Bockfest 2020: Your comprehensive guide to Cincinnati’s malt-filled festival

Lots of locally brewed bock beer will be available at this weekends’s Bockfest. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Lots of locally brewed bock beer will be available at this weekends’s Bockfest. CONTRIBUTED

Cincinnatians are German, so it should come as no surprise that they love their German beer, the stronger the better. And so, the 28th annual Bockfest, celebrating the malty, low-hop and particularly potent German lager that is bock beer, lands in Cincinnati and Over the Rhine.

We have a complete breakdown of all that’s happening at Bockfest, but first …

The Beers

Several brands of locally brewed bock beer will be available all weekend. They are: Christian Moerlein Emancipator Dopplebock, Hudepohl Festival Bock, Schoenling Bock, Sonder William Goat Bock Bier, and Taft’s Big Billy Goat Bock.

For non-bock enthusiasts who still want to experience the festival, wine and cocktails will be available from Biltmore Wines, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, New Riff Distilling (bourbon and gin), and Truly Hard Seltzer.

The Food

The following food vendors will be hawking their delicious wares all weekend:

The Lubecker

Servatii Pretzels

Good Guyz Food Truck

House of Brisket

Mikey’s Late Night Slice

And now for the weekend…


Party Like A Rockstar

Bockfest opens Friday night at 6 p.m. with a parade that starts at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, Cincinnati’s oldest saloon, and ends at Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., the hub of the festival. There are no fire trucks and candies for the kiddies. This parade is led by a goat pulling a keg, the reigning Sausage Queen and Beard Baron (see below), and floats and marchers too risque to be specified in a family publication. The parade will end with a blessing of bock beer. Who would’ve thought that excessive alcohol consumption could be spiritual?

The parade will be followed by parade awards and live music by The Zinzinnati Bier Band, Gee Your Band Smells Terrific (1970s spinoff of the Rusty Griswolds), Whiskey Daze (country rock), and The Naked Karate Girls (Las Vegas-style dance rock).


Bockfest 5K

You’ll have to chuck that hangover aside, because the Bockfest 5K begins promptly on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. This chip-timed 5K will start in the heart of Over the Rhine, take you past several historic breweries (just to tease you), and end at Christian Moerlein. Participants will receive a T shirt, two drink tickets, and a Skyline cheese coney. Finishers will receive a medal that doubles as a bottle opener.

Bock Beer Blowout

Arguably the main event of Bockfest, the blowout adds 24 draft bock beers to their featured beer list. Participating breweries are 13 Lots, 16 Lots, Alexandria, Bircus, Braxton, Brink, Dogberry, Fibonacci, Fifty West, Grainworks, HighGrain, Listermann, Narrow Path, Off Track, Paradise, Platform, Rhinegeist, Samuel Adams, Wiedemann, and Woodburn.

Beer Games

Your favorite breweries will be competing for the Brewers’ Cup in this Olympics-style competition. The games include Beer Keg Rolling, Stein Holding, Dizzy Bat Hammer Schlangen, Berionette, and Cincinnati’s Electrified Stein Ride (basically beer stein curling).

The Billygoat Ball

The Saturday night dance party features a full lineup of live music, most notably the Rusty Griswolds, the Midwest’s premiere 1980s cover band. The beer and food will continue to flow. The highlight is the Beard Baron and Sausage Queen competition. Anyone who has particularly thick and stylish facial hair stands a good chance of becoming this year’s Beard Baron. The Sausage Queen Competition is a gender-neutral competition where contestants have already won preliminary rounds at local participating venues. At the Billygoat Ball, seven contestants representing seven breweries will compete for the final honor of Sausage Queen. Remember, the competition is gender-neutral, so the winner, he or she, will lead next year’s Bockfest parade side by side with the Beard Baron.

The live music lineup includes Just Add Beer (pop/rock covers), Kyle Knapp (acoustic), Lagniappe (Louisiana Cajun), DJ Drowsy, Chuck Brisbin & Cold Tuna (classic rock/blues/country/R&B), and Amy & The Arrangement (blues/soul/rock).


Brewing Heritage Trail

For you egghead types who wish to actually understand what you’re imbibing, this series of 90-minute, immersive tours will take you through the historic Hudepohl bottling plant and lagering cellars. After all that education, a complimentary beer awaits you on your return.

Bockfest Pig Roast

For an additional $30, you can participate in a hardcore German buffet dinner. The main course is a pig roasted on site, but also includes pan-tossed Spaetzle with parsley and onion, Bavarian-style sweet and sour coleslaw, slow-cooked green beans with home-smoked bacon, and potatoes au gratin. Your ticket also includes a beverage ticket good for beer, wine, soda, or water.


Goats, Germans, & Gemutlichkeit

Rejuvenate Sunday morning with the popular, homemade Bloody Mary bar from Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen while giving the kids a chance to enjoy Bockfest as well. There’ll be music by Verein Musikanten, dancing by Enzian Tanzgruppe and the Donauschwaben Dancers, and a petting zoo.

Little Links

The Little Links Pageant invites the younger ones to dress in their best German spring attire. There are three age-based categories (0-2, 3-6, 7-12). Each contestant will parade across the stage and local celebrity judges will pick the winners. There will be prizes for the top three contestants, plus participation prizes for all who entered.

Bockfest 0.5K “Fun” Run

Brand new this year, the 0.5K is made for those who aren’t ready for the full 5K but still want to support Bockfest. Make it 164 feet and you’ll get a limited-edition T-shirt, a bottle opener medal, and a beer. Registration is required and costs an additional $30.

Beer & Bygone Days

Sunday afternoon features a series of speakers lecturing on a wide variety of topics from mead, the history of Cincinnati brewing, and the contributions of indigenous and enslaved people to brewing. There’ll also be several pieces of classic and historic “breweriana,” including steins, signs, and other items.

Goat Yoga

Ever consider doing yoga with a goat? Perhaps not, but apparently it is a thing, thanks to a local farming couple who combined his advanced degree in counseling, 20 years of yoga and meditation, and their love of baby goats. An additional $30 is a small price to pay for one hour of goat-assisted relaxation and stress reduction. As with everything else, you get a free beer afterward.


What: Bockfest

Where: Over the Rhine. The hub is Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., 1621 Moore St., Cincinnati

When: Feb. 28-March 1, 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m.

Cost: No admission cost

More info:

About the Author