person with me, and the couple we were in a conversation with were not “unreasonably annoyed” – so it still just doesn’t seem “right”.

    • Rob

      Wow! I can be arrested for being annoying? Good thing my wife doesn’t know this.

  5. Matt

    Bad mouthing Hofbrauhaus in this story is wrong and bad business. They were CLOSED, it was after last call, they can’t serve you or let you in the property. Plus they legally can’t serve a person that’s been drinking. They did nothing wrong. Their staff followed company policy which is influenced by the state liquor laws. What the police do on public streets has nothing to do with any restaurant or brewery. You owe Hofbrauhaus an apology, it’s not fair to punish them for following the law.

    • GnarlyGnome

      I appreciate the opinion, but they weren’t closed, they had called last call. Im not bad mouthing them for not serving me. I’m bad mouthing them for letting the police lie about what happened. They could speak up right now.

  6. Matt

    Restaurants are closed after last call. They do not permit people into their establishments after last call.

    • GnarlyGnome

      Restaurants do not serve patrons after last call… but they aren’t closed. That’s why there are people still permitted on premises consuming alcohol. I assure you that they allow people in their establishments after last call…as you can see by people still in the establishment after last call. None of that is what anyone is arguing, though? What the police do at a local business has everything to do with that business. More importantly, how a business handles themselves when situations arise has even more to do with them… and hofbrauhaus not only has a bad track record from what I’ve heard, they now also do from what I’ve experienced.

      Sorry that I don’t like a business that you do… we can agree to disagree about them.

  7. Chris Polito

    Public intoxication requires you be under the influence of something other than alcohol. If you were only under the influence of alcohol then the only appropriate charge is alcohol intoxication, and that doesn’t carry jail time for a first offense in 12 months. Pleading to PI would be inappropriate and wrong.

    • GnarlyGnome

      Yes, technically the charge was 222.202(1) – AI

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