Book Review: Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was King

My love of trying beer long ago turned into a curiosity Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was Kingabout the history of beer and the history of styles. This curiosity has already resulted in the posts about Trappists and the Reinheitsgebot. Today I finished reading the excellent book Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was King by Michael Morgan.

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Beer Review: 3 Floyds Brian Boru

When I posted my review of Sam Adam’s Irish Red and noted how generic it was for the style a friend of mine suggested I try 3 Floyds Brian Boru, saying it would “give me a whole new Irish Red perspective.” That it certainly did. Brian Boru is a far cry from Sam’s Irish Red and is unlike any other Irish Red, or any other beer, I’ve encountered before. Read on after the break to find out why….

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2012 Van Winkle Bourbon Release at The Party Source

I just got an an email from The Party Source announcing the release of some of the most highly sought-after bourbons in the world, the 2012 Van Winkle bourbons. The email and all details follow below in its entirety.

Dear Van Winkle Bourbon Fans,

The Party Source is pleased to announce that the full line of Van Winkle whiskeys will go on sale Friday, May 11th, at 8:00 a.m. The whiskeys include:

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old 90 Proof
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old 107 Proof
Van Winkle Family Reserve 12 Year Old Lot B
Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old 107 Proof
Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old
Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye

To distribute these coveted whiskeys to as many Bourbon lovers as possible, sales of the Van Winkle collection are limited as follows:

You may purchase one bottle of any Van Winkle whiskey. That can be any Van Winkle you choose, but only one bottle per person/household. 

Sales of Van Winkle whiskeys are first come, first serve. There is no waiting list, and The Party Source cannot hold or sell bottles in advance, or take sales by phone

A Short Rant On Growlers

Growlers have become pretty commonplace in the craft beer world in the last year or two.  They have their disadvantages (you have to drink the beer within a day or two upon opening the growler), but they give customers access to many more offerings, and give local, small breweries a chance to get beer in front of customers without the hassles of label approvals and bottling lines.  They are also environmentally friendly.

However, it seems as if many local places are missing the point.  Growlers are supposed to be cheaper than bottles.  Always.  No exceptions.   There are no label approval fees, no packaging materials, and no bottling lines.  Kegs are also cheaper for a bottle shop to buy than individual cases.  Yet there are several stores in town that price growlers of a beer higher than the same beer in the bottles.  In some cases, this is true when both are in stock!!!

We can change this by not supporting silly pricing and gently asking stores to adjust to a reasonable dollar amount.  Ready, set,  go!

Rant over.

Steve

Bourbon Trail Roadmap

Similar to Josh, I have recently become more intrigued by bourbon.  When the chance came up to participate in the bourbon trail with some friends, I jumped at the opportunity.  Below is a rundown of the tour we took.  I recommend a similar path to anyone thinking about the bourbon trail themselves

Friday – Lexington, KY

Stop 1 – Four Roses

It was a good thing Four Roses was the first stop on the tour because we would have been extremely underwhelmed had it in been at any other time.  The tour consisted of a 15 minute video, and then the same information on the video was regurgitated on a 15 minute walking tour of the facility.  The facility was by far the smallest of the distilleries, and it was also shut down for the summer (it does not produce bourbon in the summer because of the heat).

On a brighter note, the bourbon here was phenomenal.  There were 3 tastings offered: the standard yellow label, the small batch, and the single barrel.  The small batch at Four Roses may have been my favorite bourbon of the trip.

Best Part Of Four Roses

Stop 2 – Wild Turkey

We didn’t actually take a tour here, but from the looks of the gift shop and building, I don’t regret this.  The set up was by far the most “gimmicky” of all the stops.  I’d love to hear someone who has been on the tour chime in, but it seemed like a good place to get a quick sample and move on.

Stop 3 – Woodford Reserve

One of the funniest things I noticed on the tour is that the customers at each distillery matched the brands persona to a T.  This was particularly the case with Woodford Reserve, where the average patron had on khaki pants and a sport coat.

The grounds that Woodford is on are absolutely gorgeous.  The tour was also a very good and comprehensive one.  You got to see the end to end bourbon making process from start to finish, as well as see a barrel aging room and the bottling line.  This was the only tour that charged for attending ($5), and the sampling was the most underwhelming of any distillery – a single serving of Woodford Reserve served in a plastic shot glass.  Our tour guide was also a bit of a stick in the mud, and I could see the tour being even better with a different guide.

Don’t Forget Your Khakis and Polos When Visiting Woodford!

Stop 4 – Buffalo Trace

We did the “Hard Hat Tour” at Buffalo Trace which requires advance reservations.  If you do the bourbon trail, this is the number one must stop on the trail and I cannot recommend this tour enough.  It was the most comprehensive, real view of the distilleries we saw all weekend.  Plus, Buffalo Trace just looks like the type of place bourbon should be made at.  Many of the buildings are from the 1800’s, and the facility itself is a bit of a multi-story maze that seems like the bourbon equivalent of Willy Wonka’s factory.  We got to taste fermenting wort at several stages of fermentation, as well as uncut bourbon before it went into the barrel.  Our tour guide was also hilarious and a straight shooter, at one point telling us he didn’t understand all the fuss over Pappy Van Winkle and saying there was not a single experimental batch of Buffalo Trace that he cared for much.

The tasting here consisted of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, White Dog, Rain Vodka, and a bourbon cream.  I preferred the standard Buffalo Trace to Eagle Rare.  They also had tasting glasses signed by Pappy Van Winkle’s grandson who runs the company now, which was a cool surprise.  Also, technically Buffalo Trace is not part of the official “bourbon trail” anymore, but that is just semantics.

The Buffalo Trace Factory
Distillation Room At Buffalo Trace
The Experimental Batches Are Made On This Micro Still

Stop 1 – Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark was my second favorite tour of the weekend, but I must warn you that it is an absolute haul to get to.  It is at least 40 minutes further than any other distillery on the trail and a solid hour and a half from Louisville.  However, it is still worth seeing.  The tasting here consisted of Maker’s Mark and Maker’s Mark 46, and they probably have the coolest gift shop of any stop on the bourbon trail.  You can also dip your own bottle of Maker’s Mark in the gift shop.

Stick Your Finger In The Fermentation Tank!

Stop 2 – Heaven Hill

There are three tours offered here; a 30 minute one, a 60 minute one, and an hour and a half one.  They don’t distill the bourbon on site here, so the more comprehensive tours just consist of videos and seeing the aging rooms.  We opted for the 30 minute tour and were glad that we did.  This was probably the most boring stop on the trail, but the bourbon was fairly good.  We got to taste Evan Williams Single Barrel.

Stop 3 – Jim Beam

This was the 7th stop in two days, and since our entire group was hung over from the night before still, I was at the point of ready to be done by this stop.  However, the tour was surprisingly very cool, and we got to see their barrel house and learn about their blending program.  The tasting here was for Booker’s Single Barrel (135 proof) and Honey Tea Red Stag. The Booker’s was extremely tasty for how strong it was.

Ever been on the tour?  Let me know if you agree or disagree!  If you haven’t, it makes for a very fun weekend.  And make sure to check out the Holy Grale when in Louisville!

Steve