MadTree Brewing: A Brewery Branches Out

MadTree Brewing: A Brewery Branches Out

When Kenny McNutt met Brady Duncan through a Beer of the Week club, they had no idea what would grow. The two discovered they were both independently home brewing and joined forces to develop a business plan. That passion for craft beer led them to open up MadTree Brewing back in 2013 and build something bigger than the beer they were initially producing in their basements. 

MadTree is part of Cincinnati’s brewery renaissance, a tradition that has deep roots in the city and its German heritage. The first brewery was opened by an Englishman, Davis Embree, right on the Ohio River in 1812. The influx of German immigrants established a rich brewing district in what is now known as Over-the-Rhine. By 1890, Cincinnati was known as the Beer Capital of the World. 

Prohibition brought the flourishing industry to a halt. But over the last 10 years, Cincinnati breweries seem to have popped up all over the city once more. 

When McNutt and Duncan started MadTree in 2013, there were just eight breweries in the Cincinnati area. Today, there are 60, more than during the city’s Beer Capital heyday. And their newest location, Alcove, is paying tribute to the city’s legacy, located in OTR in a former beer garden. 

But making great beer wasn’t enough for MadTree’s founders. They wanted to foster connection, take care of the environment, and do something good for the city. 

Their first foray into charity work started accidentally. 

A grate was placed above the bar to lower the space. But when a patron tried to show off for the bartender by throwing dollar bills on top of it, it caught on. The team decided to play with the idea, which led to their popular Toss A Buck, where patrons can toss money to donate to a nonprofit. 

Their first organization was Toys for Tots, and they raised $1,500 in one month for the charity. Realizing they were onto something, MadTree now raises money for a different nonprofit each month. 

“The impact strategy early on was kind of scattershot,” says Duncan. “We’re passionate about a lot of stuff. We felt like we were making small drops in a bunch of different puddles, and it wasn’t having much of an impact.” 

The team decided to focus on what exactly they wanted to be. “We want to build a sustainable, purpose-driven company that our kids are proud of,” Duncan says. 

They decided to truly embrace their name, MadTree, and work to both celebrate and protect the environment. 

MadTree is now a member of 1% For the Planet, which means 1% of their sales go to nonprofits that support environmental sustainability. The impact is more significant, and not just 


“Since we’ve started, 15 different local organizations have joined in,” McNutt adds.

While environmental impact is great for the world, MadTree wants to make an impact locally, too. They support Cincinnati’s Parks, planting trees around the city. They do a farm-to-table event at the Cincinnati Zoo that supports Groundwork Ohio. In addition, every employee is paid for 16 hours annually to do volunteer work, which added up to over 1,700 hours this past year. 

“We want to connect people to nature and each other,” Duncan says. “I don’t know that it’s more on display than when we are volunteering, seeing employees who don’t normally work together connecting with each other and beautifying our communities in nature.” 

Being a purpose-driven company also meant making sure their team looked like who they wanted to be. “I’m pretty proud that MadTree is just over 49% female,” Duncan says. Women are involved in every aspect of the business. 

“Our purpose has not changed dramatically,” McNutt says. “How we approach it has. It allows us to move down the funnel and make a much bigger impact than we could have ever done before.”

As MadTree grows, it’ll be making a difference for a long time to come.


There’s probably no better place in Cincinnati for good beer and good food than historic Over-the-Rhine. MadTree’s newest restaurant adds a piece of nature in the middle of it all with their newest venture, Alcove. 

The bar and restaurant will feature MadTree’s signature beers and house-made cocktails, as well as farm-to-table goodness from Chef Stephen Williams. 

The historic building was built in 1873 and was once a legendary beer garden known as Wielert’s Café. Rumor has it that the idea for baseball’s World Series was hatched at Wielert’s. The house band eventually became the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Ezzard Charles trained as a boxer upstairs. 

After standing vacant for 30 years, MadTree teamed up with 3CDC to make the historic space a warm and inviting tribute to its history. All of the branding for Alcove was done in-house. The creative team used the building’s design elements and his- tory to create something new that still pays tribute to the old. Don’t miss MadTree’s history wall, which shows photos and the original wallpaper, which inspired the current look. 

Urban Blooms was part of the planning process from the beginning. There are 2,500 live plants artfully weaved into the 

structure, and there will eventually be a pollinator garden just outside. The greenhouse bar features plant chandeliers and fresh herbs to make signature cocktails. 

The main space has a bar with a variety of seating, including tables, lounge spaces, and intimate private dining rooms. Situated on one of the major streets in OTR, the city’s energy meets a burst of nature, with a patio space flanked by elm trees that will be the perfect spot in warm weather to grab a drink and relax. 

There are two private event spaces. The Loft is perfect for large events, accommodating 150 people with a catering kitchen. The Gathering Room features an Urban Blooms moss wall and can seat 60 people. It’s perfect for a small gathering or a work meeting, but can also be used for seating when the restaurant is busy. 

“Whether people come in to enjoy a sit-down dinner or to pop in for a drink before heading to another OTR spot, we hope everyone feels the warmth that we worked so hard to create,” Duncan says. 

Ready to grab a drink or bite and enjoy yourself? Visit Alcove by MadTree Brewing at 1410 Vine Street or visit

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