Oh, New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never much been one for them, but being a grownup with a wife, kids, and a house gives me enough things to improve myself on that I think I’m going to give a few a whirl in 2013. Among the more trivial of those are related to alcohol. Because I don’t drink that much, my resolutions aren’t related to the Betty Ford Clinic or anything so dramatic. I’d like to homebrew more often, make better homebrew and — the topic of this post — I would like to give local beers more of a chance.
Most of the beers I review for this site are brewed in the Cincinnati region. Behind the scenes and away from this blog, though, local beers make up a tiny portion of what I consume. There are a number of reasons for this: up until this last year, there really wasn’t a great deal of locally-brewed beers on the shelves that were up to par or better than the non-local options sitting right next of them for the same price. Many of the beers that I would then actually rather buy than their non-local counterparts were either draft only, growler only, or not available on most stores’ shelves. Not exactly conducive to everyday drinking.
With the last year, a lot of this has changed. Though Cincinnati still needs to get with the program and catch up to its C-named sisters in terms of producing a really good, off the shelf IPA (Cleveland with White Rajah and Head Hunter, Columbus with Columbus IPA and Bodhi), the options have improved substantially in terms of quality. In many ways, 2012 was a banner year for better beer in Cincinnati. Rivertown now puts out a sour for almost every season of the year. Listermann/Triple Digit, who turned Cincinnatus from a pretty bad barrel aged stout into a fantastic one, has been pushing out high-gravity beers than can be found all over the place, including places like Walgreens. We’ve also seen Blank Slate welcomed to the scene, Fifty West (my current favorite and most promising brewery) opened their taproom doors with more than ten offerings out the gate, and MadTree is going to be making a splash immediately from the looks of their setup and capacity. And that’s without even mentioning the crazy barrel-aged only stuff that Quaff Bros seem to be constantly brainstorming.
Even with all of that, local brews currently don’t make up anywhere near half of the beers I drink. When I can pick up a six-pack of Two Hearted from the gas station a block away from my house, it’s always going to be an uphill battle for local breweries. But, you know what? I’m going to try in 2013 to give local breweries a fair shake. I’m going to try this: half the beers I drink, at least to start 2013, will be locally-brewed. I’m even going to include my own homebrew into that bucket, so it should make things a little easier.
I’m certainly not bought into the “buy local” beer movement and I probably never will be. More than blindly buying local, I advocate being a smart consumer first. I’m happy to give local beer a try, but when it’s not as good as the commonly-available non-local alternative, I’m not going to continue to buy it just because it’s local. So, I’m asking you, local brewers, keep improving your regular lineups so I can keep this resolution moving. Even better, if you have something you’re proud of, fill me in. I’m always happy to put up reviews to give local beers their time in the spotlight.
Happy New Year’s to all you Queen City Drinks readers out there. Drink well, but more importantly, drink safe and we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2013!