I got a special invitation to join MadTree in a session ale tasting and hear a special announcement. What follows part 1 of 2, with part 2 coming at a soon but as of yet undetermined time.
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.
- Barbarossa and the pre-prohibition Christian Moerlein
- OTR Ale and the rebirth of a brand
- 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.
If you haven’t heard then I’m happy to tell you that New Belgium Brewing Company will be coming to Ohio on December 16th, just over a month away. In perpetration for there roll out they kindly hooked me up with some samples. We took a taste of Accumulation last week when the first snows fell and today I’m trying their Ranger IPA. I first reviewed New Belgium’s Ranger IPA last year after bringing a bottle back from North Carolina.
Bring out the hops! This clear amber beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. Brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize the hop flavor from start to finish, Ranger is a sessionable splendor for all you hopinistas. Thank your Beer Ranger!
There is a growing trend among craft brewers to move their IPAs away from the traditional 3-C hops (Cascade, Centennial, and Columbus) and on to new and exciting hop varieties that have only been developed in the past 10 – 20 years. I mentioned this last week in my review of Clown Shoes Galactica which predominantly features the galaxy hop. Green Flash has decided to feature the Green Bullet hop in the aptly named Green Bullet beer. I’ll let Green Flash’s blurb about this beer take it from here.
Named after a super-robust New Zealand hop, Green Bullet™ is a well-balanced Triple IPA being bottled today for the 1st time ever. Brewmaster, Chuck Silva initially released this Pacific Gem to celebrate the Green Flash 9th Anniversary in 2011, and it was an immediate hit! Now, this cult favorite will be available from coast-to-coast as a seasonal release from September through December 2013. Be on the lookout for this high-caliber addition to our arsenal in 4-packs, 22oz bottles and on draft, because you do not want to miss the release.
Ohio is receiving lots of distribution from new (to us) breweries at the end of 2013. New Belgium, Deschutes, and others will be here before the end of the year but it’s getting kicked off with Clown Shoes. Clown Shoes is a contract brewing operation out of Massachusetts that’s known for somewhat insensitive beer names like Tramp Stamp, Lubrication, and Brown Angel. Controversial names haven’t stopped them from making big and interesting beers for a few years distributing them to a variety of states before finally coming here.
Clown Shoes is initially gracing Ohio with 6 different brews: Galactica and Hoppy Feet are here in 4-packs of 12 oz bottles, Chocolate Sombrero, Genghis Pecan, and Muffin Top are all in 22 oz bombers, finally Tramp Stamp is draft only, at least for now. I did a review of a bottle of Tramp Stamp that I brought back from Georgia last year, you can read that here. I also had a bottle of their Chocolate Sombrero which, in short, is a spicy chocolate imperial stout starting out with some heat that slowly builds and adds in rich chocolate as the glass warms. I have yet to have Genghis Pecan or Muffin Top and my thoughts on Galactica and Hoppy Feet are just below!
A few days ago I did a Quick Sip review of Anchor Liberty Ale over on the Queen City Drinks Facebook page. If you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet now is a great time to do it so you can keep up to date with the quick sip reviews. I enjoyed this beer so much that I felt compelled to give it a full blog post. But it isn’t just a tasty beverage, it has a significant history to it!
I’m coupling these two reviews into one post because Doom is just Double Trouble… after spending 4 months in bourbon barrels. Double Trouble is Founders standard double IPA that is released in mass during May and June while Doom is only available now… if you can still find it. I was lucky enough to score a bottle before everywhere in town sold out thanks to the assistance of my sister-in-law. Sadly I don’t think you’ll be able to find anymore Doom around town but you can
look this up again next year and find Double Trouble wherever better brews whenever the weather is cold.
Beer: Double Trouble
Style: Double IPA
Absolutely beautiful rich golden color with a snow white head topping.
Pungent aromas packing citrus into every nose hair.
Woah, super bitter kick in the palate. After that initial wave of bitterness comes grapefruit hops and a slight malty body that doesn’t come close to balancing things out.
Medium body with loads of carbonation, a slight bit of alcohol, and a lingering slickness.
This definitely lives up to the name Double Trouble and the style double IPA. With all the IPAs, and various sub-categories of IPA, out there this doesn’t come close to being one of my favorites. But it is an enjoyable brew, just not one I’d be in any kind of rush to have again. If you go crazy for citrus hop bitterness then you’ll go crazy for this. Love the label on this brew but it kinda blows that there’s no back story to it on the bottle. It just has the name, style, IBU, and ABV, oh and of course the gov’t warning.
Style: Barrel Aged Double IPA
Comes out a slightly deeper golden hue then Double Trouble did with a LOT more of that same fizzy pure-white head.
Very slight bitter aroma mixes with bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and some citrus hops.
Surprisingly hoppy taste, I expected the citrus and bitterness to be much more subdued after 4 months in a barrel. All that mixes delicately with sweet caramel and vanilla backed by a solid amount of bourbon. Resulting in a very balanced flavor.
Medium body and mild carbonation come together for a mediocre mouth feel experience.
I have a feeling that many people will find this to be a great beer I, however, do not. It’s a good beer, and an interesting beer, but we don’t need to bourbon barrel age EVERYTHING just as we don’t need to hop the crap out of everything. Also $15 for a 750 ml is $5 more then I’m really interesting in paying for something less then spectacular. Call me cheap if you want but the value is rarely there at that price. All that said I’d still encourage folks to try this once, just get a bottle to split with 2 or 3 friends
next year or this year if you get lucky!
Edit: Turns out I misunderstood the rarity of Doom. As part of Founder’s Backstage Series we may never see this beer again. Sorry if I got people excited. I know O’Bryan’s in Loveland had some as of Saturday (4/27) and folks are trading them online, so if you’re really interested don’t give up hope!