Christian Moerlein's Third Wave: More That Just A New IPA

Christian Moerlein is getting ready to debut cans of their new Third Wave IPA and Purity Pils. These cans feature new branding designs for Moerlein in new package formats. But this is more than just a new IPA and a new look for Moerlein. I recently sat down with Marketing & Events Director Jesse Folk and Vice-President of Brewing Operations Eric Baumann to discuss these changes.

Third Wave IPA

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Dark Lagers: For the Love of Lagers! Part 2

With Bockfest happening this weekend, a celebration of amber and dark lagers, it’s time for me to finish this post that I’ve stewed on for a few months now. Last June I wrote a plea for fellow craft beer enthusiasts to embrace the Love of Lagers. I realized then that far too many folks think lager = pilsner = Budweiser and nothing else.

Lager just means that the wort ferments into beer with a yeast that prefers cooler temperatures around 35° – 40° Fahrenheit over weeks or months. To contrast that, ale yeast likes to ferment around 64 – 70 degrees for a week or two. On top of that, there seems to be a pervasive idea that lagers have to be a pale yellow color. Today we’re going to dispel the notion that all lager style beers are flavorless yellow fizz by highlighting a few different darker lager styles.

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Book Review: Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski

I always ask for a deluge of books for Christmas. I love giving and receiving books for birthdays or the holidays. They’re little bundles of knowledge that enrich the life of the giftee. Which is to say get ready for a couple book reviews over the next few weeks. Farmhouse Ales and Wild Brews have both been on my must read homebrewing list for a few years so I was stoked to receive them both as gifts. Farmhouse Ales ended up on the top of the pile of books so we’re tackling that first, look forward to Wild Brews soon!

Farmhouse Ales

To start us off here’s the publisher’s description:

Farmhouse Ales defines the results of years of evolution, refinement, of simple rustic ales in modern and historical terms, while guiding today’s brewers toward credible—and enjoyable—reproductions of these old world classics.

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Breaking News: Richard Dubé leaving Christian Moerlein

Richard Dubé, the Vice President of Brewing Operations at Christian Moerlein, is leaving the company effective immediately.

Richard came to Christian Moerlein with a very extensive brewing background including working at Labatt and Boston Beer Company as well as teaching at the prestigious Siebel Institute of Technology, one of the best brewing schools in the country.

Richard began working with Moerlein in 2012 opening and brewing at the Moerlein Lager House. He tweaked all the recipes that Moerlein had been contract brewing and bottling and in my opinion he drastically improved them. Initially these improved recipes were only available on premise at the Lager House on the Banks.

Just over a year after his arrival Christian Moerlein ended their contract brewing and opened their own production brewery in Over-the-Rhine. Once Moerlein was making all of its own beer Richard’s recipes became the base recipes for all Moerlein beers. Be it bottle or draft, the Lager House or La Rosa’s, if you were drinking Moerlein beer after March 2013 you were drinking a recipe from Richard. After reinvigorating the brand and helping launch the Moerlein production brewery in OTR he was promoted to the Vice President of Brewing Operations for all of Christian Moerlein.

This is obviously a huge loss for Christian Moerlein but I want all our readers to rest assured that Richard has hand-picked a great team of brewers at Christian Moerlein. I have faith that this team will continue to execute Richard’s recipes in excellent fashion.

As far as what the future holds for Richard himself, we don’t yet know. I got the impression that he is going to relax and spend some time with his family and perhaps run the Grand Canyon again (yeah… he’s in his 50s and ran down and backup the Grand Canyon. Just thinking of that makes me tired). What I do know is that in the past he has said his wife is not willing to move again. What does that mean? It mean’s Cincinnati has a fantastic brewer who isn’t going anywhere and won’t be able to sit still for long. No one knows what Richard is going to do but whatever he does will be in Cincinnati and will be delicious.

This is coming on the day of the celebration for the rebirthed Christian Moerlein’s 10th anniversary (for more on the full history of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company start my series here). Tonight at the production brewery in OTR they are having a celebration including some of their 10/161. 10/161 is the Christkindl that’s been bourbon barrel aged in Woodford Reserve barrels and is, in my opinion, very delicious.

Updated: Late last night I reached out to Moerlein CEO Greg Hardman and received his response this morning:

We appreciate the contribution Richard Dube made in assembling our team of talented brewers as we have a strong team of innovators that will continue to drive our commitment to craft brewing. As we have enjoyed tremendous growth at our Over-the-Rhine brewery in a short period of time, Christian Moerlein will continue to strengthen its position in the craft beer category. We do wish Richard the best of luck as he pursues other endeavors and thank our team for their continued creativity and commitment to our beers and our brand.

Beer Review: Moerlein Northern Liberties IPA

One of the Christian Moerlein sales reps offered me samples of a few of their beers that have gone under recent recipe changes. I then decided to take these reviews as an opportunity to try to tell the story of Moerlein and help everyone know the company a little better. To tell the whole story I’ve split it up over three posts, 1 for each beer and each period of Moerlein’s history.

  1. Barbarossa and the pre-prohibition Christian Moerlein
  2. OTR Ale and the rebirth of a brand
  3. Northern Liberties and the reformulation of Moerlein

After Hudepohl brought Christian Moerlein back as a brand in the 80s the situation stayed much the same for Moerlein. That was until 2004 when Greg Hardman stepped in and began buying up as many of the Cincinnati brands he could get his hands on and brought Christian Moerlein back in full effect. The soul of newest rendition of Christian Moerlein was very much a Cincinnati soul. They sponsored events around town, named their beers and focused their artwork on Cincinnati, and of course their main sales market was Cincinnati.

Despite all that Cincinnati soul the liquid in the bottle was not from Cincinnati, or even Ohio. It was being contract brewed out of a brewery in Pennsylvania. Contract brewing is not a dirty word like some think. It’s how Sam Adams got started and how Quaff Bros continues to exist! It was, at the time, the only option available to Moerlein and they always had the goal of bringing everything back to Cincinnati.

That goal was partly achieved in 2011 when Moerlein began making an extremely limited amount of beer in Over-The-Rhine, in fact it was just 1 beer., Arnold’s 1861 Porter (only available at Arnold’s). More steps were taken with the opening of the Moerlein Lager House on the banks (if you go get the pretzels!) but any beer bought in a bottle at Kroger was still from out-of-state.

Finally Greg Hardman’s dream was realized in the spring of 2013 with the opening of a full-scale 15,000 barrel plant in the historic Kauffman Brewery in Over-The-Rhine. As of today all Moerlein beer, bottle or draft, is brewed in Cincinnati. But there was still 1 big change, a head brewer. Richard Dubé was the head brewer at The Lager House from the day it opened and began to tweak the Moerlein recipes that were served there. With the opening of the production brewery in OTR he became the Vice President of Brewing Operations and those recipe changes got put into bottles of Christian Moerlein all across the tri-state area. That’s the Moerlein story up until now, where it goes from here time will tell but until then let’s drink beer!

Now I’ll openly admit that I disliked Moerlein beers, they didn’t taste good and weren’t “Cincinnati beers” to me since they were made out of state. I specifically did not like Northern Liberties. It just wasn’t that good, especially compared to the amazing work being done with IPAs across the country. Luckily Richard’s recipe changes have made a world of difference and when we did the King of the Cincinnati IPA competition Northern Liberties came in at the top spot of the 3 packaged IPAs we sampled (Mt. Carmel IPA and MadTree Psychopathy being the other two). Here’s what Moerlein says about this brew:

You’ve made a discovery–a well-hopped IPA inspired by the revolutionaries of Cincinnati’s Northern Liberties. North of Liberty St. and beyond the reach of municipal law, the area was known for tolerance of beliefs and behaviors, which were shunned in Cincinnati proper prior to 1849. Moerlein Northern Liberties draws inspiration from these free-spirits with this hoppy, well-balanced, copper IPA in pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Hoppiness.

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Beer Review: Moerlein OTR Ale and the rebirth of a brand

One of the Christian Moerlein sales reps offered me samples of a few of their beers that have gone under recent recipe changes. I then decided to take these reviews as an opportunity to try to tell the story of Moerlein and help everyone know the company a little better. To tell the whole story I’ve split it up over three posts, 1 for each beer and each period of Moerlein’s history.

  1. Barbarossa and the pre-prohibition Christian Moerlein
  2. OTR Ale and the rebirth of a brand
  3. Northern Liberties and the reformulation of Moerlein

When we last left the Christian Moerlein company they had closed down due to prohibition. With the return of legal drinking in America the company did not return. Other Cincinnati breweries including Hudepohl, however, did. By 1981 Hudepohl had bought the rights to the Moerlein name and released the Christian Moerlein Select Lager.

This was exciting both for the return of a Cincinnati brand but also because it was the first American brewed beer to fully confirm to the reinheitsgebot. The reinheitsgebot is a 1518 Bavarian purity law limiting beer ingredients to water, hops, and malt. Yeast was not included since it had not yet been discovered, you can go learn more on the reinheitsbegot at my post from last year.

That remained the state of Christian Moerlein for almost 20 years, we’ll hit the next stage in its history later this week. For now, onto the OTR Ale!

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Beer Review: Moerlein Barbarossa and Pre-Prohibition history

One of the Christian Moerlein sales reps offered me samples of a few of their beers that have gone under recent recipe changes. I then decided to take these reviews as an opportunity to try and tell the story of Moerlein and help everyone know the company a little better. To tell the whole story I’ve split it up over three posts, 1 for each beer and each period of Moerlein’s history.

  1. Barbarossa and the pre-prohibition Christian Moerlein
  2. OTR Ale and the rebirth of a brand
  3. Northern Liberties and the reformulation of Moerlein

The original Christian Moerlein Brewing Company was founded by a Bavarian named Christian Moerlein. Christian was born in 1814 and learned blacksmithing and brewing in Bavaria then immigrated to the United States in 1841 and eventually settled in Over-The-Rhine and started his brewery. The company went on to become the biggest brewery in Cincinnati at the time as well as one of the top 5 in the entire country.

Christian died in 1897 and his company was not long to follow suit due to prohibition. Like many breweries in Cincinnati and across the country Christian Moerlein Brewing Company was unable to continue on and the brewery and brand died with the birth of prohibition. Luckily for us that was not the end of this brands story.

One of the beers brewed by Christian Moerlein (the guy) was his Barbarossa. This recipe has been tweaked since his time but the brand and idea remain the same. Here is what the current Moerlein company has to say on this beer:

The Barbarossa is slow-aged with a reddish-brown color and a malt aroma derived from Munich dark malt. Named in honor of Frederick I, emperor of Germany, known as Barbarossa.

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