Overview: Arnold’s is Cincinnati’s oldest bar, and you wonder if anything has changed upon entering. Wading through the Bockfest crowd, I couldn’t stop gawking at all the seemingly original fixtures and other Cincy beer/city memorabilia filling this place in the least Applebees way possible. A landmark sort of place that I could really imagine would be my local if I were in fact a local. You enter into the bar area, which has some tables opposite on slower days (tables and chairs had been removed at my visit, due to the festival) and the adjoining room offers a limited amount of booths and tables for diners. The outside courtyard through the dining room seems to be a pretty chill spot; on my visit some crafts were on offer as part of the festival. The bathroom is small enough to touch your elbows to opposite walls... service was very friendly, even through the crowd. At least three staffers asked how I was doing, and if I needed anything, even though I was one of a large crowd standing around and drinking bockbier.
Selection today was of 20+ bocks from several local and regional brewers, with a few guest tap non-bocks for those wishing to try something else. I didn’t eat, but I will try to grab a meal upon my next visit (whenever that happens). There were some cheaper options beer-wise, but I can’t say if there were any small pour options. Still surprised at the cost of some of the local beer in this town...
PROS: Oozes charm and has a genuine historic feel; friendly service despite the crowds; good variety of breweries available. CONS: Nothing glaring from this visit, except that everything seemed to be poured in a similar measure and serving size. OVERALL: Not a "must visit" beer-wise (from what I can tell), but a really cool spot, especially for those who appreciate the more historic spots to drink. Downtown, so lots of paid parking all around.
(Visited 02/2015 during Cincinnati Beer Week): Arnold’s is located on East 8th Street in downtown Cincinnati not far from the river and pro sports venues. Street parking is available in the nearby area.
The brick building that houses the tavern was built in the 1830’s. The inside is cozy with a lived-in feel complete with creaky wooden floors, old fixtures and knicknacks. One element they retained is a "separate" bar that used to be for women only in order to keep the genders separated back in the day. There is additional seating (and restrooms) upstairs.
There are around 8 beers on tap, including local options from MadTree, Fifty West and Listermann. Several bottles are available too.
Service for a Saturday evening dinner was good, and frankly the server was very patient with us (as was our DD for the day) considering we had done a pretty robust CBW tour to that point. He knew the beer options and made good food recommendations.
As for the food, my Blueberry Chicken was very enjoyable.
Overall this is a spot that you visit primarily for the atmosphere, and the fact that there are solid beer options is the icing on the cake.
Apparently I was here for a show when jake speed and the Freddie’s played here for BockFest a few years back. No recollection other than a tree blocking the way. Only one here on a Saturday after the flying piglet. A nice refuge from the wind and sun. Lots of bottles with handwritten labels. 12 beer taps. No food until 4:00 pm. 35+ bottle available. Downtown is a ghostown on Saturdays at 3:00 pm. Service is very friendly (not a TG reference).
JCW (152) Cincinnati, Ohio | March 8, 2014| Updated July 24, 2016
Neat looking place inside. More than a few beers from local brewers, live music and good food. I made the mistake of going on the first night of bock fest, and the place was too loud and crowded so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have, but the potential was there.
The ambiance is everything. Food is very good, selection is somewhat limited (although when I was last there, a substantial change was being made in the number of taps). Cool place to eat, share a beer with friends, and listen to subdued live music. Good place!
Cincinnati’s oldest saloon, in continuous operation since 1861. Incredible ambience, great music. Food is decent to poor. Beer selection is dreadful. If it weren’t for the 750ml selections on the "reserve" list there’d be no beer worth drinking. Despite all that, one of the coolest places to have a pint in the city.