If you are unaware of March First Brewing, don’t be hard on yourself. They’ve been intentionally flying under the radar for a few weeks, slowly seeping out to bars and restaurants around town. But this is only the very beginning of perhaps the most ambitious Cincinnati brewery yet.
Both of those lists are now hilariously out of date. The best example of this is that Rhinegeist isn’t on either list as they weren’t open yet. I initially sat down to write an update for Ohio’s part in the Six-Pack Project but remembered the difficulty in narrowing an entire state down into six beers. So, I decided to settle down to just a Cincinnati Six-pack, plus a few from Dayton. I also reached out to Pat at Pat’s Pints in Columbus and Rick Armon at The Ohio Beer Blog in Akron/Cleveland. They’ll both be doing similar posts covering their parts of Ohio in the next few weeks.
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.
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.
Barbarossa and the pre-prohibition Christian Moerlein
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.
The temperature of your beer, when you drink it, can have a variety of effects on the entire experience. I’ve always heard that the ideal temperature is around 55°F, of course, this varies by style with lagers being better cooler and stouts being warmer. I found this breakdown of temps for styles on RateBeer, hit up that link for more style ranges:
Very cold (32-39°F): Any beer you don’t actually want to taste.
Cellar (54-57°F): IPA, Bitter, Old Ale, Saison, Lambic, Bock
Warm (57-61°F): Barley Wine, Belgian Quad, Imperial Stout, Imperial IPA
Knowing this, I decided to test out what changes you could expect at various temperatures. I went with Rivertown’s Helles because I’m very familiar with this beer and lagers don’t hide flaws as well as say an IPA. I then subjected the bottles to the situations below and took a temperature reading at the time of my first pour.
Standard serving style taking a nicely chilled beer from the fridge and pouring it into a room temperature glass. – Serving Temp 45°F – I figure this is the most common way people will drink most of their beer, and it tastes just like it should with no strange effects to the beer.
Got home from the store but forgot to put the beer in the fridge for a few hours and can’t wait? Here’s what to expect! – Serving temp 79°F – Brighter more golden color compared to the previous yellow. Much more grain in the aroma than before as well as increased fruity esters. Significantly more bitterness and almost no sweetness left, clove and banana fruit esters are coming out, and lots of grain. The body hasn’t changed much, but carbonation took a big leap up. Now to make it worse, so you don’t have to.
Hot Summer Day
The high today was 93°F, so I left this brew setting on the back patio. The potential for becoming light struck existed but luckily didn’t occur here. Perhaps you had a party yesterday, and this straggler got left out, and you got curious? – Serving Temp 99°F – Slightly darker color than the others with loads of head during the pour but it only lasted a few milliseconds at best. The room temp glass quickly became warm to the touch. Grainy flavor and I can feel some heat on my nose. Uck wow, that is putrid. Extremely bitter blowing away most IPAs, very highly carbonated, no real flavor other than the bitterness. Still, a super light body but there is a slick slightly burning mouth feel, and I’m throwing the rest of this out. Finally on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Pulled from the fridge and poured into a shaker pint fresh from the freezer to replicate all those beer commercials on TV – Serving temp 40°F – I’m a bit disappointed in the lack of change between this and standard refrigerator temp poured into a room temp glass. I thought the frozen glass would have more than a 5-degree impact. So it looks like TV commercials and bars aren’t all horrible for doing this as it makes a slight difference.
Update: Ryan from Mould’s Beer Blog reminded me that Randy Mosher wrote about this in his incredible book Tasting Beer (My review here, buy your copy here) this is the picture he used to display the temperature range for different styles.
Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. After hunting down and enjoying the lovely Founders KBS (my review) I decided to take an alternative direction and finally try the ultra-available Miller Lite. Honestly I have been meaning to get around to trying this since the beginning of the year, and my diet. I figured after having the super high calories KBS (at ~337) now was a great time to try Miller Lite (at ~110)… it was also $1 for 24 oz and I felt cheap.
Yuengling’s been distributing to Ohio for nearly a year now and I’ve had it multiple times in the past year. As well as a few before that when visiting Pennsylvania. Though in none of those situations have I given this beer a tremendous amount of though. Sure it’s a decent easy drinking beer, but can “America’s oldest brewery” deliver more?
Here comes the second of the four beers that OB hooked us up with. This is a pilsner, something I don’t think has every been reviewed on this blog before. They’ve gotten a bad rap in the past 15 or so years by us craft beer geeks. Some big brewers decided to brew the living crap out of this beer and to do so in the most cost effective way possible. That has turned out great for their bottom line, but less great for our taste buds. But that’s their fault (and our fault for buying it) it’s not the fault of the style of beer. This is a great, complex, and classic style of beer. One that I’m happy to give some more attention to here.
August is gone, September has begun and somehow it’s time for Oktoberfest already. Tonight I’m going to review two Marzen beers, Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein Fifth & Vine (brewed in PA) and Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest (brewed in Cincinnati). First off Marzen and Oktoberfest styles are the same thing, I plan to stick to using Marzen in general just to differentiate the style from the Oktoberfest events held around the world.