Tag Archives: bar

Some more Yard House pictures…

I’m not going to do a full-scale review of the Yard House just yet because 1) I largely agree with what Tom said in his review  and 2) I don’t want to judge a business on a soft opening (especially when I’m eating and drinking for free). I’ll just include a few of my thoughts short format belong, along with a few pictures.

– The space itself is just a tad above average. Very minimalist, with a one story, spread out floor plan. I think keeping it open looks neat, but will lead to crowd volume issues during busy hours, which was not helped at the preview by the music blasting. I like the Lager House’s materials and construction considerably more.

– The view is beautiful of the Ohio River and Roebling Bridge (see below). This is going to be a fantastic place to sit for happy hour once the weather warms up.

– While there are a ton of tap handles, I wasn’t super impressed by the selection. There aren’t enough locals and too many handles are used for macro. I understand that  this is at The Banks and caters to a wide subset of the population (AKA: not just beer geeks), but I think there’s considerable room to improve. I think this will happen as the folks responsible for beer buying there get a better understanding of the lay of the land in terms of local beers in Cincinnati.

– The small bites of food I had were fantastic in every case. I’m looking forward to coming back during happy hour sometime when they have half off appetizers and I believe pizzas.

– People talk a lot about what this means for the Lager House. I think the effect with be at worst minimal and at best a benefit to both places. With the Red’s season starting back up, there will clearly be enough demand for both places. Also, I’m a believer that a rising ride lifts all boats. I think the Lager House’s superior beer selection will make the Yard House up their game and I believe the Yard Houses’s eclectic and high-quality food selection will make the Lager House up theirs. Overall, having both is great for consumers. I’m not going to say that the two are equivalent, but if the Lager House was full, I’d be more than happy to walk over to the Yard House for a beer and snack (or vice-versa).

– Overall, I was impressed with not just the Yard House and its food/beer, but with the service, as well. Obviously things were slow because of the crowd size and learning the systems, but it’s nice to see servers new at a place, still chipper and pleasant to interact with.

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The Yard House from afar. It’s situated right next to the apartments at The Banks.

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A little closer up view.

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My terrible, washed out picture of the main entrance.

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The bar: lots and lots of beer. The taps wrap around the entire thing.

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Those are all the kegs on tap at the time.

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A fantastic view of the Ohio River.

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Yard House Tap List Revealed

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With a couple weeks left until the Yard House chain’s location here in Cincinnati opens, we got ahold of what will be available to drink on once they open. I’ll leave the commentary to you folks and add the disclaimer that I’m sure some of this will change by the time they open the doors.

You can find the menu (PDF) here.

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Dutch’s & MadTree

Dutch’s (facebook page) is easily my favorite bar around town, but calling it a bar is really a disservice. It’s a bottle shop, amazing craft beer bar, and larder. So basically it’s full of great beer to drink there, great beer to take home, and great food to go with your great beer! Multiple times a week they have special tap takeovers and last night was no different. MadTree is up in the house with Batch One, Identity Crisis, and PyscHOPathy!

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Yelp Drinks 2013 Rapid Review

When I read about Yelp Drinks 2013 I have to admit I got excited. I am something of a craft cocktail obsessive and the chance to check out a few places I’d been hearing about for half price was too tempting to miss. The deal is simple, 20 local bars and restaurants agree to feature three of their drinks at half price anytime before nine during the featured week, which just so happens to be this week. The timing was great for me because I’ve just started doing a second, all alcohol, podcast called Bottoms Up and I thought that featuring some exciting local bars would make for a good show. So last night Charlie, my partner-in-crime and co-host, picked me up and we hit 5 of the bars in 90 minutes. You can listen as we talk to the bartenders and try the drinks starting Friday over on the Charlie Tonic site but here is my rapid fire review of the five locations we hit.

Blood Orange Martini at Mayberry.

Blood Orange Martini at Mayberry.

Mayberry: I’ve been wanting to try the gastro pub for awhile now so we started here with the plan to get some food while we had a drink. Oddly enough the menu really didn’t appeal to me. Everything seemed to have pork belly and I know that doesn’t sound like a problem but it just wasn’t what we were in the mood for so we settled on ordering two Blood Orange Martini’s and some Bacon Garlic Popcorn to snack on. The Blood Orange Martini was made with vodka, freshly squeeze blood orange juice, and triple sec. It was an uncomplicated and refreshing drink and the driest of all the cocktails we sampled. Not too sweet at all and if you don’t like the taste of vodka you probably won’t like it. The burnt orange peel was a nice touch.

OTR cocktail at Japp's

OTR cocktail at Japp’s

Japp’s Since 1879Of course I am no stranger to Japp’s but with it right across the street from Mayberry I couldn’t walk past without trying a drink. Since we were in Over the Rhine I decided to order the OTR Cocktail and it was an interesting experience in having the same cocktail made by a different person. The OTR has vodka, vanilla, fresh squeezed lime, cranberry and rose water. The first time I had it the vanilla and rose water came through and it was a much softer and sweeter take on the old stand by combo of vodka, cranberry, and citrus. This time the lime was much stronger and I didn’t taste any vanilla at all. Sadly, this was the first time Japp’s has let me down.

Rosemary Bistro at Taste of Belgium

Rosemary Bistro at Taste of Belgium

Taste of Belgium: I’ve been a fan of these addictive little waffles since I first picked them up at a farmer’s market but I haven’t been to their new restaurant yet, in part because I thought that as much as I love the waffles, eating them for dinner seemed a bit much.  But it turns out that Taste of Belgium was my favorite food stop of the night. To make up for the disappointing and over-priced popcorn, Charlie and I decided to split a burger.  It was delicious and the toppings of bacon, goat cheese and caramelized apples complimented each other beautifully. Not only was the food great but the cocktail here tied for first place of the night. The Rosemary Bistro was made with Watershed Bourbon Barrel Gin, house-made rosemary leek syrup, and topped off with tonic water and a sprig of rosemary. The result is a crisp and slightly savory take on a traditional gin and tonic. Two thumbs up for this one. 

What's left of my Yelptini at Below Zero.

What’s left of my Yelptini at Below Zero.

Below Zero Lounge: The drink here was the most disappointing but the atmosphere was the most fun so I guess it’s a draw. I ordered the Yelptini which has vodka, triple sec, and cranberry juice. Now you may be saying to yourself, as I was, wait a minute isn’t that basically a Cosmopolitan minus the lime? Yes indeed it is and it tasted basically like a Cosmopolitan as well. Nevertheless, a cosmo is a nice cocktail and I managed to forget to take a picture until the glass was nearly empty so it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it. The crowd at Below Zero were unpretentious, talkative, and just plain fun to be around. I admit I was disappointed when it was time to move on to our final stop.

Smoked Elderflower at Neon's

Smoked Elderflower at Neon’s

Neon’s Unplugged: I never though I would enjoy a bar called Neon’s but this is where we got the second winning drink of the night. With its long narrow interior, dark wood beams, patrons wearing knit hats, and a dog laying by the entrance Neon’s felt like a pub in a European fishing village but the variety of craft beer and house-made bitters was decidedly modern. We decided on the Smoked Elderflower cocktail and this one was a winner. Something like a smoked gimlet, this drink was made with vodka, smoked fig bitters, St Germain, a splash of lemon juice, Sprite and then garnished with fresh lavender and a lemon wheel. The result was a smokey-citrus taste that was really unique and enjoyable. This is a bar I will definitely be trying again.

If you want to try these or any of the other 55 drinks that are on special during Yelp Drinks you have until Sunday to make it out. If I get the chance I will be stopping by Arnold’s for their Maple and Bacon infused Wild Turkey Old Fashioned.

Also in the interest of full disclosure and because I don’t want everyone thinking that I regularly slam back five cocktails on a work night, except for the first stop Charlie and I shared one of each of these drinks so it’s not as bad as it looks. Drink happy and drink safe!

You can hear Charlie and I try all of these drinks on Episode 2 of Bottoms Up.

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Road Trip! The Beer Trappe in Lexington

Every now and then it’s good to get out of the Queen City and explore the drinking culture in further flung regions of this great country. At just about a 90 minute drive away, the lovely college town of Lexington makes a great day trip. Usually if I’m going to Lexington I’m thinking bourbon, but recently Charlie and I got together with members of one of our favorite local bands, Ford Theater Reunion, to record a drinks segment for our podcast, The Charlie Tonic Hour, at The Beer Trappe in Lexington. It turned out to be an incredibly educational and fun experience. Eric, Joe, Allen and Alex are huge beer nerds and I learned all about gypsy brewers, natural fermentation, and beer that can taste like cheese. Of course it also turned into an hour and half long episode of great beer conversation interlaced with random thoughts on our first drinking experiences, why not trying is sexy, and a beanbag chair covered in kittens. So it was kind of a mixed bag. Listen at your own risk.

Me with the Trappist Rochefort 8, aka the one that tastes like cheese.

In fact, rather than listening to me enjoying The Beer Trappe, I recommend that you head for 811 Euclid Ave in Lexington Kentucky and experience it for yourself. Named one of the 100 best beer barsin America by Draft Magazine, The Beer Trappe has 8 rotating taps and over 400 bottles of craft beer from around the world that can be sampled in-house or purchased for enjoying at home. I was blown away by the selection of beers and would have been completely at a loss for where to start if not for our friends, but I get the impression that the staff are just as eager to help you find a good beer or ten or twenty to try. If you are in need of more guidance, on Sunday afternoons  they hold Beer School, a relaxed tasting of beers within a particular style or theme that is moderated by National Beer Judge Kevin Patterson.

Seven bottles were killed in the making of this episode.

The Beer Trappe was highly worth the drive but the whole neighborhood would make for a really nice day out. Once you’ve sampled all you can reasonably try at the Beer Trappe, head next door for some cheap but very good Cajun food at Bourbon N’ Toulouse, do a walking tour around historic Lexington to take in some sights and then head back to Euclid for a burger and a carafe of cocktails at Charlie Brown’s. Just do yourself a favor and make sure you have a driver for this particular road trip.

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Village Wine Cellar Cellar Dweller Tap Takeover

I spend a lot of time talking about what to drink and not nearly enough on where to go to drink it. This is partly because I’m a lazy shut in and partly because I live in the country. The popular downtown spots to drink are all 45 minutes away from me. Luckily I’ve recently discovered The Village Wine Cellar in downtown Lebanon.

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2nd Annual Beer and Sausage Fest at Mayday on October 27

As a resident of Northside, the wonderful neighborhood which Mayday is located in, I feel it’s my duty to get this out there to all you readers. Looks like a blast and hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

While I’ve got  you reading, here is a fantastic article by the Enquirer about Mayday.

WHAT: 2nd Annual Beer & Sausage Fest

WHERE: Mayday

WHEN: Saturday, October 27, 2012

Details: It is here again–
Our sausage and beer fest.
Tons of Craft Beers Including:
Dogfish Punkin
Sixpoint Autumnation

Fathead’s Hopstalker
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
Meantime London Porter
Great Divide Fresh Hop Ale

Pumpkin Carving Contests for Adults and Kids. Prizes include Gift Certificates from local businesses and fun beers or adults, candy and toys for kids.

This year’s Bierwurst is made with Anderson Valley Winter Warmer–Spicy!! Add to that all of our house sausages, warm Amish potato salad, plus homemade applesauce, apple tartlets, and other desserts.

Throw on your costume for the end of the night–Cover bands playing tributes to The Dwarves and Ohio rock bands like Devo.

Starts at 5pm– Free Entry! Kid friendly until 9pm!

Mayday Northside

4227 Spring Grove Ave

Cincinnati, OH 45223

513-541-0999

maydaynorthside.com

maydaynorthside.tumblr.com

maydaynorthside@gmail.com

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Rivertown Brewing Tap Room

The official grand opening of Rivertown’s tap room occurred yesterday and I was on the spot for the event. Their location is pretty convenient from the highway. Don’t let the neighbor hood fool you, you’re on the right path. Keep an eye out for their sign on the left side of the road and go about halfway down the building and you’ll find plenty of parking. It can be a bit tricky to find, but really isn’t bad at all.

Once you get there you are in for a great deal. It’s $5 for a tour, a Rivertown pint glass (see below), and a pint of beer (in a plastic cup not the glass though). Again, all that for just $5. I don’t want to sound like (too much) of a shill for Rivertown, but seriously folks. Most pint glasses run you $5 anyway, a decent beer at a good bar/restaurant will probably be more than $5, and most brewery tours that I’ve been on are free. So it’s basically a $10 value for half the price.  It’s hard to get a good picture of the pint glass empty… but wait a day or two for my review of the Hop Baron and you’ll see it full. 🙂 It’s a great looking glass, though.

The tap room is basically a small bar area right in front of the brewery. It’s a very nice bar with a couple stools, a bench or two scattered around, and another small table off to the side. But you don’t care what it looks like; you’re here because you like beer, good beer, and my next picture will wet your whistle for that!

I accidentally cut off the Helles in my picture, but it’s just above the Dunkel on the list. So don’t anyone fret that they didn’t have that on tap! I’m not going to get into a in-depth review of the beers I had there, but the Hop Baron, Helles, and Roebling were all far more delicious then I’ve ever had from a bottle before. The Roebling here is also on a nitro tap (the taller weird looking one all the way to the left) which gives it an amazing smoother (compared to bottle) taste with a much creamier mouth feel.

The last thing I’ll leave you with is that they also fill up growlers (which there were quite a few people doing Friday night, including myself). The pricing varies for different beers and I don’t recall them exactly. Suffice to say I have a growler full of Hop Baron in my fridge that I’m psyched to review for everyone’s reading pleasure!

The taproom is located at 607 Shepherd Drive, Unit 6  Cincinnati, OH 45215. Their hours are Friday 5:00-10:00PM, Saturdays noon-10:00PM, and Sundays noon-6:00PM.

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Bell’s Brewery Black Note Tapping at Northside Tavern

(@BellsBrewery Black Note tapping at @Northsidetav (2/7/12))

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a tremendous event at Northside Tavern put on by Bell’s. Because they sell so much of the brewery’s beer (2nd-most in the city!), they were able to get an awesome lineup of beers. They range from a pain in the butt to get to next to impossible to get, but all of them were either close or above 10% ABV, so I had to pick my battles carefully. Considering that I have only ever had Hopslam and The Oracle, this broke my heart.

What they had:

  • Hopslam – Needs no introduction. 
  • The Oracle – Hopslam’s, less-hyped, more-limited, better-tasting double IPA brother
  • Hell Hath No Fury: a Belgian strong dark ale
  • Sparking Ale: a Tripel
  • Black Note: A blend of Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout, aged in bourbon barrels

I was at the event primarily to try Black Note, and oh boy did it deliver. The beer is rated through the roof on pretty much every beer review site out there and it deserves every amazing review it gets. I am here to tell you that Black Note is the real deal: sweet, yet tempered by a slight roast; substantial barrel characteristics (vanilla, oak) without overwhelming the base beer; a substantial, but not thick mouthfeel with a creaminess lended to it from the Double Cream Stout portion of the base; and at 11% or so, just the slightest touch of alcohol heat. It very well might be the best stout I’ve ever tasted — it certainly is in my top five. If you ever see this anywhere and you pass it up, you would be out of your mind. A great, great beer from Bell’s.

After a pint of Black Note, I switched it up with a half pint of The Oracle, then returned to Black Note for another half pint. I decided 32 ounces of high gravity beer was probably enough for one evening, and walked home, the whole time wondering when the next chance to try such an amazing beer again would pop up. Even now, I still have Black Note on my mind…

(Sorry there are no more pictures of the event. They had set the lighting level to ‘sexy’ and I didn’t have a flash on my phone camera, so the pictures turned out like garbage. Nothing too exciting: a full line of Bell’s taps and a pint of Black Note which deceivingly looks like any other pitch black stout.)

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by | February 7, 2012 · 9:48 am