This year has already seen the guys at Rivertown release two of the four horsemen. Pestilence back in the spring and War in early summer (my review of War) now comes the third horseman representing Famine. First a little biblical background:
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” – Source Wikipedia
In summary the third horseman rides a black horse and hands out just enough wheat and barley to keep you alive, barely. Now for Rivertown’s take which comes from my interview with Rivertown General Manager Tom Hall:
The story of Famine is that he rides a black horse through town with a scale handing out barley and wheat, but not enough of either to prevent starvation, thus famine. The beer will be a Bavarian Hefeweizen with a low alcohol content. [Don’t worry too much about that “low alcohol” action this is no 3.2 beer or anything like that. According to Tom it’ll come in around 4.2% or 4.5%.] The low alcohol is in order to achieve their goals of representing famine. To make sure this is still a good beer they made it with a fuller body. This was achieved with the right yeast and treating the mash in the right way to control the amount of fermentable sugar [which keeps the alcohol low]. Since Famine’s horse is black they added in a roasted wheat to give it a nice black color.
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.
I had never heard of Fat Heads or their Head Hunter until a new beer-friend hooked me up with a 6-pack of random bottles. When I found out this was from Ohio and that it had won this crazy number of medals I got pretty excited. Here are some of those awards:
2012 World Beer Cup American Style IPA – Silver
2011 Great American Beer Fest – American-Style IPA – Bronze
2010 Great American Beer Fest – American Style IPA – Silver
2009 Draft Magazine – Top 25 beers in the world
But I don’t buy into the hype of awards all too much. From what I’ve seen there are loads of competitions out there and if you find one specific enough you’re guaranteed a medal in it. Bottom line though is that this beer has some clout and hype behind it, time to find out what I think.
I am sitting here at my computer, having just finished recording episode three of The Charlie Tonic Hour where we reviewed the locally distilled vodka, Buckeye Vodka. I am still a little tipsy from the tasting and I am feeling such a pleasant buzz that I thought I better record my thoughts before this delicious feeling passes me by.
Charlie and I went into the local liquor store to buy some vodka on a cold Saturday night. We were just planning on getting something cheap since we were going to be mixing it but Charlie is a Skyy man and he was leaning toward that. The guy behind the counter suggested that instead we try a local vodka, Buckeye Vodka, because it was only two dollars more and it had recently won a gold metal for exceptional quality at a world competition in Chicago. Well it’s not often that I am able to drink a gold metal winning vodka, let alone one that is made in my home state, so I had told Charlie we should go for it. The very helpful young man assured us that we would not be disappointed, noting that it is distilled 10 times, filtered five times, and is incredibly smooth.
Seeing as how we had a gold-metal winning, distilled to the tenth power, fancy-schmancy vodka on our hands we decided to scrap the fru-fru girly drink we had planned and to go instead with a dirty martini for the week’s drink. This had the added benefit of allowing me to recite Dorothy Parker’s martini poem:
I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under the host.
Buckeye Vodka is made near Dayton. Ohio. Despite being less than two years old the vodka has done well in international competitions. Dayton isn’t the first rust-belt city hit hard by the recession to be making a name for itself in the micro distilling field, lately Boyd and Blair have been getting rave reviews with their potato vodka made near Pittsburgh, and I am thrilled to see this trend continuing in Ohio. Now that’s an economic recovery plan I can fully support.
Charlie and I do not have any kind of training in tasting alcohol; we are nothing more than enthusiastic amateurs when it comes to our booze. So we decided to try the vodka straight up as a shot, not chilled at all, and then in the martini. Upon first taking the shot Charlie and I were both surprised how smooth it was. No grimacing or coughing here, you can drink it nearly as easily as water. That has not been the case with any other vodka I have tried. After that I was very excited to try the dirty vodka martini I was mixing up. Despite loving the name and the lore of the martini, H.L. Menken called it the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet, I’ve never warmed to the gin version. I had a feeling that I would enjoy this one a lot more and I was not disappointed. Good vodka should be clean and smooth and Buckeye is definitely that. The martini had a light, crisp taste that was incredibly pleasant.
And speaking of incredibly pleasant, the buzz from these drinks was a light, sparkly feeling. It had a crisp, almost energetic quality that suddenly made the three-martini lunch seem like a sensible business decision.
Of course good taste and a pleasant buzz are all well and good but can you afford to drink it? Well of course this isn’t the cheapest stuff you are going to find out there. But it is exceptional value for your money. At less than $20 for 750 ml, Buckeye is at least $10 cheaper than the well-known premium brands like Grey Goose and if you are an Ohioan you are supporting local jobs. Unfortunately Buckeye Vodka is only available in Ohio right now but if you are passing through the state I highly recommend you pick yourself up a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.
Ok, I’m not a fan of starting with a negative but man is that name a tongue twister, Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster. The back-to-back lakes and mention of lake monsters makes me want to say it’s Great Lakes Lake Loch Ness monster. But don’t let that dissuade anyone, this thing is rock star!