Founders Brewing Sold 30% Stake; No Longer a “Craft Brewer”

Earlier today news hit the internet that Mahou San Miguel, Spain’s biggest brewery, bought a 30% stake in Founder’s Brewing Company. You can read the full press release at All About Beer. This investment will help Founders grow across America and into emerging international markets around the world. Obviously a great move for Founders. Hopefully, this also means an easier time getting KBS next April.

Here’s where things get fun

Continue reading Founders Brewing Sold 30% Stake; No Longer a “Craft Brewer”

Beer Review: Deschutes The Abyss

This is the one you’ve been waiting for. Ever since rumors first surfaced of Deschutes bringing their beer to Ohio folks who knew of Deschutes had two words on their lips, The Abyss.

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Simply put The Abyss is Deschutes take on bourbon barrel imperial stouts. Less simply I present Deschutes blurb on their beer:

A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.

As for the great “drink it now or let it age” debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure after a year or more in the cellar.

Let’s get on to what I think…

Continue reading Beer Review: Deschutes The Abyss

What’s Your Whalez Name?

If you use Facebook you’ve likely encountered a plethora of quizzes cluttering your wall. If you’ve hung out in the beer scene for a while you’ve probably caught wind of some rarer beers with crazy ingredients. Those rare beers are referred to as whales, like white whales, which has mockingly devolved into Whalez.

What started as a joke on these two things between Osborn Brewing and myself has evolved into the What’s Your Whalez Name?

To find out what your rare beer whalez name is take the month you were born in for the barrel. The first letter of your first name gets you your style of beer. The last letter of your last name gets you the first adjunct and the first letter of your mother’s maiden name gets you the second adjunct. We couldn’t make it too easy to figure out could we!

What's Your Whalez Name

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Local Choice Bourbon Review

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With the start of December we are officially well into my favorite season of all: bourbon season. Bourbon lovers continue to be spoilt for choice when it comes to trying new bourbons. Every time I go to the liquor store there is a new and exciting bottle to try, and those are just a smattering of the new bottles hitting the market very week. It is getting to be a real challenge trying to keep up with it all, but still I soldier on somehow. Recently Local Choice Spirits out of South Carolina were kind enough to send me their bourbon and their black cherry flavored bourbon to try for Queen City Drinks.

Local Choice Spirits is based out of Daniel Island, South Carolina and was founded in 2011 and operates under a “pour it forward” philosophy. In addition to striving to produce quality spirits they also donate $2 per bottle sold back to the local community where it is sold. Also, they do produce their whiskey, which is not always the case with a craft distillery. Without getting too much into the business behind craft whiskey, a micro-producer will have a choice between sourcing their whiskey from a larger producer and selling it as their own while getting started or else produce small batches right away and sell a younger whiskey. Making your own whiskey is both more difficult and more expensive than sourcing, and you have the constant pressure to get your product to the shelves quickly to make back that cost. Some micro-producers try to do with with smaller barrels or finding ways to agitate barrels for quicker aging. Local Choice apparently uses a trademarked system called TerrePURE® which uses sound waves to “rapidly transforms ordinary distilled spirits into mature tasting, incredibly smooth, ultra-premium spirits in a quick and efficient manner.” That is a pretty bold claim right there, so let’s see how the bourbon holds up.

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Local Choice Bourbon

The bourbon has a fresh and citrus nose, with little of the carmel sweetness that is often associated with bourbon. The initial taste has a subtle sweetness. Mostly I pick up corn, pine, and a hint of pepper. It is a very fresh taste but not quite enough flavor. It is a young bourbon but I will give it to them that it is very smooth for the age. The burn is short and flares in the nostrils. There is a bit of an after taste but it doesn’t linger. Over all it is far from the worst young, micro-produced bourbon I have had. And it is much better than Cleveland but that is a very low bar to clear. This tastes like it is a solid distillate that could be pretty decent if it ever gets a chance to age properly, so that means that there is a good chance that this TerrePure processes made a positive difference. There is no way that a bourbon lover would mistake this for a matured bourbon though. I added a splash of water and it helped bring out a bit more of the sweetness and actually made it a bit more complex. I tried it with ice as well but that stripped way too much of the taste away. Overall I can honestly say that I liked this bourbon more than I thought I would given their high-tech fast aging technique but I still think the bottom line comes back to that old saying about how you can’t rush Mother Nature.

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Local Choice Black Cherry Flavored Bourbon

The cherry is unmistakable in the nose but it doesn’t smell like it is blending quiet right with the whiskey smell. The first sip is actually very pleasant. This tastes like it has a gentle infusion of cherry rather than an artificial flavor that was added. Unfortunately after the first sip comes a sour aftertaste that lingers on the tongue most unpleasantly and this disqualifies it from sipping for me. Mixing it with some ginger beer helped immensely but I could still taste the aftertaste. Not sure if that was from my earlier sipping or if the ginger beer just failed to completely cover the taste. Very disappointing because I actually enjoy a good infused bourbon when it is done well.

Right now these spirits are only available in South and North Carolina but they are looking to expand into Kentucky soon so keep an eye out. I would love to learn more about this TerrePURE process and to try some of their vodka that they make with it. Based on the bourbon, I would guess that it would have an even more dramatic effect on an un-aged product and is probably better suited to vodkas and gins than to whiskey.

Beer Review: Deschutes Jubelale

Kyle is back with another guest post while I figure out how to set him up with a permanent account. -Tom

It’s definitely Winter.  The first snowfall is still apparent out my window, clinging to yards and shrubs with the help of frigid temperatures.  Jubelale did little to warm me up.  The night before I tried this beer, I had a really high ABV barley wine from a certain brewery in Delaware, and THAT did an excellent job of warming me up from the inside out.

The artwork on the label is nifty, and has a cool back story.  This is the 27th year that Jubelale has been bottled by Deschutes; itDeschute's Jubelale was the first beer ever they bottled!  For the last 20 years, the artwork has changed each year, as Deschutes has selected a new artist local to the Bend, Oregon area to design the label.  This year is no exception.  Twin sisters Lori and Lisa Lubbesmeyer of Lubbesmeyer Studio worked together yet separately to let this year’s label art emerge spontaneously through the process of layering and overstitching different fabrics until the image you see on the label appeared. Here’s a look at the different label artwork for Jubelale dating back to 1988.

Jubelale

Brewery: Deschutes (Bend, OR)
Beer: Jubelale (2014)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 60

Appearance:

Deep brown with a faint red tint near the glass
Minimal head that recedes quickly

Aroma:

Malted grain, pitted fruit, cherries, dates, red grapes

 Taste:

More dates and grapes
Hop bitterness bite on the finish

Mouthfeel:

Very clean, nothing lingers
Thin body

 Overall:

This is a nice beer to take a big gulp.  I can definitely see a six-pack of this being shared amongst long-separated friends.  The mental image comes to mind of sitting in a basement around a table reminiscing with friends over a beer and a deck of cards.  Jubelale is definitely more sessionable than many of the more “spicy” Winter seasonal releases from other breweries.  The 6.7% ABV may limit that a bit, but it goes down easily on its own, and I’m sure the salty and sweet and savory snacks – I can’t be the only person eagerly awaiting ginger bread cookies – prominent at many holiday parties would only enhance this.

IMG_2088Maybe I had misguided expectations, but I went into this with an anticipation that Jubelale would be more along the lines of an English barley wine.  There was a similarity, but it was very faint.  However, it definitely hits Beer Advocate’s description of an English-style winter warmer square on the head.  With that said, it’s a good overall beer, but I can’t see myself knocking down people in a store to get to a six-pack.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I reached out to Deschutes when I first heard rumor of them coming to Ohio. They sent a couple of bottles then and have continued to send  more, including this one which I passed on to Kyle. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me samples, giving us free beer does not guarantee you a favorable review, though I do promise we will review your product and publish a post on it.

Kevin Spatz – Memorial Benefit at Rivertown

Roxanne Westendorf from the Bloatarian Brewing League, Rivertown tap-room, and AHA governing committee sent me the following info about an event happening at the Rivertown tap-room on Wednesday, December 17th. The event will be to honor the memory of Kevin Spatz, a long time local brewer, both home and professional. I think it sounds like a great time for a good cause and plan on being there. Hopefully you all can make it too!

Rereading this real quick before hitting the publish button my eyes keyed in on the bit about Boston Beer donating gifts with face value of at least $200. Only 1 thing comes to mind made by Boston Beer costs that much… Utopias! Now I’m not saying that’s what they’re donating I’m just saying I’ll be taking part in the silent auction!


Kevin Spatz passed away unexpectedly in October at the age of 47.  Rivertown Brewery is hosting a benefit for the family (wife Carol, son Philip – college sophomore, and daughter Elizabeth – high school junior).  All proceeds from the benefit will go to an educational trust for Philip and Elizabeth.

Many of us in the brewing community have very strong connections with Kevin and his family.  While our friendships started with brewing, they became much stronger through the years.  The benefit is not just about helping a fellow brewer, but is part of the bond that many of us developed with Kevin and his family through the years.

Kevin and Carol moved to the Cincinnati area just over 20 years ago.  In 1995 – Kevin attended his first Bloatarian Brewing League meeting – which is where Rob & I met Kevin (also our first meeting), and we quickly became friends with Kevin and Carol (and Philip and Elizabeth, of course). A couple of years later – Kevin got a job at the Samuel Adams brewery in Cincinnati – and was one of their first employees in Cincinnati.

When Jason Roeper – owner of Rivertown Brewing Company – started homebrewing, Kevin was one of the first Bloatarians he met.  Jason was a Sam Adams Longshot finalist in 2009, and Kevin spent a lot of time escorting Jason and introducing him to the folks at Boston Beer and other key industry players.  When Jason turned pro – he and Kevin kept in touch professionally as well.

Kevin Spatz – Memorial Benefit at Rivertown Brewing Company

  • Wednesday, December 17.  4 pm until close (9-10 pm).
  • In addition to the regular taps – we will have a special beer in honor of Kevin – an American Stout.  Stouts were one of Kevin favorite styles.  Fellow homebrewers Brian and Jen Becker are in town over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  When Brian lived in Cincinnati, he and Kevin often brewed together.  Their families are still close – even though the Beckers now live in Texas.  Brian, and Roxanne & Rob Westendorf will be brewing a small batch of this beer at Rivertown to honor Kevin.  Net proceeds from the nights will go to the educational trust for the family.
  • Silent auction and raffle.  Boston Beer has donated some amazing gifts for us to use in a silent auction and raffle – including several gifts with face value at least $200!  Rivertown will be adding additional items to the silent auction and raffle.  ALL proceeds from the silent auction and raffle will go to the educational trust.
  • Donations will also be accepted at the brewery during and before the event.
  • Food vendors will be present outside the brewery, with food available for purchase during the event.
  • Rivertown contacts:  www.rivertownbrewery.com

607 Shepherd Dr, Unit 6
Lockland, OH 45215
Phone: 513-827-9280

Many of Kevin’s co-workers at the Cincinnati Sam Adams brewery are expected to attend this event.  There will also be a group from the Bloatarian Brewing League at the event.  We would like as many people as possible to join us at the event to honor Kevin’s legacy and share our mutual love of beer and the friendships we have made through our hobby and profession. We hope you will join us there, and help spread the word about this event.

The Ultimate Beer Glass Guide

Every few months someone approaches me asking us to post their infographic. Most of the time I’ve already seen it around the net 100 times and the rest of the time the infographics are dumb sales ads. I feel this one has good content that is straight to the point and not already floating across Facebook. So with thanks to John Powers from Hangover Revivol I present their Ultimate Beer Glass Guide.

Continue reading The Ultimate Beer Glass Guide

6 Of The Best Bloody Marys in Cincinnati

At its simplest a Bloody Mary is vodka and tomato juice served over ice in a highball glass, but it is rarely simple. Bloody Marys are one of the most varied and complex cocktails out there. Ranging from the two base ingredients to a complex menagerie of spices and garnishes, from not hot at all to so spicy it takes your breath away. The drinks have become associated with hair of the dog for being a good hangover cure. That’s not true as only water, rest, and electrolytes will help hangovers but the following Bloody Marys will definitely get you up and running again.
Continue reading 6 Of The Best Bloody Marys in Cincinnati

Learning About Brettanomyces: An Ode To My Favorite Microbe

Microbes are a crucial part of beer which many beer drinkers don’t appreciate until they take the jump to homebrewing. Many pro brewers will admit that they don’t make beer; they make wort and the yeast, which is a microbe, makes the beer. This is entirely true. We create very sugary water and add yeast to it. Yeast eats the sugar and turns it into CO² and, the fun part, alcohol1. The main yeast used in brewing is Saccharomyces but it’s kinda boring and I’m a much bigger fan of its family member Brettanomyces. So, let’s learn about my favorite microbe!

Alien planet from the next blockbuster movie? Nope just the pellicle Brettanomyces created for once, and hopefully returning, writer here Josh Osborne.
Alien planet from the next blockbuster movie? Nope just the pellicle Brettanomyces created for once, and hopefully returning, writer here Josh Osborne.

Continue reading Learning About Brettanomyces: An Ode To My Favorite Microbe


  1. That’s the super simplified gist of a very complicated process

Calamity Labs and Stillwrights Spirits

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Calamity Dawn and Dorian Bridges are: Calamity Labs!

It is hard enough keeping up with new breweries, distilleries, and bars opening in Cincinnati. Trying to keep a handle on what is going on in Dayton seems like just a little too much to ask these days. Luckily, I have a couple of friends in the area who invite me up when things get interesting.

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Award-winning moonshine

Calamity Dawn and Dorian Bridges are the geeky bar-tending duo behind Calamity Labs. Together they roam the Eastern United States bringing booze, informative panels, and killer room parties to steampunk, comic, gaming and various other conventions, as well as doing private events. I got to know them during my misspent years with the steampunks. Calamity was one of our first guests on The Charlie Tonic Hour and created our official cocktail. I have followed the development of Calamity Labs as they have gone from doing panels at regional shows to leading presentations at DragonCon and competing and placing in The Bourbon Social Cocktail Competition. On Tuesday they hosted a test run of the latest panel that they will be presenting at shows this spring, Mixology 320: Mixology in Motion and they were kind enough to invite Charlie and I up to participate.

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The three competitors wondering what the hell we got ourselves into.

The event was hosted by Stillwrights Spirits at their Flat Rock Distillery in Fairborn, Ohio. Stillwrights has only been on the market for the past four months but Calamity Labs became fans right away. I was thrilled to be able to combine a trip to see friends and experience a fun night with learning about a new distillery that I didn’t even know existed. Stillwrights primarily makes flavored moonshine but they have a straight moonshine, bourbon and rum as well. One interesting thing about this distillery is that the owners were in the machine business before starting the distillery and were actually able to fabricate their own still. In addition to the traditional moonshine flavors I was excited to try some of the more tropical flavors they had like Margarita and Key Lime Pie. You can do a tour and tasting there on Saturdays for $10 so if you are in the Dayton area I encourage you to stop by and check them out.

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The winning cocktail. It wasn’t mine.

The panel itself was a lot of fun. After a brief intro about the distillery and the basics of cocktail making, three audience members were chosen to go up to our mixing stations and were given twenty minutes to create an original cocktail recipe. I was able to compete and decided to play it safe by mixing ginger beer and grapefruit bitters with the Stillwrights Peach Cobbler Moonshine. Unfortunately for me, Calamity Labs rewards boldness and innovation, plus I over did it with the ginger beer a bit so I did not win. I did however, have a wonderful time. I think everyone learned a lot about the subtle art of cocktail creating. Along the way we were able to try a skill that was out of our comfort zone, and I got to see several good friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time.

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The three competitors with two of the owners of Stillwrights

If you want to learn more about Stillwrights or Calamity Labs they both have Facebook pages you can follow and you will find Calamity Labs at a variety of conventions in the coming year. You can hear more about the panel and our interview with the owner of Stillwrights on Episode 151 of The Charlie Tonic Hour.