Live at Braxton Brewing for Winter Block Party and Dark Charge Bottle Release

Jesse and Tom headed down to Braxton Brewing Company to talk to with Braxton’s Jonathan Gandolf, in charge of marketing and running point on the Dark Charge bottle release and Winter Block Party event. We also talked about what they’ve learned about having bottle releases. Plus at the end, we talk about the big expansions Braxton has made recently including Braxton Labs and expansions into Dayton, Lexington, Louisville, and now Nashville. Plus even more surprises with a collaboration with Sweetwater and a new can for Deadblow with Starter Coffee.

Check out the video for all this and more!

Quaff Bros. to merge with Quaff On Brewing for new barrel-aging project

In an almost-destined move, Quaff Bros. — the Cincinnati-based barrel-aged beer collaboration project — will merge with Quaff On Brewing in Indiana.

Brew Minds talked with Quaff Bros. founder/owner Danny Gold about the change on Thursday and what it means for his current projects. [For a little history, check out the first article Brew Minds wrote about Quaff Bros. here.]

RELATED: Official press release from Quaff On Brewing

“When I left The Party Source, it was on good terms and they gave me the rights to Quaff Bros.,” Gold said. “Given that Quaff On is so close in name, and that I came to work with them, it just seemed like a good fit.”

“Quaff Bros. has always stood for a couple things — it stands for collaboration and friendship, and pushing the envelope while creating the highest quality liquid we can,” — Danny Gold

The creator of storied barrel-aged collaborations such as Blue Melvin went on to say that it works from a business perspective too. Quaff On was looking to start a barrel-aging project as it opens a new, larger facility in Southern Indiana.

“We thought there was a lot of potential,” Gold said. “I’ll still be based in Cincinnati, but this will eventually cut down the 1,000 weekly miles of travel I do as we expand into Greater Cincinnati someday.”

The new facility outside Bloomington houses a brewery, barrel program, distillery, and restaurants. From a logistical standpoint, it means that Gold will be able to set a timeline on collaborations and more efficient source barrels and work with breweries besides Quaff On.

“Quaff Bros. has always stood for a couple things — it stands for collaboration and friendship, and pushing the envelope while creating the highest quality liquid we can,” Gold said. “By having a headquarters, it will allow me more time to control the timeline and production schedule. I can have my friends such as Fifty West Brewing, West Sixth Brewing, or Jackie O’s come out to my shop and we don’t have to wait on anything.”

He added, “The new facility will allow me to get the barrels as soon as the distillery is done with them and fill them with beer. Quaff Bros. originally begin as a collaboration and we have no plans to change that. If anything, it opens up more avenues.”

“This will allow us to restart Quaff Bros. with a clean slate so we can start fresh,” — Danny Gold

As for the current projects, Gold said he only has a few beers resting in barrels currently. Those projects haven’t maturated yet but information should be released once the beer is ready.

“This will allow us to restart Quaff Bros. with a clean slate so we can start fresh,” Gold said.

As for the awaited projects with the now-shuttered Blank Slate Brewing, Gold said they are deliberating what to do with those beers.

“Obviously we don’t want to have to dump the beer, but we have to figure out the smartest move for everyone. Those beers also include Against the Grain Brewing, so we have to figure out the logistics of making it work,” Gold said.

As for the merger, it will take effect almost immediately and will be “official” as of Saturday.

The first big release for the combined project will come at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers, (FoBAB,) in Chicago this year. Gold said they are submitting a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout called “Fools Russian” — get it? Fools-Rush-In — as well as variants. He said the beers should be released to the public sometime after the contest.

The change in business structure will also mean a change online, so fans should watch Quaff Bros. Facebook page and other social media for the latest updates.

Book Review: 'Proof: The Science of Booze' by Adam Rogers

In my continued quest to read everything about booze I just finished reading Adam Rogers’ Proof: The Science of Booze and damn do I love this book!

Proof The Science of Booze

Continue reading “Book Review: 'Proof: The Science of Booze' by Adam Rogers”

Book Review: Tasting Whiskey

Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits is a new book from longtime whiskey and beer writer Lew Bryson.  I follow Lew on Twitter and saw him pitch the book there. After deciding Buy Tasting Whiskey on Amazonto spend 2015 learning about whiskey and bourbon I saw Amazon’s description of the book, below, and decided this was a great place to start learning.

Whiskey lovers will devour this fresh and comprehensive guide to everything there is to know about the world’s whiskeys, including Scotch and bourbon as well as Tennessee, Irish, Japanese, and Canadian whiskeys. You’ll learn about the types of whiskey and the distilling traditions of the regions where they are made, how to serve and taste whiskeys to best appreciate and savor them, how to collect and age whiskey for great results, and much more. There are even recipes for cocktails and suggestions for food pairings. This is the guide no whiskey drinker will want to be without!

Continue reading “Book Review: Tasting Whiskey”

Bourbon Classic Returns to Louisville: You Need to Be There

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Many times I have praised Cincinnati’s proximity to the heart of bourbon country, but never was I more thankful for it than last February when I was able to attend the Bourbon Classic. I learned more about bourbon history and the current  bourbon industry in that weekend than I had in the previous year. This year it is back and looks to be just as good as 2014. Once again Fred Minnick is MCing the Bourbon Masters Session and this year Jim Rutledge of Four Roses will be joining the line up. He was the one distiller I was very disappointed not to meet last year. The Bourbon University has some great classes lined up, including a very timely class on bourbon collecting. Here is the press release but for now all you need to know is this is the best bourbon opportunity you have within such an easy drive. And keep in mind that WhiskeyFest in Chicago is already sold out. Hope to see you there.

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Bourbon & Culinary Weekend Returns to Louisville in February 

Third Annual Bourbon Classic Focuses on World-Class Culinary and Bartending Talent

Louisville, KY (February 2, 2015) Bourbon Classic 2015, the third annual Bourbon-culinary experience will take place in Louisville at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts next weekend, February 20 – 21, 2015. The event attracts Bourbon enthusiasts and culinary adventurists from across the country. A complete cross-section of the Bourbon industry will attend: Bourbon distilling legends, writers, chefs, bartenders, connoisseurs, and casual enthusiasts.

This year, Bourbon Classic will kick off with an exclusive pre-event reception, Bourbon Classic Taste, on Tuesday, February 17th. Chef Ed Lee and Julian Van Winkle will participate in this progressive tasting experience hosted at Copper & Kings American Brandy. Kentucky Proud-inspired food, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Four Roses Bourbon, Copper & Kings Brandy, Copper & Kings Absinthe, Van Winkle Special Reserve (12 year), Van Winkle Family Reserve (15 year), Van Winkle Family Reserve (20 year), and 1,000 Stories Barrel Finished Wine will be available. A limited number of tickets to this Kentucky Proud supported reception are available to the general public.

Friday, February 20 – Bourbon Classic Cocktail Challenge:

  • MC Jared Schubert, winner of the 2013 Bourbon Classic Cocktail Challenge, will guide attendees through the event featuring contemporary and classic cocktails and small plates prepared by teams of chefs and master bartenders representing distilleries. Cocktails and pairings will be judged by an expert panel including Hannah Hayes, Southern Living, Joy Perrine, Jack’s Lounge, and Chef Albert Schmid, Sullivan University. Participating teams are as follows:

    Barton 1792 Distillery
    Beth Burrows, Down One Bourbon Bar
    Chef Newman Miller, Harrison-Smith House, Bardstown, KY

    BlantonBourbon
    Marie Zahn, St. Charles Exchange
    Chef Levon Wallace, Proof on Main

    Buffalo Trace Distillery
    Jason Cobbler, Harvest
    Chef Coby Ming, Harvest

    Four Roses Bourbon
    Isaac Fox, Volare
    Chef Josh Moore, Volare

    Heaven Hill Distilleries
    Gary Gruver, Southern Wine & Spirits
    Chef David Danielson, Churchill Downs

    Jim Beam
    Sean Thibodeaux, 8-UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen
    Chef Todd Rushing, 8-UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen

    Michters
    Hannah Kandle, Old Seelbach Bar
    Chef Patrick Roney, Seelbach Oakroom

    Wild Turkey
    Amber Yates, Feast
    Chef Ryan Rogers, Feast

    Woodford Reserve
    Jacquelyn Zykan, Doc Crow’s
    Chef Jonathan Schwartz, Doc Crow’s

Saturday, February 21 – Ultimate Bourbon Experience:

  • Bourbon Masters Session
    Mark Coffman, Alltech Brewing & Distilling Company
    Wes Henderson, Angel’s Envy
    Ken Pierce, Barton 1792 Distillery
    Fred Noe, Jim Beam
    Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Distillery
    Jim Rutledge, Four Roses Bourbon
    Denny Potter, Heaven Hill Distilleries
    Nicole Austin, King’s County Distillery
    Willie Pratt, Michter’s
    Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey

    Author Fred Minnick will MC this session sponsored by the Urban Bourbon Trail.

  • The Bourbon Classic University, exploring focused learning sessions like Country Ham & Bourbon, The Life of the Barrel, Essential Bourbon Cocktails Past and Present, Straight Up Storytellers, Bourbon & Cheese Pairings, The Art of the Glass, Entertaining with North American Whiskey, Bourbon Collections, Bourbon Flavor Profiles, and Bourbon Icons. Sets of five sessions will be offered and attendees will have the opportunity to choose which sessions to join.
  • The Bourbon Marketplace offering exhibits and displays featuring Bourbon tastings, book signings, food tastings, and culinary and Bourbon-related products.
  • Bourbon Culinary Tastings prepared by Coby Ming, Harvest, Sean Ward, Ward 426, Levon Wallace, Proof on Main, and Ouita Michel, Holly Hill Inn.

Some of the bourbon industry’s most well-known brands are sponsoring the event. The Urban Bourbon Trail is the welcoming sponsor of this event joining Buffalo Trace DistilleryFour Roses BourbonMichters, Alltech Brewing & Distilling Co., Barton 1792 Distillery, Bulleit Bourbon, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, 1,000 Stories Barrel Finished Wine, BlantonBourbon, Wild Turkey, Bingham Greenbaum Doll, LLP, Old Forester, Angels Envy, Corsair Distillery, Jeffersons, Kings County Distillery, Copper & Kings American Brandy, and Willett Distillery. Media sponsors include The Bourbon Reviewand Louisville Public Media.

The Bourbon Classic was co-founded by Tony Butler of FSA Management Group, an established event planning and marketing firm based in Louisville, and Justin Thompson, Seth Thompson, and Bob Eidson of The Bourbon Review.

Ticket sales for the event are available by calling the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts at 502-584-7777. Details are available at bourbonclassic.com.

Horse and Barrel Bourbon Bar

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I have to admit that I was a little skeptical when I heard that there was another bourbon bar opening in Cincinnati. Most bars in the area already have a pretty good selection and I have been really hoping for someone to go in a crazy new direction and open a tiki bar. But when the Horse and Barrel opened on Walnut Street downtown, I immediately heard good things about it from my whiskey friends. Then, when I met one of the owners and much of the staff at the January meeting of the Greater Cincinnati Bourbon Society and learned more about the history behind the bar, I knew it was worth checking out.

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The owners of the Horse and Barrel, who also own Nicholson’s Scottish Pub, have deep ties to Kentucky and used to own a bourbon bar called Horse and Barrel attached to their Lexington deSha’s restaurant before it closed. So this isn’t so much a brand new bourbon bar hopping on the whiskey bandwagon but more of an established bar opening for the first time in Cincinnati. I had such a great time talking to the group at the meeting that Charlie and I went down to check them out last Sunday at the opening party.

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The presentation and selection of the bourbon was all very well done. Unfortunately after being open for only a few weeks most of the rare bottles they had started with were already sold out, but they still had a great mix of old favorites and lesser known whiskeys. The cocktails were mixed perfectly and they had a nice selection of classic and creative cocktails on the menu. I thought the beer selection was also great compared to most whiskey bars I have been to. The food was outstanding, and something that many bars downtown are missing. I am craving some more of the blue cheese dip with fried bread even as I write this. And I do think that having the Horse and Barrel, a bar known for its bourbon, attached to Nicholson’s, a bar known for its scotch, is a great combination for one-stop whiskey drinking in Cincinnati.

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It is still hard to compete with bourbon bars in Kentucky based on selection but until Ohio changes its liquor laws it is nice to have a good bourbon bar downtown, especially for people who are visiting the area and want to try some local flavor without venturing over the river. Now if someone can just get on opening that tiki bar for me I will be really happy.

 

 

 

Local Choice Bourbon Review

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With the start of December we are officially well into my favorite season of all: bourbon season. Bourbon lovers continue to be spoilt for choice when it comes to trying new bourbons. Every time I go to the liquor store there is a new and exciting bottle to try, and those are just a smattering of the new bottles hitting the market very week. It is getting to be a real challenge trying to keep up with it all, but still I soldier on somehow. Recently Local Choice Spirits out of South Carolina were kind enough to send me their bourbon and their black cherry flavored bourbon to try for Queen City Drinks.

Local Choice Spirits is based out of Daniel Island, South Carolina and was founded in 2011 and operates under a “pour it forward” philosophy. In addition to striving to produce quality spirits they also donate $2 per bottle sold back to the local community where it is sold. Also, they do produce their whiskey, which is not always the case with a craft distillery. Without getting too much into the business behind craft whiskey, a micro-producer will have a choice between sourcing their whiskey from a larger producer and selling it as their own while getting started or else produce small batches right away and sell a younger whiskey. Making your own whiskey is both more difficult and more expensive than sourcing, and you have the constant pressure to get your product to the shelves quickly to make back that cost. Some micro-producers try to do with with smaller barrels or finding ways to agitate barrels for quicker aging. Local Choice apparently uses a trademarked system called TerrePURE® which uses sound waves to “rapidly transforms ordinary distilled spirits into mature tasting, incredibly smooth, ultra-premium spirits in a quick and efficient manner.” That is a pretty bold claim right there, so let’s see how the bourbon holds up.

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Local Choice Bourbon

The bourbon has a fresh and citrus nose, with little of the carmel sweetness that is often associated with bourbon. The initial taste has a subtle sweetness. Mostly I pick up corn, pine, and a hint of pepper. It is a very fresh taste but not quite enough flavor. It is a young bourbon but I will give it to them that it is very smooth for the age. The burn is short and flares in the nostrils. There is a bit of an after taste but it doesn’t linger. Over all it is far from the worst young, micro-produced bourbon I have had. And it is much better than Cleveland but that is a very low bar to clear. This tastes like it is a solid distillate that could be pretty decent if it ever gets a chance to age properly, so that means that there is a good chance that this TerrePure processes made a positive difference. There is no way that a bourbon lover would mistake this for a matured bourbon though. I added a splash of water and it helped bring out a bit more of the sweetness and actually made it a bit more complex. I tried it with ice as well but that stripped way too much of the taste away. Overall I can honestly say that I liked this bourbon more than I thought I would given their high-tech fast aging technique but I still think the bottom line comes back to that old saying about how you can’t rush Mother Nature.

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Local Choice Black Cherry Flavored Bourbon

The cherry is unmistakable in the nose but it doesn’t smell like it is blending quiet right with the whiskey smell. The first sip is actually very pleasant. This tastes like it has a gentle infusion of cherry rather than an artificial flavor that was added. Unfortunately after the first sip comes a sour aftertaste that lingers on the tongue most unpleasantly and this disqualifies it from sipping for me. Mixing it with some ginger beer helped immensely but I could still taste the aftertaste. Not sure if that was from my earlier sipping or if the ginger beer just failed to completely cover the taste. Very disappointing because I actually enjoy a good infused bourbon when it is done well.

Right now these spirits are only available in South and North Carolina but they are looking to expand into Kentucky soon so keep an eye out. I would love to learn more about this TerrePURE process and to try some of their vodka that they make with it. Based on the bourbon, I would guess that it would have an even more dramatic effect on an un-aged product and is probably better suited to vodkas and gins than to whiskey.