Hamilton Avenue in Northside is home to a slew of eclectic storefronts like Melt and Shake It Records. For many, it’s an artist’s sanctuary, a retreat from campus or downtown city life. But for the locals it’s a yellow brick road they follow to places where they can sit and enjoy a beer with friends or a bite to eat. Since April Northsiders have enjoyed The Listing Loon as a place to swing by and load up on bottles of hand-selected microbrews by a couple of Cincinnati’s tenured bartenders.
Owners Beth Harris and Dave Mikkelsen opened The Listing Loon to satisfy their own desire for a place that carried the kind of beers they wanted to drink. For Harris, it began when she couldn’t find the one thing she wanted: Pabst Blue Ribbon in bottles.
“We couldn’t find the beer we wanted, good or cheap, and in the form we wanted it in unless we went to the bar to get it.” Harris says.
More importantly, neither Mikkelsen nor Harris wanted to drive all the way out to Jungle Jim’s or the Party Source for a six-pack of beer that they might not even find. Instead they started looking for a space close to home to give Northside its own craft beer shop.
Both co-owners of The Listing Loon share similar backgrounds and knowledge of beer from working together at The Comet. The bar’s owner, Dave Cunningham, gave Harris her first bartending position, and it was there that she was forced by occupation to learn as much as she could about beer.
“That’s where I started,” Harris says.
“You kind of had to learn the craft beer world because he had around 200 beers in there at any given time. I had to know what I was selling.”
As part of their jobs as bartenders, Mikkelsen and Harris were constantly tasting beers and getting to know each style of beer the bar had to offer.
“Working at The Comet was kind of an eye opener for me,” Mikkelsen says. “I knew there was a lot of great beer out there, but this place had a lot of it.”
The duo had already established relationships with beer representatives and wanted to contribute to the growing beer community in Northside. Opening their own spot seemed like the logical next step.
Their goal was to create an environment where customers could share their appreciation of great beer. The shelves are stocked with beers they like and are familiar with, but also with beers they know customers will drink. Harris explained that the driving force of the selections at the store isn’t determined solely by their own preferences, but also by their customers’ suggestions and requests.
“I really try to listen to our customers,” Harris says. “Part of our mission is to provide what the neighborhood wants.”
Harris says that if people want pilsners, she’ll order them, but she also takes notes and numbers down from customers always looking for different beers to bring into the shop. Working with beer reps they trust also helps line the store’s shelves with interesting selections, which vary depending on demand and availability. They offer familiar labels like PBR, Black Label, Sierra Nevada and Arrogant Bastard, but they also showcase some new favorites of Harris like Flemish sour ales.
Their goal is to have 150 different types of beers on hand, but with the high demand, they’ve only gotten to 120. After the Labor Day weekend, their inventory was whittled down to just a few dozen brands of beer.
Another part of The Listing Loon’s mission is to share their knowledge of beers with the community. They have plans for expanding what’s already in the store. Licensing for wine retail is already on its way, but eventually they plan on selling wines by the glass as well as draught beer. They already furnished the store with couches, adding to the aesthetic of the old building with a high ceiling and framed art hanging on the walls.
Since the store is open in the afternoon, they plan to appeal to customers who want to come in and enjoy a glass of beer or wine before heading home for dinner. They aren’t in competition with the other Hamilton Avenue watering holes since they close down early, but they do want a space for customers to enjoy their beverages.
“To me that’s what it should be about, some sort of shared experience,” Mikkelsen says.
THE LISTING LOON
Go: 4124 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-11p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday