Quaff Bros. is a gypsy beer label from Cincinnati, and now across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. It’s been three years since my post helping you know your local brewery. There have been some changes at Quaff Bros that we’re going to get into, but rest assured, the future is bright and blue (melvin)!
I have been lucky enough to get some great coverage for Tonic Tours’ beer tours and bourbon tastings in the last year, including being featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer’s article on beer tours. After that story ran I was approached by a group called Circle Tail to ask if I would be interested in donating a bourbon tasting for the raffle of their Barks, Bourbon & Brews event that is being held next Saturday at New Riff Distillery. I have been asked to do things like this in the past but this is the first time I have agreed to donate something because this event and organization are really aligned with my business and with my values. Circle Tail is an organization that provides service and hearing dogs for people with disabilities at no cost to the individual and they also facilitate adoptions for non-service dogs. This mission really resonated with me because I am a special education teacher for my day job and my first job in high school was to volunteer for an animal shelter. Helping people with disabilities and homeless animals are two very important things in my life so I was thrilled to get involved. Not to mention that I will take any opportunity to hang out at a distillery.
Even if the cause doesn’t melt your heart this sounds like an incredible event. In addition to being able to tour the distillery and getting to meet some of the service dogs in training, there will be a “dinner by the bite” with an open bar and a raffle. The raffle has several fabulous prizes but of course the biggest one (in my opinion) would be the bourbon tasting offered by Tonic Tours. If you win this prize you just name the date and I will show up at your house with three great Bourbons, ready to educate you and 9 of your closest friends about bourbon. Tickets are still available so I very much hope to see you there next Saturday. Here is all of the information you need to get registered.
Barks, Bourbon, & Brews
Saturday, September 27 from 6 – 10 p.m.
New Riff Distillery & Event Center, Newport, KY
Share an exclusive evening with us at the newest stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, New Riff Distillery & Event Center. Enjoy distillery tours, dinner by the bite, and local bourbon and beer with a panoramic view of the city. Proceeds benefit the dogs of Circle Tail and the people whose lives they change. Space is limited – register today! Info & Tickets: www.circletail.org
About Circle Tail, Inc.: Circle Tail is a local nonprofit organization that provides free service and hearing dogs to people with disabilities, dog adoptions, educational programs, obedience training, behavior management and boarding services.
New Riff Distillery has only been open a few weeks but they are already putting that beautiful new event space to good use. Tuesday evening I was invited to attend the first of what looks to be a very interesting new series hosted there by New Riff’s Creative Director Amy Tobin. 15 Minutes of Fame brings together four notable Cincinnatians under a common theme and then gives them 15 minutes to talk about that theme. Last night’s word was STYLE and the guests all delivered that in spades.
The speakers were mixology expert Molly Wellmann, local tattoo artist Chris Sanders, Butcher Betties owner Alison Hines and fashion designer Amy Kirchen. It was a phenomenal group of speakers. They all spoke eloquently on the theme and were both entertaining and inspiring. I loved how a common thread of individuality and self-expression came through even with subjects as diverse as high fashion and killing your first chicken.
The event came with one cocktail, an unusual wine and popsicle combination, and lasted for about two hours including time for questions from Amy and the audience. It was a very enjoyable evening and I left feeling once again how vibrant and exciting Cincinnati is these days. The next 15 minutes of Fame will be held in August. The guests have not yet been announced but the theme is REEL and we’ve got a hint that this will include both the film and the fishing variety.
On Wednesday I got to attend a media sneak peek in the newly opened New Riff Distillery. I could tell as it was being constructed that it was going to be a beautiful facility with a lot of serious investment behind it. After talking with the production manager Jay Erisman and learning about the research, planning, and science that has gone into creating New Riff, I am firmly convinced that this will be a world-class distillery and treasure for local whiskey lovers.
The outside of New Riff is impressive, with a glass tower showing off the 60 foot column still. Inside the copper was polished and ready for photos. The large glass windows, stone walls and urban location reminded me the Town Branch distillery in Lexington but as Jay walked me through the distillery it became clear that New Riff was going to be a very different distillery than Town Branch. To start with the equipment itself is different. New Riff has both a column pot still so that they will be able to produce a variety of spirits, even adding some modifications to the traditional column still so that adjustments can be made to the distillation process at all levels. Jay pointed out over and over again little details they had adjusted or changed to ensure that they would be producing the highest level of whiskey they could. Everything from the angle of the mash tubs to the placement of the grain silos has been deliberately calculated, not just for the product they will start producing this week, but also for what they hope to be making ten years from now.
Everyone who is opening a new distillery has to create a story behind their brand. Many distilleries do this by telling you about their grandfather the moonshiner and the secret recipe he handed down. These stories are charming but often you find the facts don’t always add up when you scratch below the surface. That is why I was so impressed by New Riff’s attitude toward the outside resources they are using to get started. One resource in particular is the consultant who was instrumental in the development of New Riff, Larry Ebersold. Ebersold is the former master distiller at the MGP distillery in Lawrenceburg and Jay repeatedly credited him for his contributions to New Riff. And speaking of that Lawrenceburg distillery, that is also the source of the OKI Reserve bourbon that New Riff will begin selling this summer. Neither of these things, hiring a consultant or bottling a sourced bourbon, are at all unusual in the world of whiskey, but it is rare enough for a distillery to even admit doing it, let alone celebrate it.
Although small compared to other well-known bourbon producers, New Riff is large for a micro-distillery and even though they just opened their doors, they are planning for growth. In the meantime, while waiting for the barrels to age, you will be able to book one of their two beautiful event spaces for private events. You can also become a part of their innovative Ranger Program. Becoming a New Riff Ranger not only gives you a lifetime membership, a discount at the gift shop, and bragging rights, it allows entitles you to one personalized bottle of single barrel bourbon four years after you purchase your membership. Buy one for your friend’s wedding this summer and they can toast you with their bottle for their 4th anniversary.
Needless to say, I left New Riff feeling very excited. It is great to see that our area’s distilling history is starting to be revived alongside its brewing history. And may I say, well done to Ken Lewis. Bellevue now has the country’s largest beer and spirits store with a microbrewery and a distillery all in the same location. If he can just build a monorail to take you to each location he would be the Jungle Jim of the alcohol world.