Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. will release two of its bourbon barrel-aged beers in bottles for the first time starting Friday (May 24) at the Akron brewery. Both Siberian Night Imperial Stout and Wulver Wee Heavy Ale were aged for 11 months.
They aren’t for the faint of heart. Wulver -- the name is a nod to the legend of a Scottish werewolf -- clocks in at 12 percent alcohol by volume, while Siberian Night is 10.9 percent.
“I wanted a big beer to complement the bourbon flavors,” co-owner John Najeway said. “I’ve had some beers that are light that I didn’t think were appropriate with the bourbon barrel aging. I like a big, hearty beer that can capture that aroma and flavor and these beers do that.”
The bottles feature a gold foil over the crown, gold lettering on the labels and the signatures of both Najeway and head brewer Tim Rastetter. Najeway said they “baby-sat” the beers while in the barrels, checking on them every month and trying to determine the perfect amount of aging time. They concluded that was 11 months.
“We’re very proud of them,” Najeway said.
In addition to being high in alcohol, the brews aren’t inexpensive. A four-pack of 12-ounce bottles will retail for $23.99. Still, that’s a great deal considering the cost of many barrel-aged beers, Najeway said.
Both beers will be available at the brewery starting Friday and then later over the weekend and next week in limited quantities at retailers.
Anheuser-Busch InBev is upset again with Ohio lawmakers, saying a new brewery bill introduced this week could scuttle its plans to buy a wholesale distributorship in Lima.
State Reps. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, and Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown Township, introduced House Bill 174, which would prevent breweries from buying beer distributors in the state before a new law prohibiting such ownership takes effect.
House Bill 174 follows the passage last month of Senate Bill 48, which prohibits big brewers from owning or having a financial interest in distributors in Ohio. But the bill doesn't go into effect until the end of July. Buchy and Gerberry's legislation would prevent breweries from moving on deals before then. It includes an emergency clause and would take effect immediately if signed by the governor.
Since Senate Bill 48 was approved, Anheuser-Busch announced an agreement to buy C&G Distributing Co. Inc. in Lima. The brewery had protested the passage of Senate Bill 48.
Buchy's office said the intent isn't to stand in the way of that sale, but to promote competition within the beer industry. But Anheuser-Busch believes the legislation would impact the deal.
"As we work to promote business in Ohio, it is important to address looming issues that threaten the growth of industry," Buchy said in a prepared statement. "Ohio’s Legislature made its intentions clear with the unanimous passage and the signing into law of SB 48. House Bill 174 will stop manufacturers from using a loophole to gain a monopoly in the beer industry in Ohio.
"This bill will allow competition to drive the beer market and ensure consumers have access to the best products available. Monopoly-like actions threaten Ohio’s economic recovery and hinder entrepreneurship and job growth."
Anheuser-Busch, which operates a brewery in Columbus and already owns a distributor in Canton, issued a lengthy statement today (May 23) opposing the measure:
“Anheuser-Busch is strongly opposed to any bill that restricts the free market that has long existed in Ohio’s beer industry. Government interference in private business transactions would be contrary to the pro-growth environment that has made Ohio a great place to do business.
“In fact, we’ve owned a distributorship in Canton since 1994, serving more than 1,000 restaurants, bars, convenience and grocery stores throughout eastern Ohio. Between our distributorship and Columbus brewery, we employ nearly 800 Ohioans.
“We’re proud of our products, have invested significantly in them and have a strong interest in how they’re brought to market.
“There has been no showing, in legislative hearings or anywhere else, that there is some kind of problem in the beer industry in Ohio that requires intrusion by the Ohio General Assembly. We urge the legislature to reject anti-competitive public policy.”
Gary Guagenti of C&G Distributing also had sent a letter to House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, last week protesting the possibility that lawmakers would introduce legislation that would prevent the sale.
"Please understand that the decision to sell was made in the best interest of our families, our employees and our customers," he wrote. To read the full letter, click here.
The Delaware Gazette reports on Staas Brewing Co., a new brewery planned for the community. Owner Donald Staas told the newspaper he hopes to open by July 4 and will offer a German weizen, Belgian-style golden strong, kolsch, India pale ale, English ESB, brown ale, saison, oatmeal stout, rotating seasonal and root beer.
“Our aim is to create synergy down here, an environment that is considered to be a destination spot for beer drinkers,” he told the newspaper about the location.
To ready the full story, click here.
West Point Market in Akron is hosting a 25th birthday party for Great Lakes Brewing Co. from 7 to 9 p.m. June 7. The special beer tasting will feature all Great Lakes beers and an appearance by brewery co-owner Pat Conway, who along with his brother Dan launched Great Lakes in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood in September 1988.
The tasting will include small batch firkins and Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter, a collaborative brew with Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore.
"We will be pouring samples of everything they make that is in season, and then some," the gourmet grocer says on its website. "Meet and congratulate founder Pat Conway and understand the passion that's still brewed into each batch of Great Lakes beer. The evening includes pub fare appetizers from our kitchen, with most recipes featuring Great Lakes in them."
The cost is $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Reservations are recommended and can be made by clicking here or calling 330-864-2151 ext. 129.
The dinner will feature Labrador Lager, Whippet Wheat, Irish Setter Red, Hoppus Maximus and Old Leghumper. To see the full menu, designed by Chefs Douglas Katz and Cameron Pishnery, click here.
The cost is $59 plus tax/gratuity. Reservations may be made by calling 216-921-3473.
Homestead Beer Co. plans to move into the Columbus market and open a full-blown tasting room this summer.
“The community response has just been off the charts,” brewer and co-owner Adam Rhodes said during a visit this week. (See video below.)
The production brewery, which has a 15-barrel Premier Stainless Systems direct fire brewing system, opened in January inside a nondescript building at the Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center in Heath. There’s not even a sign on its stand-alone building identifying it as the home of Homestead.
So far, the brewery — which focuses on session beers and draft only for now — has been selling to bars and restaurants in the Heath, Newark and Granville areas. But sales have been going so well and the brewing system is now dialed in and producing more consistent beer, so Homestead will start distributing to select accounts in Columbus within the next couple of weeks.
“Our beer just keeps getting better and better,” Rhodes said.
Homestead hopes to offer three or four beers year-round. The most popular so far has been Great Granville Riot, an India pale ale, but that beer is being retired because of the inability to get Centennial hops.
It’s being replaced by Claim Jumper IPA, which features a blend of Columbus, Galena and Nugget hops. Claim Jumper is expected to be released in mid- to late June.
“We’re really excited about that IPA,” Rhodes said.
While many brewers are making West Coast-style IPAs with big citrus and grapefruit notes, the blend of hops in Claim Jumper provides “old school” pine, resin and grass flavors, he said.
Beer drinkers won’t find any West Coast-style IPAs because Rhodes isn’t a big fan of the style. You also won’t find high-alcohol brews. There’s not a Homestead beer over 5.9 percent alcohol by volume. That’s by design.
“We want our beers to be drinking beers,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes and co-owner Kevin Atkinson believe others feel the same way. The brewery recently released a new beer called Barnraiser Pale Ale, which features German Noble hops.
“I was talking to a bar owner the other day and she said, ‘Pale ales are starting to come back,’ ” Rhodes said. “And I said why and she said because people are sick of drinking 8, 9, 10 percent alcohol beers. Funny enough, the exact beers we make are 5 percent, 6 percent, 4 percent even.”
Homestead is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Fridays to fill growlers. On those nights, there have been 50 to 60 people filtering through the plain taproom, an office that has a single picnic table for seating and one Homestead sign on the wall behind the tap system.
Homestead will add Saturday and perhaps Tuesday for growler sales at some point, Rhodes said. There also are plans for a full tasting room with tables, arcade games and food trucks.
The prices are some of the most inexpensive in Ohio. A 64-ounce growler goes for $5, while it’s $7 for a fill. Meanwhile, a 32-ounce growler goes for $3 and fills are $4.
“We’re very in touch with our audience,” Rhodes said about the prices.
Hoppin' Frog Brewery will hold a special meet-and-greet with beer fans from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday (May 23) at Siamone's Thai Pub & Restaurant in Springfield Township. There will be 10 Hoppin' Frog beers available.
"You can try some of the special beers that will be available for the evening, and there will be a special toffee shortbread cookie dessert served with Barrel Aged Double Pumpkin Ale for dipping," the brewery said in an email. "It's a unique, shockingly delightful flavor experience that we wanted to bring to you."
Fat Head's Brewery will open a brewpub in downtown Portland, Ore., co-owner and brewer Matt Cole said. Fat Head's -- which operates a brewpub in North Olmsted, a production brewery in Middleburg Heights and a restaurant in Pittsburgh -- just signed a deal for a 13,000-square-foot space in the Pearl District about two blocks from Deschutes Brewery and Rogue Ales pubs, he said.
"The Pearl District is a pretty hip area right in downtown Portland," Cole said.
The brewpub -- which will have a similar feel and look as the Ohio brewpub with exposed wooden beams and brick -- will operate with a 10-barrel system. "We want to keep the batch size small so we can keep the beer fresh," Cole said.
He expects the new brewpub to offer 14 or 15 Fat Head's beers on draft, along with about 25 beers from Portland breweries. He leaves for Portland this weekend to set up a timeline for the opening, which is expected to be in the spring of 2014.
Fat Head's also announced earlier this year that it's looking to open a brewpub in Columbus. "We're still scouring that area [for a location]," Cole said.
The brewery also has yet to finalize an official opening date for its tasting room at the production brewery.
Fat Head's has received national acclaim for its beers, especially its Head Hunter IPA. Despite being open since only 2009, Fat Head's has won five medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
Rich Higgins -- one of six master cicerones in the world -- will lead a special beer tasting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. June 5 at Seventh Son Brewing Co. in Columbus. The event, called "Rusticity & Elegance: Contemporary Beers With A Hint Of The Past," is part of a summer tour.
Higgins "will lead a fun and informative tasting of five beers, explaining the unique flavors and brewing processes of each," a news release says. The featured beers are: Seventh Son Spring Sheep Stout, Birra Amiata Contessa, Scheldebrouwerij Hop Ruiter, Seventh Son Stone Fort Oat Brown Ale and Olvisholt Lava.
Higgins was the third person to earn the master cicerone title, which is similar to a master sommelier for wine. He brewed professionally for eight years and owns the consulting company, Consultant a la Biere. He also served three years as president of the San Francisco Brewers Guild and was event director of San Francisco Beer Week.
Tickets are $25 and include tastes of five beers, plus various cheeses
and crackers. For tickets or more details about Higgins, click here.
Here are a few interesting beer-related stories:
-- The website Eater.com reports on "The 12 Hottest Craft Beer Bars in America Right Now." The list includes Nano Brew Cleveland. "The brewpub plus beer garden opened late last summer, and serves regional faves like Bell's and Great Lakes from 24 taps," the site says. "There are also the hoppy products of Nano's own adjoining 1-barrel system, including an American IPA loaded with organic Citra hops." To read the full report, click here.
-- TheBrewingNetwork.com reports on Weasel Boy Brewing Co. in Zanesville. Brewers and owner Jay and Lori Wince chat about their award-winning brewery in the podcast, which was released Sunday. To listen, click here.
-- Cincinnati.com, the website for the Cincinnati Enquirer, has a story about the rebirth of Lockland, home of Rivertown Brewing Co. Rivertown brewer and co-owner Jason Roeper is quoted in the story about the community's water quality. To read the full story, click here.
-- Forbes.com writes about the "Five Beer Cities to Hit This Summer." Philadelphia, Asheville, N.C., Portland, Ore., New York City and San Francisco made the cut. To read the full story, click here.
The Tap 'N' Run 4K -- which features costumes, beer chugging and racing -- returns to Cincinnati at 2 p.m. June 1.
The event combines beer and a 2.4-mile run/walk race over the Purple People Bridge and by both Reds and Bengals stadiums. Participants are encouraged to dress in costume and run with teams, friends and family of legal drinking age. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corp.
The cost is $45 if you register before May 29. The signup is $50 after that or $55 at the time of the race.
Operated by Louisville, Ky.-based JAM Active, Tap ‘N’ Run encourages participants to run, jog, walk, hop, skip or crawl to three different “chug stations” along the course. The “chug stations” will have participants chugging a four-ounce sample of beer before continuing along the race route. At the finish line, participants receive a full beer and the chance to win one of many awards, including Best Mustache, Best Belcher, Most Original Team Concept, Hot Mess and others. A news release made no mention of what brand or brands of beer are involved.
Here are some interesting beer-related stories:
-- Beer writer Adrienne So writes on Slate.com that the craft beer world has fallen in too much love with hops. "In fact, everyone I know in the craft beer industry has a problem: We’re so addicted to hops that we don’t even notice them anymore," So writes. To read the full column, click here.
-- Goose Island Beer Co. celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 13. "When we started brewing back in 1988, craft beer options in Chicago were non-existent," founder John Hall said in a prepared statement. "Twenty-five years later, we like to think we had something to do with improving the Chicago beer scene." To read the full story, click here.
-- A study by Restaurant Sciences, a research firm, premium and sub-premium beers like Budweiser, Miller Lite and Pabst Blue Ribbon have seen price hikes of 3.5 percent o 6.8 percent over the past seven months at bars and restaurants. "While all the attention has been on craft beers, the price of mainstay brands in the mid-price (Premium) tier have risen more dramatically," the company said. "And traditionally lower-priced beers such as Pabst Blue Ribbon have seen sizeable double-digit price increases in both restaurants and bars & nightclubs." To read the full article, click here.
-- The Associated Press reports on Cambridge Brewing Co. creating a stout to honor slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier. ‘I think Sean would be beside himself if he knew a beer was being named after him,’’ said Travis Dixon, one of Collier’s roommates. To read the full story, click here.
-- Confused about the diferences between the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2013 (BEER Act) and the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW Act)? Both pieces of legislation are pending before Congress. To read a story by TheStreet.com breaking down the two bills, click here.
-- The Toronto Star reports on Vulcan Ale, a Star Trek-themed beer. “I’ve lived and breathed Star Trek my entire life, it’s a wonderful show and I guess this is just a way of contributing to the story,” veterinarian Dr. Richard Weger of Calgary, one of the creators of the ale, told the newspaper. “And yes, yes . . . I have a costume, Mr. Spock, my favourite character.” To read the full story, click here.
The 33rd annual Walleye Festival in Port Clinton will feature a craft beer tasting from 7 to 11 p.m. May 23. The Port Clinton Walleye Beer Fest will include more than 100 beers from 20 breweries, local restaurants pairing their food with beer, and live performances by the Last of the Wildmen and the Naked Bacon Band.
Participating breweries include Atwater, Bell's, Catawba Island, Christian Moerlein, Fat Head's, Founders, Goose Island, Great Lakes, Hoppin' Frog, Jolly Pumpkin, Lagunitas, Maumee Bay, Mt. Carmel, New Holland, Revolution, Rivertown, The Brew Kettle and Thirsty Dog.
General admission tickets are $25 and include 20 samples and a tasting glass. VIP tickets are $35 and allow people to enter the tasting at 6 p.m.
C&G Distributing Co. Inc. in Lima and Anheuser-Busch InBev announced a deal today (May 17) for the wholesale distributorship to be purchased by the brewer. Financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the near future, were not disclosed.
The Cecala and Guagenti families have owned and operated C&G for more than 60 years, and have been selling Anheuser-Busch products in a nine-county area in west central Ohio since 1967.
"This investment reinforces our commitment to providing local retailers with exemplary service and consumers with a broad portfolio of brands and unique beers to enjoy," Anheuser-Busch Regional Sales Vice President Kevin Feehan said in a prepared statement. "For more than 100 years, Anheuser-Busch has been dedicated to adding value to, and providing competition in, the wholesale tier. We look forward to growing our brands and enhancing competition in this market, which will benefit west-central Ohio retailers and consumers."
Ohio lawmakers recently passed legislation, Senate Bill 48, barring big brewers from owning distributors -- a move that Anheuser-Busch protested.
"Substitute SB 48 should have no impact on the deal as we fully expect to complete this transaction prior to the legislation’s effective date," Christine Czernejewski, director of communications-government affairs, said in an email. "However, we continue to believe the provision in Substitute SB 48 that will prohibit a wholesale distributorship from selling to a brewer will have a significant impact on our company and those wholesalers who want to sell. This provision restricts free-market competition and creates a climate of uncertainty that will negatively impact future economic investment in the state."
Anheuser-Busch has been in a fight with Illinois lawmakers over a similar issue. (To read a story from Chicago Crain's Business, click here.)
Anheuser-Busch has strong ties to Ohio. The company has a brewery in Columbus and also operates A-B Sales of Canton, serving more than 1,000 restaurants, bars, convenience and grocery stores in Stark, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Wayne and Holmes counties. Between the two facilities, Anheuser-Busch has nearly 800 employees in the state.
Great Lakes Brewing Co., which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, announced plans this week to expand distribution and make capital improvements at its Cleveland brewery.
Great Lakes -- Ohio's oldest craft brewery -- will expand into the Gettysburg and Harrisburg, Pa., areas during the second quarter of this year; into the West Virginia panhandle, Indiana, St. Cloud, Minn., and Northeast and North Central Pennsylvania in the third quarter; and throughout North Carolina in the first quarter of next year. The brewery now serves 13 states and Washington, D.C.
The brewery also plans to improve automation in the brewhouse, allowing it to make 10 brews a day, up from seven; upgrade its labeler so it can do 240 bottles a minute as opposed to the current 170; and make other improvements, including to water daeration. The company did not state in a news release the cost of the financial investment.
Eli Smart wants to be part of the ongoing craft beer boom in Ohio. The homebrewer and former restaurant manager plans to open the Trailhead Brewery in Akron’s Merriman Valley this summer.
"I just want to make some beer and have some fun," Smart said. "I just love making beer, you know."
He’s transforming a plaza storefront at 1674 Merriman Road into a small production brewery and tasting room, and waiting for state and federal approvals.
The taproom will feature draft beer, a small custom-made cedar bar and wooden picnic tables for seating.
The Trailhead name and picnic tables are perfect for the setting because the brewery sits at the edge of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Trailhead should fit in well in the neighborhood. The Merriman Valley is filled with bars and nightclubs. It also was home to the former Liberty Street brewpub, which closed in 2001.
Smart’s custom-made brewhouse will be able to make a maximum of three barrels of beer at a time — a tiny amount compared to other operations. For comparison, Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron can produce 18 barrels in one batch.
Smart, who lives in Stow with his wife and infant son, plans to have four beers on tap at first and then add a fifth and sixth. Those will include an India pale ale, Belgian-style dark strong ale, imperial pilsner, stout and wheat beer.
"I like a lot of flavor in my beer," he said, adding that his brews will not be filtered.
He also would like to offer firkins — limited-edition cask-conditioned ales — on Thursdays.
There are no plans right now to distribute or bottle Trailhead beers, meaning the only way you’ll be able to taste them is by visiting the brewery. There also will be no food service, other than snacks.
The beer culture in Ohio is exploding and it’s the perfect time to start a brewery, Smart said. He and his wife — who are both Ohio State University graduates — moved to Stow last year for work after five years living in Colorado, where he managed a restaurant.
That state is beer heaven for those who love craft beer. There’s a brewery and taproom on every corner. Well, maybe not every corner, but Colorado is filled with more than 130 breweries.
Ohio has more than 70 craft brewers now with many more operations planning to open later this year.
Trailhead will be the fourth brewery in the city, joining Thirsty Dog, Hoppin’ Frog and Ohio. The new Nauti Vine on South Main Street also is seeking a state license to brew under the name Mucky Duck.
Thirsty Dog co-owner John Najeway welcomed Trailhead, noting that beer drinkers who travel to Akron want to visit other breweries.
"It’ll be nice to have another brewery because it will give you another option if you’re a craft beer fan," he said.
Ohio Congressman and Speaker of the House John Boehner received the Beer Institute's 2013 Jeff Becker Beer Industry Service Award for his commitment to the beer industry and American beer drinkers, the trade and lobbying group announced today (May 15) in Washington, D.C.
Brenda Becker, the widow of longtime Beer Institute President Jeff Becker, presented the award during a reception at the Capitol Visitor Center. Boehner was honored as part of the group's annual Brewers’ Day gathering.
"Speaker Boehner has been an advocate for fair taxes, for both business and for taxpayers," Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute, said in a prepared statement. “Since he arrived in Congress more than 20 years ago, Speaker Boehner has shown the kind of leadership that we in the beer industry appreciate. The Jeff Becker award recognizes Speaker Boehner’s friendship to both the industry and to the American beer drinker.”
Boehner, R-West Chester, who was personal friends with Mr. Becker, said he was honored to receive the award. "Brewers and beer importers fuel a national industry that supports jobs in my district and every district across the country," he said in a prepared statement. "I’m proud to support hardworking Americans and stand up for fair policies for all consumers."
The Jeff Becker Beer Industry Service Award is given annually to an individual who embodies Becker’s passion for brewing industry.
For Brewers’ Day, CEOs and top executives from Beer Institute member companies, such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken USA, Crown Imports and Brooklyn Brewery were in Washington to support the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2013 (BEER Act), which would reduce excise taxes for all brewers and beer importers.
The event will feature Yellow Springs Brewery's Porter and Wyatt's Eviction ESB, along with Goose Island 312, Goose Island Summertime, Widmer Hopside Down, Kona Longboard Lager, Red Hook Long Hammer IPA, Redhook Wit, Harpoon IPA, Leinenkugel Canoe Paddler, Redd’s Apple Ale, Rivertown Blueberry Lager, Samuel Adams Summer Ale and Third Shift Amber Lager.
There also will be pulled pork and beef brisket sliders, live entertainment with the Omega Point Band, and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. For tickets, call 937-399-3872
With new breweries opening left and right across the country, the Brewers Association has updated its book: The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery (Second Edition).
The 232-page book was written by Dick Cantwell, the head brewer at Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Co., which has three brewpubs and a production facility. The how-to guide covers everything from ingredients, financing, business plans and quality assurance to distribution, wastewater, sustainability, the association says. The cover price is $95.
“Planning and opening a thriving, quality-oriented brewery is hard work but completely achievable with the right guidance,” Cantwell said in a prepared statement. “At a time when the industry is booming and more breweries are emerging, I’m thrilled to be able to share my experience and help fellow brewers start on the right foot. The updated edition gets readers thinking about what’s important and provides practical advice that will help turn any craft brewing dream into a reality.”
The first edition of The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery was released in 1996. To view a behind the scenes interview with Cantwell on the new edition, please click here.
Here are some interesting beer-related stories:
-- The Sun News reports that Buckeye Brewing Co. will hold a beer tasting during the Taste of Lakewood on June 2. "Visitors can learn about beer and food pairings as they sample six unique craft beers from Buckeye Brewing, each carefully selected to complement foods from seven of Lakewood’s best-known restaurants.," the newspaper reports. To read the full story, click here.
-- WVXU-FM (91.7) in Cincinnati reports on Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. as part of a story on American Craft Beer Week. To listen to the report, click here.
-- The website Thrilllist.com writes about the 33 best craft beers in a can -- most of which aren't available here in Ohio. The list includes Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Abita Purple Haze and Anderson Valley Hop Ottin. To read the full list, click here.
-- KPTV in Portland, Ore., reports on the nation's first nonprofit brewpub. The Oregon Public House will funnel money to charities. "I really like the idea of spending money and having it go somewhere rather than just in someone's pocket," customer Andrew James said. To read the full story, click here.