So I just saw Steve had an unpleasant experience at the lager house as well, just as a note our 2 reviews being so close together was not planned. He focused more on how there weren’t that many beers brewed on site and the price of all the beers. I have a slightly different take, focusing on the entire experience and how it disappointed me… or at least didn’t meet my fantastical expectations.
Following the amazing success of their Lambic, Rivertown Brewing Company will be releasing “Ojos Negros”, a fruit sour ale. This will be one to watch for. I don’t have much more concerning it now, but when we do, we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
Edit: While we’re at it, the label for this year’s Rivertown Lambic was approved. See below!
[Ed.: As I’ve said in numerous other places, the authors at QCD are given almost full discretion to create critical and/or contrarian content. We aim to maintain QCD not as a vehicle to softball or pander, but to provide a voice that is willing to say when a product is subpar. As consumers in the beer, wine, and spirit market, we owe it to ourselves, our readers, and those industrious men and women who create and sell these products to be as honest as possible. With that in mind, this is the first (and definitely not the last) piece treading this ground. If you disagree (or agree) with Steve, let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more! – J]
I know many of you are going to disagree with me on this article, but I am going to write it anyways. Part of me thinks I am going to get excommunicated from the city of Cincinnati for voicing this opinion. Oh well, here goes nothing.
As a craft beer destination, I think the Moerlein Lager House is not as spectacular as most people think. It is fine; just not the second coming.
Sure the structure is beautiful, the location is perfect, the food is good and the outdoor space is phenomenal. I also think it is going to make a ton of money and be wildly successful and great for downtown. But I am talking about the beer. And that is where it has fallen short, at least thus far for me.
Let’s start with the guest tap and bottle list.
Yes it is good and yes it is great that before the game you can buy craft beer downtown. At the same time, if you showed me the beer they sell at the price it is sold, I would not be more compelled to go there over many of my favorite Cincinnati beer bars (Dutch’s, Dilly, Fries, and Comet in particular).
Moving onto the brewery part.
The funny thing about the Lager House is I don’t even really think of it as a brewery but more of a Cincinnati focused gastropub that brews beer on the side and is owned by a large brewery. Want proof? They had a grand opening with exactly zero beers brewed on site and to date have made two styles.
This is a place that has every resource available to make fantastic beer. They have state of the art equipment, a world-class brewer, and a ton of capital. To me, it is clear that the brewing part is just not high on their list of initial priorities. Seeing that the commercial turn around on an ale is about 10 days and on a lager is about 28 days, they could have easily knocked out several batches by now (even if they started brewing the day they opened). This is the part I don’t understand- why pay for that brewer if you are not going to give him the keys to the car?
Maybe it is still in the working out the kinks stage. Maybe I’m being overly critical because there were such high expectations. Maybe I just need a to display a little patience. Or maybe everyone else loves the beer and thinks I’m crazy. But at least for the time being, when I am in the downtown area and want a locally brewed beer, you can find me drinking Mitch’s beer at Rock Bottom.
First, a very brief introduction:
My name is Steve and I am going to be writing for this site from time to time. I am a self-described beer geek and home brewer who is still a young pup at 24. I have no prior ties to Cincinnati, so I think I may be able to present an outsiders perspective on beer in the area. I hope to provide a fairly straightforward opinion about the local beer scene and give both praise and criticism where deserved, all while promoting you to imbibe in more craft beer.
Now that that part is over, time for my first post.
How To Fix Beer Releases
As craft beer in general continues to grow like wildfire, the beer releases from breweries have turned into a certifiable shit show. KBS, a beer that just a couple years ago was fairly easy to obtain in Ohio, came and went from beer stores in a matter of hours.
The current situation leaves more people empty handed than ever before, and while there is no ideal way to distribute 100 bottles of beer to 1,000 people that want them, many bottle shops make the situation worse by the way they release the beer. I am here to highlight the right and wrong ways (according to yours truly!) that a place chooses to release beer. And now we will have a public service announcement to all beer stores in Cincinnati…
We will start with the WRONG ways to release bottles:
1) Reservations/Lists– There are many reasons why this does not work well. For starters, the majority of stores have no idea how many (or if they will get any at all) bottles will be in their allotment. Also, places that do this don’t tend to publicize that they do it, so many people could get screwed out of innocent ignorance.
2) Best Customers Only– To me, this is basically the worst method possible. In theory, this is a great idea. Reward those people that come regularly. In practicality, it is borderline impossible to know how frequently someone shops at a store, so what happens is the owner ends up reserving the bottles for his buddies and making good customers mad.
Here’s a quick aside: I was searching for CBS at a bottle shop that will remain unnamed. I shopped at this store on average 2-3x per month since I moved here and spent what I would classify as a good amount of money per trip. I asked the guy working about how they were releasing CBS, and he said that it was reserved for only their best customers, like all of their releases. I asked them how he classified “best customers” and he said trust me, he knows. I have not set foot in that store since.
3) Release Bottles When They Arrive– Another one that seems innocent enough on the surface, but in practicality it fails. The reason? It means that anyone who works normal people hours can never get bottles. Since beer costs a lot of money, and the majority of people work normal people hours, I am going to go ahead and extrapolate that this includes the majority of the craft beer population. This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if there was some advanced notice, but since beer stores don’t know what day the bottles are going to come in and what time their deliveries arrive, it is near impossible to take time out of a working day to take a trip to a store.
And now onto the RIGHT ways! If your bottle shop currently does one of these methods, give yourself a round of applause.
1) Random Lottery– I know it’s not ideal, and I know it means sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but hear me out. Every time you make a purchase at a beer store for one month prior you get one ticket in the lottery. This process is announced in a newsletter that goes out to current customers, and you MUST ASK to be placed in the lottery when you make your purchase. By doing this, everyone that wants a chance at the bottles gets a fair and equal chance, plain and simple. It will also allow new customers to try these bottles from time to time rather than the same guys over and over.
2) Serve the Beers On Premises– This is not a legal option for everyone, but for those that it is, it makes way more sense to get many pours out of a bottle and let more people try it. Plus it eliminates the eBay selling.
3) Release the Bottles At a Predetermined Time- Tell everyone in advance when you will release the beer. Ideally, it would be a weekend morning. This way, people with 9-5 jobs are not left out, and everyone has a fair heads up to get the bottles. There is no loss to the store for holding the bottles for another week since they are going to sell out in an hour anyways.
So there you have it; the three Dos and Don’ts of bottle releases. I am sure there are those that disagree with these, so fire away in the comments below!
(@BellsBrewery Black Note tapping at @Northsidetav (2/7/12))
Last night I was lucky enough to attend a tremendous event at Northside Tavern put on by Bell’s. Because they sell so much of the brewery’s beer (2nd-most in the city!), they were able to get an awesome lineup of beers. They range from a pain in the butt to get to next to impossible to get, but all of them were either close or above 10% ABV, so I had to pick my battles carefully. Considering that I have only ever had Hopslam and The Oracle, this broke my heart.
What they had:
- Hopslam – Needs no introduction.
- The Oracle – Hopslam’s, less-hyped, more-limited, better-tasting double IPA brother
- Hell Hath No Fury: a Belgian strong dark ale
- Sparking Ale: a Tripel
- Black Note: A blend of Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout, aged in bourbon barrels
I was at the event primarily to try Black Note, and oh boy did it deliver. The beer is rated through the roof on pretty much every beer review site out there and it deserves every amazing review it gets. I am here to tell you that Black Note is the real deal: sweet, yet tempered by a slight roast; substantial barrel characteristics (vanilla, oak) without overwhelming the base beer; a substantial, but not thick mouthfeel with a creaminess lended to it from the Double Cream Stout portion of the base; and at 11% or so, just the slightest touch of alcohol heat. It very well might be the best stout I’ve ever tasted — it certainly is in my top five. If you ever see this anywhere and you pass it up, you would be out of your mind. A great, great beer from Bell’s.
After a pint of Black Note, I switched it up with a half pint of The Oracle, then returned to Black Note for another half pint. I decided 32 ounces of high gravity beer was probably enough for one evening, and walked home, the whole time wondering when the next chance to try such an amazing beer again would pop up. Even now, I still have Black Note on my mind…
(Sorry there are no more pictures of the event. They had set the lighting level to ‘sexy’ and I didn’t have a flash on my phone camera, so the pictures turned out like garbage. Nothing too exciting: a full line of Bell’s taps and a pint of Black Note which deceivingly looks like any other pitch black stout.)