Ohio Beer Blog

BrewDog mania in Columbus

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 3:51pm

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved an income tax break Monday (June 29) for BrewDog so the Scottish brewery can open a $30.4 million brewery and headquarters in Canal Winchester, Columbus Business First reports.

"Our international expansion plans have always been ambitious, but our intentions stateside are probably up there with some of the most ambitious, bombastic, exciting ventures we’ve ever embarked on,” BrewDog co-founder James Watt said in a news release. "America has one of the world’s most eclectic, energetic beer scenes imaginable, and we’re psyched to be pledging allegiance to the craft beer revolution in the USA."

BrewDog previously had announced plans to open a 100-barrel brewery in the Columbus market. Check out all the latest media coverage here: Columbus Business First, Columbus Dispatch, Brewbound, This Week and Cleveland.com.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:13am

Here are some interesting beer stories:

-- The Toledo Blade chats with "beer professor" Neil Reid, a University of Toledo professor of geography and planning and director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center at UT. “Demographics are working in favor of craft beer," Reid says. "Because who drinks craft beer? It tends to be younger people. Uncle Joe is a Budweiser drinker, Miller Lite — you’ll probably never convince him to even try a Sam Adams, right?: To read the full story, click here.

-- WDTN reports on the two-year anniversary for Toxic Brew Co. in Dayton. The celebration took place last weekend. “Two years is a massive accomplishment for any small business and we are just grateful for all of the support the community has shown us and the craft beer scene in general,” owner Shane Juhl says. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Canton Repository profiles the Royal Docks Brewing Co. that plans to open later this year in Jackson Township. "We’re definitely trying to bring a little of the European aspect into it," co-owner Adriana Bikis says. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Enquirer reports on a three-day All-Star beer, music and food celebration planned at Taft's Ale House in Cincinnati. "This was first and foremost to get people to come down this way," co-owner and brewer Kevin Moerland says. "I think the best part of the city is what's happening down here." To read the full story, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus has assembled a rundown of all the places to grab a growler in the Columbus area. To check out the list, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Robin Swoboda to tap newest beer at Hofbrauhaus in Cleveland

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 9:31am

Cleveland television personality Robin Swoboda -- who also happens to write a Sunday column in the Akron Beacon Journal -- will serve as the celebrity guest keg tapper as Hofbrauhaus in Cleveland unveils its newest beer.

Sommerbier, an unfiltered lager, will be tapped at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. (July 1)

Each month, the brewpub holds a special keg tapping with a local celebrity.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Jeff Bradbury

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 6:56am

Jeff Bradbury is co-owner and brewer at Lucky Owl Brewing Co., a new brewery in Bainbridge Township in Geauga County. The small brewery offers bottles and draft, but its distribution is limited to the Chagrin Falls area.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: Brewing started as a hobby introduced to me by a coworker at my first full-time job as a software developer. I enjoyed having something tangible result from my work that could be share with and be appreciated by others. The fact that there are so many creative options and different techniques that can be utilized to vary the finished product was also appealing to my creative and technical sides.

Almost from the beginning, the thought of brewing professionally was there and slowly came to fruition with the opening of the nanobrewery this January thanks to finding partners who shared my vision and complemented my skills. I feel fortunate that it’s still something I’m passionate about. Even after working my day job and heading to the brewery in the evening to brew, often finishing after 11 p.m., I leave thinking: "That was fun; I can’t wait to do that again."

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: No, I don’t feel there are too many breweries and believe Ohio can sustain many more — mainly small breweries that cater to their local market with a handful distributing statewide. Consumers are becoming more educated about beer and the expectation of quality has increased and they will continue to demand better and fresher beer and are likely to find the freshest beer at or near the brewery.

The Ohio A1C license created in 2013 drastically reduced the fixed costs with operating a brewery which made operating a nanobrewery economically viable at a much lower production volume. This led to the number of breweries nearly doubling the year following its introduction. I expect this trend will continue as more breweries open to support underserved areas or bring unique beers to market.

Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful, especially those who plan to open as a nanobrewery like you have?

A: First, I recommend that future brewers get involved. There is a great community among brewers from homebrewers to professionals. We’re fortunate to have several excellent clubs in Ohio and as a member of the SNOBs (Society of Northeast Ohio Brewers) I’ve made many friends and industry contacts, learned a lot about brewing and judging beer and also had fun.

Next, become proficient in fixing things and thinking creatively. When brewing our first batch, we couldn’t source Centennial hop pellets and decided to go ahead with whole flower hops. Everything went great until it was time to whirlpool and we saw hop cones flowing through the output tubing right to the pump where they promptly jammed it. Some quick thinking turned a kitchen strainer and piece of copper pipe into a filter that one of us had to hold over the outlet port during the whirlpool and chilling.

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

A: That’s difficult to say since we’re so new and the response to our beers has been great. People comment the most on our Imago IPA which is the first recipe we brewed. I expected to refine the recipe over time but it’s been so well received that it’s stayed the same. Our session IPA, Owling, has also done very well. It doesn’t hurt that IPAs are the biggest selling category of craft beer.

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

A: There are so many beers I could put on this list but I’m going to go with Heady Topper. The Alchemist took a style that had been defined (and owned) by West Coast breweries and put their own twist on it and has set the standard for an "East Coast" Double IPA with its unfiltered haze and tropical citrus notes. It’s still only sold within 25 miles of the brewery to ensure freshness and often appears on lists of top beers in the world. It’s more impressive considering the cult following was built through word of mouth. It’s an inspiration.

Categories: Beer News

Warped Wing, Huffy team up to create special bike and beer

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:01am

Warped Wing Brewing Co. and the Huffy Corp. are collaborating to create both a special, one-of-a-kind bike and a beer that will bear the name "Radler."

The three-wheel, foot-powered bike will make its debut alongside the beer -- a lager made with organic grapefruit juice -- at 5 p.m. July 2 at the Dayton brewery. The bike will be used to make keg and can deliveries through much of the city's Oregon District, the brewery said.

“Dayton has a rich history of both beer and bicycle and we wanted to highlight that with this collaboration," brewery Vice President of Marketing Nick Bowman said Thursday. "Even better, Huffy has built us something that we will use to bring local beer to the people of downtown Dayton."

Radler, by the way, means "cyclist" in German. It's also a low-alcohol beer style that features a blend of lager and traditionally lemonade. Think shandy.

"One of the cool things to point out is that instead of lemonade, which is more traditional in shandies and radlers, we went with grapefruit," Bowman said.

The Warped Wing Radler is 4 percent alcohol by volume and will be available on draft only.

The brewery also provided some close-up shots of the bike -- but not a full photo of it. For that, people will have to wait until July 2, Bowman said. He added that the bike, designed to hold kegs and cans, has a full bar on the front. The brewery plans to bring it to events to show it off.

Believe it or not, there is a slight connection between Huffy and the Warped Wing. In 1887, George P. Huffman purchased the Davis Sewing Machine Co. and moved its factory to Dayton. The company made its first bicycle in 1892. Huffman also, at one point, owned the Buckeye Iron and Brass Works Foundry, which is now home to Warped Wing.

“We’ve been a proud member of the Dayton community for more than 120 years and are very excited to partner with Warped Wing Brewing to create this hand-built one-of-a-kind bike," Ray Thomson, Huffy executive vice president of marketing, said in a prepared statement.

Categories: Beer News

Rhinegeist to host anniversary party Saturday

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 8:33am

Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati will host its second anniversary party starting at noon Saturday. (June 27)

The brewery promises a new beer tapping every hour, along with live music, food and a 35-foot Slip 'N Slide. To read a full story about the anniversary from WCPO, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 8:04am

Here are some interesting beer stories:

-- Cleveland.com crowned Great Lakes Brewing Co. as Northeast Ohio's Best Craft Brewery after conducting an online poll. Fat Head's Brewery finished second. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on the Hoots & Hops beer tasting set for Aug. 14 at the Cincinnati Nature Center. The event will feature Fifty West, MadTree, Mt. Carmel and Rhinegeist. To read the full story, click here.

-- WCPO reports that Fibonacci Brewing is set to open in early July in Mt. Healthy. The small brewery plans to be open only on Saturdays for now. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Brew Professor reports on how Cincinnati breweries are gearing up for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. "Our resurgent brewing movement takes this opportunity to showcase their talent in the form of new baseball themed beers and special events," Mike Stuart writes. To read the full report, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Portage Lakes Brewing launches monthly beer series

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 9:53am

The Portage Lakes Brewing Co., executive chef Dick Kanatzar and Pav’s Creamery have teamed up this summer to offer a monthly Brews & BBQ dinner that features various breweries.

The next four-course dinner, to be held at 6 p.m. July 11 at Portage Lakes in Coventry Township, will showcase Hoppin' Frog Brewery.

"Everyone loved the first Brews & BBQ event so much, we decided to have one
every month until it gets too cold," Portage Lakes owner Jason Keel said in a news release.

The Hoppin' Frog dinner will include Turbo Shandy and a "mystery beer," along with battered walleye fishsticks, caesar salad, beef rib and Cafe Boris ice cream cake.

“The first event was probably the most fun I’ve had cooking. I’m so stoked to be
able to collaborate with awesome people and bring my style back to my hometown," Kanatzar said.

Tickets are $40. Reservations are required and seating is limited. For more details or reservations, call 330-644-2337.

Categories: Beer News

Ohio lawmakers hear supporters argue for raising the ABV cap

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 9:09am

State Rep. Dan Ramos called it an “incredible step.”

For the first time, Ohio lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday from craft beer drinkers, brewers and businesses about raising the state’s alcohol limit on beer from 12 percent to 21 percent.

Supporters of House Bill 68, which is sponsored by Ramos, D-Lorain, made two main points before the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee: The limit hampers creativity of brewers and sends beer drinkers outside Ohio to purchase the high-alcohol — and high-priced — beers.

“This law places Ohio brewers at a competitive disadvantage and serves no realistic purpose other than to discourage innovation in brewing science and technique,” Seventh Son Brewing Co. owner Collin Castore said during the hearing at the Statehouse in Columbus.

He was one of seven people to offer oral testimony, which followed lengthy hearings on marijuana and taxi issues. Others to testify at the beer hearing included folks from MadTree Brewing Co., Premium Beverage Supply and Jackie O’s Brewery. Others, such as Platform Beer Co. and Cavalier Distributing, offered written testimony. Notably absent was the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, which has previously offered support for raising the limit.

Alex Ebert, a research analyst at Dahman Law in Columbus, argued that the cap makes no sense, especially if lawmakers are worried about alcohol abuse.

“There is an abundance of alcohol in higher concentrations and far cheaper by the ounce in wine and liquor, both of which are not prohibited for purchase in Ohio,” he told the committee.

The last time the state raised the limit was in 2002, when it rose from 6 percent. Ebert said he tried to research why the cap was placed at 12 percent and couldn't find any reason.

Andrew Sparks of the Liquor and Wine Warehouse in Dayton noted that customers head to Kentucky and Indiana to buy beers that are higher in alcohol. He cited the example of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, which sells for about $9.50 a bottle.

“If only one customer a day bought two bottles for the 363 days per year that my store is open, that totals $6,890 a year in sales for one store,” Sparks said. “Multiply that by the hundreds of stores in Ohio that sell craft beer, add the fact that number is for only one of the many beers above 12 percent, and the number you get in lost revenue is astounding.”

The committee members asked few questions. Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, was curious whether there is a link between taste and alcohol content. Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, wanted to know the level of alcohol that's harmful to humans.

The purpose of the hearing was to listen to proponent testimony. If the bill moves forward, there also will be an opportunity for testimony from opponents.

Ramos, who said his legislation boils down to jobs and supporting the growing craft beer industry, said he’s unaware of any organized opposition.

The committee made no decision. Ramos, a Democrat in a Republican-controlled legislature, doesn’t expect any more discussion on the legislation until the fall. But he said he was encouraged that the conversation even took place — unlike previous efforts that never got to this point.

After the hearing, Castore said he's not sure why the state has been shooting down the proposal the last several years. There's no reason for the cap, he said.

"At some point, they will change it," Castore said.

To read all the testimony, click here and then click on the June 23 hearing date.

Categories: Beer News

Wolf's Ridge, Seventh Son win at San Diego beer fest

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 8:57am

Wolf's Ridge Brewing Co. and Seventh Son Brewing Co., both from Columbus, won medals at the San Diego International Beer Festival last week.

Wolf's Ridge won a gold medal for its Dire Wolf, an imperial stout, and a bronze for Buchenrauch, a smoke beer. Meanwhile, Seventh Son won a bronze for Ragana Yaga, a porter.

Wolf's Ridge brewer Chris Davison said it was humbling to accept the awards.

"This was the first competition I have entered my own recipes in and we medaled in two of three entries," he said. "It's a nice recognition of hard work for sure. I went to San Diego to collect the awards and the competition guys were psyched I came out for the ceremony. This community is small no matter how far you travel and it's been a wonderful opportunity for me to step back, reflect, relax, and renew my passion for another year. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many more awards to come!"

To see all the winners, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Fishers Foods hosts Jackie O's tap takeover

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 7:57am

Fishers Foods will host a special tap takeover with Jackie O’s Brewery from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday (June 26) at the store on Cleveland Avenue Northwest in Canton.

The event, dubbed Pair Your Q with a Brew, also will feature Old Carolina Barbecue, which has a restaurant inside the store.

The tasting will highlight brewpub exclusives Apartment 223 and Honey Saison, along with Firefly, Chomolungma, Razz Wheat and Mystic Mama. There also will be a special bottle release of Wood Ya Honey.

It is free to attend, with people paying for the beer and food they purchase.
Fishers beer buyer Alex Fisher, Aaron Fowler of Cavalier Distributing and Katie Schlaker of Jackie O’s will be on hand to chat about the beers.

The grocery store also promised Fishers and Old Carolina gift cards, growler specials and brewery swag.

Categories: Beer News

Ohio lawmakers to hear from supporters on raising ABV

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 3:06pm

Ohio lawmakers will hear testimony from supporters Tuesday (June 23) on a proposal to increase the state's limit on alcohol allowed in beer from 12 percent to 21 percent.

State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, confirmed late Friday that the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee will hear feedback on his House Bill 68 at 1:30 p.m. in room 114 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

"I want to give my thanks for all of your continued efforts to move House Bill 68 forward," he wrote in a letter to supporters. "Your continued attention to this bill through calls, emails, letters, and communication in the community has made all the difference.

"As I mentioned in my last update, gathering in-person testimony from businesses and organizations affiliated with the industry will assist in making the case for H.B.68. Any and all are welcomed to deliver proponent testimony in person; the more the better."

Ohio craft beer drinkers have long complained that they can't buy high-alcohol specialty beers in the state. Many craft brewers also say the limit hampers their creativity.

Ramos has tried to make the case for increasing the limit the last several years, but his legislation has failed to go anywhere.

Ramos asked that a written copy of testimony be submitted to his office no later than 5 p.m. Monday (June 22) so paperwork can be sent to the committee. Testimony involves a small speech, usually less than five minutes. Questions can be sent to legislative aide Eric Fischer at Eric.Fischer@OhioHouse.gov.

Individuals who cannot attend Tuesday also can submit a written testimony through Ramos' office. The hearing is open to the public.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 2:41pm

Here are some interesting beer stories:

-- The website First We Feast highlights "15 Breweries to Watch in 2015." Coming in at No. 1 is Columbus Brewing Co. "It might seem strange to draw attention to an operation that’s been cranking for a quarter-century," Joshua Bernstein writes. "But last year, few breweries entered the national conversation quite like Columbus, which garnered two tightly contested medals at last year’s Great American Beer Festival: gold for the dank, resinous Creeper imperial IPA and bronze for the citrus-forward Bodhi IPA." To read the full list, click here.

-- The New York Daily News reports on the upcoming All-Star Game in Cincinnati, pointing out that the community has a rich history when it comes to both baseball and beer. "Cincinnati might be famous for its beer, except that by 1890 almost 2,000 registered drinking establishments occupied the 7-square-mile city," author J.P. Hoornstra writes. "So unlike in St. Louis or Milwaukee, there was no need to export Cincinnati’s best brews from coast to coast. There were plenty of customers right there in the city." To read the full story, click here.

-- WCPO reports on Rhinegeist Brewery signing with Heidelberg Distributing to handle its beer in Kentucky. "While some unfortunate politics have disallowed Riverghost’s ability to distribute craft beer, we are excited to announce that we’ve found the ideal partner to carry that torch," the brewery says.To read the full story, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus reports that TRIAD Architects will design the new BrewDog brewery coming to Columbus. "We are super excited to work with the TRIAD guys on one of the most anticipated BrewDog projects to date,” BrewDog's Keith Bennet says. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Dayton Business Journal reports that Fifth Street Brewpub pulled in more than $1 million in revenue last year. "It demonstrates the viability of co-operative ownership to gather many small investors into a single capital pool that is large enough to build a commercial enterprise for the benefit of the community," Treasurer Tony Griffin says. To read the full story, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Tom Schaeffer

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 7:53am

Tom Schaeffer is the founder and chief executive officer of the Black Cloister Brewing Co., which opened earlier this year in Toledo. He's also co-founder of the Glass City Mashers homebrew club, a certified beer judge, a cicerone and a Lutheran pastor at the Threshold Church.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I was judging at a number of homebrew contests. I knew beer, but I had never brewed. In order to be a better judge, I felt it was critically important that I know the craft of making good beer, so I set out to learn. As a result, I fell in love with brewing. I found myself judging less and brewing more. The rest is history.

Q: The Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati areas are loaded with craft breweries today. But that's not the case in Toledo, where it seems the community has been slower to embrace craft beer, at least based on the number of breweries. Why is that? And is that attitude changing?

A: Creativity is the soul of brewing. If you look at the areas throughout the country where brewing has exploded, it is often in areas where the creative is celebrated -- Portland, Ashville, Grand Rapids, Seattle, etc. If you find a city where creativity is thriving, you will almost certainly find good beer being brewed. The creative is also what revives cities. I believe that was true in Cleveland, and now, not coincidentally, it has one of the most thriving beer scenes in the U.S.

I have lived in the Toledo area for over 26 years. During that time, a depressed downtown led to an exodus of our best minds and most creative souls. Craft beer and craft brewing lacked the environment to grow and thrive. But, that has changed significantly over the past decade. There is a Toledo pride that is growing. Creatives are choosing to stay and apply their gifts to their city. Glass blowers, sculptors, and painters have made their home in the Historic Warehouse District. Sushi chefs, coffee roasters, and artisanal bakeries have done the same. The city is coming to life right before our eyes! In 1989, approximately eight people lived in downtown Toledo. Eight! Today, over 600 people live downtown and, while not a lot by most cities standards, the majority of that growth has come in the last decade. With all of this renewed energy and the embracing of the creative spirit, we have seen the emergence of a small, but rapidly growing craft beer culture. Black Cloister Brewing Company is just among the first of a new wave of brewers to join this growing surge of creativity and participate in the revival of Toledo.

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

A: I have learned so much since starting this project over two years ago. The one thing I would say is, “Stay true to yourself.” Many, many people will have strong opinions concerning what you are doing wrong and what you could do better. Hear all of it. Listen to much of it. Apply little of it. We had a very clear vision of what we want to be as a brewery. Throughout, we have stayed true to that. I have had people tell me we were shooting ourselves in the foot by focusing so heavily on Belgian and European style beers. Nevertheless, we are doing it. I have been told we would be closed down within the year if we don’t add a kitchen to our taproom. I don’t know the restaurant business. I know beer. We’re sticking to our guns. I’ve been told no one will come to a taproom that has no TV’s and plays monastic chant every 20 minutes or so. Still no TV’s. Still monks singing. You will always have naysayers. Haters will hate. But, if you don’t have a vision of who you are and what you want to do as a brewery that you are very, very passionate about, you will lack the fortitude to push through it. But, there I go being a naysayer.

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

A: Our best-selling beer is Marty, a Belgian-style blonde ale. Our taproom has been open to the public since March 20 and we are now brewing our fourth batch of this beer. Consequently, we have officially named it as one of our year-round flagship brands. I really love this beer for several reasons. It was the very first beer we brewed on our system and, though we have tweaked it, we nailed an immensely drinkable and tasty beer right out of the gates. Its flavor is, of course, largely driven by the Belgian yeast. However, in this beer, we utilized the Belgian Ardennes yeast which is known as a more approachable strain, because it is more restrained in its esters and phenolics. Thus, this beer contains the beautiful banana and clove notes one would expect, but not in an overpowering manner. This leads to the second reason I love this beer. I have always loved Belgian beers. Not so with my wife. She was strictly a hophead- until the Marty. Now I have someone to share my Belgian beer with at home!

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

A: This is a tough question. There are so many fantastic beers that I would be thrilled to brew something even approaching their masterfulness. Yet, by the wording of your question, I believe my answer would need to be an original. The first of its kind that has maintained its place as one of the best. My answer would be Paulaner Salvator, the original Doppelbock -- and still one of the best. I absolutely adore this style of beer. Ayinger Celebrator would be one of my desert island beers, but it was the Minim friars of the Neudeck ob der Au cloister, also known as the Paulaner monks, who created this dark lager style with its rich toasted bread and dark fruit flavors.

Categories: Beer News

White Rajah, Royal Docks win Rhythm & Brews

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 6:53am

The Brew Kettle White Rajah won the judge's award and Royal Docks Brewing Co. -- a new brewery that has yet to open -- won the people's choice award Thursday at the fourth annual Rhythm & Brews beer, food and music festival in Canton.

A panel of four judges -- myself, Alex Fisher, Alex Zumbar and Matt "Chewy" McKee -- chose White Rajah as the top beer among the 11 entered in the competition. It felt a little unfair with the award-winning White Rajah up against the other brews. No offense to the others but it was sort of like entering a koala in a cutest bear competition.

The rest of the top five, in order, were: Flying Monkeys Super Collider, Royal Docks Royalbach Flemish Black Ale, Blue Point Toasted Lager, and BrickOven Plum Tart. (My personal top three was: White Rajah, Plum Tart and Royalbach Flemish Black Ale.)

Each brewery or beer distributor was able to nominate one beer to be judged at the event, which is put on by the Arc of Ohio-Stark County. Judges voted each beer on a scale of 1 through 9, and then the scores were added up.

The tasting, held at the Cultural Center for the Arts, was interrupted by a tornado warning.

"It's always great to win when there is a tornado is going on," The Brew Kettle's Mark Bivenour joked as he accepted the award. "We do a lot of events when we travel the state of Ohio and I got to tell you that this is one of the best events I come to. We're humbled that you like our beers."

The people's choice award was determined by beer drinkers donating dollar bills at the booths. Royal Docks, which has yet to receive its state brewing license, collected $96.

The other beers entered in the judged competition were: Canton Saison, Great Lakes Sharpshooter, Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, Maize Valley Session IPA, Mucky Duck Muckraker and Lakefront Fuel Cafe.

The Plum Tart, made by the BrickOven Brewpub in Akron, was the most unusual beer at the tasting. It's available now at the brewery. The saison, which is 4.8 percent alcohol and was made with rice, has an intense sourness and a plum flavor.

Co-owner and brewer Joshua Bringman said every brewery is making a fruit beer with raspberry, blueberry or strawberry and he wanted to try something different.

"I think it goes well with the saison and wild yeast," he said.

BrickOven specializes in hand-crafted pizzas. Asked if the Plum Tart pairs well with pizza, Bringman laughed.

"I don't know about that," he said. "It might go well with some of the salads."

Categories: Beer News

Taft's Ale House to release first sour beer

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 2:10pm

Taft's Ale House in Cincinnati will release the first beer in its new barrel-aged sour program at 6 p.m. today. (June 18)

Louisa The Stave Mother -- named after William Howard Taft's mother -- is an American wild ale made with a house yeast culture of brettanomyces, lactobacillus and pediococcus.

"This wasn’t just a strain that we purchased," co-owner and brewer Kevin Moreland said. "We created our own house culture."

The beer, aged in oak barrels, is 5.3 percent alcohol.

"It’s unblended. It’s untouched. There’s no fruit. No nothing," Moreland said. "It’s just a straight American wild ale.

"You’ll get some notes of lemon. Some citrus characters from the yeast. Very tart and sour. But the finish on it is very beer-like," he added. "Many sour beers you have that tartness go all the way through to the end and you’re like, ‘How many more drinks of this can I have, you know?’ I didn’t want to make a beer like that. The sour flavor is really strong and prominent upfront ... but then it finishes very beer-like. You get a grain finish. That’s what I like."

Moreland hopes to release a new sour every few months.

Categories: Beer News

Pliny the Elder tops Zymurgy's list of best beers -- again

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:26pm

Homebrewers just love them some Russian River Pliny the Elder. For the seventh consecutive year, the double IPA tops Zymurgy magazine’s list of the "Best Commercial Beers in America." Russian River also was named the top ranked brewery.

Two Ohio beers made the top 50: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald tied for 41st and Fat Head's Head Hunter IPA tied for 45th. Edmund Fitzgerald is a regular on the list, but this was the first time that Head Hunter made the cut.

Fat Head's brewer Matt Cole was honored. Fat Head's, which operates breweries in North Olmsted, Middleburg Heights and Portland, Ore., has been a perennial winner at national beer competitions since it opened in 2009. But, for whatever reason, it seems to be left off national best-beer lists.

"We were taking a back seat because we were a small brewery and we didn't have a lot of exposure," Cole said. "Ultimately it's the quality of the beer but you've got to get the product in the right consumers' hands ... It's taken awhile for us to get that reputation."

The rankings are detailed in the July/August edition of Zymurgy.

The American Homebrewers Association, which publishes the magazine, has been conducting an online poll for 13 years to determine the best commercial beers made in the U.S. Members vote for up to 20 of their favorite beers. They were able to choose any commercial beer available for purchase in the United States. More than 19,000 votes were cast this year for almost 6,000 different beers from 1,763 breweries.

IPAs made up eight of the top 10 beers. Here's a look at the top-ranked brews:

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder      

2. Bell's Two Hearted Ale                 

3. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA              

4. Stone Enjoy By IPA                     

5. Founders Breakfast Stout            

6. The Alchemist Heady Topper      

7. Bell's Hopslam Ale                       

8. Three Floyds Zombie Dust           

9. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA       

10. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack

“Homebrewers love to try all different types of beer, which is easy given the plethora of varieties offered by today’s small and independent brewers," AHA Director Gary Glass said in a prepared statement. "So, to be selected by homebrewers nationwide and named among the best beers in America is a tremendous honor. While a diverse group of brewers from every corner of the country were recognized for their outstanding beers and portfolios, one particular style still reigned supreme: IPA.”

To see view all the results, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Hoppin' Frog celebrates anniversary

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 8:56am

Hoppin’ Frog Brewery is celebrating the second anniversary of opening its tasting room.

The Akron brewery is holding special events all week and tapping special beers such as Barrel-Aged Naked Evil Barleywine, and Barrel-Aged BORIS Van Wink.

Hoppin’ Frog also will host its annual cookout from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. The cookout will include burgers, cheeseburgers, spicy Cajun sausage burgers, and even Hoppin’ Frog Beer Brat Sandwiches made by Pressler’s Meats in Akron.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 8:32am

Here are some interesting beer stories:

-- Columbus Crave reports on the grand opening of Restoration Brew Worx in Delaware. "The flavors are going to keep changing with the seasons," co-owner Frank Barickman says. "I also don't want to have 20 different beers. I want seven to 10 to remain fresh and rotate regularly." To read the full story, click here.

-- WCPO reports on a big expansion coming to Rivertown Brewing Co. in Lockland. Owner Jason Roeper says he's planning to add a 50-barrel brewing system and building a new tasting room. To read the full story, click here.

-- Cleveland.com reports that the World Beer Festival Cleveland will return in 2016. "Everything from the community in Cleveland to the downtown area, it's been fantastic to see," All About Beer Magazine President Chris Rice says. "The number of brewers has (increased) and they feed off each other." To read the full story, click here.

-- Queen City Drinks reports on beer adjuncts. "Some craft beer enthusiasts view the word 'adjunct' with dismay," Tom Aguero writes. "This is the unfortunate result of AB-InBev, Miller, and Coors making the decision to use high levels of rice and corn resulting in an inferior beer. Then people assume that because one adjunct beer is bad it means all adjuncts are bad." To read the full report, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus reports that Four String Brewing Co. is donating proceeds from its Starbreaker beer to the local LGBT community. To read the full story, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus reports that Drinkos -- an alcohol delivery service -- is launching in Columbus. To read the full story, click here.

-- Columbus Crave put together its Columbus Beer Guide, with stories on local brewpubs, a Q&A with Trevor Williams of Hoof Hearted Brewing and beer recommendations. You can find all the links to the individual stories by clicking here.

Categories: Beer News

Columbus brewery founder to share story

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 8:34am

Lenny Kolada knows a thing or two about starting a brewery, having helped launch both Barley's Brewing Co. and Smokehouse Brewing Co. in Columbus. He will share his experience during a Business of Beer talk from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday (June 22) at Smokehouse.

The event is sponsored by the entrepreneurial group Columbus Startup Grind.

Kolada said he was humbled to be asked to participate.

"I guess because I'm the old man in the room," he said. "I have no doubt that people think, 'He's made it for a lot of years. How did he do that?'"

Barley's opened in 1992, with Smokehouse opening in 1998 -- both well before the current craft craze that has seen more than a dozen new breweries open in Central Ohio in the last few years. Kolada now operates just the Smokehouse.

"How many more breweries can we handle in Columbus?" Kolada asked. "I suspect a lot."

But new breweries also will need to distinguish themselves from all the others, he said.

"It’s a really exciting time but with nothing guaranteed," Kolada said. "It’s no longer good enough to start a brewery because you want to make beer. There are plenty of people making beer. Who’s going to care that you’re making the next pale ale or IPA? There are already so many examples of good beer. Now, it’s where do we take it."

Tickets are $20, which includes admission, food from Smokehouse and a pint of beer. Tickets are limited but can be purchased now on Eventbrite.

Categories: Beer News