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!
In the world of tastings, DEP’s is going to switch to only having wine tastings on Fridays. The good news is the Fort Thomas store is going to have a weekly beer tasting on Saturdays. In order to try all wines of the week, plan to hit both stores on Friday.
I got a chance to talk with Corey on Saturday during the first tasting this past weekend. The cost for the selection of beers will be $2. This week featured recent closeout acquisitions on sale for 11.99 a case or $1-3 for a 22 oz bottle. Overall a solid first outing for the new beer tasting format.
Upcoming Wine tastings can be seen over on the DEP’s tasting page. Beer tastings will be announced weekly.
There is nothing like a long winter vacation to Florida. While down here, I decided to sample some of the local brews. While a little more known for orange juice and tourists, the Sunshine State also has some decent breweries, including Cigar City.
Cigar City Brewing is located in Tampa, Florida. The goal at CCB is two-fold: make great beer, and educate people about Tampa’s culture. The first part is understandable and the second part is very intriguing. They are trying to reverse the notion that Florida is a “beer wasteland” and their Jai Alai IPA is making great strides toward that goal.
I thought this was a bizarre name for a beer, but they tie it into Tampa’s past as a Jai Alai mecca. Apparently, there used to be a bustling Jai Alai “fronton” or arena in Tampa but it has since closed. CCB named their IPA in honor of the sport.
This is a good beer from start to finish. It has a very hoppy aroma with hints of grapefruit in the nose. It’s a honey-brown color with lacing that lingers on the side of the glass. The mouthfeel has a substance but is not sticky. The taste has a bitterness to it that reminds you that you are drinking an IPA. The finish is also very balanced. Overall, it is very drinkable which can be unusual for an IPA.
I would definitely recommend a Jai Alai to an IPA drinker visiting Florida. It’s a solid beer and it’s reasonably affordable ($1.99 per bottle, cheaper in 6-packs). I feel lucky that I was able to find good beer brewed locally. I had their Maduro Brown earlier this week and it was excellent as well.
Cheers to your good health!
‘Tis the season for winter ales, and though we may hate the mall traffic, charity guilt trips, and huge bills we ran up over the holidays, we can all agree on one aspect of this chilly season that we love: the beer.
What better way to embrace your inner jolly than to grab a winter ale or two and cozy up to the fire (chestnuts encouraged). I have tried a few winter beers this season and hope to guide you to a warm-up-your-toes selection in the same way that Rudolph guides Santa’s sleigh. *Disclaimer: I did not drink all these beers in a single sitting.*
Delirium Noel 2009
Fact: Delirium makes great beer. It is a tad pricey, but this Christmas beer would be perfect for the beer lover on your list or a Secret Santa who enjoys a craft brew. A 22 oz. will cost around $10, but you get what you pay for. It has an opaque brown color, a quickly dissipating head, thin lacing, and a spicy aroma. Medium body, with full flavor. Most Delirium beer you drink has a very fruity flavor and this is no exception.
Stone/n0gne-0/Jolly Pumpkin Special Holiday Ale 2009
Now this is an interesting beer. Sometimes brewers do a collaboration project with one other brewery, but the three-headed team of Stone, n0gene-0, and Jolly Pumpkin came up with something special. Of all the Christmas beers, this was the most interesting that I tried. It has a complex flavor profile which makes it a beer to drink by itself. It has a decent amount of carbonation, and it tastes like a Bonnaroo tent in your mouth. This serving of liquid incense contains Caraway, Juniper, White Sage, and Chestnuts flavors. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to try something outside the box.
A solid Christmas beer that starts with a spicy aroma. It has a near perfect mouthfeel, not too heavy but not too light. And the flavor finds a way to balance malt and hops very evenly and ends with a hoppy, dry finish. A recommendation for anyone who enjoys I.P.A.s, but this would probably turn off the occasional beer drinker.
Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale 2010
Every year Anchor tweaks its Christmas beer recipe. I can respect that. If Bob Dylan taught us anything it is that the times they are a-changin’. It has a dark, chocolate brown color with some flecks of ruby when you hold it up to the light. The aroma contains ginger, caramel, and roasted malt. A combo of sweetness, ginger, and toffee make you want to keep drinking this beer. I will be waiting patiently for next year’s release!
Bell’s Christmas Ale
Bell’s is one of my favorite breweries, so I had high hopes for this beer and I was not disappointed. It is a light brown color, almost amber with a slightly hoppy smell. The taste has a delicious malt flavor with some citrus and hop notes. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich. And it has very well done balanced finish. I hope my stocking is stuffed with a few of these come Christmas morning.
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
I feel like this is a middle of the road Christmas Ale. It has a brown, slightly red color with a spicy, cinnamon nose. The flavor is malty and spicy with a bubbly, carbonated mouthfeel. One surprise is the amount of alcohol in this beer at 7.4% ABV, which can help you loosen up around those pesky in-laws.
Christian Moerlein Christkindl
A beer that most Cincinnatians hold dear to their hearts. Moerlein’s Christkindl is a unique take on the Christmas beer. It plays off the memory association of Christmas and a particular taste, chocolate. This is not a chocolate beer. But the chocolate flavor reminds you of being a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. There is definitely something nostalgic about this beer. It has an amber color with a spot of gold, and a hoppy, caramel aroma. The malt taste carries throughout the beer and meshes well with the chocolate. A great 6-pack gift option for loved ones or yourself.
Christmas comes only once a year which is a bummer that you can only experience some of these beers for a short time. I have a nagging suspicion that mid-April I will find myself jonesing for Special Holiday Ale 2009. Luckily spring beers are around the corning.
Cheers to your good health!
So you have a hot date? Congratulations! There are many aspects of a first date that can be stressful, so today I am going to try to help you check one thing off the list: what to drink.
Beer is a great option for several reasons. First, it usually takes longer to become intoxicated. No one wants to get sloppy on a first date, and beer will let you loosen up without becoming completely untied. Also, you can pair your beer with your food, making your meal more enjoyable and possibly scoring some Food Network points. The last reason why beer is a good choice is that it you can make it last a long time. You drink at your own pace, casually sipping if the night is going well or guzzling if the date is not going so well. If love is a battlefield, then beer is a versatile ally.
Local beers are a solid choice because it shows that you did a little research and want to literally drink in your current surroundings. A good choice in Cincinnati would be a Christian Moerlein OTR Ale. In Louisville, Falls City is an excellent beer if you can get it and the Bluegrass Brewing Company should offer a beer that you can enjoy as well.
Seasonal beers are a way of showing that you are hip and current. A Christmas beer will let your date know that you are not a Grinch. This also varies by location, but if you do a little reconnaissance work, most restaurants have their drink list on their website. If you are going to a place without a website, your date probably won’t care what you are drinking anyway. Most places will have something seasonal on tap. Check ahead or ask your server.
What Not To Order
The only ‘rule’ that I can give you is to get something you know you like. So if you like lager-style beers, it would not be advised to order the double I.P.A. As impressed as you think your date will be, the ‘choking-down-this-beer-that-I-hate’ face is not attractive. A first date is no time to get experimental with your beer palate. Stick to what you know.
In the event that your first date destination has a beer special, I would avoid it. Most of the time, it is Bud/Miller/Coors, and what does getting the special really say about you? I am cheap and enjoy cheap beer.
Some restaurants have gigantic beers as an option (i.e., Hofbrauhaus 1-liter mugs). Shy away from this option for three reasons. Strike one, your date may think you are an alcoholic. Strike two, you are on this date to interact and socialize, not to drink. And strike three, assuming you are as charming as I imagine you are, your beer will get warm as you converse with your guest. The “Big-Ass-Beer” is out.
First dates are a time for high nerves and small talk. By putting some thought into your drink selection, if the conversation runs dry you now have something to talk about, your beer! Good luck.
Cheers to your good health!
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