Ohio Beer Blog

Five questions with ... Matt Ritter

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 10:20am

Matt Ritter is the head brewer at Catawba Island Brewing Co. in Port Clinton. The brewery and tasting room is located along Lake Erie and isn't far from Cedar Point amusement park.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: In high school, my strong points were always science, math and arts. I've always nerded out in all three of those subjects and THRIVED. I was a tattoo artist for about a year back when my passion was my art but quickly realized that I was just not able to make the kind of living that I needed to. I did several different manual labor jobs for the next few years such as grounds maintanence, farming and even was a mechanic for a little while.

When I was doing design work for a friend of mine, he offered me a job as a cellarman/brewer in training. It wasn't difficult to realize that I could finally apply my passion for creating and my passion for science in one single job. So I took it! Have been brewing ever since.

Q: What has been the highlight of your brewing career so far and why was it so special? (Maybe it's been a beer that you brewed, an award that you won, an idol you've met ...)

A: There are so many highlights that this question took the longest to consider.

Probably the biggest highlight is being able to meet and mingle with brewers from all over. It's kind of remarkable to me to see so many industry professionals who all seem to be on the same team. Coming from a background of being a mechanic, and especially the tattoo community that always seems to be at each others' throats, it's refreshing to see a community working together to individually make better beer.

As far as beers I've brewed, it was a huge highlight in my career to develop the Burning Snowman Doppelbock and watch its popularity grow over the years. An even more recent achievement would be the release of our Cold Creek IPA. In collaboration with Ohio Hops, I was able to develop an IPA exclusively showcasing hops from my hometown, Castalia, Ohio. It was a huge success and probably one of my favorite beers I've brewed.

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

A: Learn. Read. Brew as often as possible! Think outside the box but remain disciplined. There are mountains of information available for the taking from credible sources everywhere, especially from other brewers. Question everything and always keep things interesting.

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

A: Definitely the Seiche Scottish Ale. Why? From what I hear from our customers, they enjoy the sweet, malty and slightly smokey features, and its popularity probably comes from its drinkability for non-seasoned craft beer drinkers. Here at the tasting room, I always ask what beers folks normally drink, and when I get ones who don't normally drink beer but enjoy a sweet wine, I am almost always able to sell them the Seiche after they sample it.

Our very close second is our Hot Blonde, a mango and habanero infused blonde ale. It's our seasonal spring/summer beer and people really go crazy for it when it's in season. From the feedback I've got, our customers really enjoy the sweet fruity taste of it at the beginning that gradually fades to a clean, very subtle habanero finish. They really feel the heat as an aftertaste that brings them to take another sip. We have toned down the habanero presence and really dialed in a comfortable heat that everyone can enjoy.

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

A: Anyone reading this right now who knows me could probably guess what my answer would be. TWO HEARTED ALE. I love this beer for many reasons, and it's always been my go-to beer for years. I first tried it at a buddy's bachelor party. He had a keg of it on tap next to a keg of "regular" beer. Haha. I went to go pour myself a "regular" beer and mistook the kegs, took a sip and was blown away. It was the first craft beer I ever tried.

I have folks tell me how they took awhile to get hip to IPAs and I really don't understand that concept. I was hooked. And when I found out that it wasn't even actual Two Hearted but a clone that my buddy's uncle made, I instantly delved into the world of homebrewing. I was obsessed with duplicating the beer and have been obsessed with all things beer ever since. It's funny to think back at it now and realize the impact that accidental pour made.

Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears each Friday. If you would like to participate or would like to nominate someone to participate, send me an email at rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.

Categories: Beer News

Taft's unveils new year-round lager

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 8:56am

Taft’s Ale House in Cincinnati is rolling out a new year-round beer.

Taft's 27 Lager will make its debut today (Jan. 27) on draft. The beer is 5.3 percent alcohol by volume.

"We wanted to create a lager all its own that wasn't confined to one specific style," head brewer Jared Hamilton said in a prepared statement. "At the same time, we respect traditional lager brewing methods and ingredients.

"All German malts and hops make this beautiful lager a shining example of what we do best: attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to flavor."

27 Lager pays homage to Cincinnati native William Howard Taft who served as the 27th president of the United States.

Categories: Beer News

Bockfest turns 25

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 1:14pm

Bockfest -- the three-day celebration that honors Cincinnati's brewing heritage and focuses on, duh, bock beers -- is turning 25 this year.

The event runs March 3-4 throughout downtown Cincinnati and features a parade, parties, food and, of course, beer. The Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., which organizes Bockfest, on Thursday (Jan. 26) released a rundown of activities.

Check out the full news release below for details:


Bockfest 2017 Annual Beer Celebration Turns 25

CINCINNATI (For Immediate Release) -- Bockfest, a celebration of Cincinnati’s brewing heritage and the coming of spring, is ready for its 25th annual celebration with a weekend filled with parades, parties, food, and beer from March 3-5, 2017 throughout downtown Cincinnati and the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Bock beer traditionally is brewed for a limited time in late winter. The word "bock" means goat in German. Bock typically has a higher nutritional content and alcohol content than other beers and is brewed for celebrations and holidays. Because of the higher nutritional content, bock was used by German monks during Lenten fast, a liquid substitute for food. Bockfest is celebrated on the first full weekend of March because of this historic association with Lent.

The Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation is the organizer of Bockfest. All of the proceeds of Bockfest support the non-profit Brewery District CURC and their mission to preserve, promote, and redevelop Cincinnati’s brewing heritage, including the building of the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail.

Bockfest is supported by local sponsors Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, Arnold’s Bar & Grill, Servatii, Jack Cincinnati Casiono, Decal Impressions, and more.

The celebration begins with a parade Friday evening that starts at Arnold’s Bar & Grill, Cincinnati’s oldest saloon, and ends at Bockfest Hall in Over-the-Rhine, where the ceremonial first keg is blessed. Saturday starts with the Bockfest 5K, part of the Christian Moerlein Beer Series served up by the Flying Pig Marathon. Bockfest Hall is open throughout the weekend with live entertainment, food, historic brewery tours, and Saturday night features the finals of the Sausage Queen contest. Sunday is Continental Sunday, where Bockfest Hall will be the site for authentic German dancing, music, steins and breweriana, Bockfeast Dinner, and $1 off beer for anyone in traditional German dress.

Besides the activities in and around Bockfest Hall, over a dozen participating venues in Over-the-Rhine and the central business district will join in the Bockfest celebration, all for no admission fee. In addition, a free shuttle bus runs a continuous loop among the Bockfest sites Saturday and Sunday.

Historic Tours: Malz, Volks, Doppelbock and Dr. Morgan’s Hangover Relief Tours, March 3-5

The popular historic brewery tours return for 2017 with two new tours along the upcoming Brewing Heritage Trail. All tours include a complimentary beer at the conclusion (21+ please):

Malz Tour

Join us for this all new 90 minute walking tour that celebrates how beer was made and consumed in pre-Prohibition Over-the-Rhine. Your tour starts at Bockfest Hall, and visits multiple sites within the neighborhood including a visit with costumed reenactors at the Lafayette Brewery, before descending deep in the lagering cellars of the Kauffman Brewery. Tours are offered on both Saturday and Sunday of Bockfest. Tickets are available at https://otrbrewerydistrict.thundertix.com/events/97127/performances

Volks Tour

Join us for this all new 90 minute walking tour that celebrates the people of Over-the-Rhine and how they lived, worked, and played. Your tour starts at Bockfest Hall, and visits multiple sites within the neighborhood including a visit with costumed reenactors, before descending deep in the lagering cellars of the Schmidt Brothers/Crown Brewery. Offered Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at https://otrbrewerydistrict.thundertix.com/events/97129/performances

Dopplebock Tour

Returning this year is the Dopplebock Tour, a shorter one-hour tour through the Kauffman Brewery lagering cellars. Guests will learn how lager beer drove the development of the city and see where it was made, before returning to Bockfest Hall to continue the festivities with a complimentary beer. Offered Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available here: https://otrbrewerydistrict.thundertix.com/events/97125/performances

Dr. Morgan’s Hangover Relief Tour

Join the man that Cincinnati Magazine declared “The God of Bockfest” and the author of “Over-the-Rhine: When Beer Was King” for a personal, behind-the-scenes journey.  This Bockfest-only walking tour through OTR combines the neighborhood’s pre-Prohibition past with stories about the more recent reclamation of Cincinnati’s brewing heritage and the birth and evolution of the city’s most bohemian beer festival.  Your tour includes a trip through Over-the-Rhine, into Washington Platform’s lagering cellars and the Gerke lagering cellars (four stories below ground).Offered Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at https://otrbrewerydistrict.thundertix.com/events/97131/performances

Fifth Annual Bockfest 5K Returns on Saturday, March 4

The Bockfest 5K, which takes off from Bockfest Hall in Over-the-Rhine, on Saturday, March 4 at 10 a.m., is first race of the Christian Moerlein Beer Series, a series of three road races to be held in 2017 to celebrate Cincinnati’s rich history of brewing and running. It will include the following races: Bockfest 5K, Little Kings Mile (May 5) and Hudepohl 14K & 7K Brewery Run (September 16). The Christian Moerlein Beer Series is produced by the Flying Pig Marathon.

Those who complete the Beer Series during the calendar year will receive a special commemorative gift from the Flying Pig Marathon, as well as discounts and events at the Moerlein Lager House. (Registration for the complete series will be limited to the first 3,000 participants.) Registration for the Bockfest 5K is $30 in advance and $40 on race day.  Registration is available at http://bockfest5k.com/#/main.

Bockfest Heritage Series

Saturday March 4, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bockfest Hall, 1619 Moore Street (Free admission)

The Fermenter Hall of the Christian Moerlein Brewery (above Bockfest Hall) will open its doors to speakers, presentations, displays, authors, stein and breweriana collections, and of course plenty of cold bock beer.

Billygoat Ball

Saturday, March 4, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday evening of Bockfest amps up the energy like a kick from a billygoat! Great live music, food and beer, plus the Sausage Queen and Beard Baron competition on the Bockfest Hall stage! Music starts at 6:30 p.m. on the Dock Stage while the Sausage Queen and Beard Baron competition starts at 10:30 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Continental Sunday: A Celebration of German & Brewing Heritage

Sunday March 5, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bockfest Hall, 1619 Moore Street (Free admission)

In the Over-the-Rhine of the 1800s, it was illegal to sell beer on Sundays, but that didn’t stop Cincinnati’s German-American community from filling the day with revelry and drink. This controversial approach to celebrating the Sabbath was known as “Continental Sunday” and is celebrated with a day of authentic German dancing, variety shows, and music, along with tours, movies, steins, and Breweriana exhibits.

Bockfest Preview Events

Bockfest Beefsteak Club Dinner

Saturday, Jan. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., 1621 Moore Street

The Beefsteak Club returns to support Bockfest 2017. As the name suggests, the event includes dinner, but the experience does not involve steak. In the spring of 1896, the Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewery hosted some of the most prominent Cincinnatians. Guests enjoyed an elegant meal with beer pairings in the unlikely ambiance of the brewery.

Tickets are $55.00 and all proceeds go to supporting Bockfest and the Bockfest Parade. Your ticket includes dinner, drinks, valet parking, and a signed copy of this year’s Bockfest poster. Tickets are available at http://www.bockfest.com/pre-bockfestivities.html

Precipitation Retaliation Happy Hour

Friday, Feb. 24, 5:30 to 10 p.m.

Milton’s Tavern, 301 Milton Street (Free admission)

In 2008, Bockfest was almost entirely shut down by the largest snowfall in 20 years. Bockfest fans took to the streets to parade through the snow, and hunkered down at Bockfest Hall to enjoy delicious Bock beer. In 2009, Bockfest organizers felt a little retaliation was in order. A snowman effigy was acquired, and set alight at Grammer’s amid much celebration. Organizers cannot conclusively guarantee that they have acquired the power to control the weather in Cincinnati, but it has worked for the past four years.

Categories: Beer News

Brink Brewing to open Feb. 19

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:02am

Brink Brewing Co. -- a new brewery in Cincinnati's College Hill neighborhood -- will open at noon Feb. 19.

The brewery also will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Feb. 14. The event will feature Brink Chief Executive Officer John McGarry, Chief Operating Officer Andrew McCleese, head brewer Kelly Montgomery, tap room manager Mark Landers, College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. board President Mike Cappel, CHCURC Executive Director Seth Walsh, and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.

To read a profile of the brewery in the Cincinnati Business Courier, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Christian Moerlein to unveil new citra pale ale

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 10:42am

Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. will introduce a new citra pale ale called Pacer when it hosts its Super Firkin Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Malt House Taproom.

The brewery described the beer, which is 5 percent alcohol by volume, as packing "an explosive punch of citrus aromatics and notes of tropical fruit backed by an easy-drinking pale body."

The beer will be available in six-packs and on draft. It also will be served in specially infused firkins during the brewery's Super Firkin Saturday.

In addition to Christian Moerlein firkins, other breweries featured at the event will include Blank Slate, Braxton, Cellar Dweller, Great Lakes, Listermann, MadTree, Mt. Carmel and Rhinegeist.

"Firkins are a great expression of the brewer’s mind," Christian Moerlein Vice President of Brewing Eric Baumann said in a prepared statement. "It is great to be able to take any beer and infuse it with any combination of ingredients, let them steep in the firkin and serve."

Super Firkin Saturday is free to attend, with peple buying sampling tickets at the door. Five tickets are $10. In addition to beer, there will be live music and food for purchase from Wienerwurst Mike’s Frankfurtary.

Categories: Beer News

Actual to host Immature Amateur Science Fair

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 5:38pm

Fred Lee figures he owes it to science.

The co-founder of Actual Brewing Co. in Columbus was never particularly into science fairs while growing up. The guilt apparently ate at him and was part of the impetus for the brewery's Immature Amateur Science Fair.

"I was too lazy to pull off any science fair as a kid and I'm trying to relieve the glory and do it right," Lee said.

On top of that, "We're just nerdy science lovers," he said.

The second annual Immature Amateur Science Fair returns bigger and better from noon to 11 p.m. March 4. The event last year attracted about 1,000 people. This year, Actual is inviting people -- including kids -- to bring their own science experiments to the brewery for a judged event.

There will be two divisions: under 21 and over 21. The winner will receive $100.

Lee admitted that he is working on his own science display. He's developing a video reality version of the brewery.

In addition to the science, there will be special beer releases and food. Actual also will unveil its new subsidiary Hoax Labs. For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

FeBREWary returns to The Rail

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 8:41am

Restauranteur and craft beer fan Mike Mariola is once again turning February into FeBREWary.

The owner of The Rail, Ohio Beer Garden and City Square Steakhouse is traveling Ohio in a U-Haul to pick up kegs of rare beers -- at least rare in Northeast Ohio -- from breweries to feature at the restaurants.

“We’ve always known Ohio is on the forefront of the craft beer scene,” Mariola said in a prepared statement. “That’s why we created FeBREWary. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase some of our favorite Ohio beer and have other local fellow beer lovers join us.”

The featured beers will include Driftwood IPA, Daybreak Clear Sky Cream Ale and Hop Smoothie IPA from Wolf’s Ridge in Columbus; Gamma Bomb IPA, Trotwood Lager and Jolly Tar Dark Brown Ale from Warped Wing in Dayton; and A-Crop Blacklight Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from Zaftig in Columbus.

For more details, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Hoppin' Frog to release 5-Alarm Chili Beer

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 12:06pm

Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron will release its 5-Alarm Chili Beer -- a collaboration with Siren Craft Brew in England -- on draft and in 22-ounce bottles starting at 11 a.m. Feb. 4.

"We made the English-style at their brewery, and then came back to Hoppin' Frog and brewed our American-style batch," owner and brewer Fred Karm said in an email. "We brewed ours with lots of chipotle and morita peppers for a solid hot pepper taste, and just the right amounts of black pepper, cayenne, habanero, and thai chili peppers to create complex, assertive, and satisfying flavors of a good bowl of 5-alarm chili! Using an over-abundance of red caramelized malts to nicely balance out the spicy heat, this beer gives the chili and hot pepper lovers something to truly enjoy, and share with their like-minded fiery friends."

Karm also released an 18-minute video showing the production of the beer.

Categories: Beer News

Cleveland Beerfest returns Friday and Saturday

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 11:00am

The fourth annual Cleveland Winter Beerfest returns Friday and Saturday (Jan. 27-28) to the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland in downtown Cleveland.

The two-day event will feature more than 400 beers from more than 120 Ohio and national breweries. Proceeds benefit the Music Education Society.

“The Cleveland Beerfest is not only the biggest winter beer festival in Cleveland and the best party of the winter, but it’s also a great way to support local and national craft brewers as well as the music programs the Music Education Society provides to underfunded schools in the area," festival organizer Craig Johnson said in a prepared statement.

The event runs from 8 to 11:30 p.m. each night, with early admission at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $85.

For tickets or more information, click here.

To read the full news release, see below:


4th Annual Cleveland Beerfest is Jan. 27-28, 2017

Presented By Fat Head’s Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing 400+ craft beers, local food vendors, and live music at Convention Center

For immediate release January 19, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Fourth Annual Columbus Beerfest – a two-night celebration of craft beer – will return to the Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland for two nights on Jan. 27-28.

Breweries, beer enthusiasts, and fun seekers will gather for the region’s biggest winter beer festival to sample more than 400 fresh craft beers of all styles and tastes from more than 120 different local and national breweries. Fat Head’s Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing are the presenting sponsors of the Beerfest.

Favorite party band The Lava Game will provide live music and Cleveland-area restaurants and food trucks will provide food service at the convention center. Other fun attractions include a Silent Disco and unique commercial vendors.

The beer festival will be held on both Friday and Saturday nights, with regular admission at 8 p.m. and early admission at 7 p.m. for each session. Upgrade to the Connoisseur’s Reception Ticket and enjoy exclusive beers and incredible bites from local restaurants. The event will end at 11:30 p.m. each evening. For tickets, visit www.clevelandbeerfest.com.

Proceeds from the festival will go to support the Music Education Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting music programs in underfunded elementary and junior high schools in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

“Cleveland has long history of brewing beer -- dating back to the 1840s when the German and Bohemian immigrants started the city’s brewing industry – and over the past 30 years, it has become nationally recognized for its great craft breweries and beers,” said Festival Director Craig Johnson.

This year’s festival will offer a huge number of craft beers (400-plus this year), along with the space and comfort of the Cleveland Convention Center in the heart of the city, with hotel rooms only a short walk away.

“The Cleveland Beerfest is not only the biggest winter beer festival in Cleveland and the best party of the winter, but it’s also a great way to support local and national craft brewers as well as the music programs the Music Education Society provides to underfunded schools in the area.”

What is a Beerfest?

The Cleveland Beerfest is an event where you pay one admission price to enter the Cleveland Convention Center and get 25 sampling tickets to taste five-ounce samples from a selection of 400-plus craft beers offered by more than 120 breweries, eat food from local restaurants and food trucks, and enjoy live music and other attractions.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:28am

Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:

-- The Dayton Daily News reports on the opening of Scotty's Brewhouse in Oxford. The brewery has plans to open locations in Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Buckeye Lake Beacon reports that Buckeye Lake Brewery will once again produce a Winterfest Ale for the annual Winterfest in the community. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday. (Jan. 28-29) To read the full story, click here.

-- Paste Magazine is at it again, this time blind taste testing 102 imperial stouts. Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron placed two beers in the top 25: B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Grand Reserve at 12th and T.O.R.I.S. the Tyrant at 24th. Seventh Son Oubliette was 31st. To read the full list, click here.

-- Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine put together a list of "5 Nano Breweries You Need to Visit in 2017." Black Frog Brewery in Sylvania is one of them. "The nanobrewery is not only veteran-owned, it is the first minority-owned brewery in the city," the site says. To read the full story, click here.

-- Crain's Cleveland Business asks the question of whether the Northeast Ohio craft beer market is oversaturated. "The last few years, we've been bumping our heads on capacity issues," Great Lakes Brewing CEO Bill Boor says. "Yet, I think we have tremendous market potential beyond what we're selling right now. It's time for adding capacity in the market, and I completely believe we can do it." To read the full story, click here.

-- Crain's Cleveland Business reports on the growth of Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron. "I didn't really think we'd be at this point," co-owner John Najeway says. To read the full story, click here.

-- Crain's Cleveland Business conducts a Q&A with Lager Heads Brewing Co. co-owner  Mike Keine and brewer Tom Robbins. To read the full Q&A, click here.

-- The Canton Repository chats with Alex Fisher of Fishers Foods about 10 beers worth trying. They include The Brew Kettle Black Rajah and Wolf's Ridge L'Sbondance Saison. To read the full list, click here.

-- Cleveland.com reports on the upcoming Terrestial Brewing Co. "We want to make small-batch beers -- a focus on distribution is not in the game plan," co-founder Ralph Sgro says. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that the ongoing battle over control of Heidelberg Distributing could end up in front of the Ohio Supreme Court. To read the full story, click here.

-- Patrick Woodward from Pat's Pints discusses his favorite beers of 2016 from Central Ohio. Among them? Commonhouse Summer Sesh. Land-Grant Home IPL. And Little Fish Maker of Things. To read the full list, click here.

-- The Cincinnati Business Enquirer reports that Ei8ht Ball Brewing Co. has been a scratch. The brewery, located in the Party Source across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is closing. The brewery hasn't been profitable. To read the full story, click here.

-- Fermenting Ohio reports on Clubhouse Brewing Co., a nanobrewery being launched by an Army veteran in Windham. "My dad actually started brewing when I was a senior in high school and seeing that set an impression for the future," Zach Dean says. To read the full story, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Rivertown Brewing opens new production brewery, restaurant

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 9:40am

Rivertown Brewing Co. opened its new 26,000-square-foot production brewery, taproom and restaurant in Monroe on Friday. (Jan. 20)

The facility will produce the bulk of Rivertown’s beer for distribution to seven states, sour beer program, laboratory, business offices, a 24-tap patio and two-acre beer garden.

Want more details and to see photos? Check out the media coverage:

Hamilton News-Journal


Cincinnati Business-Courier

Categories: Beer News

Brewery opens inside Ohio Harley-Davidson dealership

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 12:06pm

Harley-Davidson fans are passionate about their motorcycles.

Craft beer fans are just as passionate about their favorite brews.

Now two Ohio entrepreneurs are hoping to combine those fan bases with the Biker BrewHouse, believed to be the first craft brewery to open inside a Harley-Davidson dealership in the United States.

“The biker community is just as large — if not larger — than the craft world,” said co-founder and brewer Larry Wilson, who was a home brewer for three years before launching the venture.

Biker BrewHouse started serving beer earlier this month inside the Harley-Davidson Bike Town just off Interstate 80 in Austintown Township in Mahoning County.

To read the full story and check out a photo gallery, click here

Categories: Beer News

Five questions with ... Liam McDonald

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 10:14am

Liam McDonald is the pub brewer for Jackie O's Pub and Brewery in Athens. Jackie O's -- consistently ranked as one of the top 100 brewers in the world by Ratebeer.com -- operates both a brewpub and production brewery. As a side, if you'd like to meet McDonald and talk beer, he will be at a Jackie O's tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 27 at Rozi's Wine House in Lakewood.

Question: Why did you become a brewer?

Answer: I started off brewing at home, like most brewers do, and really loved it. Also, at that time, I was working at Rozi's Winehouse in Lakewood, which helped further my enjoyment of being part of the beverage industry. I think it is the common dream for just about everyone, no matter the industry, to make a living doing something you love. For me, pursuing a professional brewery job seemed like the next logical step.

Q: What has been the highlight of your brewing career so far and why was it so special? (Maybe it's been a beer that you brewed, an award that you won, an idol you've met ...)

A: It is hard to say exactly what the highlight of my brewing career has been. It is definitely fun and humbling meeting veterans of the brewing industry at festivals and conferences, but I think my favorite experiences have been right here in Athens at Jackie O's. I feel very fortunate to work with all the talented people that I do.

Every day is a learning experience: From brewing techniques, running a successful business and even the treatment of employees. I'm lucky to work in the brewpub atmosphere, too. I love creating something that brings joy to others, and being able to observe that in my workspace is very fulfilling.

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

A: My advice to future brewers is to never stop learning, and never stop experimenting. Your goal has to be to make the best beer possible and to always keep improving upon it. Never be too proud to ask questions. There is so much knowledge in the beer industry, and most brewers are more than happy to offer as much help as they can.

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

A: This is a toss up. I'd say, at the moment, it is between Cool Beans and Kinda Fuzzy. Kinda Fuzzy is our peach and apricot wheat ale that is loosely based off of our popular production beer, Razz Wheat.

Cool Beans, on the other hand, is a golden ale conditioned on coffee beans. Every batch gets a different type of coffee from different roasters in the Athens area, as well as roasters from around the state of Ohio.

Both of these beers appeal to seasoned craft beer drinkers and newcomers to the industry, alike. They are very approachable, low ABV, and offer a little something out of the norm that most people wouldn't expect in their beer.

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

A: Unfortunately, this is another toss up... I'd have to pick either Old Milwaukee or Columbus Brewing Co.'s Bodhi. The people in the macro brewing industry have it down! It is wild how consistent they can be with every batch of beer they produce. Consistency is key. All brewers strive for it, and it is very difficult getting the same exact product batch after batch. I definitely have a lot of respect for macro breweries in that regard.

On the other hand, Bodhi is a killer imperial IPA. Columbus Brewing Co. definitely knows how to brew great hoppy beers. While I was homebrewing, I used to tell myself that if I could brew a beer as good as Bodhi, I could have my own successful brewery. A few years have passed and my focus has shifted, but there's still a part of me that wishes I brewed that beer.

Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears every Friday. If you would like to participate or would like to nominate someone to participate, send me an email at rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.

Categories: Beer News

Wolf's Ridge to tap 40 beers to celebrate anniversary

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 3:00pm

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Co. is going all out to celebrate the second anniversary of its taproom.

The Columbus brewery will offer 40 of its beers on draft and four barrel-aged beers in bottles during the Jan. 28 party, which begins at 9 a.m.

Brewer Chris Davison is tapping some of the specialty beers hourly throughout the day to make sure that they are all available and to keep things interesting for people.

He laughed when asked how difficult it is to produce so many brews for the special event.

"We're still not done," Davison said. "I still have five or six kegs to infuse over the next few days."

The beers will include Dire Wolf Batch #1, which was made to commemorate the opening of the taproom in 2015. There's also a purple version of Driftwood IPA. Davison put red cabbage in the beer to give it the purple color.

"It'll be a fun, wacky beer to have," he said.

Here’s the rundown of drafts:

• Clear Sky Cream Ale

• Clear Sky Lemon Meringue

• Clear Sky Loops

• Clear Sky Daybreak

• Hefeweizen

• Snow Cone Whole Cone Mosaic Pale Ale

• Howling Moon DIPA

• Earthrise East Asian IPA

• L’Abondance Saison

• Sustinator Doppelbock

• Parti-gyle Porter

• Dire Wolf (2017)

• Dire Wolf Batch #1 (2014)

• Dire Wolf One Line

• Dire Wolf Rum Line

• Sherry Barrel Dire Wolf

• Port Barrel Dire Wolf

• Canis Mexicanus

• Gold Legacy Golden Wild Ale

• Clear Sky Creamsicle (Nitro)

• Clear Sky Cinnamon Toast Brunch

• Driftwood Session IPA

• Earthrise IPA

• Florida Moon Citrus DIPA

• I ♥ U, U ♥ Me (Happy Family IPA)

• Bourbon Barrel Dire Wolf

• (Cask) Dire Wolf Nibbler

• (Cask) Vanilla Cacao Sustinator

• (Cask) Lemon Rhubarb Hefeweizen

• (Cask) Double Dry Hopped Snow Cone

• Bourbon Barrel Dire Wolf One Line

• Coconut Howling Moon

• Clear Sky Coconut Cream Pie

• Rum Line with Cacao Nibs and Vanilla

• Gin Barrel Gold Legacy

• Sherry Barrel Dire Wolf with Vanilla Bean

• Bourbon Barrel Yub Nub

• Bourbon Barrel Coffee Joy

• Clear Sky Key Lime Pie

• Bourbon Barrel Coffee Vanilla Dire Wolf

The following bottles also will be available for sale:

• Dire Wolf Rum Line: rum barrel-aged with One Line espresso beans added.

• Sherry Barrel Dire Wolf, aged in a French oak Sherry puncheon.

• Port Barrel Dire Wolf, aged in a California port wine barrel.

• Bourbon Barrel Dire Wolf.

For more details, including specifics about the bottle release format, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Land-Grant welcomes Misconduct

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 2:29pm

Land-Grant Brewing Co. will release its second hockey-themed seasonal beer, Misconduct Imperial Rye IPA, starting at noon Sunday (Jan. 22) at its Columbus tasting room.

Misconduct is the older brother to Goon Strong Pale Ale.

"We decided that with a name like Misconduct, this beer needed to have aggression behind it," brewer Justin Reik said in a news release.

Land-Grant said it used two types of rye along with Vienna, Caramel and Victory malts "to give the beer a spicy and more complex malt profile than one would generally find in a hop forward imperial IPA."

Misconduct will be available on draft and in cans. The first 50 patrons to buy a six-pack also will receive a limited-edition collector's card.

The beer will be available on draft and in six-packs in grocery stores and specialty retailers throughout Central Ohio beginning Jan. 30.

Categories: Beer News

Ohio Craft Brewers announces brewery lineup for Winter Warmer

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 10:54am

The Ohio Craft Brewers Association has announced the brewery line-up for the 11th annual Winter Warmer Fest.

The event, which takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. March 4 at Windows on the River in Cleveland, will showcase more than 50 Ohio breweries, with an emphasis on winter, limited-edition and high-gravity beers. The beer list will be announced in February.

This year’s participating breweries are:

Bad Tom Smith

The Brew Kettle

Brick and Barrel

Butcher and the Brewer


Catawba Island

Christian Moerlein



Crooked Handle

Dayton Beer

Double Wing


Fat Head’s

Four String


Great Lakes

Hairless Hare


Hofbrauhaus Cleveland

Hoppin’ Frog

Jackie O’s

JAFB Wooster


Lager Heads



Little Fish


Lucky Owl


Maize Valley

Market Garden


Mt. Carmel

North High








Rocky River

Royal Docks

Seventh Son

Sibling Revelry

Thirsty Dog


Wolf’s Ridge

Yellow Springs

Tickets are $45, which includes tasting tickets for 40 two-ounce samples and a souvenir glass. For more details or tickets, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Caston & Main to host DuClaw founder Dave Benfield

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 4:05pm

DuClaw Brewing Co. -- the Baltimore, Md., brewery best known for the award-winning Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter -- is taking over Caston & Main Brew Yard in Green.

The Green bar and gastropub will host a DuClaw tap takeover and visit by brewery founder and President Dave Benfield at 6 p.m. Jan. 26. Benfield will be in the area for the fourth annual Cleveland Winter Beerfest.

"We are excited and proud that Dave heard about our gastropub and chose to spend the evening with us to talk beer," Caston & Main co-owner Ron Robinson said.

Caston & Main will offer 865CC Coffee Stout, Bare Ass Blonde Ale, Devil's Milk Barleywine Style Ale, Mysterium Belgian Spiced Ale and, of course, Sweet Baby Jesus!, along with special foods prepared to pair with them.

The event is free to attend. There also will be DuClaw swag to be given away.

Categories: Beer News

Beer story sampler

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 11:58am

Here are some interesting Ohio beer stories:

-- 13abc in Toledo reports on how breweries are popping up in Ohio's small towns. "Specialty works anywhere," North River Brewing Co. co-owner Mel Michelson says. To read the full story, click here.

-- Cleveland.com reports on the Feb. 2 opening of Brim Kitchen + Brewery, a new brewpub in Willoughby. One of the owners, T.J. Reagan, is the original founder of the nearby Willoughby Brewing Co. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Toledo Blade profiles the new Upside Brewing Co. inside the J&G Pizza Palace in Sylvania. “I love the brewing process and creating recipes,” brewer Nick Dallas says. “I try not to go into anything blind, but this is turning out better than I thought. We’ve had more customers coming in to drink the beer than I thought.” To read the full story, click here.

-- Cincinnati.com profiles the new Queen City Brewery of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Dayton Daily News reports that the Wandering Griffin Brewery & Pub in Beavercreek has expanded its menu and hours. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Raging Hop profiles the new Rivertown Brewing Co. production facility and restaurant in Monroe. "The taproom and restaurant space is huge, with warming wood accents mixed with an industrial feel. You can’t help but feel like you just got home when you walked in," the website says. To read the full story and check out photos, click here.

-- The Gnarly Gnome reports on Fibonacci Brewing Co. in Cincinnati kicking off its employee collaboration beers on Friday. (Jan. 20) The first one is a Belgian-style IPA. To read the full story, click here.

-- The Columbus Dispatch offers a short preview of the Columbus Winter Beerfest, which takes place Friday and Saturday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. To read the preview, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus reports on the Ram Restaurant and Brewery in Columbus debuting four beers this week. To read the full story, click here.

-- Drink Up Columbus profiles 29 Brewpub and Wood Fired Pizza in Marion. "Owners David and Missy Meddings had long been the owners of a specialty bakery called Ta Die For Gourmet Cupcakes when in January 2015 they combined brewing and baking with the opening of the 29 Brewpub," author Bill Babbitt writes. To read the full story, click here.

-- WCPO reports on how Prohibition crippled Cincinnati's brewing industry. "A 1918 report released by Mayor John Galvin predicted Prohibition would lead to the city's financial ruin, that its businesses would lose $60 million in revenue a year, that property investment would plummet by $15 million a year and property rental revenue would decline by $1.25 million," the television station says. To read the full story, click here.

-- Variety reports that Anheuser-Busch InBev is going to stick with the basics when it comes to the brewery's Super Bowl ads. "Do  not expect celebrities. Do not expect epic things," vice president of marketing Marcel Marcondes says. To read the full story, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Glass City Beer Festival tickets on sale

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 9:25am

Tickets are on sale now for the 11th annual Glass City Beer Festival.

The event, set for 7 to 11 p.m. March 3 at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee, will feature more than 50 craft breweries and 230 beers. There also will be food and live music.

VIP tickets, which get you in at 6 p.m., are $50 in advance and $55 at the door. There will be special beers and complimentary food for VIP ticket-holders.

General admission tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.

Tickets may be purchased at customer service desks at either Toledo Anderson’s stores after Feb. 5. They also are available now online at glasscitybeerfest.com.

Proceeds support the programs and services of Camp Courageous/The Arc of NW Ohio and the Northwest Ohio Hemophilia Foundation. Camp Courageous/The Arc of NW Ohio serves individuals with developmental disabilities. The NWO Hemophilia Foundation serves those affected by bleeding disorders.

For more details or tickets, click here.

Categories: Beer News

Seventh Son Brewing planning big year

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 1:02pm

Seventh Son Brewing Co. has big, big expansion plans this year.

For starters, the Columbus brewery is expanding its physical footprint, adding about 16,000 square feet of space.

But wait there’s more!

That new space will include a new 30-barrel, three-vessel brewing system.

But wait there’s more!

A new canning line is coming.

But wait there’s more!

There will be a new rooftop patio and bar with a retractable glass roof.

But wait there’s more!

The increased production will allow Seventh Son to grow distribution throughout Central Ohio and feed more beer into Northeast Ohio.

But wait there’s more!

Seventh Son has inked a distribution deal with Superior Beverage Group.

But wait there’s more!

The brewery is opening a second bar and brewery called Antiques on High in the Grange Insurance building on South High Street that will focus on sour, wild and Belgian-style beers. It also will be big on barrel aging and blending.

Seventh Son, which opened in 2013 and produces beers such as Humulus Nimbus, Stone Fort and The Scientist, had been considering expansion for awhile and is now pulling the trigger.

Founder Collin Castore said he recognizes that the craft beer market is getting a bit crowded and it’s getting more difficult to distribute. But craft breweries also are concerned about remaining relevant amid the craft beer boom so if there’s anytime to undertake an expansion, it’s now.

“I think the market will maybe tighten up in the next few years,” he said. “We wanted to grow but we wanted to still be conservative and we wanted to stay relevant to the area and geography of people who enjoy our beer.”

The goal is to complete the expansion projects later this year.

Castore also is quick to point out that Seventh Son doesn’t have an eye on taking over the world. The brewery produces about 3,000 barrels a year now on its 15-barrel system.

“More just to get up to maybe 8 to 10 to 12,000 barrels in three to four or five years kind of thing,” he said about the expansion. “Comfortable, reserved growth. We want to supply everyone in Columbus who wants to have our beer and then also it’d be nice to maybe get up to Cleveland, Akron a little bit. Maybe Athens a little bit. We’re not doing the, ‘Hey we want to be 200,000 barrels in two years or anything like that.’”

For even more about the expansion, click here.

Categories: Beer News