February is shaping up to be a great time to be a beer drinker in the Cincinnati area. The weather’s cold and the nights are long, but there are an amazing number of events coming in the next few weeks. Here’s a quick rundown:
In a few weeks, it will be the inaugural celebration of Cincinnati Beer Week. An official site has popped up to try and track the various events around the city, but I recommend hopping over to the Hoperatives blog for their take on the latest information. Here are a few of the events about which I’m excited:
Thursday February 2
Party Town Local Breweries Backroom Brawl from 6:00 – 8:00pm
Party Town kicks off Cincinnati’s Inaugural Beer Week with a “Backroom Brawl” of only local craft brews featuring the “Cincinnati Beer Week Barleywine,” a collaboration between local brewers, and our 18 tap growler program voted “Best of 2011″ by Cincinnati Magazine! Cost $2.00
Friday February 3
Arnold’s Bourbon Barrel 1861 Porter Happy Hour Tapping at 5pm
In honor of beer week Christian Moerlein has remixed a batch of the Arnold’s 1861 Porter. Arnold’s is already the only place that you could get the Porter, but for this special release, Christian Moerlein will be aging the same beer in a bourbon barrel.
Saturday February 4:
Cincinnati Brew Ha-Ha! from 07:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Cincy Brew Ha-Ha Winter Edition will bring all that has been enjoyed over the past 5 years indoors to the Cintas Center on Xavier University’s campus for its Winter Edition. This one-of-a-kind local event features top beers and top comedians creating the perfect recipe for a great time. From ales to lagers and pilsners to stouts, there is something for every type of beer aficionado – including 6 firkins! Cincy Brew Ha-Ha Winter Edition will feature over 80 selections of beer to sample and multiple comedians on 2 stages.
Additionally, there are a bunch of other events, including a 3 Floyds beer dinner at Tellers (2/8) and a selection of Left Hand beers on tap at the Hyde Park Cock and Bull (2/9) . This all leads up to the Cincinnati Winter Beer Festival on the 10th and 11th. Last year, this event was a great time and apparently it’s going to be even bigger this year. Click over to their site for more information and tickets.
On Feb 25, the Moerlein Lager house will be opening as part of the Banks, adding the first alternative to the Holy Grail, which opened last March. Tickets are $150 and the doors open at 6:30. More information can be found over on the Lager House official website.
I’m off to drink a Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere. That should help keep me sated until next month.
A quick post on one of our almost local breweries: Schlafly of St. Louis. Michelle and I had the chance to stop in here on our way through Missouri and enjoyed the visit. On tap were two cask conditioned alternate versions of the 80/- (80 Schilling) and the Golden Ale.
I sat down with the cask conditioned 80 schilling. Cask conditioning allows a secondary fermentation to occur within the storage container. In this case it added an extra layer of smokiness that I usually don’t find in the normal Schlafly offering. AbV was in line at 4.7 to create a very enjoyable drink.
I also tried a small sample of the Pumpkin Ale from draft and found a pumpkin-pie flavor along with a very noticeable sweetness. This was pumpkin pie filling with a touch of whipped cream. The 8% alcohol was not apparent.
The food was also impressive. I had a pulled pork sandwich along with a side of the Beer Cheese soup. Michelle had a ham and egg sandwich. We could have easily split either entree between the two of us. The portions were generous and the food itself was well prepared and matched the beer.
Overall, I would give a to the Schlafly brewery experience. We did not have time to take the tour at the Bottleworks location, but if any readers have been on that tour, let us know in the comments. For anyone visiting the St. Louis area, I recommend a quick stop by the brewery to split a meal and try something from their large selection.
You can always follow me on Untappd to see what I am enjoying.
For those of you who have been reading the blog for a long time, you know that I’m a huge fan of Goose Island. Whenever we go to Chicago, we make a special point of heading out to the brewery for seasonals and dinner. I even co-hosted an event last year with the Dilly Cafe, the Hoperatives, and Goose Island. They make my favorite beers.
It was announced today that Anheuser-Busch has purchased Goose Island. Now remember, Anheuser-Busch itself is owned by global conglomerate InBev, so in essence, InBev now owns Goose Island.
I know this is probably a good thing for Goose Island, and the deal was worth a lot of beer: $38.8 million. According to WBEZ Chicago, not much will change:
In a statement, the head of Goose Island, John Hall, said the Chicago company has grown so rapidly in the last five years that demand for Goose Island beers has outgrown the capacity of its brewery. Hall said the company has had to limit production of some of the beers. Hall said the deal with Anheuser-Busch will help Goose Island continue to grow.
“This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success,” Hall said in a statement.
In announcing the acquisition, Goose Island said Hall will continue to be responsible for the Chicago brewery, which the company says will remain in operation.
So I have my fingers crossed I won’t see a Matilda Select or Fleur Lime anytime in the near future.
One of the best holiday presents I have received in the past few years has been a homebrew kit. This has allowed me to combine my love of beer with me learning my way around the kitchen. By the time I had my own kit, I had already made three batches of beer with my college roommate (not on campus, don’t worry), so I felt pretty seasoned and ready to take on brewing by myself.
The kit that I have is from an Australian outfit called Coopers. The rad thing about the kit (aside from the hilarious Australian instructional video) is that it comes with some of the bells and whistles that I did not have before like a hydrometer and a sticker thermometer. Being from Australia, all the temperatures are in Celsius, so I may look into a Fahrenheit one as well. But if you can deal with some metric conversions, this is a solid kit to have.
My favorite thing about this kit is how easy it is to use. Everything is streamlined and simplified from the instructions to the malty goodness in the can. With that in mind, this kit is perfect for beginning brewers who are just looking to try it out. However, one of the best parts about homebrewing is tampering with recipes and trying new ideas. I would recommend a gift certificate to Listermann Brewing Company for an intermediate or advanced home brewer in the Greater Cincinnati Area.
The first part of the process from the kit is the mix. Mixing beer is very similar to baking or cooking. You have ingredients, temperatures, and methods to mix them all together. The kit makes this process super easy by premixing your hops and malt. You essentially boil some water then dump it in the fermenter, add in the can of malt and hops, add in the pre-measured amount of sugar, stir, add more water, wait until the fermenter reaches a certain temperature, throw in the yeast, jam in the air lock, and seal it up. It is that easy.
The hardest part about this whole process may be the waiting involved! Soon, I’ll complete the second and third steps in the process, brewing and bottling.
Cheers to your good health!
I was recently lucky enough to attend a tasting of a few new types of whiskey at Party Source. One of the nice features of the Party Source tasting classes is that in addition to educational aspect, there is the opportunity to try something new and this was a great varied tasting:
Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey (70.95) – Dry fly is a Washington distillery that is using 100% wheat aged for 2 years in a new charred barrel. This has a nice baked bread nose with straw finishing with a hint of mint and sweet. A whiskey that is 100% wheat is rare, and this long finishing whiskey is a great example of what can be done slightly differently using local ingredients.
Maker’s Mark 46 (33.99) – The “second great idea” from Maker’s Mark has an addition of toasted French oak into the final aging process. This makes a spicier version of the traditional Maker’s Mark that gives it a flavor that is closer to a Rye whiskey using wood instead of the grain to give the new flavors. A nice way to show what effect different types of wood or aging can have on a whiskey.
Party Source Buffalo Trace “Wheat on Rye” (59.99) – A collaboration between Party Source and the Buffalo Trace experimental team taking a traditional bourbon and performing a secondary aging in a used Rye barrel. This adds a spicy flavor while not overpowering the traditional softness of the wheat bourbon. The base was a barrel similar to Old Weller before the Rye aging and it did a really nice job of connecting the two different flavors into a single whiskey.
Rick Wasmund’s Kegs o’ Bourbon (Not Available) – The first of two different types of smoked bourbons. Rick smoked the grain over a nice soft wood combination (apple, cherry). This adds another level of flavor and was brought straight from the barrel to the tasting. I think this one needs a little more time to settle down and presented slightly confused on the flavors. I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to try a sweeter, fruitier whiskey.
MB Rowland Black Dog Corn Whiskey (31.99) and MB Rowland Black Dog Bourbon (Not Available) – The Black Dog is made using a “dark fire” the corn in our miniature tobacco barn, giving the product a smoky, sweet flavor. The bourbon version is then aged in the charred oak. this produces a bourbon that has distinct characteristics that are usually found in scotch. I thought this was a really interesting change and has potential for a lot of really nice applications.
Four Roses Small Batch Barrel Strength (74.99) – This is the new product replacing the Marriage line. The Marriage was limited to a combination of two of the Four Roses recipes and this allows for more options in the creation of the yearly release. This one was a nice traditional bourbon that was a great end to the tasting. A combination of 3 different recipes aged between 10 and 15 years makes this a very nice spicy bourbon. I will miss the story behind the Marriage, but this is a worthy successor.
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