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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Guest Post: How to create and stock your own home bar

[Ed.: We’re always open to guest posts here on Queen City Drinks, if you want to do 1 or 100 just shoot me an email at Tom@QueenCityDrinks.com. This post is from Blake Daniels a stay-at-home dad from Upstate NY that enjoys the simpler things in life. You would most likely find him building forts with his boys, cooking delicious meals for his wife, brewing and enjoying beer or mowing the lawn.]

Whether you’re a professional brewmaster, amateur homebrewer, or someone that simply enjoys finer beer and liquor, a home bar is something that might make the perfect addition to your house or man cave. You may have seen some extravagant home bars on television or in movies and thought to yourself, “that’s too rich for my blood”. However, you can have your very own home bar for a reasonable price by cutting out the more luxurious components and bringing it back to basics. At its core, a home bar should consist of the spirits and drinks that you enjoy, as well as the accessories you need to enjoy them properly.

Things to drink

The most obvious thing that you need is alcohol. Without it, your bar is just a collection of cool glasses and mixing equipment. Since you want to be prepared for the varying tastes that your guests may have, you should go with a range of whiskeys, scotches, vodka, gin, rum, beers and a seemingly endless stream of other essential spirits. Now that you have the ingredients, the other things you’ll want to focus on include specialized glassware, bartending equipment, and some aesthetic touches.

Things to drink out of

There are two main types of glassware for a typical bar; one for drinks and the other for ingredients. To cover the basics for both, every bar should start with at least a few of the following:

glasses

  • Whiskey Glasses – These glasses are versatile, can also be used for scotches and bourbons, and are necessary for a number of specialty mixed drinks
  • Beer Glasses – When it comes to beer, many styles require a special glass to enhance the flavor and aroma, here are a few examples along with the beer(s) they should be used with.
    • Tulip – Belgians, Imperial IPAs and Sour beers
    • Weizen – Wheat beers (American, German, etc.)
    • Shaker Pint – Pretty much any style, but is best reserved for your BudMillerCoors drinking friends
  • Mason Jars – Easy to find and perfect for storing things like simple syrups and alcohol infused fruit

In all seriousness, if you can’t invest in dozens of different beer glasses, shaker pints will work well with most styles. If you decide to go with standard pint glasses, you can at least add some personality to them by picking up a personalized set.

Things to make drinks with

It’s not all about glassware when it comes to a home bar, it’s also about the tools of the trade.  A well-prepared bar is what separates the boys from the men. You never want to be asked for a drink order and be caught off guard. The most immediate image in people’s minds when they think of bartending is usually the stainless-steel shaker with strainer and maybe a muddler (used to mash fruit, herbs and spices in order to release their flavor); however, jiggers (used for measuring small amounts of liquor), bar spoons, whiskey stones (keeps the drink cool without watering it down) and an ice bucket are equally as important. These tools will provide you with everything that you need to raise your craft to a professional level.

A place for all your things

The final and most important task to tackle is how to set-up or build the bar itself. It won’t do you much good to simply have all of these items sitting around your kitchen, you need to give them a home. A simple solution is to convert one of the cabinets you already have in your house. This is done by adding shelves and drawers into the space available, creating a secret storage unit that fits in perfectly with your other furniture. Using mirrored glass for shelving is always a nice touch, and including special napkins and towels can really impress your guests. For those who would prefer a more permanent setup and aren’t afraid of using a few power tools, you can easily craft your own bar using a set of DIY plans.

Remember, the goal of setting up your own home bar is to create a space where you can relax and enjoy spending time with family and friends. This is a chance for you to be creative and have fun with the process, which will make the final product that much more enjoyable.

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Changing of the Guard: Part II

Tom here and this is all in response to Josh’s post last month, if you haven’t read it go check it out and come back.

I’m sad to see Josh go and regret only knowing and working with him for such a short time. I’m taking over operations here but I’ve made it clear to him he’ll always have a place to post whatever he wants. I owe him a tremendous amount for taking a leap of faith on me on a year and a half ago.

As far as the future of the blog goes I plan on changing very little of what you see but a bit of what you don’t. We’ve been hosted on WordPress.com from the get go and have begun to feel very constricted here. Both Josh and I agreed on this before he found out he’d be leaving town. During the next few weeks I’ll be moving the site off WordPress.com and onto separate hosting and a WordPress.Org setup. Hopefully nothing will change from the readers viewpoint.

One of the other big things that will be changing is the ads. WordPress was kind enough to invite us to join their WordAds program, the only advertising allowed on WordPress.com hosting, and put this videos at the bottom of every post. Those will be going away and be replaced with sponsors. The plan here is to display the sponsors logo and have it link to their site. I’ve already got at least 1 interested person and if you’d like to sponsor the site as well please feel free to email at Tom@QueenCityDrinks.com for more details. If that is able to cover the bills those will be all the ads there are, if not I will look into other advertising but I promise to keep it as unobtrusive as possible.

Content wise I plan very little to change. Ginny Tonic graciously welcomed her “new Queen City overlords” so she’ll still be writing for us. I also want to re-stress one of Josh’s long-standing policies that anyone who wants to write anything from 1 post to 1 series to the 200+ posts I’ve written is more than welcome! Just send me an email at Tom@QueenCityDrinks.com with your ideas and we’ll get ’em posted. If you like it enough I’ll create an account and you can have a free hand!

If that was all too long and you didn’t read it then rest assured that this changing of the guard means very little is changing here on Queen City Drinks, we’ve had a good thing going and I don’t want to screw it up.

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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

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Dry for 30

Let me first off say that The Brew Professor is some kind of psychotic sadomasochist… who has somehow pulled BeerQuestABV, Brent Osborn at Osborn Brewing, and myself into his madness.

Friend of mine and of the blog Mike, aka The Brew Professor, has had the idea to go Dry for 30 days. What does “dry for 30 days” mean? Pure insanity, that’s what it means. No beer for 30 days! He’s got some great reasons for doing it, and an even better give away, so go read his post then come back to us.

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A changing of the guard at Queen City Drinks

Over the past three or four months, you may have noticed that I have largely been absent from posting on the blog and interacting via social media (Twitter/Facebook). Luckily, Tom and Ginny have picked up the slack and kept the blog moving along with fresh content. I suppose it’s about time for an apology and an explanation.

In April I found out that my office was closing and that I would be relocating from Cincinnati to another geographic location. I didn’t know when or where I would be relocating, so the last four months have been pretty full of stress and uncertainty.  I haven’t really been in the blogging mood because of this, so over this period I pulled back from the site a bit. I now know where to and (sort of) when I’ll be leaving Cincinnati, so I thought it would be proper to announce some changes at Queen City Drinks that I’ve been mulling over and sitting on for a bit.

Effective immediately, Tom Aguero will be the sole owner and the individual responsible for the operations of the site and social media accounts. Any emails or press releases that you would normally send to me should now be directed to tom@queencitydrinks.com. This will be updated on the site to reflect the changes.

Not only has Tom carried the site for the last four months, but he was the first individual who joined me on the site after its creation. Over this period, he’s become more and more involved with Queen City Drinks and has taken on more responsibility regarding it. During this same period, I’ve (or we’ve, I suppose) seen not only his writing style, but his palate evolve tremendously. I’m proud of the role he’s played on the site so far and have absolutely no doubt he will continue to improve Queen City Drinks and make it a better product than it is today.

Since I moved to Cincinnati over three years ago, I’ve seen both the City itself and the local craft beer scene move along a parallel path. Just as the urban core of Cincinnati has seen a renaissance and a new frame of mind that says “hey, this can be a cool place to live”, we’ve also seen an explosion of exciting new breweries and already established breweries redefining and improving their product.

Where the City of Cincinnati has The Banks, Over-the-Rhine’s continued revitalization, Streetcar construction, an energized Central Business District; the local craft beer scene has Triple Digit, Blank Slate, MadTree, Rhinegeist, and  Fifty West come into existence. That doesn’t even include the oldies, but goodies cranking out fresh offerings (Rivertown’s sours and Listermann’s barrel-aged beers) and Moerlein finally brewing their beer here in Cincinnati.

I have no doubt that Cincinnati is on a trajectory to be, if not a world-class city, then at worst a City that people can point to as a model of how to turn around an out-dated, behind-the-times, Midwestern city. I’m excited to see what those invested in the future of this City have up their sleeves. Ditto to all of that for our local brewers. Cincinnati beer has finally got out of the mindset dominated by pre-prohibition German-influenced beer (though there is still certainly room for that), and craft beer drinkers in the region are better off because of it.

With that, I’ll turn you all over to Tom. I’ve met some great people here both through and outside of the blog, and I wouldn’t trade my time here in Cincinnati for anything in the world, but it’s time to be moving on. Those of you I know (and perhaps some I don’t): hopefully we can meet up in the next few months before I head out. If it’s over a great locally-brewed beer, all the better.

Thank you all for reading and helping make Queen City Drinks the success that it has become!

Cheers,

Josh

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3 Tier System: Distributors

One of my blogging goals this year has been a breakdown of the 3-tier system focusing on each level. I’ve already covered general info on the 3-tier system and the history of it’s creation as well as a full post dedicated to breweries (links below). This post, as the title suggests, is all about the distribution industry and their role in the system.

  1. Introduction and History
  2. Breweries
  3. Distributors (you are here)
  4. Retailers
  5. Variations in States

Put very simply distributors are large companies mainly comprised of warehouse space, trucks, delivery guys, and sales men. Distributors take beer from breweries and move it to stores and bars. More complexly they warehouse a vast inventory of beers from a vast number of breweries and take care of the logistics of picking it up, storing it, and delivering it to a vast network of resellers.

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New local beer alert: Listermann Colonel Plug (Kentucky Style Common Ale)

Colonel_Plug13.ol

I had noticed the label approval for this one a little while back, but now we have the details concerning the beer and its release. From Jason at Listermann:

Listermann Brewing Company will be releasing its first beer in its new Ohio Riverboat Pirate series, Colonel Plug, a collaboration with 1987 Home Brewer of the Year and the founder of the Bloatarian Brewing League in Cincinnati, Ray Spangler. Ray and head brewer Kevin Moreland decided to revive one of the three beer styles that originated in the United States: Kentucky Common.  The Kentucky Common is a sour mash beer that had an 18 hour mash before it was boiled to naturally sour the beer.  The beer was then aged in an American oak cask.

Colonel Plug will be a brewery only release on Friday September 27th at 5 pm. It will be available for draft and bottle purchase. Listermann Brewing Company is located at 1621 Dana AveCincinnati, OH45207

Appearance – Bourbon Hue

Malt – Corn, 2-Row, Honey Malt

Hops – Sterling

Yeast – American Ale

O.G. – 15.5 Plato

IBU- 20

ABV- 6%

Edit: These are $13.99 a bottle with a limit of two bottles per person.

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New lagering tunnel discovered in Cincinnati!

After being sealed 18 years ago an entrance to the Hudepohl lagering tunnels has been reopened by the hard working Over-The-Rhine Brewery District team! IMG_5715 Continue reading

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