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Five questions with ... Reed Jaskula

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 8:14am

Reed Jaskula is the head brewer at Platform Beer Co. in Cleveland. The production brewery and tasting room won a gold medal at last year's Great American Beer Festival for its Black Eagle Gratzer in the historical beer category.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I've only wanted two titles in my life and pit boss wasn't looking good.

Q: There’s a concern that the craft beer industry – thanks to the phenomenal growth over the last few years – is reaching a saturation point, particularly in some areas of Ohio. Are there too many breweries here? If yes, why? If no, why not?

A: In my opinion, the more the merrier. There's a lot of great brewers in Ohio passing on their knowledge and techniques of the craft. So I'm really excited to see what great brewers come from that training and what they are able to do with it.

Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?

A: Never stop learning.

Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?

A: Speed Merchant. It's just a nice easy-drinking IPA.

Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?

A: I would say a Munich helles. No one would question your brewing techniques with a style like that under your belt.

Categories: Beer News

News and notes from the Ohio Craft Brewers Conference

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 10:47am

The second annual Ohio Craft Brewers Conference continues today at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton. I spent a few hours Wednesday chatting with as many brewers as possible and vacuuming up interesting beer news at the event.

Here’s a rundown of what I learned:


ATTENDANCE: The attendance at last year’s inaugural event, held in Wooster, was about 150. This year, the conference was sold out with 320 people.

“I thought we’d hit 250 and that was the goal,” Ohio Craft Brewers Association Executive Director Mary MacDonald says.


LINEAGE: Lineage Brewing Co. co-owner and brewer Mike Byrne says the Columbus brewery hopes to offer sensory classes once every quarter after the first class proved so popular.


POLITICS: Association President Eric Bean, who’s also the owner and brewer at Columbus Brewing Co., says brewers have to pay attention to politics in addition to making great beer.

“We don’t get to make beer unless we stay on top of our politicians [and] we don’t stay in front of the laws and help protect and preserve Ohio craft beer and on the national level,” he says

Those politicians are now paying attention to the industry.

“We may make beer but the rest of the world, especially the statehouse, they aren’t concerned about the quality of the beer the same way we are,” Bean says. “They want to know are we creating more jobs and are we paying our taxes. As we build as an industry, I think we’re really starting to show how important we are. There’s not very many industries in the world building and creating as fast as we are.”


SOBER: Boston Beer Co. founder and craft beer advocate Jim Koch served as the keynote speaker for the event. His hourlong speech was filled with plenty of humor.

One of the funniest comments? He broke out a bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager during his talk at about 9:30 a.m.

“I promised Mary I would do this talk but I didn’t promise I would do it sober,” he said to laughter. “Life is a lot better when you don’t live every minute of it sober. I really believe that.”


GREAT LAKES: Great Lakes Brewing Co. is ramping up its barrel-aging program. Brewer Luke Purcell says the Cleveland brewery will release four or five barrel-aged beers this year. Two of those are Blackout Stout and Rackhouse Ale.

Great Lakes has been really focused on quality assurance, Purcell says, especially after an issue forced the brewery to pull bottles of Barrel Aged Christmas Ale at the last minute last November.

The brewery is experimenting with eight-gallon bourbon barrels at the brewpub to see which of its beers work well. Those experiments will be offered at the pub.

“It’s a great little thing that we’ve been able to do,” Purcell said.


MADTREE: MadTree Brewing Co. hopes to break ground on its new $18 million brewery in March and be in production by the end of this year or early next year, co-founder Brady Duncan says.

He added that about 10,000 people descended on the brewery for its third annual Winter Bonanza last weekend.

He called it a “shitshow” before catching himself and quickly adding that it was “a good shitshow.”


CROOKED HANDLE: Crooked Handle Brewing Co., one of the state’s newest breweries, is adding a seven-barrel fermenter so it can start distributing a bit outside the taproom.

The Springboro brewery operates with a three-barrel system.

It also has two nitro handles at its tasting room and will soon be offering a peanut butter porter on nitro, taproom manager Kristy Moore says.


WOLF’S RIDGE: Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Co. just released six-packs of Clear Sky and Driftwood into the Columbus market.

Clear Sky is a cream ale, while Driftwood is a session IPA.

The brewery hopes to put out its Clear Sky DayBreak , a coffee cream ale, and Dire Wolf Russian imperial stout out in bottles by the summer, brewer Chris Davison says.

Wolf’s Ridge and Jackie O’s are talking about teaming up for a four-course brunch with all coffee beers.


LITTLE FISH: Little Fish Brewing Co., which was named best new brewer in Ohio by RateBeer.com this month, just packaged an old ale aged in oak with brettanomyces. The beer, called Aecern, will be available soon in 750- and 375-milliliter bottles.

The brewery also partnered with the new Haus Malts in Cleveland to create a new IPA that will be released this month. Brewer Sean White says it’ll likely be called Haus IPA.


LISTERMANN: Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Co. has set dates for its major beer festivals.

The Starkbierfest is April 15-16. Volksfest is July 29-30. And Oktoberfest is Oct. 14-15.

The Cincinnati brewery also recently brewed its 400th batch of beer and this one – a blonde barleywine – is being aged in bourbon, brandy and wine barrels.

Meanwhile, Listermann and Blank Slate Brewing Co. partnered with Arts Wave to make a ginger beer called Roots. It should be available on draft in the middle of this month. Proceeds will benefit the arts organization.

“It’s tasting great,” Listermann’s Jason Brewer says.

A second batch will be packaged for sale, he adds.

The brewery also is adding a kitchen where its former homebrewing shop used to be. The kitchen basically will be a food truck and serve wings and burgers.

“What goes better with beer than wings? Not much,” Brewer says.


PHOENIX: Phoenix Brewing Co. is starting to release 22-ounce bottles, with the initial offering being its Santa Muerta Spiced Imperial Chocolate Stout made with a blend of chili peppers.

The bombers will be available at the Mansfield brewery starting in mid to late March.

“We’re getting closer to pulling the trigger on a 15-barrel system,” co-founder and brewer Duncan Macfarlane adds.


YELLOW SPRINGS: Yellow Springs Brewery started distributing six-packs of its Zoetic pale ale and Captain Stardust saison to the Columbus market this week. The beers are available in cans.


JACKIE O’S: Jackie O’s Brewery is adding five cans to its lineup this year. The Athens brewery will release four seasonals and a double IPA called Mandala, brewer Brad Clark says.

The first seasonal will be Morning Cloak, a pale ale, and that will be followed by New Growth, a spruce tip IPA, Ohio Pale Ale and Java the Stout.

Morning Cloak will be hitting stores statewide next week, Clark says.

Mandala is a single hop imperial IPA. The brewery will write the hop on the bottom of the can, allowing it to change up the hop whenever it wants. Asked if he would hand-write the hop on each can, Clark laughed and says those days are over.

Jackie O’s also is close to opening its 8,000-square-foot addition at the production brewery. The new space will allow the brewery to create a dedicated sour room and install a bottling line for sours.


BUCKEYE LAKE: Buckeye Lake Brewery is seeing great success with its new 12-ounce stubby bottles, owner Rich Hennosy says.

Buckeye Lake Blonde, Pontoon Pale Ale, Legend Valley IPA and Shovelhead are getting the stubby treatment. The bottles are available at the brewery but will make their way to the Columbus market in the future, he says.

The brewery also is doubling its physical size. The Buckeye Lake community has been suffering a bit since the state reduced the water level in the lake, thus impacting tourism. But that hasn't hurt the brewery.

"Our sales this summer were up 30 percent over last summer," Hennosy says.


KINDRED ARTISAN ALES: The new Kindred Artisan Ales will make its debut at the High Gravity Hullabaloo on Saturday and at the Columbus Winter Beerfest on Feb. 19-20 and then hit the streets in the Columbus market after that, sales manager Jay Taylor says.

The first two beers made just for the Hullabaloo will be a Belgian-style golden strong ale and a Belgian-style dark strong ale.

The brewery will debut its three production beers -- Kindred Wit, Salvage Porter and Dry-Hopped Saison -- at the Columbus Winter Beerfest. A kettle-soured Berliner Weisse will be the only tart beer in the initial production lineup.


Kindred will be available on draft at first and then 12-ounce bottles in a few months.

Taylor also wanted to clear up a misconception about the brewery. Kindred has been labeled as a sour brewery – perhaps thanks to a Columbus Dispatch story that used the word “sour” in its headline – but it's not just doing sours, he says.

Categories: Beer News

Jim Koch offers advice to Ohio craft brewers

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 2:05pm

The best advice Jim Koch can offer other brewers: Chase happiness and not money.

“What would you rather be in life? Happy or rich?” he asked a crowd gathered Wednesday morning at the Dayton Convention Center for the second annual Ohio Craft Brewers Conference.

The choice is obvious, he said. He, of course, was talking about happiness.

Koch, the founder of Samuel Adams and an outspoken advocate for the craft brewing industry, served as the keynote speaker for the event.

In an hourlong speech peppered with humor, Koch talked about lessons he’s learned since he launched the Boston Beer Co. in 1984 when the industry was still in its infancy.

He joked that he was able to boil down all his advice gained over three decades to a single page.

“It’s all on one slide so I guess I didn’t learn that much,” he said between sips of a Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

In addition to talking about being happy, his advice included providing a high quality product, hiring workers who are better than you, and focusing on two or three things.

He also said told the audience that he still gets excited every morning about creating new beers.

“There are tons of really great wonderful beers that have not yet been created,” said Koch, who recently launched a series of canned beers on nitrogen. “We have to remember that porters, stouts, pale ales, all these great styles we have in craft brewing, they didn’t exist when God made rocks, dirt and trees. Human beings created them out of their own passion and imagination. There are many more great beers to be created out of our collective passion and imagination so let’s set to work making them.”

As he looked out onto the audience, Koch, who grew up in Cincinnati and has a Samuel Adams brewery in the Queen City, noted that there weren’t many women there. It’s disappointing that the industry remains so heavily dominated by men, he said.

“When you’re looking for talent, when you’re looking for energetic, passionate, creative, resourceful, intelligent people, God made about half of them women as near as I can tell. I believe she did,” he said to laughter.

Koch also urged craft brewers to stay united and not let the mega-brewers divide the industry.

“When we are split, we are powerless,” he said.

Koch praised the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, calling it one of the largest and most successful in the country.

Association President Eric Bean, the owner and brewer at Columbus Brewing Co., credited the group’s growth and influence to Executive Director Mary MacDonald, who organized the conference.

The two-day conference, which began Wednesday, attracted about 320 brewers and others interested in the industry. That’s up from about 150 last year, when the event was held in Wooster.

The conference featured a variety of seminars and discussions on topics ranging from hop growing in Ohio to trademarks to building a brewery.

The event also turned a spotlight onto the Dayton craft beer market, which now has 14 breweries. A few years ago, there were no craft breweries in the community.

Categories: Beer News

Hoppin' Frog to release new beer for charity

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 7:48am

Hoppin’ Frog Brewery will release a special beer called Good For What Ales You, a double IPA, at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Akron brewery made the beer in collaboration with one of the winners of an auction at the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Barons Ball last year in Akron.

The amateur brewer wants to remain anonymous, owner/brewer Fred Karm said, but the label provides an obvious clue to the individual’s profession: The frog in the label is wearing medical scrubs. Karm confirmed that the brewer is a doctor.

Hoppin’ Frog will donate $1 for every bottle purchased to the Cancer Society over the next 30 days. The limited-edition bottles are $10.99. The beer also will be available on draft.

Two people paid $2,800 each for the opportunity to brew at Hoppin’ Frog. The next special beer should be available in four to six weeks. It’ll be an imperial brown ale.

Categories: Beer News

Pataskala again in the craft beer limelight

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 1:21pm

Stone Brewing Co. is ready to make Pataskala, Ohio, famous. The California-based brewery is releasing its limited-edition Stone Pataskala Red X IPA this week in six-packs and on draft.

Pataskala, as many Ohio beer lovers know, is where Stone co-founder Greg Koch grew up. The brewery also made a small-batch beer for the community last year to support arts and music programs in the local school district. That beer now is getting a chance to shine before a national audience.

"After sampling a prototype brewed last year for Pataskala, OH, I really enjoyed how well the hop flavors and aromas shined through when combined with Red X malt," brewmaster Mitch Steele said in a news release. "Liberty Station Brewing Manager Kris Ketcham really nailed the brew, so after a successful regional release in and around its namesake town, we couldn’t resist making this recipe widely available for our fans nationwide."

The beer, which is 7.3 percent alcohol by volume, was made with German Red X malt, which typically is used in amber lagers, Irish red ales and other mildly hoppy beers to provide a nice crimson color, the brewery said. It also features Mosaic, Amarillo and Cascade hops.

Pataskala Red X IPA is expected to be available through May.

Categories: Beer News

Fifty West urging growlers, not flowers for Valentine's Day

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 1:10pm

Fifty West Brewing Co. is again urging lovers to give growlers and not flowers on Valentine's Day.

The Cincinnati brewery has pushed the unusual Valentine's Day promotion for the last three years and started taking orders today (Feb. 2) for growler deliveries. Valentine's Day is Feb. 14.

"Receiving flowers would make anyone feel special on Valentine’s Day, but what makes you feel better than receiving flowers? Beer!" Fifty West co-founder and brewmaster Blake Horsburgh said in a news release. "The brewery offers three different options that cover beer lovers of all varieties: Doom Pedal White for those who are looking for a lighter option, Coast to Coast IPA for your hop-lovers, and Paycheck’s Porter for those who prefer the darker side of the spectrum."

The brewery also has teamed up with Sunshine Caramel Co. this year and people can have Georgia Pecan or Sea Salt Caramels delivered alongside the growler.

Fifty West will take orders until 3 p.m. Feb. 13. It will deliver anywhere within a 20-mile radius of the brewery within Ohio. To make an order, email info@fiftywestbrew.com with details such as address, sender, recipient, choice of beer, caramel option, and a phone number where you can be reached.

The cost wasn't immediately available.

For more details, call the brewery at 513-834-8789.

Categories: Beer News

Three Ohio breweries among RateBeer's top 100

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 1:10pm

The 2015 RateBeer.com awards are out and three Ohio breweries are ranked among the top 100 in the world.

That's both good and bad news. First, the good.

Fat Head's, which has locations in North Olmsted and Middleburg Heights in Ohio, Hoppin' Frog in Akron and Jackie O's in Athens made the top 100.

Now for the the bad news. Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland and Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron both dropped off the list. Great Lakes had been a perennial winner so it's unusual to see the brewery not there. Thirsty Dog made its first appearance last year.

The honors are based on online reviews from RateBeer users. The website considers itself the largest beer competition in the world, with more than 300,000 beers from over 18,500 breweries having been rated.

Hoppin’ Frog owner and brewer Fred Karm knows how special it is to earn the recognition, considering the growing number of breweries in the world.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher,” he said about making the list. “It’s like a dream come true to still be rated in the top 100.”

RateBeer also hands out a slew of other honors, including best beers and retailers. Jackie O's was chosen as the best brewer in the Buckeye State, while neighbor Little Fish Brewing Co. in Athens was selected as best new brewer in the state. Hoppin’ Frog’s Barrel Aged DORIS the Destroyer was named best beer in Ohio.

Meanwhile, Willoughby Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter and Great Lakes Eliot Ness were ranked among the best beers in their styles. And both Vintage Estate Wine and Beer in Boardman and Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield were ranked as two of the best beer retailers in the world.

To read the all the rankings, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Dear Rick ...

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 8:02am

Here’s the second installment of Dear Rick ..., where I answer reader questions. Again, if you have a question, hit me up by email at rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter at @armonrickABJ. A new Dear Rick ... will appear every Monday, as long as the questions keep flowing.


DEAR RICK: Are Greg Koch of Stone and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams related? — Steve Gantt

Dear Steve: Despite both Kochs growing up Ohio — Greg in Pataskala and Jim in Cincinnati — they are not related.

DEAR RICK: As a resident of Delaware, Ohio, we frequently visit Staas Brewing just a few short blocks from home. Staas Brewing has a great selection of beers both year round and seasonal. However, my favorite beer is informally called the QOD for Queens of Delaware. It is a very smooth delicious beer of a combination or mixing of their Vanilla Porter and the ESB (Extra Special Bitter).  Hmmm! To me, the ESB smooths out the porter just perfectly! My husband, Tom, prefers the KOD (Kings of Delaware) which is their Stout mixed with the ESB.

A few months ago I was in JAFB in Wooster when none of the beers were tickling my fancy. So I asked the beerkeeper to pour me the Red Ale with their Colombian Coffee Porter. It was delicious!

Last week we dined at one of Delaware’s best restaurants in town called 12 West. Feeling adventurous I mixed a North High Honey Wheat with Old Firehouse Code 3 Ale. Again, magic happened to my palate and I truly enjoyed the Old Honey!

So my question is: Knowing there is an abundance of great beers and breweries throughout central Ohio and all of Ohio, is it proper to mix beers? Or am I just being a PIA beer drinker? My take is that we Americans have been mixing beers with our Black and Tans for eons. Why not take it a step further with good beers like all those brewed in Ohio?

Thanks for reading, and I hope your blog is successful. — Penny Schmitthenner

Dear Penny: There is absolutely nothing wrong with mixing beers. So my advice is to keep experimenting. Maybe you’ll stumble upon some tasty concoctions. It sounds like you already have.

A little while ago, a friend and I sat around my kitchen island mixing Taft’s Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale and Warped Wing Esther’s Li’l Secret trying to create the perfect key lime chocolate brew. We never found that ideal balance. But it sure was fun trying.

DEAR RICK: I have a question ... why are some beers labeled a malt beverage. Example @FatHeadsCLE Bumble Berry? — @sam_see

Dear @sam_see: I never really thought about this so I hit up the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to get an answer.

“It can get fairly complicated in a hurry,” spokesman Tom Hogue told me right off the bat.

Uh oh.

The short — hopefully uncomplicated — version is that all beer labels must say what’s in the bottle. Now, it can say lager, ale, porter, stout ... etc. But it must say something. “Malt beverage” happens to be a catch-all phrase.

Want to know more about labeling? Hogue advises you to check out: http://www.ttb.gov/pdf/brochures/p51903.pdf.

DEAR RICK: What are the most popular beer stores in Northeast Ohio? (Where can you find the rare stuff?) I was thinking Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Northern Summit. Would be really cool to see top stores w/ short bio of each. — @SirDubblin

Dear @SirDubblin: I had to call in the cavalry to help me with this one. I’m not so egotistical to think that I would know everywhere to go.

For help, I turned to the folks who supply the stores. I chatted with beer reps at Cavalier Distributing, Beverage Distributors and Superior Distributing — again, with the idea of limiting the search area to the Greater Cleveland market.

Here’s a look at their top recommendations mixed in with mine in alphabetical order. If readers have other spots, please let me know and I will share.

One other thing to remember is that the area supermarkets have really stepped up their game. Heinen’s, Giant Eagle, Buehler’s and Acme all offer terrific beer selections — and if you have a special beer request, they are often more than happy to help you out.

Sorry that there’s no bio, but just click on the links for details:

• Banter in Cleveland.

• Cap & Corks in Lakewood.

• Corkscrew Johnny’s in Richfield.

• Coventry Food Mart in Cleveland Heights.

• Friendly Mini Mart in Lakewood.

• Lizardville Beer Store and Whiskey Bars in Bedford Heights, Lakewood and Copley Township.

• Red, Wine & Brew in Mentor and Chesterland.

• Ross Beverage & Deli in Lakewood.

• Royal Park Fine Wine in North Royalton.

• Rozi’s Wine House in Lakewood.

• Simone’s Beverage in Lakewood.

• Save on Tobacco in Mentor.

• Warehouse Beverage in South Euclid.

• Zagara’s Marketplace in Cleveland.

DEAR RICK: You want questions. Here is one ... When are you going to update your beer map? The last update was Jan 2015 - a year ago. There have been many changes since then. IMHO - either you provide the map, or you don’t. If it is too much work to keep up to date, then remove it from the site. Thanks. — Tom

Dear Tom: I know this isn’t the first time you’ve contacted me about the map. You are absolutely right that we need to get off our collective fanny and update it. We are in the process of doing it. When will it be done? I’m not sure. I’m not ducking your question. I honestly don’t know. I sent a new list to our IT department, which controls the map, about a month ago. I’m waiting as you’re waiting. The funny thing is that as soon as the map is updated it will be out of date thanks to all the breweries that are opening here.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Jim Koch

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 10:03am

Jim Koch is the founder and famous pitchman for the Boston Beer Co., also known as Samuel Adams. He grew up in Cincinnati and operates a Samuel Adams brewery there. He also will be the keynote speaker at next week's Ohio Craft Brewers Conference in Dayton.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I’m a sixth generation brewer so brewing is in my blood. In fact, my father worked in several breweries around Cincinnati. When I first decided to quit my job as a consultant and become a brewer, my father thought I was crazy! He saw small breweries like his close as the beer industry consolidated and large breweries who brewed inexpensive, mass domestic beers dominated the U.S. beer market. But, he helped me. He took me to the attic of our Cincinnati home and showed me what he considered the best recipe our family ever created: my great-great grandfather’s recipe for Louis Koch Lager, which later became Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

The first time I brewed the recipe for Boston Lager, two things happened: 1) the wallpaper peeled off my kitchen walls, and 2) I fell in love with the taste of Boston Lager. I thought that if I could taste this beer every day of my life, I'd be a happy man. That was my motivation for starting The Boston Beer Co. I wanted to make a better beer, one brewed with high quality, flavorful ingredients, and introduce it to the American drinker.

Q: There’s a concern that the craft beer industry – thanks to the phenomenal growth over the last few years – is reaching a saturation point, particularly in some areas of Ohio. Are there too many breweries? If yes, why? If no, why not?

A: Right now is the best time to be a craft brewer and craft beer drinker. There are more than 4,100 breweries in the U.S. today which means lots of experimentation and variety – so, I’ll drink to that!  But despite all of the growth, craft beer is only about 11 percent of the total U.S. beer industry (Sam Adams is just about 1 percent) so, there’s still plenty of room to grow, to innovate and to continue to introduce great craft beer to beer drinkers.

Ohio has seen a lot of growth as well, from about 50 breweries five years ago to more than 100 today, many who are my personal friends. Ohio has such a rich brewing heritage and it is great to see more and more breweries opening up, creating jobs and brewing some really good beer.

Q: Do you ever see a day when the Samuel Adams brewery in Cincinnati offers regular tours or opens a tasting room?

A: Right now, we’re focused solely on brewing at the Cincinnati brewery but I’ve learned never to say never! Only time will tell.

Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?

A: We brew about 60 different styles of beer every year. These beers range from favorites like our Boston Lager and seasonal beers like Cold Snap, Summer Ale, OctoberFest, and Winter Lager, to our Rebel IPA family of beers, and our new Nitro Project beers, a Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA, and Nitro Coffee Stout, just to name a few!

While we brew a beer for every beer-lover’s palate, Boston Lager continues to be a crowd favorite (and the beer that is always in my fridge!).

Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?

A: I am proud that Sam Adams Boston Lager was a catalyst for what we know today as the craft beer revolution, so I don’t think I would change a thing. The one thing I do wish is that I could have a conversation with my great-great-grandfather about his original recipe for Louis Koch Lager. I’d love to be able to pick his brain and talk about how he came up with the recipe, what his inspiration was. I would love to have the chance talk brewing with him over a Boston Lager – the beer that has forever changed my life.

Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears every Friday on the Ohio Beer Blog. If you are an Ohio brewer and want to participate -- or you want to recommend someone to participate -- email me at rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.

Categories: Beer News

Christian Moerlein to host Super Firkin Saturday

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:14pm

Everybody knows about Super Bowl Sunday. Well, Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. is creating Super Firkin Saturday.

The Cincinnati brewery will host its first cask festival from 2 to 6 p.m. Feb. 6 -- the day before the Super Bowl -- at the Moerlein Malt House taproom.

The event will showcase a slew of one-time cask creations from Christian Moerlein and breweries throughout Ohio and Kentucky. It also will serve as a fundraiser for Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman, who died while at a house fire last month. A dollar from each pint sold at the taproom during the festival will be donated to the Patrick Wolterman Roger Bacon Scholarship Fund.

The brewery released the cask list this week:

Christian Moerlein: Dry-hopped Big Piney IPA; Winter IPA with blood orange; Crimea River Russian Imperial Stout with coffee; and Crimea River Russian Imperial Stout with boysenberry.

MadTree: Hunnid Quad with dark fruit; Stütze Belgian Blonde with pink peppercorn.

Fat Head's: Double dry-hopped Head Hunter IPA.

Land-Grant: Greenskeeper Session IPA with white oak and lemon peel; and Goon Strong Pale Ale with spruce pine tips.

Warped Wing: Baltic Argonaut with vanilla bean.

Listermann: 562 Lateral Oatmeal Sweet Stout with raspberry and

Dayton: Oregon Alley IPA dry-hopped with Jarrylo hops.

Taft’s: Belgian Blonde Ale dry-hopped with Hull Melon hops.

Blank Slate: Bonbonerie Opera Cream Stout with cocoa nibs.

Cellar Dweller: Hopewell’s Milk Stout with hazelnut and coffee.

Mt. Carmel: Nut Brown Ale with vanilla and cocoa nibs.

Ei8ht Ball Brewing: Prodigal Pale Ale dry-hopped with Chinook hops.

Fifty West: Dry-hopped Punch You in the EyePA; and Dead End
Oatmeal Stout.

Great Lakes: Rum-spiced Eliot Ness.

West Sixth: Key Lime IPA; and Creamsicle IPA.

The festival is free to attend, with people buying tickets for four-ounce tastes of the cask beers. Five tickets will go for $10.

For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 11:59am

Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:

-- The Dayton City Paper profiles the Dayton craft beer scene. "The Dayton beer scene has received a lot of regional and national attention, but it’s a good bet that most people still haven’t tried all of Miami Valley’s breweries, or if they have, it’s been a while since their first visit," Kevin Gray writes. To read the full story, click here.

-- WFIN reports that the Findlay Brewing Co. is closed and recovering after a fire at a nearby building also damaged their location. "We are moving as fast as we can! Thank you everyone for your kind words and support! We truly appreciate it!" the brewery posted on its Facebook page. To read the full story, click here.

-- Pat's Pints profiles Ill Mannered Brewing Co. "JAFB owner/brewmaster Paul Fryman once told me that if you are angling to be a neighborhood brewery you better have something on tap to keep everyone happy," Patrick Woodward writes. "Ill Mannered’s tap list seems to adhere to this philosophy." To read the full story, click here.

-- The Cincinnati Business Courier reports on the latest collaboration beer between Blank Slate Brewing Co. and the Orchids at Palm Court. Orchids Repose is a English-style cranberry stout. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Columbus Craft Beer Alliance profiles Lineage Brewing Co. in Clintonville. "Lineage has a beautiful space – it’s hard to believe this used to be a car wash," Doug Oldham writes. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Columbus Blue Jackets -- the hockey team's website -- reports on Goon, a hockey-inspired beer from Land-Grant Brewing Co. “The name ‘Goon’ just happened," co-founder Walt Keys says. "We were sitting around, thinking of names, and it just came to us." To read the full story, click here.

-- Columbus Business First reports that Hoster Brewing Co. may be making a comeback. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Dayton Daily News reports that Toxic Brew Co. is doubling the number of its draft lines and adding craft cocktails. "Draft cocktails are a new trend that we’re eager to bring to Dayton,” owner Shane Juhl says. To read the full story, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Findlay Brewing knocked out by fire; plans expansion

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 11:19am

Findlay Brewing Co. likely will be closed for at least five weeks because of a major fire along North Main Street last week. (Check out the video from NBC 24 below.)

The fire took place in a neighboring building, but the nanobrewery and tasting room still suffered some water damage and lost some beers that were fermenting, co-founder Aaron Osborne said. The brewery also shared a water line that was destroyed and now has no source of water.

Findlay will have to replace a floor, repair the ceiling, rebuild its inventory and put in a new water line before reopening.

“We really lucked out when all’s said and done,” Osborne said. “We fared a lot better than the other businesses.”

He hopes that the tasting room will reopen in five weeks, but said that’s an optimistic estimate.

In the meantime, Findlay beers are available at the Wine Merchant, Bourbon Affair and Logan’s Irish Pub; and Brewfountaine in Bellefountaine.

In more uplifting news for Findlay, the brewery is looking to relocate and expand.

Osborne confirmed there are plans to upgrade to a 15-barrel brewing system and move to a new building on East Crawford Street. The new site will allow the brewery to open its tasting room every day — it’s only open on Friday nights now.

Osborne was quick to point out that the financing isn’t in place yet -- look for a crowdfunding effort to start soon. He also added that there’s no opening date set.

“We always say, ‘We don’t know,’” he said. “Maybe by the end of the year.”

Categories: Beer News

The Rail celebrating Cincinnati beers in February

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 11:29am

The Rail is bringing a little bit of the Queen City to Northeast Ohio.

The craft beer bar and restaurant — which has locations in Fairlawn, Canton and North Olmsted — will feature four Cincinnati brews that aren’t distributed in this area as part of its “FeBREWary” promotion.

The Rail will showcase:

• Tap & Screw All Jacked Up Vanilla Porter.

• Urban Artifact Maize Kentucky Common Ale.

• Rhinegeist Truth IPA.

• Fifty West Death Valley Shootout Stout.

“We love bringing in all these craft beers,” said Chad Caplinger, the regional manager for The Rail and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster.

He noted that an employee drove to Cincinnati to pick up the beers because they aren’t available here.

The Rail also is looking to feature other Ohio breweries not available in this area in the future.

Categories: Beer News

BrewFest Wooster is Saturday

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 11:17am

The second annual BrewFest Wooster is set for 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 30) at Wooster Hospitality Transit.

All proceeds benefit the Wayne Center for the Arts.

The event will feature the following breweries: Bell’s, Canton, Dogfish Head, Fat Head’s, Founders, Great Lakes, Green Flash, Hoppin’ Frog, Jackie O’s, JAFB, Lager Heads, Lagunitas, Millersburg, Royal Docks, Scenic, Southern Tier, The Brew Kettle, Thirsty Dog, Troegs and Urban Artifact.

In addition to the beer, the event features food and music. Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Dear Rick ...

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 1:53pm

Today marks the inaugural "Dear Rick" feature. I invited readers to ask beer-related questions and I promised I would find the answers. I received quite a few. Here's the first batch. Time -- and life in general -- prevented me from getting to everyone's questions this week. (I slip my beer reporting among all the other reporting I do at the Akron Beacon Journal.) But each Monday, there will be more questions and answers. So if you don't see yours today, look for it next week. Again, if you have a question, hit me up by email at rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.


DEAR RICK: Will Bodhi ever be bottled? — Doug Dickerhoof

Dear Doug: Ah, I knew this one was coming.

Eric Bean, the owner and brewer at Columbus Brewing Co., which produces the award-winning and oh-so-popular draft beer, also anticipated your question. People have been asking this for years. Maybe even centuries.

Before I could even get the question out of my mouth during a phone call, Bean said: “Never. We’ve decided to discontinue it.”

His voice was full of sarcasm and laughter so he was only kidding.

Bean wasn’t willing to provide a firm date. But thanks to Columbus’ new production brewery on Harrison Road, “It will happen this year. Hopefully on the front end and not the back end of the year,” he said.

Columbus is releasing new branding this year and the packaging for Bodhi is completed and ready to go.

Upon hearing this, I asked Bean to share.

“Uh, I don’t know if we can,” he responded. “Let me think about that.”

DEAR RICK: What are some great craft Ohio beers I can enjoy here in New York [City]? — Keith Roach, M.D. P.S. - feel free to ask any medical questions.

Dear Dr. Roach: First off, I’m honored that you would pose a question. (For those not familiar, Dr. Roach writes the nationally syndicated medical question-and-answer column To Your Good Health in newspapers around the country.)

Now onto your question.

There aren’t too many Ohio breweries that distribute in the New York City area. But you can find Great Lakes, Hoppin’ Frog and Thirsty Dog.

Now, if I had to pick only one beer from each of those places — or at least one beer to start with — it’d be Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher and Thirsty Dog Barrel Aged Siberian Night.

DEAR RICK: I would, personally, love to see a listing of all Ohio brewers, with the date they opened and the number of barrels currently being produced each year. How about each brewery’s owner or parent company? Probably other useful/interesting facts. — Derek Clayton

Dear Derek: Holy mackerel! How much free time do you think I have? You’ve given me a year’s worth of work. Or more.

And given the way breweries are opening in the state — whoops, another one opened while I wrote that phrase — it’s near impossible to keep up.

For starters, you can run out and buy a copy of my book Ohio Breweries, which came out in late 2011 and is admittedly waaaay out of date and missing a ton of breweries.

While the Artful Pint blog died last year, you can still check out Bob Lesher’s entertaining rundown at: artfulpint.com/ohio-craft-beer-directory.

That said, your suggestion is a good one and I'll see if I can put something like that together in the future.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Nick Moeller

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 10:32am

Nick Moeller is the owner of the Moeller Brew Barn in Maria Stein. The production brewery and tasting room is housed in an industrial park in the countryside.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I’m pretty sure my buddies David Gray and Matt Deig convinced me that it was a good idea. Probably in 2006, they had put a label on their homebrew bottles, “Meet Me In The Alley Brewing Company” since both brewers' homes were across the alley from each other in Ocean Beach. I started brewing with them and it was always a good time. Then one day, the Brew Barn became the dream, and I got brew and beer nerdy and really learned to brew.

Q: Moeller Brew Barn isn't located in a population-rich area. What different challenges, if any, does the brewery face because of its rural location?

A: There are quite a few population rich towns that are also rich in breweries, but we’re currently the only one in west-central Ohio. But the region is pretty populated in general, and people like to take the drive to Maria Stein. It’s fun to drink beer across from a steer farm and see silos in the sunset. So I don’t think low population is a big deal. We might have to log a few more miles on our delivery truck to get to all of the surrounding rural towns – so maybe that’s more of a challenge.

Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?

A: I’d say to plan to start with a kegerator and kegging your beer so you don’t have to mess with bottles. It’ll be a lot less hassle and you’ll have more time to focus on the beer. Brew-in-a-bag is a great way to play with specialty grains for your recipe, but all-grain is a little more fun, so go BIAB at a minimum. And temperature controlled fermentation is a great investment for your beer and eliminates the need for racking to a secondary or even thinking about filtering your beer.

Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?

A: The Wally Post Red is our best-seller probably because it’s so delicious. We got off to a great start with it back in July releasing it before the All-Star game in Cincy. Wally Post is a local legend from St. Henry who played for the Reds mostly in the 50s, so I think the name helped get a lot of people to try it. We got a lot of feedback on the beer and changed it a couple times for the better. It has a nice malty backbone, an herbaceous hop juiciness and a rye spiciness that makes a really delicious beer.

Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?

A: I recently had an Alaskan Smoked Porter and think they nailed it on the head with going back to pre-Prohibition brewing roots of where malt had a smokiness due to the local malting process, and incorporating local alder wood for smoking. I think the smoked porter and their brewery's story epitomizes craft brewery stories all over the country.

Categories: Beer News

Cleveland to host National Beer Mile race

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:29pm

Cleveland will host the National Beer Mile racing series this year.

The Atlanta-based group on Thursday announced the first 15 cities that will host races. The Cleveland event is set for May 21 at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

The competition involves runners drinking a beer and then running a lap, drinking a beer and then running a lap ... until they've polished off four beers and ran a mile.

"National Beer Mile is definitely geared towards a more social audience," co-founder Kevin Cregan said in a news release. "We welcome drinkers, runners and party animals alike. We don't care how you get through the course, as long as you have a great time."

Cregan and Rob Goldstein started the informal competition in the late 1980s. Organizers estimate that more than 125,000 runners will participate this year.

"It’s an event that draws 21 year olds and 51 year olds. Exercise, beer, party — those are three words all generations can get behind," Goldstein said. "Combining them all into one experience adds up to the Best. Saturday. Ever."

Other cities in the series include Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta.

Organizers say they haven't determined which beers will be served in Cleveland, but they hope to work with local breweries.

Tickets are on sale now, with early general admission tickets going for $35. There also is a VIP package that includes a swag bag. For more details on the Cleveland event or for tickets, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:05pm

Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:

-- The website Thrillist has named Fat Head's and Hoppin' Frog among its list of "The Best Breweries in America. For Eating." To read the full list, click here.

-- Columbus Business First reports that Four String Brewing Co. is producing a contract beer for Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern. The beer is called Rusty Bucket Pilsner. To read the full story, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus reports that Buckeye Lake Brewery is now selling six-packs. To read the full story, click here.

-- Cleveland.com reports on a new paddleboat business called BrewBoat CLE that will paddle along the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. "We're piggybacking on the fact that Cleveland is an amazing brewery town, and can offer more on the beer-tour idea," founder Freddie Coffey says. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Cincinnati Business Courier will host a "News & Brews" event Feb. 18 at the Moerlein Lager House. The event will provide an opportunity to chat with Business Courier reporters and editors. For full details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

MadTree announces Winter Bonanza Party details

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 1:25pm

MadTree Brewing Co. has announced details for its third annual Winter Bonanza Party, which starts at noon Jan. 30 and runs until 1 a.m.

The tasting will showcase nearly 60 beers, including limited releases from MadTree and breweries in the region. It also will feature live music and food.

Admission is free and beers are $5.

"Before the brewery opened, we hosted an annual celebration in our backyards with friends over for big, delicious, and warming craft beers,” MadTree co-founder Kenny McNutt said in a news release. "Once again we want to share the Winter Bonanza with everyone!"

To read the full news release, which includes a rundown of the beers and music lineup, see below:



MadTree Third Annual Winter Bonanza Party Saturday, January 30

Beer, Music, and Food to Celebrate MadTree’s Third Anniversary

CINCINNATI, OH (January 21, 2015) – MadTree Brewing is hosting one of winter’s biggest parties on Saturday, January 30 from noon to 1AM to celebrate their birthday. The third installment of the Winter Bonanza features nearly 60 beers, including many limited releases, from MadTree and from breweries around the region. There will be live music all day from DJs and bands with The Rumpke Mountain Boys headlining at 9PM. Additionally, food from Catch-A-Fire Café and some of the area’s most popular food trucks will be on-hand to satisfy a wide range of appetites.

“Before the brewery opened, we hosted an annual celebration in our backyards with friends over for big, delicious, and warming craft beers,” said Kenny McNutt, MadTree Brewing co-founder. “Once again we want to share the Winter Bonanza with everyone!”

Admission is free and beers are $5 each, with pour sizes of 7oz, 10oz, or 16oz depending on the beer. The event also marks the first time the public is able to sample beers from MadTree’s new ‘Funk Series’ of wild, funky, and sour ales aged in wine and spirits barrels. Attendees can also expect a number of beers from the ‘Trunk Series’ of barrel aged beers tapped throughout the day. Guest taps from other breweries will feature many limited release beers being tapped hourly during the event. Below is a complete beer list with tapping times.

Beer List

MadTree Beers

Guest Taps

On Tap All Day

Axis Mundi


Ginger Ale/Rootbeer (Non Alcoholic)

Gnarly Brown

Happy Amber


Identity Crisis


Nitro Black Forest/Nitro Axis Mundi



Rubus Cacao


The Great PumpCan


Unhappy Amber


MadTree Funk Series

12PM: Levanto Peach (Blend 1 - Brett & Lacto)

12PM: Levanto Peach (Blend 2 - Brett)

3PM: Dead Flowers

9PM: Sherry Cherry Raspberry


MadTree Trunk Series

12PM: BBA Coffee and Vanilla Axis Mundi

2PM: Gin BBA Joon

3PM: BBA PumpCan

4PM: BBA Gnarly Brown

5PM: BBA Are You Ready for Some Darkness

6PM: BBA Ye Olde Battering Ram

7PM: BBA Happy Amber

8PM: BBA Wild Turkey Lift

9PM: BBA Axis Mundi

12PM: Ei8ht Ball Brewing - Doppio

12PM: Warped Wing Brewing Co. - BBA Pirouge

1PM: Blank Slate Brewing Co. - BBA Shroominous

1PM: Columbus Brewing Co. - Bodhi

1PM: West Sixth Brewing - BBA Pay It Forward

2PM: Great Lakes Brewing Co. - 2014 BBA Blackout

2PM: Rhinegeist - Double Oaked Gramps

2PM: Urban Artifact - Citrus Finn

3PM: Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. - Wild Hunt Black IPA

3PM: Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. - Sherry Barrel Wee Heavy

4PM: Braxton Brewing Co. - BBA Dark Charge

4PM: Jackie O's Pub & Brewery - Matriarch

4PM: Old Firehouse Brewery - Stand Pipe

5PM: Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon - Head Trip

5PM: Taft's Ale House - Louisa's Dark Side

5PM: Triple Digit Brewing Co. - BBA Maple Chickow!

6PM: Land-Grant Brewing Co. - BBA Beard Crumbs

6PM: Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House - Nice Melons

6PM: Yellow Springs Brewery - Wobbly Wheel

7PM: Hoof Hearted Brewing - Cultrider

7PM: Little Fish Brewing Company - Balaclava

8PM: Fifth Street Brewpub - Definitely Frances

8PM: Fifty West Brewing Co. - Jalopy Nose

8PM: Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. - Coconut Coffee Brown

8PM: Seventh Son Brewing - Coffee Oubliette

9PM: Maumee Bay Brewing Co. - BBA Total Eclipse

9PM: North High Brewing - Twice As Rice

10PM: The Dayton Beer Co. - Broken Empire


Music Lineup



1PM-2:30PM The Turkeys

3PM-4:30PM Common Center

5PM-6:30PM Cereal Killers

7PM-8:30PM The Almighty Get Down

9PM-12AM Rumpke Mountain Boys

12PM-4PM Brian The Bartender

4PM-8PM DJ Soul Step

8PM-12AM Jackson Rouse


Food Trucks

Food will be available all day from the Catch-A-Fire Café and Truck, Red Sesame Korean BBQ, Bones’ Burgers, and C’est Cheese.


Parking will not be available at the brewery, but there will be free shuttle buses running from noon to 1AM between the Fifth Third Madisonville Operations Building at 5001 Kingsley Drive and MadTree. Parking at Fifth Third is free. Only drop-offs are permitted at MadTree - there will be no parking available at the brewery.

A map of the event, complete list of beers and their tapping times, and the music lineup with set times is available at http://madtreebrewing.com/bonanza.

About MadTree Brewing Company

Cincinnati’s MadTree Brewing made history when they opened in 2013 by becoming the first modern craft brewery to can its beer in Ohio. MadTree plans to open a new $18M brewery, taproom, and event space in Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood in Q4-2016. MadTree is known for focusing more on great tasting beers rather than following traditional brewing style guidelines.  Their award-winning beers are distributed throughout Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Athens and Northern Kentucky. For more information about the beers, brewery, and tap room, visit www.madtreebrewing.com or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Categories: Beer News

Commonhouse Ales to feature charitable bent

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:59am

Lenny Kolada doesn’t need — as he puts it — another conquest.

He’s been in the craft beer game for a long time, having founded Barley’s Brewing Co. and Smokehouse Brewing Co. in Columbus.

“I’m OK,” he says, with a laugh. “I drive a Honda. Everything is cool.”

Despite not needing a new venture, Kolada announced a huge one this week.

He’s bought the former Columbus Brewing Co. equipment and is launching Commonhouse Ales, a new production brewery with a significant charitable bent.
Commonhouse already has created a community fund called Commonhouse Shares through The Columbus Foundation, stocked it with $10,000 and will earmark $1 for every six-pack sold of Columbus Common Ale to the fund.

“Anything that we fund we can never get back,” Kolada says.

In other words, all the money funneled to the fund will go to support nonprofit groups in Central Ohio. Which groups? Kolada is still working on that, although he mentioned that he’s interested in supporting the homeless and anyone in abusive relationships.

He estimates that Commonhouse eventually could donate $100,000 a year to the fund when the brewery is fully up and running.

Along the way, Kolada wants Commonhouse to become the first brewery in Ohio to be a Certified B Corporation, which involves, according to the B Corp website, meeting “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

Kolada’s feeling is that the world doesn’t need another IPA or pale ale, but he believes that he can help his community through beer.

The craft beer industry is filled with brewers who support charitable causes — just check out Eudora Brewing Co.’s Water Initiative or West Sixth Brewing Co.’s Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter. Commonhouse has taken its commitment seriously by setting up the fund through the foundation.

That’s not to say that the actual suds will take a backseat to the charitable component of the business.

“The No. 1 priority is to make quality beer,” Kolada says.

Commonhouse will occupy the same space that Columbus Brewing did on Short Street. It’s fair to say that Commonhouse will serve as the production brewery for Smokehouse, with brewmaster Sam Hickey heading the brewing operations at both locations.

Smokehouse will serve as an incubator for Commonhouse recipes, Kolada says.
Commonhouse beers will be distributed both on draft and in bottles.

Kolada declined to say how much money is going into the brewery, although he described it as a “substantial investment” involving all equity and no debt.

Columbus Brewing has shifted its operation to a new brewery on Harrison Road on the city's west side.

“It’s exciting to know that the brewery space and equipment we’ve been using for two decades will be going to someone who is so passionate about Columbus and craft beer,” Columbus Brewing owner Eric Bean said in a prepared statement.

Commonhouse also announced its initial lineup:

• Columbus Common, an American amber ale that will be available year­-round.

• Summer Sesh, a session IPA that will be a seasonal.

• Winter Sesh, a maltier session IPA that will be seasonal.

There also will be four seasonal brews: IBU UBME, an imperial IPA; Hoptopus, a pale wheat ale; Punkt, an imperial pumpkin porter; and Imagine, a winter warmer.

Commonhouse hopes to have its beer available in the Columbus market by the end of April.

“We are really excited to see what this new model for an Ohio brewery might turn into,” Kolada says. “I think it’s pretty cool. But cool doesn’t pay the bills.”


Categories: Beer News