Tag Archives: history

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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Celebrate National Bourbon Day

Happy Bourbon Day Queen City Drinkers! What’s this you say? You’ve never heard of Bourbon Day before? I suppose this means you didn’t get me anything either? That’s OK, I’m disgusted at how commercial the holiday has become anyway. Remember, Elijah Craig is the reason for the season. Yes legend, or perhaps just a good marketing department, has it that in 1789 on this date, June 14, Baptist minister Elijah Craig first invented bourbon by aging his whiskey in a charred oak barrel before sending it down to New Orleans where it became a hit.

Although this story is likely apocryphal, that isn’t going to stop me from celebrating. For today’s cocktail I recommend a classic bourbon cocktail, the horse’s neck.

I first made this drink for Episode 41 of The Charlie Tonic Hour. Charlie and I talked about our trip to the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar where, in addition to sampling a nice selection of rye and bourbon whiskey, I also tried a classic bourbon cocktail. The Horse’s Neck cocktail dates back to at least the 1890’s when it was more typically made with brandy. Today it is most associated with bourbon and has a history within the Navy as a typical officer’s drink. It gets its name from the garnish, a long peel of lemon that hangs over the glass. I love ginger and bourbon so this was a great drink for me. Make it with the bourbon we featured in the show, Ancient Age 10 Year, and you won’t be disappointed.

Horse’s Neck

1 Lemon
2 ounces of Bourbon or Rye
Ginger Ale
dash of bitters

Carefully peel a long sliver of lemon zest and arrange it in a highball glass and add ice.
Add the bourbon and bitters, top with ginger ale and stir.

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Audacity of Hops [Book Review]

Before even cracking open The Audacity of Hops:The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, just totally judging it by it’s cover, I’m psyched. I dig the play on Obama’s Audacity of Hope book (not trying to get political), turning it into Audacity of Hops. It’s also an applicable title as well because this is the story of the American craft beer movement and much of that movement has been pushed by American hops and the usage (or over usage depending on your preference) of them.

The-Audacity-of-Hops

The author starts with a skim through the ancient history of beer, early american beer, and prohibition in a few paragraphs. This is good for two reasons: this info has been covered extensively elsewhere and it allows him to get more in depth with the people, places, and most importantly stories of the American craft beer movement. The Audacity of Hops goes into significant, but not overwhelming, detail about the various reckless gambles around the founding, or expansions, of many breweries as well as the contexts of the time for people and beer. The author makes this retelling enjoyable and engaging, there are plenty of facts sprinkled throughout but not page after page of yearly quantities and revenues I’ve encountered in other books.

However the book tends to be heavy with hyperbole, especially with the early home brewers. The author makes it seem that these men, Jack McAuliffe and Fred Eckhardt, birthed a brand new discovery to the universe with herculean effort. While in reality they only did what people around the world had done for millenia, brew beer at home. Now I don’t want to diminish their efforts, they certainly broke the law of the land at the time and did something few had done in 30 years and those who had done it recently hadn’t done it well.

The book could, at quite a few points, do with better editing. The author has a tendency to run on about random breweries that didn’t survive beyond a year or two. Should they be mentioned? Certainly, otherwise there could appear a nonstop success with no failures. However, they don’t each need 3 or 4 pages. We also don’t need 2 paragraph biographies of every single brewer nor do we need them repeated frequently. I think by the end of the book I’d read a description of Fritz Maytag (owner and resuscitator of Anchor) at least 10 times.

At first I was doubtful but the structure of the book has proven itself to work well. That structure is mainly chronological but also, more importantly, geographical. We move through the years hoping across the United States and occasionally over seas. From San Francisco to New York, Juneau, Boulder, Baghdad and back. This works to tell how the craft beer story is an American one and isn’t just in California (though they can rightfully claim the birthplace).

I enjoyed reading this and think that many fans of craft beer will enjoy it as well. It’ll gives you a long list of new beers to try and a concise history of American craft brewers and breweries that I haven’t found elsewhere. Plus some fodder for arguments over contract brewing, the importance of brewery X vs brewery Y, and “How dare he not include [insert favorite local/regional brewery here]!”.

Lastly, I have a new favorite beer quote & motto for what I try to do with the blog:

“I still see people buying and swilling terrible beer. I sometimes think my job is like farting against a gale, but I just keep moving forward”

– Michael Jackson.

You can pick this up on Amazon at $15 for the paperback version or $10 for kindle. It should also be available at any other bookstores.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I reached out to the author and his publisher was kind enough to hook me up with a free copy. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 2 ways. That I WILL review it and that and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free stuff does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it.

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Beer Review: Moerlein Emancipator Doppelbock

In the ever increasing number of “seasons” in beer we find bocks and doppelbock’s coming out during late winter/early spring. Like most lager’s these beers started in Germany, bocks in Einbeck then later doppelbocks came out of Munich, dating back to the mid 1600s. Traditionally monks would drink this “liquid bread” during the long fasting days of lent.

A few words about goats. I’ve always been mystified by the link between bock beers and goats. Most bock, or doppelbock, beer labels have goats on them and Cincinnati’s own Bockfest has a giant wooden goat, but why??

There is no firm conclusive evidence buts lots of anecdotal stuff that is mostly summed up as follows. As I mentioned earlier the town of Einbeck is the supposed origin place of this style of beer. Back in the day it was likely just called Einbeck style or something like that. Well, some folks in Munich probably had too many beers of this style and started slurring Einbeck into einbock. In German bock means goat. Anyway, that’s how I like to imagine it went down but, just like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a lollipop, the world may never know.

With Emancipator Moerlein is presenting us with a doppelbock, or double bock so we’re drinking 2 goats. Moerlein first released it back in 2008 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition. Now it’s released mid-February every year wherever Moerlein beers are available. Now let’s kick this review off with a traditional Bavarian toast when drinking doppelbocks. Salve, pater patriae! Bibes, princeps optimae! (Greetings to you, father of our country! Drink, best of all noblemen!)

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Ruby Port: Strong and Sweet

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Sometimes it’s hard to separate an alcohol’s cultural, historical, and social qualities from the qualities of the alcohol themselves.  When I first started drinking bourbon I wasn’t immediately able to enjoy sipping it neat but there was something there that intrigued me so I hung in there until I could but it’s hard to say if it was the taste or the combined qualities of history, Kentucky pride, and just plain attitude that kept me coming back for more. Drinking is aspirational in many regards. We drink what we want to become.

Now I’m not saying that I want to become a high society grandmother or an English lord, the two people who come to mind when I think of port.  But I did know a very cool, slightly well to do family in England that loved to drink port. Add that bit of personal history to the lengthy history, tradition, and rules that surround port and I have to admit there is something there that intrigues me. So when I tried the wine for Episode 55 of The Charlie Tonic Hour and found that despite the overwhelmingly sweet flavor I was nonetheless intrigued, I couldn’t say for sure if it was really the taste I was enjoying or the history.

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Just as true champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France, a true port wine can only come from the Douro region of Portugal. Port is a fortified wine, meaning that brandy or a neutral grape spirit is added during the fermentation process. This stops the fermentation and leaves lots of undigested sugar in the wine, yet still results in a stronger than average wine. This was originally done because wine from Portugal tended to spoil during the long boat ride to England and fortifying the wine gave it a longer shelf life, but it continues today because of tradition and taste. The result is a wine that is very sweet while still being stronger than average, usually between 18-22% abv. The port I tried was a Ruby Port, the cheapest and most commonly available variety, from the Kopke Winery. Kopke is the oldest brand of port, having been founded by a German family in 1638. Through the years the winery has passed through many hands but still bares the same name and is still produced in the same region.

The taste of Ruby Port is sweet. There is no way of getting around it. Really, really, sweet. But unlike a Riesling or a Moscato it did not seem quite as sickly. There is a strong under flavor from the brandy and the tannins grip your tongue on the finish. The strength that lies just under the surface keeps the sweetness from becoming cloying. That said, this is not something that I would enjoy drinking on a regular basis. It’s not a wine that you can sip half-heartedly while talking with friends or watching a movie. It grabs your attention and I have to respect that. So there is something there I like, even though I can’t honestly say at this point if I am enjoying the unique flavor of the wine or if I am an enjoying nostalgia for my time in England combined with a hint of history and culture. Either way, I will not be letting this bottle go to waste but I’m not sure I’ll be buying another anytime soon.

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Book Review: Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

Tasting BeerIn my continuing quest to learn everything I can about beer I picked up a copy of Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher off of Amazon a few weeks ago. They had a sale where the Kindle version was only $3 down from the normal $9, the dead tree version is $11. I would recommend the kindle version because at it’s core this is a reference book. Being able to open it up on your phone in a bar/bottle shop and search for the style of beer you’re looking at is where this book will shine in the long run.

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2 “Cincinnati” Octoberfest beer reviews + What is an Oktoberfest (aka Marzen) beer?

August is gone, September has begun and somehow it’s time for Oktoberfest already. Tonight I’m going to be reviewing tw0 Marzen beers, Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlin Fifth & Vine (brewed in PA) and Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest (brewed in Cincinnati). First off Marzen and Oktoberfest styles are the same thing, I plan to stick to using Marzen in general just to differentiate the style from the Oktoberfest events held around the world.

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The craft of Stone Brewing Co. [Book Review]

Part of the Stone media pack I received was the book The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore,  Epic Recipes, and unbiased arrogance. The book is broken down into sections and I’ll follow that breakdown for my review.

The Nature of Beer

  • Excellent break down of what beer is. They go into detail about the core ingredients of beer and what difference they make. Of interest to home brewers and beer nerds is a breakdown of many styles of hops with name, alpha acid level, and flavor profile. They do the same thing with malt and even various chemicals in water! This is a resource I’ll hold onto for a while and I’ll use it as a basis for an eventual blog post(s) on this subject.

Beer Through The Ages

  • Re-read this section because it was that good. OK, so I wrote that note to myself while doing an initial draft of this post. Then I decided to keep it there because it’s true and everyone should do it. This is by far my favorite section of this book and is full of great info. There is a 4,000 year old recipe for beer which includes brewing instructions called “the Hymn to Ninkasi” from what is now Iraq, no word if anyone has recreated it recently (get on that Dogfish Head!). That kinda fact just blows my mind. From there they skip ahead a few thousand years and mainly focus on the results of ending prohibition. That is to say the crushing of small brewers and the following slow rise of craft beer ending in the world we have today.

A Story Called Stone

  • This section is really for hard core Stone fans. It goes through the history, founding, problems, and fortune and fame of the company. There isn’t a lot of great info for people looking to start small breweries or small breweries looking to grow. It’s still a fun story and an interesting ride. Plus like the book as a whole it’s told in a very engaging way.

The Beers of Stone Brewing Co.

  • This is a huge section with detailed info and stories on all of the Stone beers. At least all of them as of 2011, which is a lot! This includes all the anniversary and collaboration beers as well as the regular round up. Again it’s really for Stone super fans, but it’s also an excellent resource for anyone interested in Stone beers… like a blogger who is in the midst of writing posts about the beers.

Dr. Bill’s Beer How-Tos

  • This is a rather quick section that talks about serving, cellaring, and pairing beer. For the serving section it focuses on choosing the correct glass and getting a good pour. Then a very cursory discussion on enjoying and tasting. The cellaring section just goes through what kind of styles are best to age and good places to store the beer. Pairing is just what you think, talks about why beer works great with food and what foods work with what beers. The how-to section is overall alright but I’d prefer the tasting section to be a bit more in depth. Also in aging it’d be nice if they said age X style for Y years to achieve optimal results. I realize this is very difficult for anyone to say, but still they could give it a shot.

Recipes from the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

  • As I’ve stated many times I’m no foodie and I’m a horrible cook. As such this section was lost on me. There are about 15 or 20 recipes for food served at Stone’s brewpub. They look tasty but are pretty complex, at least from my perspective.

Home brew Recipes

  • The first portion here is a nice overview of the entire home brew process. I wouldn’t use this as my only guide for my first brew but it gives you a decent idea of what you’re looking at and could be a good starting place. Following that is beer recipes for a somewhat odd collection of Stone beers. Pale ale, smoked porter, and levitation make sense then there are a scattering of anniversary’s and collaborations. But no arrogant bastard which I think may disappoint many people. Though as most home brewers already know that’s just a Google search away.

In the end this is a good general beer book and a fantastic book about Stone. If you know any Stone fanatics this would make a great present for them. If you’ve been reading my reviews you’ve seen that I’m no Stone super fan so the Stone-centric portions of this book only held mild interest for me. Despite that I thoroughly enjoyed the general info like the nature and history of beer. Regardless of all that it’s not a huge book so you can pop through it pretty quick unless you want to memorize all the recipes by heart or something.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This beer book was sent to me for free by Stone. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer whatever and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer swag does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that.

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Over The Barrel [Book Review]

After reading Mike Morgan’s Over-The-Rhine: When Beer was King (here is my review) I became really interested in what other Cincinnati related beer history books were out there. I was honestly surprised to find that there were anymore at all, but after reading Timothy Holian’s Over The Barrel books I’m surprised there aren’t more. Cincinnati has a nearly 200 year old brewing history which at one time was the 4th largest brewing center in the country.

Holian had so much material he ended up writing 2 volume::

    • Over The Barrel: The brewing history and beer culture of Cincinnati
      • Volume One: 1800 -> Prohibition
      • Volume Two – Prohibition -> 2001

The first book is much more enjoyable to me because it’s a crazy non-stop success story with a few failures here and there. The second book however tells the story of the slow painful death of Cincinnati’s breweries. It’s not that the second book is a bad book, just a bit depressing to read about how the big breweries crushed and squeezed the life out of the smaller regional breweries. Both books though are slightly painful to read. They are overflowing with various stats which often becomes tedious to read through and at least for me all the numbers begin to get mixed up. Holian also repeats things, summarizes, and then re-summarizes a great deal. If that all were cut out there might only be 1 book. On one hand this is nice because it reinforces a lot of the ideas… but it makes it even more work to read.

I don’t want to compare this to Mike Morgan’s book too much, but there aren’t many books on Cincinnati brewing history so I have little to compare to. I’ll just say that were Morgan focused on OTR and only OTR, Holian focuses on the entire Greater Cincinnati Area. I honestly had no idea at all of Covington’s brewing history and the fact that the empty building on the side of 75 which used to be Jillian’s was originally the Bavarian Brewing Company nearly 140 years ago! Another big difference between the two is that Mike Morgan excels at telling a great story in his book. Over The Barrel reads much more like a text book with all the facts and figures that it presents. I don’t want people to view this as a bad thing, just be prepared for the difference.

One comment about what is possibly my favorite fact from this book. I remember a few years back there was a bit of a kerfluffle, and even a New York Times article, about Who Dey vs Who Dat. Now hopefully Bengals fans are already well familiar with the Who Dey chant, if you’re not a Bengals fan it goes “Who Dey! Who Dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals!” The answer, unfortunately, is almost everyone…. but we’re in a rebuilding year! The New Orleans Saints have a similar chant, “Who Dat! Who Dat! Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints!” As you can see they’re very similar and they both started in the early 80s. The exact beginnings are lost to the sands of time and the dust up is over who started using theirs first. Luckily Holian brings a small fact to light. In December 1982 the Bengals got into the playoffs and Hudepohl created a specially designed can to commemorate the event with “Hu-dey” written on it in big letters. Suck that New Orleans!

A small note on availability: These books do not seem to be available to buy new in any stores and used copies sell on Amazon and Ebay for around $50 per volume. Luckily Cincinnati has one of the greatest, and busiest, library systems in the country. They also seem to have 1 to 2 copies of both volumes at almost every library branch! So if you feel inclined to read this I would suggest a trip down to your local library. Or do like I did and pick them up at the main branch then walk down the street to Arnold’s for a beer while you start reading them!

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Two limited beer reviews plus one brand new Cincinnati tour!

I have had a fantastic Saturday starting with a brand new tour of Cincinnati history and followed up with 2 rare beers at Arnold’s.

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