My name is Chris Stevens, otherwise referred to as Fresh or QCF. I’m a life-long native of Cincinnati and creator of Queen City Fresh, a local craft beer blog here in the Queen City. I started the blog in April, 2013 and have been pretty immersed in following the local craft beer scene since. It’s been a blast watching this community prosper and grow.
I grew up in Norwood but have resided in Blue Ash for the past 15+ years. By profession, I’m a Project/Product Manager, mostly implementing statewide IT projects for government agencies. Blogging about beer is just a fun hobby.
In addition to beer blogging, I enjoy sports, politics, music, golf and history. However, I’m most passionate about Notre Dame football. Go Irish!
My fellow graduate and friend Marc Edwards, Norwood Class of 1993, Ohio’s Mr. Football 1992, chose Notre Dame over Ohio State and many other offers. Marc became a Team Captain and legend at Notre Dame. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1997 and played fullback in the league for 9 years. He won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots in 2001 with some unknown guy at the time named Tom Brady. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Check out some of his bad to the bone college highlights.
When it comes to beer, I was definitely a late bloomer. Like most Norwood Catholics there was no shortage of ‘professional’ drinkers in the family. However, it was a distant relative that sparked my interest in beer by way of can collecting during the late 80s/early 90s. I didn’t drink the beer then but I dug the artwork of the cans. The hunt for the rare can was a big attraction too.
I put that aside after a few years and didn’t really think too much about beer until 2012. It was then that Greg Hardman’s grand plans to return the Christian Moerlein brand back to Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was in the news. That got the local history nerd in me paying attention to beer once again.
I became an Old Jug Society Member at the Moerlein Lager House when it opened and thus began my second foray into craft beer. This time, with a thirst for both education and drink.
It was there that I met the legendary brewmaster Ríchard Dube. His infectious personality, kindness and his willingness to educate drinkers like me had me returning to MLH over and over again. There was also brewers Jim Matt and Gregg Wilson, now both with Rhinegeist, that accommodated my exhaustive inquiries about craft beer. It was truly a magical time for me as I soaked in as much as possible both literally and figuratively.
It was there that I also met Tom Aguero of Queen City Drinks (later BrewMinds) who introduced me to beer blogging. I thought, I could do that. Maybe not good. But hey, why not. I scheduled a ‘meeting’ with Gregg Wilson and Benito Melendez at Kung Food Chu’s Amerasia in Covington about my concept and as they say, the rest is history.
Because my initial attraction to beer was through the art, I wanted a professionally designed logo for my site. I was extremely fortunate that the talented Keith Neltner of Neltner Small Batch agreed to create my branding. I’m biased of course, but it turned out fantastic. One of these days, I’ll get around to stickers, hats and shirts.
Not surprisingly, a lot of my content has been featuring and sharing newly approved label artwork. In addition to labels, I also focused on new beer releases and events. In the beginning, I also did some interviews, podcasting and trended, reported on the breweries social media statistics and even dabbled in some music.
I stupidly tried to tackle all of Ohio breweries at one point but quickly realized that Rick Armon’s Ohio Beer Blog at the Akron Beacon Journal covered that in a more much professional way than I ever could.
Along the way, I’ve been incredibly blessed to meet so many kind and talented people n the industry and those who support it. Many of which have become good friends and some that I now regard as family. When it comes down to it, the people directly involved in or supporting the craft beer community is what makes craft beer special. It’s not just about the beer.
While there are many awesome people that I’ve met a few stand out along the way. Brady Duncan and Kenny McNutt at MadTree. Max Fram and Bobby Slattery at Fifty West. Richard Dube and the Rouse Family at Braxton. Their generosity, kindness and support has always went above and beyond. I’m so grateful that our paths in life crossed. I couldn’t be more happy for all their successes.
I’ve had a lot of great experiences, all thanks to beer.
Here’s a sampling:
— Was an official Channel 9 WCPO Beer Blogger
— Interviewed Brady Duncan the day before their taproom opening
— Hosted ‘Fresh Fest’ at MadTree in 2014 and 2015.
— Hosted two beers competitions at Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.
— Drove Fifty West’s Penny Lane from Blue Ash to Mariemont. Then lost the keys.
— Got paid to give brewery tours for Cincy Brew Bus
— Got paid to beer a ‘beer consultant’ at a restaurant
— Got a shout out from The Tillers during Buckle Up Beer Festival
— Hosted the The Kentucky Struts at Fresh Fest
— Hosted the Almighty Get Down at Fresh Fest
— Participated in Fifty West’s Cannonblog event
— Hosted a Q&A session for 2 years at Bockfest
— Served on the board of Cincinnati Beer Week
— Ronda Breeden served me the first tapped Arnold’s 1861 beer
— Met Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller at Wild Turkey at Arnold’s
— Met Emilio Estevez at Washington Park while drinking a beer
— Watched Red Wanting Blue perform twice at Braxton Brewing
— Was named a Top 5 Cincinnati Instagram account by Cincinnati Magazine
— Been a ‘celebrity’ boxing judge at Fifty West’s Punch Out
— Got to work with Keith Neltner
— Had beers with the mysterious Cincinnati dining critic Polly Campbell.
— Got a #1 signed edition of one of Arnold’s Cincinnati Beer Week Posters
— Got media passes to Bunbury. Stood feet away from Willie Nelson. Got contact buzz.
— Own a collectable Moerlein Lager House Rookwood Pottery stein
— Have an solid collection of Cincinnati craft beer cans & Braxton bottles & glassware
— Got published in City Beat for writing two beer articles
I’m sure more will come to mind but you get the point:
I’m far from an everyday drinker. For me, it’s the time spent with friends enjoying new beers, discussing what we we think about the beer and just talking about the craft beer scene in general that I look forward to the most. Quality over quantity for sure.
I love beer now but how a brewery runs it business, interacts with their consumers and executes their marketing and branding also plays a big part in my excitement and sentiment for a brewery.
The two questions I get most often when I introduce myself to someone and tell them I’m a craft beer blogger are…What’s your favorite beer? What’s your favorite brewery?
It’s impossible to just give one but I also don’t hesitate to answer. I caveat that with, I’ve not had every beer. Secondly, there are a few breweries that I haven’t visited yet. And lastly but most importantly these are ‘my favorites’ for ‘my own personal reasons’ at this time. It’s only the correct answer, for me. I encourage everyone to draw (and share) their only conclusions.
My favorite beers (no particular order): Rhinegeist Truth, MadTree PSA, Fifty West 10&2 Barleywine, Yellow Springs Rum-barreled Aged Captain Stardust, LaCumbre Project Dank and Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF).
My favorite breweries (no particular order): Braxton, Fifty West (pub), MadTree, Moerlein Lager House, Nine Giant & Rhinegeist.
If you are new to Cincinnati or are just visiting and have any questions about local craft breweries, please feel free to reach out. I’ll happily share my knowledge and meet you for a beer if you like. I can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Cheers to Cincinnati craft beer!
Queen City Fresh
#DiscoverBeer #DrinkFresh #QCF