Have I mentioned how much I love the company that Spencer works for? I feel like I definitely have here and probably here, too, but since it’s been over a month I’ll go ahead and say it again: I love the company that Spencer works for!
The benefits? Check! The financial security? Check! The new hire outings? Check!
And now I can finally say that I have gotten to participate in one! Exactly a week before Halloween, we joined a group of his coworkers on the Queen City Underground Tour, operated by American Legacy Tours.
The tour was right up our alley. It focused mainly on the rich history in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which was heavily influenced by the German immigrants who settled in the Ohio River Valley. And that means we spent two hours touring the city and learning about two of our favorite things: history and beer!
First of all, our tour guide was so knowledgeable and very funny. I feel awful because I never caught his name, but he definitely helped make our experience so wonderful. He was born and raised in the Cincinnati area, and you could tell. He knew everything!
We began the tour at the Christian Moerlein brewery, and then we immediately walked down the road to the Gateway District where we had exclusive access to a gorgeous old building that was once a “Gangs of Cincinnati” mob boss-type hangout. It was located on this adorable street, and it’s actually currently for sale, so the next time Spencer and I have $200,000 lying around, I’ll be sure to take it off the market!
As a newbie to the Cincinnati area, I really enjoyed hearing a bit of what made Cincinnati what it is today, the German-influenced site of the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany itself. In the last four months, I’ve grown attached to this little city, and it’s nice to know more about the place where I could potentially spend a decent chuck of my life.
The influx of German and Irish immigrants to the city in the 17th and 18th centuries means that Cincinnati also has deep roots in Catholicism, and the first underground portion of the Queen City Underground Tour was in the crypt underneath St. Francis Seraph Church! My favorite part of the whole thing was the multitude of Irish grave markers in the crypt. While many of the old stones had been rubbed down over years and years of wear, I could still decipher the names of counties and cities that I had visited during my time across the pond. It was also incredible to think that so much history lies beneath the very average looking streets that run throughout the city!
From the church, we moved to the beer! How appropriate! The way that our tour guide spoke, it seems that the Ohio River might as well have run with beer. The number of pubs, saloons, and breweries that dotted the city before prohibition took effect is staggering! Because there was this dry period in our country’s history (and what a sad time it must have been!), there are all sorts of great hidden gems of brewing history in Cincinnati. One such old brewery tunnel lies below an apartment building, and it was my favorite stop on the tour. How cool is this building?! I guess when you don’t have a refrigerator to regulate temperature, you dig down into the earth and create your own chilly pantry. They’re discovering tunnels like this under buildings all over Cincinnati, and I think it’s so amazing how these “lost” places are suddenly being found again!
We returned to the Christian Moerlein brewery for our final little bit of the tour where we learned all about the brewing process and how it has changed over the years. We also got a brief history of prohibition and how it was truly an awful period in the US for many reasons, the least of which being the lack of party pastimes! Then, of course, to honor the struggles of those who lived between the passing of the 18th and 21st Amendments, we drank some of Christian Moerlein’s finest brews. Here is Spencer modeling whatever it was that he chose from their extensive beer list, and I had the La Grange Saison. It was lovely, and I would recommend it to any sort of beer drinker. It’s a very mild pale ale that has more fruity hints than being too hoppy.
The American Legacy Tours group runs these tours during the afternoon on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You can buy your tickets here, and they also frequently put discounted tours on Groupon and cincysavers.com. I would seriously recommend this tour to anyone: people living in Cincinnati, people from Cincinnati, people just visiting Cincinnati… It’s that good! There’s so much history, and we got to see such unique spaces in the city. I cannot imagine that anyone wouldn’t learn something new on a tour like this with such great tour guides! I’m already planning when we can take the tour on Civil War Cincinnati, and Spencer loved the Newport Gangster Tour that he took with his work group. The Queen City Underground Tour was the perfect mix of fun and knowledge to satisfy this history nerd!