Author Archives: Tom Aguero

Beer Review: Green Flash Green Bullet

There is a growing trend among craft brewers to move their IPAs away from the traditional 3-C hops (Cascade, Centennial, and Columbus) and on to new and exciting hop varieties that have only been developed in the past 10 – 20 years. I mentioned this last week in my review of Clown Shoes Galactica which predominantly features the galaxy hop. Green Flash has decided to feature the Green Bullet hop in the aptly named Green Bullet beer. I’ll let Green Flash’s blurb about this beer take it from here.

Named after a super-robust New Zealand hop, Green Bullet™ is a well-balanced Triple IPA being bottled today for the 1st time ever. Brewmaster, Chuck Silva initially released this Pacific Gem to celebrate the Green Flash 9th Anniversary in 2011, and it was an immediate hit! Now, this cult favorite will be available from coast-to-coast as a seasonal release from September through December 2013. Be on the lookout for this high-caliber addition to our arsenal in 4-packs, 22oz bottles and on draft, because you do not want to miss the release.

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Beer Review: Clown Shoes Galactica & Hoppy Feet

Ohio is receiving lots of distribution from new (to us) breweries at the end of 2013.  New Belgium, Deschutes, and others will be here before the end of the year but it’s getting kicked off with Clown Shoes. Clown Shoes is a contract brewing operation out of Massachusetts that’s known for somewhat insensitive beer names like Tramp Stamp, Lubrication, and Brown Angel. Controversial names haven’t stopped them from making big and interesting beers for a few years distributing them to a variety of states before finally coming here.

Clown Shoes is initially gracing Ohio with 6 different brews: Galactica and Hoppy Feet are here in 4-packs of 12 oz bottles, Chocolate Sombrero, Genghis Pecan, and Muffin Top are all in 22 oz bombers, finally Tramp Stamp is draft only, at least for now. I did a review of a bottle of Tramp Stamp that I brought back from Georgia last year, you can read that here. I also had a bottle of their Chocolate Sombrero which, in short, is a spicy chocolate imperial stout starting out with some heat that slowly builds and adds in rich chocolate as the glass warms.  I have yet to have Genghis Pecan or Muffin Top and my thoughts on Galactica and Hoppy Feet are just below!

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Mashing For Mammaries at Osborn Brewing

In honor of breast cancer awareness month a local homebrew supply store, Osborn Brewing, is hosting Mashing for Mammaries. The event will feature homebrewers from the local Middletown Area Society of Homebrewers (M*A*S*H) and the Cincinnati Malt Infusers (CMI) brewing beer throughout the day. If you have an interest in making your own beer this is a great time to stop by the store and see the variety of setups and methods available to you. Knowing homebrewers there will likely be a fair deal of drinking going on while brewing too.10-17-2013 2-20-54 PM

Besides the brewing there will also be a topless car wash and if plans come together then there will be raffles throughout the day and a cornhole tournament. If you’re available to judge the tournament or have things to donate for the raffle please contact Brent Osborn at (513) 360-0076. All proceeds will from these activities will go to Save the Ta-Tas. The events officially start at noon but some brewers, like myself, will likely be getting there around 10:30 to get setup.

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Keep track of your beer cellar

I’ve wanted to write a post on cellaring for too long now, so long in fact that others have covered it better. So go back to last year and read Josh’s post on Tips for Cellaring Beer, he did a great job on the where and the what of aging beer. Then check out Joe Long’s post on Empty Growler about why he has stopped cellaring. They both covered most of the stuff I originally wanted to talk about, so to achieve my goal of writing a post on cellaring and not retreading old territory I’m going to talk about how to keep track of your cellar. You may think it’s not that hard but some people just shove bottles in box after box and have no idea what’s in them (coughBrentcough).

Beer Cellar

Does your cellar look like this?

Personally I didn’t want to do that and wanted to display them so I built some shelving and can easily see what’s there… if I’m standing in front of them. If I’m not standing in front of them I need someway to know what’s there, which is where the whole point of tracking them online comes in.

Beer Cellar

This is an old pic as all the shelves are now full

Also having an online system to track your cellar makes it easier to arrange trades by just being able to show other folks everything you have.

I want it all and I want it now

Going into writing this post I decided to first set out what I most wanted out of a cellar tracking system.

  • Smartphone App
  • Web Interface
  • UPC bar code scanning from a smart phone
  • Social media integration and updating
  • Untappd/BeerAdvocate/RateBeer integration
  • Importing/Exporting

I realized that some of these things would be asking a lot but if you’re gonna make a list of demands you might as well shoot big and go for a helmet full of cottage cheese and pictures of Bea Arthur naked.

The best around

Turning to social media I asked people what system they liked to use to track their cellars and the responses were decidedly split between The Beer Cellar and CellarHQ with a few people preferring good old-fashioned spreadsheets. I took a swing at all 3 systems and recreated my cellar in all of them, here’s the results:

The Beer Cellar

beercellar list
The website The Beer Cellar is better known by it’s URL This is the newest kid on the block but has some innovative features not seen elsewhere. The big to-do on this site that sets it apart is that you can set a flag on all your beers to mark if they are for trade (FT) or if you’re in search of (ISO) more. This is a pretty key feature for beer traders. Instead of having to write a big post listing the one or two beers you’re ISO and the 50 some you have FT you can just share a link to The Beer Cellar.

As far as my list of demands go there is no smart phone app but there is a mobile optimized version of the page. They do include the ability to import or export your cellar as a spreadsheet which is handy for backups. Integration wise clicking the name of the beer will take you straight to the BeerAdvocate site for the beer, if one exists. I talked to the developer of the site some and he said social media integration is on his to-do list but isn’t currently a reality.


cellarhq list seems the most popular system based on the Twitter and Facebook feedback I got. CellarHQ has definitely been around longer than The Beer Cellar and seems to have a larger fan base. This site isn’t as pretty as The Beer Cellar but I consider that a good thing as it’s a simpler and more compact design.  One big difference between the two sites is that this one has some social media integration. You can use your twitter account to log into it and you can tweet when you add something to your cellar (like below) or just tweet a link to your entire cellar.

CellarHQ may not have a big flag for FT/ISO but you can add a note that leaves a red triangle on the line and you can hover over it to see the note, you could easily leave FT or ISO in this not box and achieve the same result as the FT/ISO flag. To be fair The Beer Cellar has notes as well, but no cool hovering action. Also like The Beer Cellar it’s got easy importing but unlike The Beer Cellar there is no export option at all. You could highlight, copy, and paste everything into Google Docs, but that kinda sucks.


Spreadsheets are ye olde standby of the beer cellar inventory tracking world with Excel falling out of favor to the online and easily shared Google Docs. The upsides here are that they’re simple, very easy to use, and extremely customizable. Want to keep track of the store you bought it from or who you traded with for the bottle? Easy, just add another column. The other really good thing going for this is an extremely simple and clean interface. No red triangles, or flag buttons, or anything like that. Just rows and columns. Sadly that’s where the upsides end. Spreadsheets are not “smart” in any way and lack any automatic social media or RateBeer/Beer Advocate integration.

Wrap up

Sadly no system I found contained my wish of a bar code scanner for entering beers. It’s troublesome to do because the SKU for KBS 2011 is likely the same as KBS 2013. Someone would also need to build a large database of SKUs first or have the users build it as things go along. Unrelated to features or usage The Beer Cellar has shown much better responses on twitter and to emails whereas I haven’t gotten any response from CellarHQ in writing this post. To me that shows The Beer Cellar has a stronger commitment to supporting it’s users. After trying these different methods I think it mostly comes down to preference. My preference is to stick with CellarHQ because I like the cleaner interface and the Twitter integration, though that is coming to The Beer Cellar soon. So what’s your preference? Or what system do you use that I failed to mention?


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Beer Review: Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Banana & Peanut Butter Ale

Rogue is a brewery out of Oregon and Voodoo Doughnut is a specialty doughnut shop in downtown Portland, Oregon. They’ve collaborated to make this monster of a beer name the Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Banana, & Peanut Butter (CBPB) is the second Rogue Voodoo Doughnut beer, the first was maple bacon and has been around for some time. Both these beers have been criticized as some of the worst beers people have ever had, the Bacon Maple holds a 37 on Ratebeer and 68 on BeerAdvocate while CBPB has a 27 and 65 on Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate respectively. It’s been too long since I had the Bacon Maple for me to weigh in on it here though I do not recall being overly fond of it.

My wife was kind enough to surprise me with a few beers as a little gift and the CBPB was in there. She admits getting it because she knows I love peanut butter… and it was in a pink bottle. Due to the internet’s general dislike of these beers I felt I owed it to everyone to share my thoughts on this one.

Here’s what Rogue says about this beer:

Rogue Ales has again collided with Voodoo Doughnut to create Chocolate, Banana & Peanut Butter Ale! This unique artisan creation has a dozen ingredients including chocolate, banana and peanut butter to match Voodoo’s “Memphis Mafia” doughnut – a nod to Elvis’ entourage.

Brewery: Rogue ales
Beer: Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Banana & Peanut Butter
Style: Other?
ABV: 5.3%
Calories: 159
Ingredients: 2-Row, C-150, C-175, Carafoam Special II & Chocolate Malts; Rogue Farms Revolution & Independent Hops;Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana; Pacman Yeast and Free Range Coastal Water

Roasted chocolate malt aroma begins to come out while it’s being poured. That gets joined by a hint of banana and slight nuttiness, but nothing strong enough to be identified as peanut butter.

Topped with a rich tan head built of tiny bubbles atop a black liquid that reveals a hint of ruby garnet highlights when held against an LED light.

Flavor features lots of banana which tastes more like an over abundance of ester off-flavor then an intentional act. This mixes with some more dark chocolate and a touch of nuttiness. As expected with warming comes richer, creamier, chocolate action.

Medium body and plenty of carbonation round out the mouth feel.

This isn’t as bad as so many have made out and my wife seems to like it a bit, however, I’m not likely to try it again. The chocolate (perhaps the easy element) was very well executed but the banana is overdone and the peanut butter is hardly more than a vague nuttiness.

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The Utility of Beer Styles

This post is in direct response to Andy Crouch’s article “The Futility of Beer Styles” in this month’s (October 2013) Beer Advocate magazine [Edit: Andy has made me aware that this was only part 1 of 3 and these concerns will be addressed in future parts. A fact not mentioned in the magazine]. If you haven’t read it yet then I won’t fault you for reading it before continuing this post. However, if you don’t get Beer Advocate magazine or don’t want to wait then the quick summary is that he advocates for discontinuing the use of beer styles.

Beer Style Poster

Without beer styles we couldn’t have awesome posters like this!

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Book Review: Ken Grossman Beyond The Pale

Sierra Nevada is now the second biggest craft brewery in America – second to Boston Beer Company – and 7th overall brewery, craft or otherwise. How does one brewery grow to be the second largest in a sea of over 2,500 breweries? Ken Grossman, founder and president of Sierra Nevada tells the breweries story, and in turn his story, in his new book “Beyond the Pale: The story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.” (Amazon Book/eBook). The publishers were kind enough to send me a copy to review and I’m sharing my thoughts with you below.

Ken Grossman Autobiography Beyond The Pale The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Review

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Rivertown Triumvirate Release Details

Rivertown’s newest beer will be coming out at the end of the month. Triumvirate is a collaboration brew between Rivertown, The Rookwood, and Smooth Ambler gin. I’ll let them speak for themselves

Rivertown Rookwood Smooth Ambler Triumvirate

That ingredient list makes me think Dogfish Head is going to be jealous. Personally gin is not my liquor but I am tempted by anything involving Rivertown’s wild yeast! If you are interested you should find yourself at one of the release events for this:

  • Monday, October 21st at 5 p.m. at Jungle Jim’s Eastgate for a bottle signing
  • Monday, October 21st at 6 p.m. at Party Source for a bottle signing
  • Tuesday, October 22nd at 6 p.m. at The Rookwood where distiller John Little of Ambler, mixologist  Rom Wells from Rookwood, and Rivertown’s brewmaster Jason Roeper will be on hand.


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Government shutdown means no new beer or breweries

I’m not trying to get political, I blame both parties for this clusterfucktastraphy.

At midnight Monday night, September 30th, 2013 the United States federal government began to shutdown due to a failure by Congress to pass a budget. Now you ask what does that have to do with beer?

A small part of the federal government but a key part of the beer industry (craft or otherwise) is the Tax and Trade Bureau (shortened to TTB). The quick background is that all breweries have to get approval from the TTB before opening their brewery or before releasing a new beer. The TTB approves all labels and any interesting formulations, like adding shiitake mushrooms to your brew. For more background go read my earlier post about the TTB.

The Treasury department (which the TTB is part of) has listed what departments it’s going to be shutting down or reducing to save money so other, more crucial, parts can keep running. The TTB isn’t being totally shutdown as it collect  taxes, god forbid they stop collecting taxes even if we get nothing in return for them. However, all label, formula, and new brewery approval is ceasing. Here’s exactly what the Treasury said:

TTB would halt its regulatory functions, non-criminal investigative activities and audit functions. However, TTB would ensure that all tax remittances are processed because these functions are deemed necessary for safety and protection of property.

Now you may be asking what effect does this have on Cincinnati? I’ll leave that to Blank Slate Brewing Company’s Scott LaFollette:

Ok, first thing… 3 new beers from Blank Slate? Very exciting stuff!

You can see what this means to the industry as a whole. No new beers from any brewery – so small breweries won’t be able to keep innovating – and no new brewery approvals means the insane growth of new breweries hasn’t had the brakes put on it as much as the growth has slammed into a concrete wall and came to a complete and abrupt stop.

Hopefully Congress can get it’s act together and compromise on a budget to get the TTB back into action… oh, and the TTB has been understaffed for months and will likely have a massive backlog of approvals (like Blank Slate’s) to dig through so we shouldn’t be expecting too many new beers or breweries anytime soon.


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Call for blog post topics from MadTree!

I’ve somehow talked the guys at MadTree into writing a guest blog post. Here’s the thing though, we can’t really decide what’d be best for them to write about. Due to our indecision we’re turning it over to you, our dear readers, to voice your opinion on what you’d like to read from them.

Just keep it beer or brewery related and we’ll take the idea that’s most popular or that we like the most. Leave a comment below, on the Queen City Drinks Facebook page, or shoot us a tweet. Here are some ideas that I had as well as that we’ve heard from folks on Twitter already:

  • strategies for acquiring tap handles and shelf space at bars and liquor stores
  • how they market themselves for the casual drinker vs the committed followers.
  • new seasonals, and marketing.
  • Suppose I’d like in-depth “why.” Obviously they love beer, but why the need to make it or people? also enjoy talk about branding/marketing. What’s the brewery’s unique voice? Why? How does it fill a hole as local biz?
  • Decision to go with cans instead of bottles and the process for actually canning the beer

Hopefully this guest post works out well for everyone and I can talk more local breweries into it later. But that will come then, for the time being you need to tell us what you want to read from MadTree!


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