Tag Archives: beer

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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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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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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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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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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BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse Cincinnati

BJs-Restaurant-Logo

A few weeks ago while I was leading a microbrewery tour with Tonic Tours, I started talking with a guy named Dave Reed who was enjoying a pint at Rivertown’s taproom. Turns out he is the beer manager at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse and he invited Charlie and I down to enjoy some beer, check out their food, and see what we thought of the place.

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Because I live near Tri-County Mall I have driven by BJ’s a number of times since they opened but something about the name and the location in the mall had caused me to write them off as a cheesy sports bar with too much testosterone and too many chicken wings so I’d never actually been inside. In the end, I may not have taken Dave up on his offer except that my cousin who usually has pretty good taste in beer recently told me that BJ’s has one of the best pumpkin ale’s he’d ever had. I was intrigued to see if I had judged BJ’s too harshly.

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BJ’s started as a deep-dish pizza restaurant in 1978 in Southern California. The chain took off in California and in 1996 they added a brewery to their line up and began brewing their own beer to serve in their restaurants. All of the beer served at the Cincinnati location is brewed in the Reno brewery. In addition to the Tri-County location they have recently opened a location in Florence, KY and a BJ’s will be opening in Dayton later this month.

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BJ’s has 12 of their own beers on tap, with selections ranging from their standard American-style light beer to a stout and a double IPA coming out later this month. When we sat down with Dave at BJ’s he brought us a flight of their four most popular beers: the LightSwitch Lager, BrewHouse Blonde, Piranha Pale Ale, and Jeremiah Red. All of the beers were solid, approachable, and fairly safe which makes sense given that these are the best selling beers in a fairly mainstream restaurant. There was actually a barely detectable hint of hops in their light beer and I particularly enjoyed the Jeremiah Red. It has a fairly complex malt profile although it may be a bit sweet for most people’s taste in an Irish Red Ale. I wish that we had gotten a chance to try some of the darker varieties of beer as well to see how they compared, but overall I would rate the beer good but not great. In addition to their own beer’s BJ’s also has 12 more beers on tap with everything from Blue Moon to Rivertown’s Hopbomber.

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I have to say that the food impressed me a little more than the beer. The deep dish pizza was delicious, a nice amount of toppings that didn’t get overwhelmed by the crust. The seared ahi tuna salad I ordered was amazing, with the tuna cooked to perfection and nicely balanced by the rice-wine vinaigrette and generous portion of avocado. I was actually most impressed by the wide selection items on their menu that fit different diets. They had a surprisingly large number of gluten-free dishes that they apparently even use separate utensils and trays for to avoid cross-contamination. Their low calorie dishes, including the salad I got, were great even if they insist on calling them “Enlightened Entrees.”

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Over all the biggest disappointment was that this pumpkin ale I’d heard about from my cousin was not available yet. I guess I will just have to head back in October when the finally tap it and try a few more of their beers before I make a final decision. Over all I would to head to BJ’s for the food first and enjoy the beer as an accompaniment to the meal rather than the main attraction. With easy parking, little to no wait, and plenty of big screen TV’s there are worse choices for a night out with solid food and beer you can’t try anywhere else. If you want to check out BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse a good opportunity is coming up at the end of the month. They are doing a beer and cider dinner September 30th; for $30 per person you get five courses of food with a beer or cider paired with each one. Call the restaurant to reserve a seat at (513) 671-1805. And be sure to check out Episode 30 of Bottoms Up to hear Charlie and I try the beer and get a rundown of each one.

BJ's Restaurant and Brew House on Urbanspoon

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Book Review: The Complete Beer Course

I’m happy to bring news and a review of a new beer book coming out The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes (buy on Amazon) by Joshua M. Bernstein. CBCCover Continue reading

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Book review: Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow

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When it comes to brewing wild/sour/funky beer, it turns out there aren’t many resources out there. Unlike homebrewing in general, where you’ll find more “how to brew” books than you could possibly know what to do this, the relatively esoteric niche of brewing both traditional Belgian sours and their newly Americanized brethren are sadly represented both in print and online. Online, you’ll find some great blogs like The Mad Fermentationist, Bear Flavored Ales, and brewing sub-forums like Homebrew Talk’s Lambic & Wild Brewing section. When it comes to print, though, Jeff Sparrow’s Wild Brews is pretty much the only game in town.

This might seem odd considering the glut of general homebrew books out there, but in many ways it makes sense. Brewing sour beers is a very, very small niche when you consider how small of a niche hobby homebrewing itself is to begin with. Also, this book has largely been canonical in the world of sour/wild beer brewing. Finally, it’s just not a part of brewing that is particularly well-understood. The use of Brettanomyces and souring bacteria, in my opinion and experience, is much more of an art than a science. You may be able to brew a house IPA over and over and over that you’ve been able to nail down, but on a homebrew level it’s going to be very difficult to brew the same lambic twice. There are just too many vaguely understood moving parts.

Wild Brew is less than 300 pages, but those 200-some odd pages are densely packed with a ton of information. I was concerned that it would be overly “science-y”, but my fears were unjustified. Even at its most scientifically in-depth sections, the average brewer should have no problem comprehending most of it.

The book starts with an overview and history of the classic Belgian sour styles (Lambics, Flanders reds, Flanders browns/Oud bruins), then proceeds to a whirlwind tour of the breweries in Belgium which brew and sell sours. Many of them you’ve probably heard of (Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Rodenbach), but there were a handful that were new to me. There is an illustration section which shows photos of many of these breweries.

It then proceeds on to the science of how sour beers end up like they do, describing the yeast/bacteria involved, the life cycle of fermentation, and the effects of different fermentation vessels that pro brewers use. It then wraps up by explaining how you can make this magic at home and provides a number of recipes that you can use to brew these classic styles.

Verdict? Wild Brews really is canonical for a reason. The information contained in it is damn near exhaustive when it comes to brewing classic Belgian sours. It’s an invaluable asset to any homebrewers who want to start down the path of brewing sours or even for the sour beer lover who wants a better understanding of how the beer he or she is drinking was made. The only qualm I have with the book is that I wish that Mr. Sparrow would issue an updated version of the book. I realize it focuses primarily on the classic Belgian styles of sour beers, but a lot has changed (in particular, in the United States) since 2005 when it comes to craft beer and the rise of sour/wild beers. New strains of Brettanomyces and Brett/bacteria blends have been released by White Labs and Wyeast since then, as well. Overall, though, that’s just me nit-picking and it shouldn’t deter anyone from purchasing this book. Available for less than $15, this is easily the most enlightening homebrew-related book I’ve read since I opened John Palmer’s How to Brew and started down this fun path.

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Introducing Jackie O’s to Cincinnati!

Up until today the only (as far as I’m aware) place to get Jackie O’s in Cincinnati was at Dutch’s in Hyde Park. Jay Ashmore, owner of Dutch’s, said that he’d been making the trip out to Athen’s, having them bring it all the way, or somewhere in between. Now that they’ve signed with Cavalier life will be getting easier for Jay and we’ll all be getting more Jackie O’s. 

Starting today, August 7th, cans of Firefly and Chomo-Lungma will be available across Cincinnati. However, draft will be limited and I have a feeling Dutch’s may still be the hot spot for  Jackie O’s.

First Josh has some background info on Jackie O’s, after that I’m taking a look at their Firefly Amber and Chomo-Lungma brown. First off here’s Josh:

If you don’t know about Jackie O’s out east in picturesque Athens, Ohio and you are an enjoyer of well-crafted beer, you are doing yourself a disservice. Located in and next door to the old, long-time O’Hooley’s spot on West Union Street, Brad Clark has been kicking out some high-quality, extremely unique beers since 2006 or so. Well-known to the small undercurrent of craft beer enthusiasts interested in non-run-of -the-mill sours and barrel aged beers, the small Brewpub blew up after being featured on the cover of Beer Advocate magazine a couple years ago.

If you’re interested, a full, in-depth history of Jackie O’s can be found on their website.  Their bottle releases are legendary in the craft beer scene and are one of those things you just have to do at least once if  you’re into good company and even better beer. They are typically very well attended and in the four or so I’ve been to, you encounter people from all over  the United States. In the last year or so, they had acquired property and were getting setup to package their product in can format. It looks like that time is upon us.


Beer: Firefly Amber
ABV: 4.5%
Malt: American 2-row, Maris Otter, Pilsen, White Wheat, Special Roast, Cara 8
Hops: Hallertau, Athantum, Cascade

Firefly is our lightest offering at Jackie O’s. We like to refer to it as our gateway ale. Introducing macro drinkers to this beer has proved to be effective in converting them into craft beer drinkers. Seasoned craft beer drinkers also admire the drinkability and soft but wide rage of flavors embedded within this Amber ale. A fusion of Maris Otter, Belgian Pilsen, and American 2-row provide an interesting and complex malty base for this refreshing ale. Lightly roasted malt gives Firefly a biscuit-like finish. Carefully selected hops provide an herbal and mildly citrus aroma and flavor.

Very forward malt aroma of caramel and grains. Initially only a hint of citrus/grass hops that increases as it warms.

Looks like a penny that’s been around for a bit showing off a dingy copper color. Nice third-inch off-white head that hung around for a wee bit before skimming down.

Caramel is the dominate flavor with some citrus hop action, light sweetness, and a moderate level of very balanced bitterness.

Body is medium and has a fair bit of carbonation with it.

Very nice amber ale, not amazing or top of the style by any means but still highly enjoyable and worth trying.


Beer: Chomo-Lungma
ABV: 6.5%
Malt: 2-row, Munich, Crystal 60, Chocolate, Biscuit, Belgian Aromatic, White Wheat, Cara 45
Hops: Warrior, Mt. Hood

This brown ale was brewed to commemorate the Lungevity Everest Expedition. Brian Oestrike the brother of Jackie O’s owner Art, sumitted the unforgiving mountain on May 22nd, 2007. The climb was a vehicle to raise money and awareness about lung cancer. The people of Tibet call Mt. Everest “Chomolungma” this exceptional ale carries on the spirit of the climb. 8 Malts, 2 hops, and twenty pounds of wild flower honey give this ale an exceptional character. Baked muffins, dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate, rich honey and earthy subtle hops caress the palate. Booze soaked chocolate raisins round out the warm finish. Now available in cans.

Very pretty very dark brown with a nice light-tan head showing no signs of going anywhere.

Aroma definitely gives off plenty of malt and nice signs of that honey the description talks about.

Flavor is a bit of a toffee and caramel malt bomb. Some light herbal notes with a fair bit of honey that tastes a little weird, I’m guessing that’s cause it’s wildflower honey.

Body is much lighter than I expected based on color and malt profile.

Not sure I’ve ever heard a better story for naming a beer. Just being named after Mt. Everest alone is pretty sweet in my opinion then on top of that you’ve got the dude climbing Mt. Everest for a lung cancer fund raiser. In the end it’s a nice beer but not one I would quest after and it leaves me questioning why some people get so worked up over Jackie O’s brews.


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