Tag Archives: bell’s

Whole Foods Mason: Tuesday on Tap

I’ve been meaning to come to one of these for months but things keep coming up and it’s not all that close to me. But I finally prioritized it and I’m so glad I did.

First of the important stuff, the beer list:

Those prices are pint/32 oz growler/64 oz growler… yeah $12 for 64 oz of PsycHOPathy… so mad I didn’t bring my growler.

The way this works is that there are 6 tables each with 1 beer and 1 snack. The tables are spread throughout the store, but I got here early so I snagged a seat at the bar for a pint before everything started. While the bar does count as 1 table you still have to get up and walk around so getting here early isn’t a huge advantages. The tables are setup 1 – 6, light – dark, Hors d’oeuvre – desert. I’m not sure, and didn’t ask, if they were consciously pairing beer & food, but for the most part it seemed like they did.

You start at register 7, its $6 for a mug and the tasting but if you bring your mug back you save a dollar. At each table they hole punch your list of beers and give you an appetizer. Pretty simple setup that keeps things easy and awesome.

The first station was Bell’s Oberon and vegetable medley, both were delicious however I have problems with drinking a summer ale while it is snowing.

Station 2 is Left Hand JuJu brewed with ginger and paired with cajun catfish. That catfish was quite spicy and paired a little weird with the ginger.

Station 3 is MadTree PsycHOPathy paired with quinoa and farro topped with haloumi cheese. I love quinoa and have now discovered that farro is another awesome grain. This whole thing went great with the hoppy/bitter IPA.

Station 4 matched Kona Koko Brown Ale to a pepperoni pizza. They went well together but not outstanding.

Table 5 was a winter fruit cracker topped with brie cheese and spicy plum chutney paired to Ballast Point’s Dorado Double IPA. The Dorado packs a vicious kick of alcohol and bitter hops. It washes off the strong flavors of the cracker. I didn’t dig the snack but loved the beer.

Station 6 brought out Founders Imperial Stout and matzo crunch, which is a matzo cracker dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with walnuts. This pairs amazingly and the Founders imperial stout is just plain awesome! The interplay with the chocolate and the Imperial Stout was absolutely amazing.

Overall this was a fantastic experience that was well worth my $6. However the beer list and apps changes each week. They post the beer list on their Facebook page before hand, seems to be around noon on Tuesdays, so I’d suggest to check and make sure they have beers you like or are interested in first, hopefully they’ll start posting what the snacks will be as well. The store also has a decent bottle selection that includes a variety of single bottles.

Seriously I strongly recommend checking out one of these events and will definitely be back myself. This store is also hosting it’s own Whole Foods Craft Beer Festival on May 18th, so we have that to look forward to as well!

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Beer Review: Bell’s Hopslam

The Midwest is not historically known for it’s IPAs but that is changing quickly. The west coast has been knocking out bitter IPAs for more than a decade, recently Heady Topper has started to put the (north) east coast on the map. As for the midwest we’ve got a few serious contenders leading the way in Fat Head’s Head Hunter and Bell’s Hopslam among others. I prefer the Hopslam because it’s much more flavorful to Fat Head’s bitterness. Hopslam is a seasonal release with a somewhat small foot print, luckily Ohio and northern Kentucky are well within that footprint!

Here’s what Bell’s has to say about it

Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

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The Three Best Things I’ve Drank in November

Because I like to think that people actually read what I’m writing here and hopefully they do so because they trust my taste, I’m going to start a new series that I’ll try to get up at the end of each month. In it, I’ll give a brief memorial for the three most stellar things I’ve drank over the month. They might not all be beer; spirits, wines, hell, even not-alcoholic things are fair game. Maybe the other QCD contributors will decide to post theirs, as well (hint hint), and we’ll get a wide spectrum of ideas.

Note: since some of these beers will be limited or draft-only, you may be SOL on trying to get ahold of it when the monthly post goes up. Also note that these are in no particular order.

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Bell’s Black Note
Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

This is kinda cheating because I knew it was going to be on my list before I even drank it. I’ve had it once before during last year’s Cincinnati Beer Week, and it blew my mind. A blend of Bell’s Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout aged in bourbon barrels, this beer hits every check box for a beast-like imperial stout. Sweet, yet countered by a slight roast, this beer treads all over your average barrel-aged stouts without even trying. If you see it on tap and don’t order it, that sound you hear is my head shaking at you in shame. If you need any indication of how good this beer is, when I saw it was on tap, I connived to have family in town for Thanksgiving go to the Lager House for lunch the day it was tapped so I could get a pour. Not moving mountains or anything, but still.

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Quaff Bros
Sour Grapes

Though this local beer could have qualified on creativity alone, it scores massive bonus points for being really tasty. Take a hearty red wine, mix it with a brown ale or porter, aged that in a bourbon barrel, and then pretend it doesn’t sound disgusting. That’s what Sour Grapes is like. They were barrel-aging a brown ale, when – OOPS! – it sprung an infection and soured. In trying to salvage the beer, they added Sangiovese grapes and let it ride. The fact that this “by the seat of their pants” project worked out is pretty amazing. Sadly, unless you rob my cellar, good luck getting a bottle. Like every one of the Quaff Bros bottles, these went pretty quickly.

If you’d like, feel free to check out my full review.

Quaff Bros
Joseph

Believe me, I was just as surprised as most of you are to see two local brews on this list. It’s probably the first time I would have ever been able to do this and I think it speaks highly to the improving quality of beers brewed in this area. Not to mention the ass that Quaff Bros are kicking all over the block with the stuff they’ve been putting out.

Joseph is a mild coffee stout (coffee provided by Taste of Belgium) aged in Elijah Craig barrels. This is easily in my top five of any beers drank by yours truly with coffee influence. The coffee takes a slight back seat to the bourbon, which is preferable, in my opinion. Perfectly balanced and dangerously drinkable (at 9.5%), if Quaff Bros don’t put another batch of this together on their own regards, I think I’m going to kidnap them and force them to do so. If you move quickly, you can still pick up a growler of this at Party Source ($9.00 for 32oz, $ $17.99 for 64oz) and I urge you to do so. Not only is it delicious, a growler of this might be one of the best barrel-aged beer deals you’ll ever find.

That’s what impressed me this month. Did anything blow you away in the month of November?

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Tips for Cellaring Beer

Recently I’ve embarked on a voluntary freeze on beer purchases so I could force myself to 1) put more effort into brewing beers to drink and 2) begin drinking down the beers in my cellar which I haven’t tried before. This has had me thinking a bit about proper cellar technique and I thought I would pass some tips on to those of you who are new to cellaring beer or are considering starting to do so.

1. Cellar conditions

The most important thing here are light level and temperature control. You don’t want beer that is light struck. While the amber-colored bottles that most breweries use to bottle with do help cut down on light entering the beer, you’re going to want to keep your bottles in something like a closet or other area where there isn’t going to consistent visible light. You can read why light on your bottles over a lengthy period of time is bad here. As a quick aside, this is also a reason I am weary to buy beer that has been sitting on a bottle shop shelf forever under lights.

As for temperature, ideal is probably in the 50-60 degree range. This isn’t easy to do, which is why a makeshift “cellar” in your bedroom closet isn’t going to cut it. You can store beer at higher temperatures than that for a short to moderate time frame (depending on the beer and the temperature), but if you’re counting on building a ten year vertical of your favorite stout, you’re going to need a cool basement or a small refrigerator to store it in. Note: just like you don’t want a hot cellar, you also don’t want one that gets below freezing in the winter.

I recommend that bottles are stored upright, though this has been argued to death in the beer community. My logic is that since many of the beers I cellar are bottle conditioned, I’d rather have that yeast settle to the bottom of the bottle than on the side (which would happen if you laid them on their sides).

2. Beers to cellar

I’m not going to get into the science of this, but beers I’ve had the best luck with have had one of more of these characteristics:

  • Dark
  • Sour (as in lambic/wild sour, not “bitter beer face” sour)
  • High ABV
  • Bottle conditioned (most of the time it will say on the bottle)

There are exceptions, of course. Some people like to cellar Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, which is none of the above. I have one specific additional rule for my own cellar, which contributes to why I’ve been drinking mine down recently. I do not like to cellar a beer that I have not tried fresh before. I just don’t understand why you would cellar a beer when you have no baseline to measure the cellared beer against. I also try to stay away from cellaring beers with adjuncts like coffee since, in my opinion, the fading of those flavors does the original beer a disservice.

DO NOT cellar hoppy beers. Hop-forward beers, with a few exceptions (Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Old Guardian and other hoppy beers that become an intentionally different beer when the hops fade), taste awful cellared. That IPA you picked up at the store was intended for you to drink fresh. By all means, feel free to experiment, but that Bell’s Two Hearted that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge for four months is going to taste like crap.

3. Some of my favorite “off the shelf” beers to cellar

These are some affordable, widely available beers that seem, in my and others’ opinions, to cellar well. Bonus points for labelled, yearly releases for allowing for the building of verticals.

  • Stone Imperial Russian Stout
  • Stone Old Guardian
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
  • A good deal of Belgian-style ales (Quads/Tripels/etc.)
  • Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute (not that readily available, but still)
  • Bell’s Expedition Stout
  • Orval (there’s a reason you can buy them pre-aged)
  • Fuller’s Vintage Ales
  • Most Jolly Pumpkin beers

With all of that in mind, there is some disagreement in the beer community over cellaring, so don’t just take my word for it. Googling “beer cellaring tips” bring up about a bazillion results, so go to town if you’d like more information. Beer Advocate has a good write up on cellaring here.

I’d also like your feedback. Do you cellar? If so, what is your setup like? What beers do you think do particularly well with a year or two on them?

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Beer math: Is a 5L mini keg of Bell’s Oberon a good deal?

(Picture courtesy of Premium Beverage’s Facebook page)

With the announcement of Bell’s Oberon 5L mini kegs hitting shelves in the Cincinnati-area just in time for the long holiday weekend, the question that must be asked (or maybe not, but I’m going to ask it anyways) is whether or not buying one is cheaper than buying a few six-packs of the same beer. To figure this out, I’ve done the math for you.
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Beer Review: Bell’s Oberon Ale

Brewery: Bell’s
Beer: Oberon Ale
Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%

It’s summertime and that means American store shelves are getting crammed with wheat ales like this one. This beer pours out a very cloudy dark yellow kinda burnt straw like color with a light off-white head.

Smells like there is some kind of fruit in here like lemon, or orange, something citrus and zesty… which is pretty standard for these summer wheat ales.

The first, as well as last lingering, sensation that hits my mouth is best described as smooth and cool. That would be really nice on a hot summer day out by the pool.

The taste is definitely of wheat with a light hint of citrus in the background. There is also a fair bit of carbonation going on in the mouth which is an OK feature, but not a great one, in my opinion.

Overall I think it’s just a mediocre summer wheat ale and I’ll stick to Sam’s Summer Ale.

I’ll give this one a 3/5 rating.

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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