Details on Jackie O’s 7th Anniversary Bottle Release (December 15)

Details have been released at Rick Armon’s “Ohio Breweries” blog concerning Jackie O’s 7th Anniversary bottle release on December 15. For those of you not in the know, Jackie O’s is a brewpub located in Athens, Ohio. Their head brewer, Brad Clark, is one of the most creative and talented brewers in the United States. He is big on barrel treatments and sours, which has drawn a large amount of attention in the national craft beer scene (he was featured on the cover of Beer Advocate Magazine). These events tend to be “beer geek” pilgrimages, with folks coming from all over the U.S. to gather, share great beers Friday and Saturday, and then buy bottles on Saturday.

This will be my third release I’ve attended and I’ve had a fantastic time at all of them. I will have more details/background next week, since I’ll be bunking with a fellow local beer blogger and will be putting together a joint post covering the event afterwords.

Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery in Athens will hold its seventh anniversary party combined with a bottle release Dec. 15. The brewpub will have an eye-popping 40 Jackie O’s beers on draft for the celebration and will have seven bottled beers available for purchase.

“We’re going to have a big weekend,” brewer Brad Clark told me during a visit to Athens this week. “We’re packaging a ton of barrel aged beers.”

The seven bottled beers will be: Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Apparition, Bourbon Barrel Aged Brick Kiln, Rum Barrel Aged Brick Kiln, Bourbon Barrel Aged Skipping Stone, Rum Barrel Aged Oil of Aphrodite, Thorogood and Oaky Golden Pucker, a sour that was aged for 46 months.

As usual, the brewpub has several tasty and unusual beers on draft. They include Dark Apparition Nuts, a Russian imperial stout aged with pecans, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds; Dark Apparition Kopi Luwak, the imperial stout aged on the world’s most expensive coffee; and Moustache Melter, a pale ale infused with habanero peppers. (If you’re not familiar with Kopi Luwak, it’s the coffee bean gathered from the excrement of the civet, a wild cat-like animal.)

Meanwhile, the Jackie O’s production brewery is getting closer to opening. The majority of eqiupment is in place, including the 20-barrel Newlands Systems brewhouse. Owner Art Oestrike said he hopes to be producing beer there before the end of the year but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s early next year.

The production brewery will include a tap room — which features a gorgeous bar crafted by American Elm Workshops — and outdoor patio area. The plan is still to distribute draft beer at first to the Athens and Columbus areas, and then in a month or so offer cans as well. When asked when Jackie O’s might hit the Cincinnati, Cleveland another other markets, Oestrike said it’s important to serve the local community first and not overextend the brewery. The production brewery will offer three beers initially for distribution: Firefly Amber Ale, Mystic Mama and Chomolungma.

Hat tip to Rick Armon’s “Ohio Breweries”

Road Trip! The Beer Trappe in Lexington

Every now and then it’s good to get out of the Queen City and explore the drinking culture in further flung regions of this great country. At just about a 90 minute drive away, the lovely college town of Lexington makes a great day trip. Usually if I’m going to Lexington I’m thinking bourbon, but recently Charlie and I got together with members of one of our favorite local bands, Ford Theater Reunion, to record a drinks segment for our podcast, The Charlie Tonic Hour, at The Beer Trappe in Lexington. It turned out to be an incredibly educational and fun experience. Eric, Joe, Allen and Alex are huge beer nerds and I learned all about gypsy brewers, natural fermentation, and beer that can taste like cheese. Of course it also turned into an hour and half long episode of great beer conversation interlaced with random thoughts on our first drinking experiences, why not trying is sexy, and a beanbag chair covered in kittens. So it was kind of a mixed bag. Listen at your own risk.

Me with the Trappist Rochefort 8, aka the one that tastes like cheese.

In fact, rather than listening to me enjoying The Beer Trappe, I recommend that you head for 811 Euclid Ave in Lexington Kentucky and experience it for yourself. Named one of the 100 best beer barsin America by Draft Magazine, The Beer Trappe has 8 rotating taps and over 400 bottles of craft beer from around the world that can be sampled in-house or purchased for enjoying at home. I was blown away by the selection of beers and would have been completely at a loss for where to start if not for our friends, but I get the impression that the staff are just as eager to help you find a good beer or ten or twenty to try. If you are in need of more guidance, on Sunday afternoons  they hold Beer School, a relaxed tasting of beers within a particular style or theme that is moderated by National Beer Judge Kevin Patterson.

Seven bottles were killed in the making of this episode.

The Beer Trappe was highly worth the drive but the whole neighborhood would make for a really nice day out. Once you’ve sampled all you can reasonably try at the Beer Trappe, head next door for some cheap but very good Cajun food at Bourbon N’ Toulouse, do a walking tour around historic Lexington to take in some sights and then head back to Euclid for a burger and a carafe of cocktails at Charlie Brown’s. Just do yourself a favor and make sure you have a driver for this particular road trip.

Village Wine Cellar Cellar Dweller Tap Takeover

I spend a lot of time talking about what to drink and not nearly enough on where to go to drink it. This is partly because I’m a lazy shut in and partly because I live in the country. The popular downtown spots to drink are all 45 minutes away from me. Luckily I’ve recently discovered The Village Wine Cellar in downtown Lebanon.

Continue reading “Village Wine Cellar Cellar Dweller Tap Takeover”

2nd Annual Beer and Sausage Fest at Mayday on October 27

As a resident of Northside, the wonderful neighborhood which Mayday is located in, I feel it’s my duty to get this out there to all you readers. Looks like a blast and hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

While I’ve got  you reading, here is a fantastic article by the Enquirer about Mayday.

WHAT: 2nd Annual Beer & Sausage Fest

WHERE: Mayday

WHEN: Saturday, October 27, 2012

Details: It is here again–
Our sausage and beer fest.
Tons of Craft Beers Including:
Dogfish Punkin
Sixpoint Autumnation

Fathead’s Hopstalker
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
Meantime London Porter
Great Divide Fresh Hop Ale

Pumpkin Carving Contests for Adults and Kids. Prizes include Gift Certificates from local businesses and fun beers or adults, candy and toys for kids.

This year’s Bierwurst is made with Anderson Valley Winter Warmer–Spicy!! Add to that all of our house sausages, warm Amish potato salad, plus homemade applesauce, apple tartlets, and other desserts.

Throw on your costume for the end of the night–Cover bands playing tributes to The Dwarves and Ohio rock bands like Devo.

Starts at 5pm– Free Entry! Kid friendly until 9pm!

Mayday Northside

4227 Spring Grove Ave

Cincinnati, OH 45223

513-541-0999

maydaynorthside.com

maydaynorthside.tumblr.com

maydaynorthside@gmail.com

Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar

Bourbon* and I are old friends. We first got to know each other back in my 20’s and we’ve been enjoying each other’s company ever since. Of course at first I thought bourbon was a little out of my league. I was intimidated by his reputation and some of his friends seemed a little cooler-than-thou if you know what I mean. But the more I get to know him, the more I liked bourbon. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs but I’ve forgiven him for the hangover from my 30th birthday and he’s forgotten all about how I used to mix him with coke.

If you have yet to become acquainted with bourbon I can recommend no better place than the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar on Main Street in Covington. This week marked my second visit to Molly Wellman’s new bar, dedicated to showcasing American whiskey of all kinds, but there is obviously a heavy focus on bourbon. The OKBB is small, clean, and modern looking on the inside. At no point during either of my visits was the bar crowded. That is probably because this is not really a bar in the typical sense of the word. It is hard to imagine a group of friends piling into the OKBB to mindlessly enjoy drinks while chatting about their week, let alone going there to pound back shots and get rowdy. This is not so much a bar as it is a museum that showcases one of the true American art forms: bourbon.  You go to the OKBB to be educated and if you come out with a buzz, that’s just a happy coincidence.

A flight of rye whiskey at the OKBB.

I realize that this description is going to put off the vast majority of people reading it but I encourage you to give it a try anyway. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgable about the entire process of making, drinking, and mixing whiskey but they are also very approachable. On my first visit I was brought a tiny little cup of spring water and the bartender clearly read my confusion when he set it down next to my drink. He kindly asked if I would like a glass of water for drinking in addition to the one for mixing. If you don’t like the taste of whiskey by itself the staff knows many excellent cocktails, like the Horse’s Neck or the Manhattan, to give you a taste without overwhelming you. But if you do already enjoy bourbon this is a great location for discovering new things. On my first trip I got to try a selection of much older bourbon than I could usually afford. On this last trip I tried a flight of rye whiskey, something I’d had little experience with in the past.  In addition to the top shelf bottles, the bartender was also very helpful in pointing out some good “everyday” bourbon that were surprisingly strong for their price. The quite atmosphere, talkative staff, and chance for trying new things together also makes the OKBB ideal for a date night.

And speaking of price, that does bring us to the main downside of the OKBB and the reason why, despite my love of bourbon, I’ve only been there twice. It is not a cheap place. As I said earlier, this is not somewhere you go to get drunk. The pours have been described as small considering that they tend to start around $6 and quickly go up to $9 or more. In this case I think it is clear that you are paying for the knowledge of the staff as much as for the whiskey itself. It is a great place to go and invest a little money in order to increase you knowledge and to try small portions of expensive delights but it is something I save it for a special occasion.

*I was reluctant to give bourbon a gender but the flow of the writing required it. So I went with the masculine but I think that an equally strong case can be made for going with the feminine. You can hear more about my trip to OKBB on last week’s episode of The Charlie Tonic Hour.

Molly Wellmann’s Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar opening May 5!

(Credit for picture to Matthew Robinson)

For those bourbon enthusiasts out there: Molly Wellmann’s new venture, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, will be opening on Mainstrasse in Covington (629 Main Street) on May 5 at 4:00PM! Here’s to another success, this one on the other side of the river, by Cincinnati’s best (and most lovable) bartender! – Source (Facebook)

Here’s more details concerning the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar from Polly Campbell at the Enquirer:

(This post will be updated when more information is available.)

A Different Viewpoint of the Moerlein Lager House

[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.

Bell’s Brewery Black Note Tapping at Northside Tavern

(@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.)