I recently attended the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego and went to a panel on “Free Beer and Other Quandaries for Beer Writing Ethics.” Beer writing ethics are important to me but I have a feeling some of you may not care. However, I still wanted to write this post to let all of my readers know exactly where I stand on these issues.
Today I’m checking out Vintage Beer by Patrick Dawson “A Taster’s Guide to Brews that Improve over Time.” I saw this book reviewed by another site and thought it must be a joke. An entire book about aging beer, really? Seems quite a bit of overkill. A few blog posts or a big pamphlet maybe but not an entire book.
Having attended a few cocktail conferences this past year I can safely say that food and drink conferences are my favorite kind of events. So of course I am over the moon about the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic that is coming September 12-13th. A weekend of getting to know amazing chefs, learning about food and wine trends in Cincinnati and around the world, and grand tastings every night? Yes please!! I am especially excited about the Four Bourbons, Four Ways being hosted by Molly Wellmann. Tickets are on sale now and are selling fast so get yours today. Here is their official press release with all the important info.
Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic Tickets On Sale Now
First Local Celebration to Offer Grand Tastings, Demos, Competitions, Seminars and After-Parties
Cincinnati, OH – Tickets for the first-annual Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic in Washington Park from September 12-13 are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at www.cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.
“This is a two-day epicurean event designed to capture the energy and enthusiasm of Cincinnati’s dynamic food scene,” says Courtney Tsitouris, co-founder of the Classic. “We’re showcasing local culinary talent and ingredients alongside nationally recognized chefs, wine and spirit experts, beer connoisseurs, authors, journalists, and network personalities.”
The Classic will include two completely different grand tastings on Friday and Saturday evening. Friday celebrates Cincinnati’s “Porkopolis” heritage with Pork Chopped, a competition judged by Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appétit, Keith Pandolfi of Saveur, and Top Chef Masters judge Francis Lam.
Saturday’s grand tasting will celebrate Cincinnati’s finest dining. Culinary demonstrations, wine and spirit seminars, panel discussions, chef competitions, book signings, and a Rising Star brunch take place Saturday morning and afternoon; and five individually themed VIP after-parties at downtown venues will cap off both evenings. A portion of proceeds will go to the Freestore Foodbank, the event’s non-profit partner.
“The word is out,” says Donna Covrett, co-founder and executive director with Tsitouris. “We have a vibrant food, wine, and brewing community that’s getting noticed by others. We’ve piqued the interest of publications such as Food & Wine, New York Times, USA Today, Travel & Leisure, and more as a beautiful city with a quirky-cool community of creative, talented, artisans of all sorts. It’s something to be proud of, explored, and shared.”
Local and national talent has already been confirmed for the event. Names include (but are not limited to):
Jean-Robert De Cavel + Daniel Wright + Michael Paley + Paul Sturkey + Julie Francis + Nate Appleman + Megan Ketover + Jonathon Sawyer + Keith Pandolfi + Jose Salazar + Tony Ferrari + Edward Lee + Todd Kelly + Stephen Williams + David Falk + Anne Kearney + Andrew Knowlton + Francis Lam + Elias Leisring + Nick Marckwald + Jeremy Lieb + Owen Maass + Levon Wallace + David Cook + Cristian Pietoso + Anthony Lamas + Joy Wilson + Jimmy Gibson + Stella Parks + Joel Molloy + Charles Redmond + Rom Wells + Ned Elliot + Anita Hirsch + Mark Bodenstein + Hideki Harada + Michael Worth + Ryan Santos + Kyle Johnson + Paul Barraco + Jim Cornwell + Pat Lafrieda + Vic Vegas
Tickets are priced as follows:
- Grand Tasting Pass ($125): Friday Grand Tasting or Saturday Grand Tasting
- Saturday Savor Pass ($190): Saturday Grand Tasting and 20+ Saturday Educational Experiences (culinary demos, wine and spirit seminars, panel discussions, competitions, and book signings)
- Weekend Revel Pass ($290) Friday Grand Tasting, Saturday Grand Tasting, and 20+ Saturday Educational Experiences
- VIP Pass ($390): Friday Grand Tasting, Saturday Grand Tasting, 20+ Saturday Educational Experiences with priority seating, exclusive VIP lounge, VIP swag bag, and admission into one VIP after party
For more information about scheduled talent, event programming, and ticket purchases, visit www.cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.
About Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic
Founded in 2014 by Donna Covrett and Courtney Tsitouris, the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic is a celebration of Cincinnati’s Porkopolis and fine dining heritage as a longstanding destination for Midwest food, beer and spirit excellence. The inaugural event, located at the doorstep of Music Hall in the historic Washington Park, features local, regional and national chefs showcasing local flavors through tastings, demos, seminars, and parties across the city. For a complete look at what’s in store, visit www.cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com, or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #CFWC14
If you’ve enjoyed craft beer for a while you’ve probably seen the term IBU pop up on the side of a bottle, on the name of a beer, or in reviews on this blog. We’re going to take a look at what an IBU is, how it’s measured, and what it really means to you when enjoying a tasty barley beverage.
IBU stands for International Bittering Units and is the standard measurement of bitterness in a beer. The bitterness measured by IBUs is from the amount of hops added to the boil and how long you boil those hops. Hops excrete isohumulone oil, a compound known as an iso-alpha acid, which is responsible for the bitterness in beer. 1 IBU is roughly equal to 1 part-per-million of isohumulone oil.
The longer the boil the more isohumulone oil gets isomerized (changed from 1 arrangement of molecules to another arrangement of the same molecules) creating more bitterness. Most brewers boil beer for 60 minutes while some go for 90, or 120 minutes (hence the name of Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, and 120 Minute IPA). On the flip side of the increased bitterness longer boils equal less flavor and aroma you get out of that hop. This has resulted in breeding of specialized hops, some meant for bittering (Centennial, Galena, Nugget) with others for aroma or flavor (Cascade, Fuggle, or my favorites Galaxy, and Topaz). A few hop varieties work well for either bittering or flavor/aroma, most notably from this group for American beers are Citra hops.
Finding the IBUs of a Homebrew
Any homebrewers out there can calculate their IBUs using a few different formulas. Personally I use BeerSmith which does these calculations automatically so I’m not familiar with the formulas. Due to the complexity of these formulas I’m going to pass over covering them here. I suggest consulting your favorite homebrew book or checking out RoofTopBrew.net for the formulas and web-based calculators to figure out the IBUs for your recipe.
3 Things to Remember About IBUs
- Perception: We don’t perceive all IBUs equally. The maltier a beer is the less the IBUs matter. A malty 120 IBU Imperial IPA will not taste as bitter as a 50 IBU E.S.B. since the Imperial IPA pacts so much more malt. How can you know how malty a beer is? A good guess is to start with the ABV. The alcohol in beer comes from the yeast eating the sugar leached from the malt during mashing, so more alcohol = more malt. Your perception of bitterness will also change over time the more often you have bitter beers and the bitterer those beers are. They’ll make everything else seem less bitter by comparison.
- Perception Threshold: Most people cannot taste a difference over 120 IBUs. Some people will get more than that, some less, but no one will ever pick up on 500 IBUs vs. 1,000 IBUs. This is due to the number of receptors in our mouths and all of them getting occupied around the 110 IBU area. This doesn’t mean a beer can’t have more than 120 IBUs it just means you’re wasting hops, which are often the most expensive part of the beer.
- Other Sources of Bitterness: IBUs don’t account for all bitterness in a beer. Some types of malt, especially black malts, bring bitter flavors to a beer. However, most styles of beer don’t use enough of these malts/adjuncts to make a huge difference in flavor. Before the widespread use of hops brewers used various herbs and spices, known as gruit, to bitter their beer. A homebrewing colleague of mine is a fan of using rosemary to bitter his beers. Beyond different malts and spices there are a wide range of adjuncts that can add bitterness if used properly, and others if used improperly like when boiling the pith (that white stuff) of citrus fruits. No IBU formula takes any of these into account.
3 Beers to Demonstrate Different IBUs
Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) - 30 IBUs – Barely bitter with just a hint under the malty sweetness.
Fuller’s E.S.B. – 35 IBUs – Medium bitterness for such a low-level of IBUs while toffee and caramel maltiness dominate the flavor. For only being 5 more IBUs than the Grande Réserve it is profoundly more bitter.
Stone Ruination IPA – 100+ IBUs – High end of medium bitterness that is far lower than what one would expect for “100+ IBUs.” More bitterness than Fuller’s E.S.B. but not much more and nowhere near 3 times more as the IBUs would imply.
[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 with your ideas.]
Known in the beer community as Mr. Friendly, Frank Seta loves to preach the gospel of Beer and bring everyone into the fold of Beervana. Catch him at Brentwood Spirits in Finneytown peddling the liquid love to the masses. Check him out on twitter @mrfriendlybeer for the shenanigans and @brentwoodspirit to catch the latest and greatest in beers available. Remember - Drink Beer, Be Friendly!
Coming from an old school Italian family, confessing is not one of those things we usually do. In fact if you ask me about this later I’ll plead the 5th. So why write this now? Therapy, absolution, humor… maybe none of these things except exposing the torrid love affair that I’ve had over the last 20 years.I met my current wife 7 years ago, I say current as I went through the marriage dance once before then visited the Big D and I don’t mean Dallas, I’m not digressing further as that is a whole other story. So one of the first conversations we had was about a love affair that I was not giving up. You can imagine the look on her face, before she could slap me and walk away I asked her to at least listen to my story….
It started 20 years ago when I was in the military. You have the opportunity to travel, meet many interesting people, and get into all kinds things – good and bad. When I was overseas I fell in love with many beauties. Some were blonde, some red, some dark-haired and all shades in between. Some were sweet little things others left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, alas that’s the way of women. Still though I found my infatuation for these lovelies was unbound no matter their nature.
Returning to the states I knew that I must find more companions with these traits. Sadly, all the Americans I met were plain and uninteresting so I turned my attention to the few foreigners that visited. Fortunately I found an establishment where many of these lovelies hung out. This was my haven for several years and I was there every night getting my pleasures fulfilled (I’m not expanding upon those pleasures due to the look on my wife’s face). The glory years in my early career of debauchery were fantastic, many of my early European partners are not here in the states anymore and I do miss them.
As I expanded my desires I came across some Belgian pretties one afternoon in an upscale bar. My world opened up into a new view, they taught me thing’s I never dreamed of and the education I received was exquisite (more dirty looks from the wife). That relationship continues still today and I will never forfeit my relationship with any of the many Belgian beauties. Their luscious good looks, fragrant perfumes, and delicious tastes are some of the best in the world (piercing eye bullets from across the table are lighting me up).
As the years went by and I had “quenched my thirst” with all the beauties I could find, I found that the Americans were finally starting to become more attractive. The traits that I loved in my European and Belgian friends were coming to America!!!
My golden years had returned and in full force. I found lovelies of every color, I do not discriminate. The blondes were light, easy and fun. You could take them anywhere and they were always there for me after a hard day’s work. For dining, the dark beauties were more entertaining, they knew how to compliment my meals with loving complexities. When it gets into the later hours of the night I found enjoyment with some big bodied treats, they would lull me into a stupor that made sleeping a pleasure.
I was about to continue my tale when my wife stopped me with this incredulous gasp… “Are you talking about beer?”
With a dumbfounded look on my face I said “Yes, what did you think I was talking about?’”
I have written in the past about the boom in craft distilling and how heartbreaking it can be when the cute little distillery with the beautiful bottle that you just paid $50 for turns out to be putting out less than impressive product. So it was with excitement but also a little cynicism that I opened my box of samples from Few Spirits in Evanston, IL. The samples included three different gins, a bourbon, and a rye whiskey. My first thought on seeing the whiskeys was to wonder where they were sourcing from. When I read the informational materials and learned that Few ferments, distills, and bottles all of its products from scratch in their distillery I had to reevaluate my expectations. Turns out that the Few Spirits blew those expectations out of the water. Charlie and I tried the three gins included in the sampler, Few American Gin, Barrel Gin, and Standard Issue Gin on Episode 137 of The Charlie Tonic Hour and I can tell you that it was one of the most enthusiastic drink segments of the show’s history. Here are the details of the three gins.
Few American Gin: First the basics. It’s made with a bourbon mash of 70% corn, 20% wheat, and 10% malted barley and flavored with 11 botanicals including juniper, bitter orange, lemon peel and fresh vanilla and weighs in at a modest 80 proof. The nose is sweet, heavy on the corn but I can smell mint and vanilla as well. It is smooth with a gentle burn on the finish. The juniper isn’t overpowering but it is not as citrus heavy as other American-style gins I have tried. There is almost a hoppy quality to the flavor but it is nicely balanced by the sweeter notes. The vanilla is surprisingly easy to pick out. When I watered it down I felt that the flavors got too diluted but I think this would make a lovely gin and tonic. Retails for $39.99.
Few Barrel Gin: The info materials state that the Barrel Gin is made with a more neutral base spirit which I am interpreting as having fewer botanicals than their American or Standard Issue gin. Then they age the gin in a mix of new American Oak and used bourbon and rye barrels. The Barrel Gin is 93 proof. Barrel aged gins have been popping up all over the place lately. I can see how some people might think that they are a bit gimmicky I have to admit that I kind of love them. They just taste like nothing else out there. Few Barrel Gin has a lot more body and spice than other bourbon barrel gins I have tried. I think using a blend of different barrels was a very good choice. The predominant flavors are mint and a sweet cinnamon with notes of vanilla. The only problem with barrel gins that I have found is that they really don’t work in cocktails for me. Few recommends making a “Ginhattan” with it but I am skeptical. So far I have stuck with sipping it. Retails for $49.99.
Few Standard-Issue Gin: This gin is 114 proof. I mention that first because the high-proof is a big part of what defines this style of gin, which is often referred to as navy strength gin. The story behind this is that when British sailors received their daily ration of gin it had to have enough alcohol so that the gunpowder could still ignite if the gin was accidentally spilled on it. Along with the higher alcohol content a navy gin would have been drier than American gins. To balance this dryness Few added a hefty dose of fennel to balance it out. The result is a gin that will put hairs on your chest but is also surprisingly reminiscent of those candies you get at an Indian restaurant. Surprisingly smooth for the proof, the juniper flavors come on strong and there is a bitterness you can feel on the tongue rather than taste, but the finish leaves a strong impression of licorice. With water the burn was greatly diminished and the softer flavors came out more. I think this would be a great cocktail gin, perhaps with a gimlet. Retails for $39.99.
Right now Few Spirits are not available in stores in Ohio and Kentucky but you can order them online. Next time I am in Chicago I will make a point of visiting the distiller and picking up a few bottles.
In my continued quest to learn about wine a friend introduced me to a new place in town. Mio Vino is a micro winery in the south end of Blue Ash (Google Maps) that’s getting ready to celebrate its one year anniversary.
Mio Vino is a rocking little joint jammed with atmosphere. It’s set on a corner of a street in an old building with old shop windows. It leaves an initial impression that it could’ve been here for 50 years. Just looking at it from outside it made me feel warm, comfy, and relaxed.
All those feelings continued inside growing to the Cheers feeling that “everybody knows your name” or will at least treat you like they do and that you’re a good friend. As you can see below there are a couple of tables scattered about the room with seats ranging from 2 to 8 for bigger groups. In the corner of the room, next to where the picture was taken from, is a little spot for bands. Friday night was a guy and a guitar singing Christmas songs, Friday was July 25th so ya know… Christmas in July.
On the flip side of that room is a small bar for about 5 people with a TV on the back wall. The TV was off that night but I’m told it’s usually playing Sports Center. To the right of the bar are some very comfy looking couches and coffee tables to lounge around while enjoying your glass of wine.
Oh yeah, about that wine
I’m only learning about wine now and am not going to claim to be able to tell good wine from great wine. I can only tell you what I like and what people tell me is good. I liked the 4 different wines I had, Call Me a cab Cabernet. Grape therapy is a solid red that screams grapes all over the place. Mudd eyes is a Chilean Malbec packing a nice puckering punch. Red & white pomegranate Zinfandel was super sweet and fruity, a bit too much for my tastes but if you enjoy fruity wines check this out. These are mostly reds and so far in my wine journey I’ve found I’m a much bigger fan of reds than whites. Don’t worry though Mio Vino has plenty of whites and a few blushes, here’s the whole list. And yes, it really is just $12 for a bottle!
Mio Vino started up as “a dream and a love of wine” a dream of a guy who likes to make wine. He wanted to share that love with others and decided to open Mio Vino. What’s different here than so many other small wineries or breweries is that his love was making wine and that’s what he wanted to share. That’s why one of the core features of Mio Vino is making your own wine, with their help.
You choose the grapes, work with the team there to make the must (like wort for beer), pitch your yeast, then wait patiently for the yeast to do its thing. After a few weeks you’ll come up with a fancy label and wait some more… probably less patiently this time. A few weeks more you and a bunch of friends come back to Mio Vino and bottle your very own wine that you made yourself!
OK, feast may be an exaggeration but fancy is an understatement. Mio Vino sports a short list of snacks all of which sound amazing. I can confirm that the Brie with Jalapeno Jelly went down delicious on top of the crackers. That’s what my friend suggested we get so I never consulted the menu till I began writing this post at home the next day. Now I have to go back just to get that Cream Cheese with Pineapple Habanero Sauce! Here’s the full appetizer menu:
Whether you love wine or are, like me, trying to learn to love it swing by Mio Vino at 7908 Blue Ash Road Deer Park, Ohio 45236 and try some great local wine, or make your own!
- Sunday/Monday – Closed
- Tuesday/Wednesday – 4:30 pm – 10 pm
- Thursday – 4:30 pm – 11 pm
- Friday – 4:30 pm – 12 pm
- Saturday – 2 pm – 12 pm
Dogfish Head has been known for odd or extreme beers for some years now. Randall the Enamel Animal was the original way to test these weird extreme beers without making huge batches.
After the popularity of Randall the Enamel Animal in bars Dogfish Head realized they should make one for the home consumer, enter Randall the Enamel Animal Jr.
Here’s how Dogfish Head describes Randall the Enamel Animal Jr.:
Our Mini Enamel Animal will give you the power for off-centered infusions. Just twist off the top; add hops, spices, fruit or whatnot, fill with off-centered ale and savor the fruits of your creativity. – See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/store/other-accessories/randall-jr.htm#sthash.vXot1A3j.dpuf
Let’s break down exactly what a Randall the Enamel Animal Jr. is and then get to the good bits, recipes!!
When it comes to craft beer enthusiasts I know far too many who see a lager and shy away. I admit I had this problem for a while myself but I’ve slowly come around. After discovering my own love of lagers I’ve tried to proselytize others and found surprising resistance. This reluctance from folks who’ve I’ve converted to enjoying things as wild as sours got me pondering. The result of that pondering is three ideas to try to understand why the hate?
I couldn’t come across many hard numbers on this but did find the below chart from back in 2011. Beyond the hard numbers the lack of popularity of craft lagers is obvious with a trip to any better beer store. Just look around the store and see all the IPAs, wheats, stouts, and sours vs. the small selection of lagers. Another way of looking at this is that out of all the breweries in Cincinnati only 3 regularly make lagers, and I’m including Sam Adams in that number.
Why the hate?
I think the prime reason is that we’ve been conditioned to love lagers, then over conditioned to love them, resulting in our hate. Budweiser, Miller, Coors and others have shoved flavorless light (or, worse yet, lite) lagers down our throats for 30 years. Trying to convince us that this is what “beer” is supposed to taste like. I think this long-term advertising, or more bluntly put brain washing, has resulted in a Clockwork Orange effect among those who have broken from its grasp. Now many beer enthusiasts are left with an intense dislike of anything that resembles a lager, mass-produced or not.
My second conclusion is that no matter what I’d like to believe, or convince people of, lagers just aren’t that exciting. A malty, floral, maybe slightly spicy lager can’t compete on the level of tongue tingling excitement with something like a stout with vanilla beans, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, and habaneros.
Lastly, lagers are a less financially sound decision for the often cash strapped craft brewer. They are harder to brew because a lager will show off any flaws in the brewing process far more easily than an IPA will. Lagers are more time-consuming because they have to be lagered—fermented and stored at cool temperatures before packaging—for weeks to months where an IPA can be completed in 11 days. And, as I’ve said and has prompted this article, craft beer drinkers are less likely to drink them. So why should a craft brewery spend so much more time making a more difficult product that their customers won’t get excited for?
If you have another reason I missed join in on the conversation in the comments below. Now then let’s move on to the elevator pitch about…
Why we should love lagers!
All around tasty beverage
Plain and simple lagers are tasty and refreshing beverages. The shear market share they occupy is plenty enough proof of this. If they were bad or disgusting no one would drink them, no matter the advertising powers at play. Budweiser and Miller Lite are not bad beers, they’re just not exciting. A real craft lager though can be an exciting and delicious adventure when all you want is a
clean refreshing beer.
“Variety’s the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour.”
Your tongue can get tired of having the same thing time and time again, this is called palate fatigue. Palate fatigue is more relevant when you’re having a flight of 5 or 6 beers but I think it still applies here. Drinking super hoped IPAs or bodacious oatmeal Russian imperial stouts day in and day out you can lose perception on how different they are from each other. A nice clean lager can refresh your palate and your mind.
The Original Session Beer
Session IPAs are all the rage these days and are becoming the top-selling beers at many breweries. But if you want to knock back a 12-pack whiling away a sunny afternoon there’s no need to succumb to the latest fad. Succumb to a centuries old staple and grab a crisp refreshing lager. Lagers are highly quaffable, often under 6%, and go with just about any food at your family BBQ. The chart below shows the ABV distribution of 150 of the most popular lagers on BeerAdvocate.
Those are all great reasons but here’s the real kicker that makes me think more craft breweries, and craft beer enthusiasts, need to love the lager. America is a country that loves its lagers and if we want to beat AB-Inbev or SABMiller we need to beat them at their own game! It’s easier to sell a macro beer drinker on a “really high quality Budweiser” then it is on a “bitter, citrus, pine flavored IPA.” Once that macro beer drinker has had a craft lager they’ll be more interested to try other beers by that brewery and blossom into a craft beer enthusiast.
What to drink?
Don’t misunderstand me on any of this, this is no cry to go enjoy a Miller Lite. This is a rallying call to find the closest craft brewer to you and try their lager if they have one or ask them to make one if they don’t. I realize relatively few craft breweries are making lagers, compared to the total number of craft breweries, so some good examples with wide-ranging distribution are: Victory Prima Pils, Brooklyn Lager, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Sam Adams Boston Lager, or my personal favorite craft lager—New Belgium Shift
My fellow Cincinnatians and I are extremely lucky in that we have not 1 but 2 breweries making multiple lagers. For a local lager find the Helles, Dunkel, or Blueberry Lager from Rivertown or Moerlein Exposition or Barbarossa. Both of these breweries and a few more locals also make seasonal Dunkels and Marzens. Rhinegeist also currently has the Puma Pils though I’m not sure how long that will be around.
Anyone have other reasons that we should embrace lagers? Or a specific craft lager folks should be embracing? If so drop a comment below!
The industry of local brewery tours has exploded in the past year. Just under 1 year ago Tonic Tours became the first in the city. Today we have a total of 5 companies offering tours of various breweries. Fellow Cincy Beer Blogger Jesse Folk wrote a post introducing all 5. Last week the owners invited me to join a group for a tour on the new Craft Connection Brewery Tours. Continue reading