Rick Armon was in Cincinnati this weekend to promote his new book 50 Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio and I grabbed him for a few minutes to do a live video about the book.
Three years ago I talked to Steve Shaw at Cellar Dweller to learn more about this new Cincinnati brewery. I’d had a few of their beers, and they were mediocre, one was fantastic but sadly a one off. At the time, I couldn’t find much information about them so I headed to Valley Vineyards and went to the source.
Every month, I look through my archives and decided what to post for #ThrowbackThursday. It shcoked me to discover it’s really been three years since I first met Steve Shaw. Thinking about that, and a recent Facebook discussion, I decided I had to go out and catch up with all the changes that have happened at Cellar Dweller.
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.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve run a series of posts about the different styles of beer that rise as leaves fall, from a hatred of pumpkin beers to a history of Oktoberfest and an introduction to wet hop beers. I didn’t write the post hating pumpkin beers though I share Brent’s views. I do enjoy a good Oktoberfest beer, and wet hop beers are okay, but only 1 beer gets me really excited for fall. That beer is Great Lakes Nosferatu.
If you don’t hang out on social media you may have missed the rapid spread of Hopwater. The short is that Hopwater is a hop, and flavor, infused tonic water.
It’s been just over a year since Warped Wing opened their doors. It’s been less than a year since Warped Wing pumped out their first 3 cans. There has been a great variety of draft beers created since those first cans rolled off the line, including a session IPA named Self Starter. It’s been a week since Warped Wing introduced new seasonal IPA cans of Self Starter.
Here’s Warped Wing’s blurb about the beer:
Once, there lived an engineer. Innovator. And indefatigable holder of 186 patents. Who, in 1911, filed U.S. Patent No. 1,150,523. An electric starting device for automobiles. To not a single person’s disparagement, it ended the era of the hand-crank. Fitting, then, that you’ll be holding this. Named as much for the inventor. As for what he invented.
Self Starter. This session India Pale Ale is pale orange in color with copper highlights. Its citrus/fruity aroma and flavors comes from the Amarillo hops that were added during the boil and the dry hopping at the end of fermentation. The malt character is slightly bready or nutty to start. This beer finishes with a patently dry close. Carry on.
Self Starter will be available in the market from April thru August in both draught and cans. The beer will be tapped at the brewery this Thursday and draught and cans will be released to taverns, restaurants, and select retail accounts the following Monday.
Before we get to the liquid I love the wrap around artwork on these cans.
They also made this rocking video
Ok, that’s all awesome and all, but let’s get to the beer.
I was a little surprised by how little head I got, but there’s enough to get by on. The head is a light white that shrinks down to a skim and a ring pretty quickly. The beverage itself is shockingly hazy with bits floating through an orange amber ocean. Ok, yeah bits floating around is a bit bothersome. It just means they likely didn’t filter it at all, allowing the preservation of as much hop flavor as possible. There’s one other brewery that does this, and it clearly says “DRINK FROM THE CAN” around the rim of Heady Topper for this reason.
Based on the powerful aromas of fresh-cut grass, super grapefruit, and dank ass marijuana I feel it’s safe to say all those floaty bits are hops. All hop heads need to apply themselves to drinking this. This isn’t just a hop bomb though. There are notes of bready and caramel malts hanging around the back.
The flavor kicks a lot more of those malts up front but doesn’t slack off on the hops. Bitterness wise things lean heavily toward the sweet malts. That throws my expectations for a curve ball. IPAs, even session IPAs, always lean to some degree toward the bitter.
Body rocks medium to a slight heavy with low carbonation.
Ok, let’s break the fourth wall for a moment. As I’m typing this review I’m popping to another tab messaging WCPO’s Jesse Folk who is also drinking this beer right now. We didn’t plan this, it just happened. We got to talking about the atypical aspects of the beer when it hit me.
What are we doing thinking about how this beer doesn’t meet what a session IPA is supposed to be. This is a Warped Wing beer. These are the guys who brought us the Belgian Cream Ale! What the hell is a Belgian Cream Ale? That’s totally not a thing at all! Well, it wasn’t till Warped Wing made it. Now it’s an enjoyable thing.
Who am I, or who is anyone, to tell someone what they can or can’t make? This is a good beer. I enjoyed it. You should try it and enjoy it. It’s a hop bomb aroma and a malt bomb flavor. It’s got a good body and a solid sweetness. Bottom line, this is a local beer well worth your money.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My friend who works for Warped Wing surprised me with this can. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 2 ways. That I will do my best to review it in a timely fashion and that and I will write a blog post about that review. Giving me free stuff does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it.
Yesterday Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery had one of their bottle releases and I finally made the trip over to Athens to check it out. Luckily I was also able to talk to head brewer Brad Clark for a few minutes about the process. First a bit about Jackie O’s. There was originally a small brewpub in Athens named O’Hooley’s that went under and was resurrected as Jackie O’s in 2005. For the past 8 years they’ve been serving the students of OU fantastic draft beers and for the past 5 they’ve been doing these bottle releases 3 to 4 times a year.
Starting last August new cans of their beer started to appear across Ohio. Mystic Mama, Firefly, Chomolungma, and Hop Ryot (just released last week) are all delicious beers and will soon be joined by cans of Razz Wheat. However these beers only represent the tip of the iceberg of awesome that is Jackie O’s beer.
The next level of that iceberg can sometimes be found on draft around Cincinnati but is mainly only available on draft at Jackie O’s brew pub and public house (a restaurant right next to the brew pub). These bottle releases reveal a large chunk of their awesomeness with amazing sours and astounding barrel aging.
The official grand opening of Rivertown’s tap room occurred yesterday, and I was on the spot for the event. Their location is pretty convenient from the highway. Don’t let the neighborhood fool you; you’re on the right path. Keep an eye out for their sign on the left side of the road and go about halfway down the building and you’ll find plenty of parking. It can be a bit tricky to find but isn’t bad at all.
Once you get there, you are in for a great deal. It’s $5 for a tour, a Rivertown pint glass (see below), and a pint of beer
(in a plastic cup, not the glass, though) this has changed since Rivertown installed a 3-sink system. Again, all that for just $5. I don’t want to sound like (too much) of a shill for Rivertown, but seriously folks. Most pint glasses run you $5 anyway, a decent beer at a good bar/restaurant will probably be more than $5, and most brewery tours that I’ve been on are free. So it’s a $10 value for half the price. It’s hard to get a good picture of the pint glass empty but wait a day or two for my review of the Hop Baron and you’ll see it full. 🙂 It’s a great looking glass, though.
The taproom is a small bar area right in front of the brewery. It’s a very nice bar with a couple of stools, a bench or two scattered around, and another small table off to the side. But you don’t care what it looks like; you’re here because you like beer, good beer, and my next picture will wet your whistle for that!
I accidentally cut off the Helles in my picture, but it’s just above the Dunkel on the list. So don’t anyone fret that they didn’t have that on tap! I’m not going to get into an in-depth review of the beers I had there, but the Hop Baron, Helles, and Roebling were all far more delicious than I’ve ever had from a bottle before. The Roebling here is also on a nitro tap (the taller weird looking one all the way to the left) which gives it an amazing smoother (compared to the bottle) taste with a much creamier mouthfeel.
The last thing I’ll leave you with is that they also fill up growlers (which quite a few people were doing Friday night, including myself). The pricing varies for different beers, and I don’t recall them exactly. Suffice to say I have a growler full of Hop Baron in my fridge that I’m psyched to review for everyone’s reading pleasure!
The taproom is at 607 Shepherd Drive, Unit 6 Cincinnati, OH 45215. Their hours are Friday 5:00-10:00 PM, Saturdays noon-10:00 PM, and Sundays noon-6:00 PM.