Beer Review: Stiegl Ferdinand Imperial Alt Barrel Aged

Stiegl Ferdinand is a new beer from the Stiegl brewery in Salzburg, Austria that’s been brewing beer since Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Damn, and I thought Mt. Carmel had been around a long time. They are moving into the craft market and away from their classic German traditions. Stiegl-Ferdinand_Flasche075_201409Though they’re sticking with some traditions like the Reinheitsgebot, which defines what can go into a beer, but doesn’t say anything about what a beer can go into!

Stiegl brewed Ferdinand brewed in early summer 2014. It then spent 6 weeks of maturing in tanks and 4 more months in Caribbean (Martinique) Rum barrels which were originally used for Cognac.

The marketing folks reached out to me and offered a sample. Once I read the description of the beer I knew I wanted to try it. Then I noticed it was from Stiegl and my first thought was “you mean those radler cans they have in 4-packs at Kroger?” Yes, indeed it’s one in the same.  Ok, on to the beer, here’s the marketing blurb:

Copper-colored specialty with wonderful Rum flavors from the first sip well into a long lasting finish. A dense texture with a subtle mousseux and flavors of toffee, coconut, vanilla and caramel. Honey palate with an incredibly well-balanced alcohol aroma.

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Book Review: Tasting Whiskey

Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits is a new book from longtime whiskey and beer writer Lew Bryson.  I follow Lew on Twitter and saw him pitch the book there. After deciding Buy Tasting Whiskey on Amazonto spend 2015 learning about whiskey and bourbon I saw Amazon’s description of the book, below, and decided this was a great place to start learning.

Whiskey lovers will devour this fresh and comprehensive guide to everything there is to know about the world’s whiskeys, including Scotch and bourbon as well as Tennessee, Irish, Japanese, and Canadian whiskeys. You’ll learn about the types of whiskey and the distilling traditions of the regions where they are made, how to serve and taste whiskeys to best appreciate and savor them, how to collect and age whiskey for great results, and much more. There are even recipes for cocktails and suggestions for food pairings. This is the guide no whiskey drinker will want to be without!

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A Brief Introduction To Taft’s Ale House

Taft's Ale House

Taft’s Ale House invited my fellow Cincinnati Beer Bloggers and I for a preview on Saturday afternoon. As of today, Taft’s is the newest brewery and brewpub in the city. I’m not going to go on too long here and cover the same ground as others, they’ve already done fantastic jobs. I do want to say that I have been eagerly anticipating Taft’s for months now. I enjoyed the beers Kevin Moreland (Taft’s head brewer) was making at Listermann/Triple Digit and knew he’d make great beer at Taft’s, which he has. I did not know it was a gorgeous building full of delicious beer and food. I have a new favorite spot in OTR. For more info read the following folks posts:

BeerMumbo’s 3 reasons to visit Taft’s Ale House. Plus bonus before & after pics of the amazing transformation of the building.

BeerQuest ABV shares his thoughts on the beer, the building, and a lot of beautiful photos

WCPO’s Jesse Folk with background the beers and the brewhouse

Learning About Beer: Classes at Breweries

It is hard to find classes to learn about beer, and even harder to find ones with great teachers. Luckily two of our local breweries have started just such classes!

The Bird Haus Beer Series

The Bird Haus bills itself as “Cincinnati’s migrating classroom” where different organizations in the community will host classes on whatever they’re good at. In this case, Rhinegeist is hosting a series of 3 classes: The History of Rhinegeist, All of the Senses, and Study Abroad English Style Ales. I wasn’t aware of the History of Rhinegeist class, but as soon as I learned about All of the Senses I snapped up tickets. An off-flavor class hosted by Rhinegeist head brewer and BJCP National level judge Jim Matt? I’m there!!

Rhinegeist ClassJim led us through the brewing process before pouring us samples of the off-flavors. He used Cougar as the base beer then added different chemicals to it to create a few common off-flavors.

We got to try each off-flavor then discuss and guess what we thought they were. I got half right. Luckily you rarely encounter these issues in homebrew competitions or production breweries. If you are a homebrewer or just curious about how beer can go bad I’d urge you to go to the next class like this. Which, as far as I know, will be next month at MadTree, but more on that soon.

The next Bird Haus/Rhinegeist class is all about the English beer tradition. There are still tickets available for that here. Unfortunately that’s all that’s scheduled for now, but hopefully they’ll line up more classes soon.

Luckily MadTree is kicking off their own Beer Class series!

MadTree Beer Class Series

One day last month I saw this pop-up on MadTree’s Facebook page and immediately snatched up tickets. Head brewer Jeff Hunt led the first class which focused on beer recipe formulation.

Getting my learn on about beer recipe formulation with @madtreebrewing head brewer Jeff Hunt.

A photo posted by Queen City Drinks (@queencitydrinks) on

We received a great peek into his process for making beers and how the recipe comes together to result in the flavor profile he’s after. The classroom was in MadTree’s front room and homebrewers packed the house. Jeff skipped past the homebrew basics and led us into a discussion that sailed over my head on occasion. We were also treated to a few behind the scene bits about MadTree’s setup.

It wasn’t all just theoretical discussion of how Jeff makes a beer. We sampled 6 MadTree Recipe FormulationMadTree beers and learned why they are what they are, from idea to recipe, to name. Somehow I never knew that Happy Amber’s name came about because of a text auto-correction from Hoppy to Happy.

MadTree just posted the video of the Recipe Formulation class up on YouTube. Go check it out!

I can’t recommend the average beer enthusiast check out this class if they do it again. It was very homebrewer focused and in-depth. Luckily, MadTree has a slate of ideas for other classes lined up! The next class, set for April 22nd, is “Ask us anything”, tickets are already available here for $20 each. Sounds like a good opportunity to pick some of the brewer’s brains about everything from how they got into brewing to their beard care regimen.

May’s class hasn’t been fully nailed down yet though I’m told it’s May 19th and focus on flavor identification. This sounds like what I did at Rhinegeist. If you homebrew, are a beer judge and want a refresher, or are just curious about what can go right and wrong in beer then you’ll want to get tickets to this class.

From the sounds of it MadTree has a few more ideas up their sleeves for various classes. I’m extremely happy that they’re doing this, Rhinegeist has done it, and hopefully more local breweries will catch on with the idea.

Beer Review: Warped Wing Self Starter

It’s been just over a year since Warped Wing opened their doors. It’s been less than a year since Warped Wing pumped out their first 3 cans. There has been a great variety of draft beers created since those first cans rolled off the line, including a session IPA named Self Starter. It’s been a week since Warped Wing introduced new seasonal IPA cans of Self Starter.

Here’s Warped Wing’s blurb about the beer:

Once, there lived an engineer. Innovator. And indefatigable holder of 186 patents. Who, in 1911, filed U.S. Patent No. 1,150,523. An electric starting device for automobiles. To not a single person’s disparagement, it ended the era of the hand-crank. Fitting, then, that you’ll be holding this. Named as much for the inventor. As for what he invented.

Self Starter. This session India Pale Ale is pale orange in color with copper highlights. Its citrus/fruity aroma and flavors comes from the Amarillo hops that were added during the boil and the dry hopping at the end of fermentation. The malt character is slightly bready or nutty to start. This beer finishes with a patently dry close. Carry on.

Self Starter will be available in the market from April thru August in both draught and cans. The beer will be tapped at the brewery this Thursday and draught and cans will be released to taverns, restaurants, and select retail accounts the following Monday.

ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 67

Before we get to the liquid I love the wrap around artwork on these cans.

Self Starter

They also made this rocking video

Ok, that’s all awesome and all, but let’s get to the beer.

I was a little surprised by how little head I got, but there’s enough to get by on. The head is a light white that shrinks down to a skim and a ring pretty quickly. The beverage itself is shockingly hazy with bits floating through an orange amber ocean. Ok, yeah bits floating around is a bit bothersome. It just means they likely didn’t filter it at all, allowing the preservation of as much hop flavor as possible. There’s one other brewery that does this, and it clearly says “DRINK FROM THE CAN” around the rim of Heady Topper for this reason.

IMG_20150330_201442

Based on the powerful aromas of fresh-cut grass, super grapefruit, and dank ass marijuana I feel it’s safe to say all those floaty bits are hops. All hop heads need to apply themselves to drinking this. This isn’t just a hop bomb though. There are notes of bready and caramel malts hanging around the back.

The flavor kicks a lot more of those malts up front but doesn’t slack off on the hops. Bitterness wise things lean heavily toward the sweet malts. That throws my expectations for a curve ball. IPAs, even session IPAs, always lean to some degree toward the bitter.

Body rocks medium to a slight heavy with low carbonation.

Ok, let’s break the fourth wall for a moment. As I’m typing this review I’m popping to another tab messaging WCPO’s Jesse Folk who is also drinking this beer right now. We didn’t plan this, it just happened. We got to talking about the atypical aspects of the beer when it hit me.

What are we doing thinking about how this beer doesn’t meet what a session IPA is supposed to be. This is a Warped Wing beer. These are the guys who brought us the Belgian Cream Ale! What the hell is a Belgian Cream Ale? That’s totally not a thing at all! Well, it wasn’t till Warped Wing made it. Now it’s an enjoyable thing.

Who am I, or who is anyone, to tell someone what they can or can’t make? This is a good beer. I enjoyed it. You should try it and enjoy it. It’s a hop bomb aroma and a malt bomb flavor. It’s got a good body and a solid sweetness. Bottom line, this is a local beer well worth your money.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My friend who works for Warped Wing surprised me with this can. 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 do my best to review it in a timely fashion and that and I will write a blog post about that review. Giving me free stuff does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it.

Beer Review: MadTree Galaxy High

I have been impatiently dreaming of this day for over a year. I have been eagerly waiting for it for 2 months. I have been loving this day for the past 20 minutes. The following review of MadTree Galaxy High is highly biased. I love this beer. I love that it’s canned. I love that I’m drinking Galaxy High from a can at home.

MadTree Galaxy High

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Brewhaus Dog Bones

A few months ago I made one of my regular trips to Rivertown and noticed something new in the tap room. It’s a lot cooler, to me than a bunch of arcade cabinets though those are extremely cool! A few days later I was at Mt. Carmel and noticed something new in the tap room there as well, the same thing I Brewhaus Dog Bonesnoticed at Rivertown. This is when I got very curious, which led to what you are about to reading.

The things which sparked my curiosity were Brewhaus Dog Bone stands like the one to the right. Then I noticed it said “Proudly made with quality grains from” above the Mt. Carmel logo. Dog treats made from spent grains from local breweries? Only 1 word for this, Awesome.

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