The Brewing History That Lurks Beneath Our Feet

Lagering tunnels under Over-the-Rhine represent outmoded but fascinating remnants of the past. And you can explore some of them.
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Photograph by Dustin Sparks

Customers enjoying a pedicure at Spruce Nail Shop’s new 1818 Race St. location likely aren’t aware of the history beneath the salon. Forty feet below, 10,000 square feet of lagering tunnels speak to Cincinnati’s celebrated brewing history. Built in 1855, they belonged to Linck Brewery, which stood less than a half-mile southwest, where Grant Park is now. Linck, like every other pre-Prohibition brewery that served lager beer, aged beer in underground tunnels, because unlike ales, which can ferment at room temperature, lagers require a fermentation temperature of 45 to 55 degrees. After Prohibition ended in 1933, the tunnels were useless, thanks to chemical refrigeration, so they were filled, destroyed, or covered.

In January 2018, the Model Group discovered the Linck Brewery tunnels during building renovations, and two months later, American Legacy Tours started offering seasonal tours of the space. “The tunnels are visually entertaining,” says Brad Hill, ALT’s co-owner, “but we really focus on the storytelling.” The tour company, which also offers year-round tours of lagering tunnels beneath the Kauffman Brewery (opened in 1860) at 1622 Vine St., educates visitors about 19th-century Over-the-Rhine, its people, and their love of beer.

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