Tag Archives: party source

Review: Quaff Bros Big Kahuna

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Coconut beers always seem to be a disappointment to me. It always just seems to be a hint of coconut, leaving me wanting more. After drinking Big Kahuna from our buddies Quaff Bros across the river (though brewed on this side at Listermann), I can safely say that this is no longer the case. Utilizing coconut flakes, toasted coconut, and coconut oil, this beer essentially tastes like it has been aged inside of a giant coconut that previously housed bourbon.

It starts off looking like every other stout, porter, etc. in the world. The only differentiating figure looks-wise is the Coca Cola head on it; big brown bubbles. It gave me pause for a moment because I was under the impression that fatty coconut kills head retention. I guess not always. From the smell alone, you know that you’re going to be in for a treat if you’re a fan of coconut. For just about the first time I’ve experienced with a Quaff Bros beer, the barrel takes the back seat here. In the driver’s seat (and probably the passenger’s, as well) is COCONUTBourbon is in the child seat in the back and the base beer (an imperial porter for those who care), is bound and gagged in the trunk.

The taste, following this trend, is dominated by coconut, with a slight butterscotch flavor either from barrel or base beer. It’s tough to tell. The bourbon is even more muted in the flavor, though to be fair, barrel characteristics often include coconut notes, so it’s entirely possible this is getting lost. Also strange is a slight lactic twang on the finish. I have not the slightest idea what would lend this, but I don’t care for it.

The coconut here is obnoxious and somewhat reduces drinkability (in my modest opinion, of course), but that’s the whole point. It’s supposed to be obnoxious. This is a good, not great, beer, but I am happy that I have another bottle. If I’m going to buy a unique beer, I’d much rather make it a local one than one Sam has recreated from some terracotta pot in a third world country. I know there are a handful of people whose palates I respect who really enjoyed this, but I’m having a tough time putting it on the same level as Sour Grapes, Joseph, and a few other top tier Quaff beers. Maybe it’s just that I don’t appreciate coconut enough. Who knows.

There are still more than fifty bottles of this at Party Source, and if you and a buddy go in on it together, at $9.99 a bottle it won’t cost you more than buying a drink at the bar. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of coconut, you owe it to yourself to get over there and pick up the maximum of four bottles you’re allowed to buy.

P.S. In other cool Quaff Bros news, their “Corn on the Knob” will be on draft at Great American Ballpark on June 14 when the Reds take on the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Review: New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon

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Well, that’s a novel concept. I love me some barrel-aged beer. That’s largely because I love bourbon (the primary spirit barrels used for aging beer) and I love what a good bourbon barrel treatment will do for a beer. Oak, caramel, coconut and, of course, bourbon meld together with the base beer to make something special when it’s done right. When it’s not done well, it makes a boozy, bad beer, but that’s no different than making a subpar base beer in the first place. One such bourbon barrel-aged beer is New Holland Dragon’s Milk, a very readily-available (in both 12oz and 22oz formats) imperial stout made in our neighbor to the north (Michigan, for those of you geographically-challenged). I’m not the hugest fan of it, but it’s wide availability, small bottle format, and price point make it a good option for getting into barrel-aged stouts or for picking up when you don’t want to drop the dime or time to find something superior.

This bourbon from the same New Holland takes the concept and flips it on its head. You acquire barrels that once held bourbon and fill them with imperial stout to make Dragon’s Milk. Once you’ve filled those barrels enough times with beer (not sure if New Holland reuses barrels), then what? Break them up? Reuse the barrels for planters or decoration? Toss them? In what seems to be, at the very least, a product concept and profit maximizing burst of brilliance, they went another route. Why not – wait for it – put bourbon back into the barrels? At worst, you end up with a bourbon that isn’t affected by the prior beer in it at all and just tastes like bourbon. At best, you somehow get to impart the spirit with some characteristics of the beer and create something really unique. Either way, you get to sell it for $30.00 or so and the concept is cool enough that people will buy it (case in point: Me).

Concept aside, two important questions: how does it taste and is the beer factor identifiable? To begin with, at 80 proof, this is not a bruiser of a bourbon. My sweet spot is somewhere between 86 and 100 proof, with everything approaching and exceeding 100 to be too “hot” to enjoy straight and most things below 86 seeming too watery and dulled. This is most definitely a mellow bourbon, with no harshness or tannins from the oak present at all. You get a lot of caramel, a little corn, a little oak, a fair amount of sweetness, and some chocolate. It’s not the most complicated bourbon in the world, but it’s fun to try to pick out the impact of the beer. I’m certain that the hint of chocolate is picked up from it and I’m about 50/50 on whether the rounded edges and mellowness is due to the additional aging in the beer barrels or the fact that it’s only 80 proof. It’s definitely an easy drinker, even straight.

So, at $32.99 (Party Source), is it worth it to pick up a bottle? I’d say this: if you see it at a bar, try a pour first. If you really like it, go for it. I’m just hesitant to pay $33 for a neat concept when I live so close to Kentucky and all the variety of bourbon that entails. For that price you can buy a handful of very good single barrel bottles, including a few of Party Source’s Private Barrel Selection. I think that is a better use of money, but hey, if you have $33 bucks burning a hole in your pocket and want to give it a try, I wouldn’t argue hard against you not buying a bottle.

Footnote: In related news, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar has an event next Thursday  featuring a cask of Dragon’s Milk and the Beer Barrel Bourbon. The folks from New Holland who brainstormed the concept and made it a reality will be available for answer questions.

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Westvleteren 12 release at The Party Source

From the Party Source beer newsletter. Good luck and happy hunting!

It is with great pride and joy that we are announcing the release of the highly sought after Westvleteren XII. There are very strict rules and regulations handed down by the Abbey itself on how and when you can sell as well as buy these beers. Westvleteren XII displays a score of 100 points on both ratebeer and beeradvocate. It is considered by many to be the best beer in the world, as well as the most elusive. Westvleteren was founded in 1838, and has gained national recognition for their beer, which are not brewed for normal commercial demands. The Party Source Beer Department is one of the very few lucky retailers in the US to be able to offer these beers. However, with great reward come rules. In order to be one of the fortunate, you must follow the orders handed down by the monastery. So please check all of the details below on how you can purchase this amazing six-pack that includes two Westvleteren XII glasses. Mark it on your calendar, the Westvleteren XII Gift Set will be sold online for in store pickup ONLY at 12 pm on 12/12/12.

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING POLICY:

To distribute this coveted gift set to as many as possible, sales of Westvleteren XII are limited as follows: You may purchase one gift set of Westvleteren XII and one gift set only per person / household / address. Orders that violate this policy will be summarily deleted without notice.

Sales of Westvleteren XII are first come, first serve. There is no waiting list, and The Party Source cannot hold or sell gift sets in advance, take sales by phone or in the store. We also cannot deviate from these limits for anyone. Finally, we regret that we cannot combine orders of Westvleteren XII from multiple customers. Each customer can only order his or her own Westvleteren XII Gift Set.

The Party Source is pleased to announce that the Westvleteren XII Gift Set will go on sale exclusively online (for in-store pickup ONLY, sorry no shipping) on Wednesday, December 12th at 12:00 pm EST.

 

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(Updated) Rivertown Old Sour Cherry Porter to be released this Thursday (6/14)

Update (per Rivertown’s Facebook page):

“Hey Guys they do but its special request only!! You need to ask for Danny gold or visit the kiosk. It will be available online by next week.”

Per a recent Facebook post on Rivertown’s page, the previously mentioned Old Sour Cherry Porter will be available this Thursday at The Party Source. I’m not aware of where else, if anywhere, it will be sold, but you’ll be able to purchase it in person or online. Some additional info from the Facebook post:

“Old sour.cherry porter! imperial porter aged in buffalo trace bourbon barrel, aged on dark michigan cherries and wild yeast (lactobocilus delbruki). Amazing!! available at party source in bellevue ky this thursday. U can also order online atwww.thepartysource.com

“Sold in 22oz bottles only, it was aged for almost 7 months!”

“this beer was fermented with wild yeast strains, and the ”bacteria culture”, (which.should.have.been mentioned sorry) lactobacillus delbrueckii”

I’ll be picking up a couple bottles of this, price permitting. If you decide to swing by The Party Source, make sure to pick up a bottle or two of Rivertown’s newest release of their delicious Lambic as well. I’m sitting on a bottle and am just waiting for the perfect time to open it. Last year’s release was very, very good, though.


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2012 Van Winkle Bourbon Release at The Party Source

I just got an an email from The Party Source announcing the release of some of the most highly sought-after bourbons in the world, the 2012 Van Winkle bourbons. The email and all details follow below in its entirety.

Dear Van Winkle Bourbon Fans,

The Party Source is pleased to announce that the full line of Van Winkle whiskeys will go on sale Friday, May 11th, at 8:00 a.m. The whiskeys include:

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old 90 Proof
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old 107 Proof
Van Winkle Family Reserve 12 Year Old Lot B
Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old 107 Proof
Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old
Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye

To distribute these coveted whiskeys to as many Bourbon lovers as possible, sales of the Van Winkle collection are limited as follows:

You may purchase one bottle of any Van Winkle whiskey. That can be any Van Winkle you choose, but only one bottle per person/household. 

Sales of Van Winkle whiskeys are first come, first serve. There is no waiting list, and The Party Source cannot hold or sell bottles in advance, or take sales by phone

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A conversation with Quaff Bros’ Danny Gold

If you haven’t heard of Quaff Bros, you need to. They are making some of the tastiest, most unique beers in the Cincinnati/NKY area. They have a very different model than most brewers: all of the beers they released have been aged in a spirit barrel (often, but not always bourbon) and all of their beers are brewed at local breweries. For example, their newest beer, What the Wheat? (details below), was brewed at Listermann. Quaff Bros beers can only be found at The Party Source and currently there are less than 350 bottles of What the Wheat? left in stock, so hurry on over and pick a few up before they’re gone!

Danny Gold, one of Quaff Bros’ founding and current members, was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions I had about their operations and beers. What follows is that interview, with the only changes being minor ones for formatting and typos. Many thanks to Danny for doing this! Enjoy!

Who, exactly, are the Quaff Bros and how did they come to be?

Originally there were six of us, but over time with some guys moving on and what not, there are now two main guys behind the decision-making: myself (Danny Gold) & Jay Erisman, who is also the head of our whiskey and private bourbon barrel program. The name originally was Quaff Syrup, but TBA shut that name down in a heartbeat (no names with medicinal meanings), so with the time and effort already invested, we just made the change to Bros. For us it is the brotherhood between the Party Source and our local brewing community. So right now the Quaff Bros. really are Mt Carmel, Rivertown, Listermann’s and, most recently, Rock Bottom.

Can you give us a good summary of how your brewing process works, from brainstorming to the bottle landing on your shelves?

It’s always different; the way we believe craft beer should be, with left brain thinking being our muse 24/7. Sometimes we let the barrels tell us and sometimes we already have a plan on what styles we want to do. Jay and I from day one have always picked the style or had a general idea that we took to whichever brewery we were working with at the time. Sometimes we bottle all the beer, sometimes we keg it all. It depends on the style and if it is a seasonal beer or not.

Judging by the beers I’ve tried of Quaff Bros so far, it seems that you use some very high quality barrels. Many brewers use Heaven Hill and other “lower shelf” spirits for barrels largely because of cost. Where do you get your barrels and what is done with them after a beer is finished aging in them?

Jay Erisman is one of the most respected men in his field. Jay with his private barrel program is able to get barrels that would cost most breweries an arm and a leg (that is, if they could get them at all). These include Four Roses, Buffalo Trace, Dolce dessert wine barrels from Napa, rare Rye barrels and, most recently, Bernheim Wheated. The biggest problem is making enough beer for all the barrels that Jay gets. Most of the time breweries have the opposite issue of not enough barrels. As I am writing to you now, I am looking at over 15 different barrels in our stock room.

While some brewers have one-offs and other limited-release beers, Quaff Bros bucks the norm in that every one of the beers made is barrel aged. What made you decide to go with this model? Along the same grain, what are some of the features that a barrel treatment imparts that you really enjoy?

When I had the original idea four years ago, my thought was this: Why are we not making beer? How can we do this? And we can, what is the hottest style out their? At that time it was (and for the most part still is) aging beers in barrels or with oak chips and hops. The concept could not have been timed more perfectly, as Jay’s program was about to blow up. As far as flavor goes, every barrel is different but the one thing they do add is depth, intensity and complexity. Plus hey, we are in Kentucky and this is Bourbon country.

Tell us about your newest beer, What the Wheat? I was lucky enough enough to try it at the Cincy Winter Beerfest and picked up a couple more bottles at The Party Source last weekend. (Shameless plug: I’ll be reviewing it for a post this weekend.)

We wanted to create a beer style under the name Quaff that was not your normal everyday beer. After looking over the shelves and tasting brews from around the world for inspiration (this is hard work ya’ know), we both agreed on the nontraditional style of wheat wine. This big beer is not a classic wheat ale nor is it a wine. Confused? Don’t be. The manner of which this beer is based is on the more popular version called barley wine. But instead of barley the focus is shifted on wheat and the term wine comes from the boozy alcohol by volume. When it was finally time to brew this beer, it was an instance where the barrel as well as the time of the year picked for us. Originally, we were going to do a wheat wine with Persian lime. I’m kinda glad the barrel spoke up.

I know I’m very excited for The Party Source expansion and I’m sure I’m not the only one. What has you most excited about it? Will the expansion allow Quaff Bros to move production in-house?

I’m excited about the 40 tap-handle beer bar, getting back into selling home-brew equipment, the 10 barrel system brewery aka “The Shack in the Back”, but what I am most excited about the expansion of the beer department itself. Because in the end, we wanted to make beer so we were a micro part of something that myself, as well as our employees, managers, and even all the way up to the owner of the store loves so much, and that’s craft beer. Craft beer is such an exciting world and we feel very lucky and blessed that we are able to play in it. The expansion will allow The Party Source to do many things with not only their private whiskey labels, but also private beer labels.

The obligatory question: You. Desert island. Three beers and three spirits. What do you go with?

WOW! BEER: Gouden Carolus Noel, anything by Mikkeller, and a new found love for me, 8 Wired Saison from New Zealand. As far as spirits go, that’s Jay’s category but I’ll go Milagro Silver Tequila, Aberlour A’Bunadh Single Malt Scotch, and to save face, one of Jays private Four Roses barrels. He’ll like that answer.

Finally, what does Quaff Bros have up its sleeve that we should be keeping our eyes out for in the near future?

More left brain thinking and hopefully high quality small batch beers. Besides What the Wheat?, we poured an American brown ale aged in Four Roses barrels called Brown Chicken Brown Cow at Cincy Winter Beerfest. We will have it in bottle soon, but before that there is this same recipe, but aged in more specific 1792 [Ridgemont Reserve] barrels and we added a little local honey provided to us by our friends at Blue Oven Bakery. That, we will keg all of and it should be out in two weeks. We have some high gravity beers being aged in 18 year old Elijah Craig barrels and finally, Mitch at Rock Bottom is brewing for us a Robust Porter aged in Buffalo Trace barrels. Here we plan to add raspberries and vanilla. I am also getting my hands on some port and sherry barrels this summer, so look out!

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