Category Archives: Reviews

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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Beer, Reviews

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!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer, Reviews

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer, Reviews

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Flipside

I like Sierra Nevada in general, I like their IPA, and I really like their pale ale, all that combined with my general love of Amber IPAs (or India Amber Ales) makes me very excited to try Sierra Nevada’s brand new Flipside Red IPA. flipside2013_sellsheet_front Read on after the jump for more info and my review! Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

New Beer Alert + Review: Moerlein Zeppelin

It’s been many a year since Christian Moerlein unleashed a brand new beer in full. Sure, the Lager House does special batches and cask offerings almost every week but the Zeppelin will be in kegs and bottles!

BS6pZIjCQAEnRbD

Check out the detail of the Queen City under the blimp!

Here is Moerlein’s description from the bottle label so you don’t have to read that sideways:

You’ve made a discovery – a German-inspired Pale Ale lifted by creativity and crafted for the loffty flight of a Zeppelin. Christian Moerlein Zeppelin Bavarian Style Pale Ale showcases the characteristics of traditional pales, enhanced by the distinctive flavors and aromas of German noble hops. Pilsner and Munich malts provide a significant backbone balanced by delicate floral and fruity notes from a late kettle hop addition and dry-hopping. The result makes this Zeppelin constantly smooth and balanced in flight.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Beer, Reviews

Beer Review: Duchesse de Bourgogne

In the bountiful world of beer it can be hard, neigh impossible, to be aware of all the varieties of beers! Duchesse de Bourgogne (think Doo-shay de bore-gone-a) is one such beer that escaped my notice for far too long. Luckily the fantastic Richard Dubé VP of Brewing Operations at Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein brought this beer to my attention earlier this year by proclaiming his love for it. I had it first at Wildflower Cafe in Mason and realized I must get a bottle for a review and spread the love!

Here’s the description courtesy of Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s web page:

“Duchesse de Bourgogne” is an ale of mixed fermentation. It is a sweet-fruity ale with a pleasant fresh aftertaste. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and with hops with a low bitterness. After the main fermentation and the lagering , the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” matures further for many months in oak casks. The tannins in the oak give the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” its fruity character. “Duchesse de Bourgogne” has a full, sweet and fresh taste : it is a ruby red jewel of 6.2 % alc. vol., that best is served in a chalice-shaped glass between 8 and 12°C [46 to 53°F]. A perfect beer .

  • Type of beer : West-Flemish red brown ale
  • Color : ruby red
  • Fermentation : mixed fermentation

Beer: Duchesse de Bourgogne
Brewery: Brouwerij Verhaeghe
Style: Flanders Red Ale
ABV: 6.2%

An aromatic combo of acetic vinegar sourness, dark fruits, and malt fills your nose as soon as you bring the glass close with a nice oakyness following after.

The color is an extremely dark red, much darker then anticipated. Though if you hold it up to a strong LED light you can see it’s more of cherry red. The head on here is a nice thick and creamy off-white that stayed around until the very end of the glass.

Flavor has a delightful tang of tartness along a touch of oak and some dark cherries. All of that action is on the more acetic/vinegar side of things but it’s balanced out by a nice malt body and some apple sweetness but the sweetness doesn’t linger which is cool.

Medium body and smooth carbonation with a long dry finish though there is some astringent prickliness left hanging around.

This is a delightful and complex beer that I love to have every so often. I wouldn’t advise drinking this every day, but if you haven’t had one yet you should really try it. It should be easily available at all better bottle shops around town and Richard Dubé keeps it on-tap at the Moerlein Lager House.

3 Comments

Filed under Beer, Reviews

Hank Birdwell’s Vodka

Hank Birdwell's Vodka

In my unending quest to be both a booze snob and a cheapskate I can never resist trying a new, reasonably priced vodka. With craft distilleries popping up every week it is hard to resist the fantasy of discovering a new product that is half the price and twice the quality of the big names. Of course this is usually a fool’s errand. It is true that with names like Grey Goose or Crystal Head you are paying a considerable amount for advertising and the perceived value but with alcohol as with so many things, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

But when I was at The Party Source debating which vodka to purchase, my prior experience didn’t stop me from being hopeful when I spotted a new and distinctive label sitting on the shelf. It was brightly colored, folksy, and claimed to be the product of seven generations of family distilling. At just about $11 a bottle the price was right for me to take it home and give it a try.

birdwellsvodka750__94999.1366405653.1280.1280

First the back ground. There is no real information about Hank Birdwell’s Vodka on the web. No flashy websites bragging about their column stills or organic ingredients. No corporate website listing the vodka as one of dozens of holdings either. The label says the vodka is distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana so I am going to have to assume that this is a new product out of Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana LLC. You may not have heard of LDI but you may have heard of Bulleit, Smooth Ambler, or High West. These are just a few of the craft distilleries that source their bourbon and other whiskies from LDI and bottle them under their own name. There is nothing wrong with sourcing your whiskey, especially while you are getting your distillery started. I point this out to illustrate that just because something says it is ‘crafted’ or has ‘seven generations’ of history behind doesn’t mean that is the whole story. The LDI distillery has indeed been around since 1847 but during that time it has been sold many times over, most recently to Kansas-based MGP Ingredients Inc in 2011. So I am not sure if Hank Birdwell’s is being bottled by someone else who is purchasing it from LDI or if they are selling it directly, but I do feel confident in saying that this is not a product that has been in anyone’s family for one generation, let alone seven.

vodka gimlet

All sounds pretty harsh and cynical but the real question is, how does the vodka taste? Charlie and I tried it for our podcast this week and I will say that while it wasn’t exactly good, it was not bad either. I can’t say for sure but my money is on this being a 100% corn vodka. The nose was strongly astringent; you can smell the alcohol and not much else. We tried it ice cold, neat and on first sip it had a surprisingly sweet taste with a strong vanilla flavor. But before you can even appreciate what you are tasting the alcohol comes in and burns away any flavor notes that might have been coming into focus. It wasn’t a hot burn but the ethyl flavor did take over the tongue and then lingered awhile after you swallowed. So not a sipping vodka for sure. Or course I can’t see why anyone would want to sip vodka in the first place, so I always follow up the tasting by making a cocktail with it. Vodka’s beauty comes from it’s ability to add alcohol to other flavors so to really test it you have to mix with it. In this case I made a vodka gimlet and here the Hank Birdwell’s performed much better. Mixed with fresh lime juice and simple syrup the ethyl flavor faded to the background but surprisingly the vanilla flavor came forward. It ended up being a much more enjoyable cocktail than I expected and lead me to upgrade my opinion of the vodka just a bit.

So should you give Hank Birdwell’s a shot? Like I said at the beginning, this is an $11 bottle of vodka and compared to other vodkas at that same price point it is perhaps slightly ahead of the curve. But if you have the money to spend, go ahead and spend a few dollars more to get some Tito’s.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Spirits

El Arco Tequila

 

El Arco bottles

 

“I love my unpaid job” was my facebook status last Thursday afternoon. The reason for this love? I had just come from a lunch time tequila tasting that was provided to me because El Arco Tequila reached out to Queen City Drinks to ask if one of their writers would be interested in sampling their tequila and writing a review. Never one to shirk my duty, I bravely stepped forward.

 

el arco blanco and anejo

El Arco is a newcomer to the craft tequila market. Arco Ventures LLC, a Cincinnati-based tequila distribution company bought Arco del Cabo Tequila, renamed it El Arco and began selling bottles in 2011 I believe. The change in marketing, branding, and investment seems to have them taking off quickly. When you think Cincinnati you don’t normally think tequila. So when we sat down with the owners, former NFL lineman and St. Xavier graduate, Rocky Boiman and Greg Meyer who is vice chairman of the Commercial Real Estate Council of Greater Cincinnati, we were curious as to how this brand would compare to other tequilas. Despite the owner’s connections to Cincinnati, it is clear that El Arco is a true tequila in every sense of the word. El Arco is produced by the Tres Mujeres Distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. It is made from 100% organic blue agave that grows for at least eight years before it is harvested to be made into the tequila. But how does the final product compare to other tequilas? El Arco advertises its taste rating on tequila.net right on the label, an excellent marketing strategy since both the blanco and the añejo are currently rated higher than other well known craft brands like Patron and Cabo Wabo.

I learned about all of this while sitting at a table with the two pours of tequila sitting in front of me waiting to be tasted so my expectations were pretty high by the time I got to actually try the tequila. I have to admit I was not disappointed. The blanco was smooth and really enjoyable to sip. It had a sweet, grassy flavor on the initial tasting with a spicy, spearmint-like finish. Hints of citrus can also be tasted in the flavor. The añejo is aged for a full two years in an oak barrel before being bottled but other than that it is the same product as the blanco and tasting them side by side was fascinating. If you have ever compared white-dog whiskey to bourbon you will know that the aging process radically changes the flavor of the initial product. With this tequila, you can taste a lot of the same flavors between the two different products. The grass is still there, as well as some lighter citrus but the oak transform the spearmint into more of a cinnamon with a hint of dark chocolate.

el arco margarita

 

Rocky and Greg were also kind enough to make us a margarita using El Arco Blanco. Fresh squeezed lime juice, top shelf ingredients, organic agave nectar; it had to be good right? Unfortunately the one thing they didn’t have was a jigger and the result was not optimal. While I am sure that the blanco makes a delicious margarita the one I got was too heavy on the lime for me to evaluate how well the tequila worked in the cocktail. However, if you want to try one yourself I recommend going to Bakersfield where the blanco is the tequila in the premium margarita, or if you are at the Western and Southern Open this week you will see that El Arco is the chief sponsor of the bar were you can order a pitcher of the El Arco ‘Ace’ Margarita. Either way I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

If you want more detail on El Arco you can listen to the whole tasting and hear Greg and Rocky explain their company philosophy on Episode 26 of Bottoms Up With Ginny and Charlie.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews, Spirits

Cider, really?

[This post was put together by Roger Fecher, a friend of mine and reader of the blog. I’d like to thank him for submitting it to be published. -J]

With the wide world of alcoholic beverages available to you, you’ve probably thought, “Why would I want to try that?” or “That’s not for me” or “Is there anything special about that?” Some of you have even contemplated these very questions while looking at a bottle of cider. Some of you haven’t even gone that far because you discount the beverage outright. And why not, right? In the world of alcohol many of us like to stick to one kingdom: cereal grains. Bread and pasta can be good, even great, but cereal grains come into their own in the world of alcohol. Give me the complexity of a fine beer or a well-aged whiskey and I’m a happy dude.

Sure, you occasionally step out of your comfort zone and have a wine with dinner. You might even order a glass of mead or put your trust in B. Nektar and order a cyser (mead fermented with apple juice or cider). But have you ever given cider itself a chance?

ciderI’m sitting here sipping a Domaine Dupont Reserve cider considering how blessed I am. My brother told me for years about the glory that is cider, but unfortunately most of our domestic product falls short (most of it just plain sucks). It was on a trip to Paris that I made it a personal quest to try a variety of ciders from Normandie one of the areas where traditional cider has been produced for hundreds of years with ancient apple varieties generally not available in the US. In addition many of their ciders are bone dry with a huge effervescence. When so much of the sugar has been fermented out the character of the cider can really shine through.

Truly good ciders have an incredible gueuze-like funk to them with horse blanket and barnyard. There’s a tartness of the tongue, but these aren’t sour. And don’t get me wrong, they won’t blow you over with funk like a gueuze might, but they can certainly hold their own.

This particular cider was aged in calvados casks for six months. Calvados is essentially apple brandy produced from the same apples in Normandie. This cider is produced once a year. The apples for this bottle were harvested in 2011 and matured in 2012.

The bottle pours with a nice white head that diminishes to a small ring but never fades away. The cider is slightly yellow with a touch of copper and a steady stream of bubbles similar to champagne. The aroma is heavenly; lemon, barnyard funk, gueuze, tart apple, leather, and oak – just an incredible mix.

While the base cider was clearly fermented out leaving a bone dry, crisp cider, the calvados casks add back some of that sweetness. It’s akin to the difference between a dry Riesling and a late harvest Riesling. Sure there’s a bit more sweetness there, but it’s a complex sweetness with vanilla and caramel. The taste is both slightly tart and sweet. The finish is completely drying leading to a continual desire to take another sip. The high level of carbonation makes this a super easy drinker. At 6.9% ABV it’s also an easy bottle to open with just one other person (750 mL).

If this intrigues you at all, I highly recommend that you give ciders a(nother) go. Try the ciders from Normandie first, especially from Domaine Dupont. The Domaine Dupont Reserve cider is certainly among the best that I’ve tried. I believe I picked it up at The Party Source for $20-30. TPS seems to get Domain Dupont on a fairly regular basis.

1 Comment

Filed under Informational, Reviews

Coming soon: King of the Cincinnati IPA

cincy-ipa2 (1)

 

More on this soon…

Special thanks to designer Dan Schmidt (@schmidt) for the artwork.

2 Comments

Filed under Beer, Cincinnati, Reviews