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Brew Review 2014

Brew Review Logo 2014

Great Brews for a Great Cause
Enjoy a night of great beer featuring local and national breweries as well as select imports. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, enjoy craft beer, and want to support a great cause check out the Brew Review event happening THIS Friday – October 17th starting at 7pm!

Brew Review is a casual evening tasting craft beers. Come for the beer and stay for the hors d’oeuvres, music, and mingling. 100% of net proceeds will support Creative Living’s Resident Assistance Program. Creative Living is a non-profit organization encouraging independent living for adults with severe physical disabilities by providing wheelchair accessible housing and assistance and by creating a supportive environment for people to learn, work, live and contribute to the community.

What’s On Tap
Want to know the brews on the menu? Check out this year’s list:

  • Actual Photon
  • Actual Oktoberfest
  • Anchor Steam Beer
  • Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
  • Barley’s Blood Thirst Wheat
  • Barley’s Centennial IPA
  • Barley’s Russian Imperial Stout
  • Barley’s Scottish Ale
  • Brooklyn Lager
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
  • Estrella Damm Daura (Gluten Free Beer)
  • Ithaca Flower Power IPA
  • Lager Heads Bed Head Red Ale
  • Lost Coast Tangerine
  • Mt. Carmel Harvest Ale
  • Rockmill Petite Saison
  • Rockmill Tripel
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
  • Uinta Hop Nosh IPA
  • Victory Prima Pils Wheat
  • Wolf’s Ridge Beta Belgian Dubbel
  • Wolf’s Ridge Clear Sky Cream Ale
  • Wolf’s Ridge Driftwood Session IPA
  • Wolf’s Ridge Trail American Amber


Event Information:

Brew Review – A night of great craft beers with Creative Living

Date and Time:
Friday, October 17, 2014
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Location:
Grange Insurance Audubon Center
505 W. Whittier
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Grange Insurance Audubon Center is located on the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus.

Tickets:
$35 for tickets purchased before October 10th, $40 after and at the door.
You’ll receive 15 tasting tickets and a custom tasting glass that’s yours to keep.
Purchase your tickets
today!

Want to invite a friend or follow the event on Facebook? Check out the Brew Review Facebook event page.

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KBS Party at Old Bag of Nails

Old Bag of Nails - KBS SignAs many of you may know, Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) recently hit the shelves across the United States. If you haven’t acquired any by now, it may be too late – at least until next year! I personally had the good fortune to discover that Old Bag of Nails in Upper Arlington, Ohio was hosting a Beer-Fest, or in other words, a KBS pouring party, because they acquired a keg. This was great news to hear as a KBS newbie since I wasn’t able to find any bottles of KBS myself.

I arrived with two friends on a rather chilly Saturday morning to wait outside of the restaurant until they opened at 11am. As this was my first “limited release” beer event, my veteran beer-drinking companion suggested we arrive early and wait so we could snag bar seats and experience the party first-hand, so we joined a small group that was already waiting outside.

Places - Old Bag of Nails - KBS MenuOnce the doors opened and we were settled on our stools, we were presented with a menu listing an awesome selection of beers, most of them high quality brews I hadn’t yet sampled. The star on the menu, of course, was Founders KBS. Each person that paid the price got a token to reserve their pour of KBS once the keg was tapped at noon. In the meantime, we had a plethora of tasty choices to sample while waiting. I’ve listed some of the more notable ones below with the descriptions provided on the menu. If you don’t have a Beer Bucket List, or a list of all the beers you should try before the zombie apocalypse wipes out mankind, then all the beers below should be considered as contenders for your list.

 

The selections included:

  • Founders KBS (11.2% ABV and obviously the guest of honor)
    A hint of coffee, a hint of vanilla aged in oak bourbon barrels for over a year.
    Read my full review of KBS
  • Bell’s Hopslam (10% ABV)
    Brewed with honey; hoppy as hell
  • CBS Bodhi (8% ABV)
    Tons of citrus hops and good floral notes
  • Great Lake’s Alchemy Hour Double IPA (9.4% ABV)
    Hop-forward with balanced blends of mosaic and nugget hops
  • Troegs Nugget Nectar Ale (7.5% ABV)
    Intensified malt and hop flavors to create an explosive hop experience
  • Founders All Day IPA (4.7% ABV)
    A complex array of malts, grains and hops balanced for optimal aromas and a clean finish
  • Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA (12% ABV)
    Big hops balanced with tons of malts; double all the ingredients of the original Crooked Tree IPA (except the water)
  • Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout (11% ABV)
    Roasted malts and balanced with heavy hops
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale (7.5% ABV)
    Brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon
  • Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury Ale (7.7% ABV)
    Roasted notes of coffee and dark chocolate together with the fruity and clove-like aroma (Belgian abbey-style yeasts in a recipe of roasty stout)
  • Weyerbacher Insanity Ale(11.10% ABV)
    A bourbon barrel-aged English style barley wine

 

Old Bag of Nails - Flight 1As you can probably guess by the alcohol content of most of these beers, the combination handed out quite the alcoholic wallop! But in my opinion, there’s no better way to experience day-drinking on a weekend.

I started out with a 4-beer flight of: Bell’s Hopslam, Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout, Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury Ale, and Troegs Nugget Nectar.

It was all delicious, and my favorite of the four was the Plead the 5th, with a full-bodied rich and roasted malty taste. Interestingly enough, when comparing Plead the 5th to KBS a little while later, it really changed the taste profile when trying them side-by-side. Basically, while Plead the 5th is excellent, KBS is just a bit more excellent.

KBS Pour

KBS

By the time my first flight was finished, it was time for the pours of KBS. All the lucky ones around the bar cashed in their tokens for their share. As I’d been eagerly anticipating this moment, it was very exciting when the KBS really did live up to all the hype. It was full of boozy, vanilla, oaky, and chocolatey goodness. Read my full review of KBS.

Places - Old Bag of Nails - Flight 2We were in luck that day, as there was enough KBS to go around for a second round and I didn’t hesitate to partake. Then, as my final course, I had one more 4-beer flight (there were just too many good beers to try) which consisted of: Great Lakes Alchemy Hour Double IPA, Columbus Brewing Company Bodhi (one of my favorite locally-brewed IPAs), Weyerbacher Insanity, and Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA.

How would I sum up my experience at the second annual Old Bag of Nails Beer-Fest? Well, the bartenders were great hosts, we were supplied with complimentary buffet filled with pulled pork and other goodies, the beer was poured plentifully and we met several new friends. So overall I would definitely declare the Old Bag of Nails 2013 Beer-Fest a great success!

 

Old Bag of Nails - Enjoying Some Beers

Enjoying our beers at Old Bag of Nails

 

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St. Patty’s Day Brings Beer and Cheer

St Pattys - ShamrockSunday St. Patty’s

This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend – Sunday, March 17th to be exact – which means that Saturday the bars, especially your local Irish pubs, will be packed to the teeth with festive folks parading around in green with pints in hand.

Why March 17th?

March 17th is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. He was believed to have died on this day in 461 AD. For Christians, the day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. However, the holiday has slowly modernized over time to become a general celebration of Irish culture.

The U.S. and its population of over 34 million Americans with Irish ancestry is largely responsible for how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated today. Boston was the first to formalize a day to honor their Irish immigrants, and there has been a parade held since 1737. New York was not far behind, holding their first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1762. New York’s parade has since grown enormously – they now boast an audience of 1-2 million people annually.

Although St. Patrick’s Day is not a legal holiday in the U.S, it is now widely celebrated by all, with prominent displays of green (no one wants pinched because they forgot their green!), hearty meals and mass consumption of alcohol.

Why Beer on St. Patty’s Day?

It is estimated that over 4.2 billion pints of beer are consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, which is equal to about 1% of the total amount of beer consumed annually. Officials report that during a typical St. Patty’s week, there is an average increase of 10% in alcohol-related violations, but if this holiday falls on a weekend this more than doubles, with a 25% increase in violations from rowdy celebrators.

What pint do people reach for when they’re getting rowdy? Not surprisingly, Guinness is often the preferred beer of choice for the occasion. About 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed on an average day, but on St. Patty’s that amount easily doubles, spiking up to about 13 million pints.

Why do we tend to drink the day away on this particular holiday? The answer isn’t perfectly clear, so here’s my consensus:

  1. Catholics that practice Lent are not restricted from alcohol on St. Patty’s Day
  2. The Irish like to drink. They were nice enough to bring that tradition to the U.S. – as well as bringing Guinness.
  3. Americans are all about boozing it up for any celebratory event. Give us an excuse to wear silly costumes and drink, and we will!

Best St. Patty’s Day BeerSt Pattys - Drink Kit

While Guinness seems to be the unofficial stout of choice, there are many other options out there as well. If you’re into stouts, A Layman’s Guide to Stout outlines the different styles of stouts.

Want to see how Guinness stacks up against some other alternatives? There’s a great article on Drink Craft Beer that outlines some nice beer choices and their drinkability. My thoughts? Guinness is easy to drink, and easy to drink a lot of, which is why it appeals to the masses. And you can always switch it up by adding some Bass and making a Black & Tan!

If you’re not into stouts you can always go the festive route and grab a green beer. You’re typically going to receive a standard American Lager if you ask for a green beer at the bar, but you could certainly pick your favorite brew at home and add your own drop of green food coloring to it. Supposedly a black stout will get a distinctly green head if you add a drop of color to the glass before pouring – try it out!

Irish Eats

If you plan on feasting on St. Patty’s day as well, the best plan is to find great beers to pair with your traditional Irish cuisine. Typical Irish eats include Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Lamb Stew, Soda Bread, Colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage dish), and Champ (mashed potatoes, Irish-style). If you want some tasty Irish food/beer pairings that will make you drool, check out this article on Craftbeer.com.

Irish Spirit

Whatever your plans this St. Patrick’s Day, not to worry, “copious” amounts of alcohol are tradition in virtually every version of the celebration. I’ll be out this weekend wearing my green and knocking back some pints. How about you?

 

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Columbus AleFest (2013)

AleFest - Crowd

The lively crowd at AleFest.

Yesterday I attended the 8th year of AleFest at Aladdin Shrine Center in Columbus. Similar to the previously reviewed Beerfest, AleFest is also a craft beer festival. This year they boasted more than 100 breweries and over 250 craft beers including rare draught lagers and ales, as well as cask ales. There were approximately 15 new breweries and 25 to 30 beers that weren’t available last year, including 4 to 6 gluten-free beers. The gluten-free beers were all in the same area so I did a run-by to see what was available, however I didn’t notice any that I haven’t previously sampled.

Within our first handful of samples, my friend and I targeted the three cask ales we could find at the event, Citra Dog from Thirsty Dog, Columbus IPA from Columbus Brewing Company, and Brown Stoat Stout from Weasel Boy. The Citra Dog was by far our favorite of the three, it was very smooth, hoppy, and pleasantly oaky. A few other notable beers that we ran across were the Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale, Ten FIDY, and Hoppin’ Frog / Amager (Bryghus).

My AleFest “Sampled Beers” List

AleFest Sampler

AleFest Sampler

A little about my rating system below.  I log all the “new” beers (anything I haven’t had previously or have not recorded previously) on my Beer Advocate profile, then rate them according to their rating scale of 1-5, while evaluating appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, and overall impressions. For each beer below I’ve also listed its style, ABV, and my rating and any notes.

  • My Antonia – Dogfish Head Brewery
    American Double / Imperial Pilsner (7.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Founders Imperial Stout – Founders Brewing Company
    Russian Imperial Stout (10.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75
  • Citra Dog – Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
    American IPA (7.70% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.85  
  • Columbus IPA – Double Dry Hopped – Columbus Brewing Company
    American IPA (6.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Brown Stoat Stout – Weasel Boy Brewing Company
    American Stout (6.20% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Great Lakes Loch Erie Scotch Ale – Great Lakes Brewing Company
    Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy (8.30% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.5
  • Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale – Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
    Flanders Oud Bruin (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4.5 – This was a surprise favorite of the evening for me, especially because I don’t typically go for Sour Ales.
    Monk's Cafe - Flemish Sour Ale
      
  • AleSmith Nut Brown Ale – AleSmith Brewing Company
    English Brown Ale (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Hop Stoopid – Lagunitas Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • There Will Be Black (Brewmaster’s Reserve Winter 2012) – Brooklyn Brewery
    American Black Ale (7.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru – Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V.
    Flanders Red Ale (6.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Resin – Sixpoint
    American Double / Imperial IPA (9.10% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Ten FIDY – Oskar Blues Brewing Company
    Russian Imperial Stout (10.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4.5 – The Ten FIDY definitely lives up to the hype – I haven’t had it since they started distributing to Ohio but I definitely thought it was tasty and will be drinking it again!
  • 3 Monts Amber Ale On Lees – Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre
    Bière de Garde (9.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Hoppin’ Frog / Amager (Bryghus) Frog Hops From Amager – Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
    American Double / Imperial Stout (7.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout – Dark Horse Brewing Company
    American Stout (7.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Baba Black Lager – Uinta Brewing Company
    Schwarzbier (4.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Last Chance IPA – Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
    American IPA (5.90% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Stodgy Brown – Zauber Brewing Company
    Altbier (5.20% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Four C’s American Pale Ale – The Brew Kettle Taproom & Smokehouse / Production Works
    American Pale Ale (6.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • St. Peter’s Cream Stout – St. Peter’s Brewery Co Ltd
    Milk / Sweet Stout (6.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Matilda – Goose Island Beer Co.
    Belgian Strong Pale Ale (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Irish Red Ale – Buckeye Lake Brewery
    Irish Red Ale (ABV Unknown)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Milk Stout – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    Milk / Sweet Stout (7.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
Writing Beer Notes

Diligently writing my beer notes.

Summed Up

I’d definitely call this year’s AleFest a success. Despite the undesirable cold, snowy weather outside, the vibe inside was lively and festive, with many folks participating in the “tropical attire” theme, sporting coconut tops, leis and Hawaiian shirts. There was a variety of beer choices, definitely something for everyone, and the live entertainment by Nick Mitchell was very good as well – he was great at performing cover songs (I especially enjoyed his renditions from Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond).

Overall, I would say that AleFest wins the award for ambiance and vibe from the crowd, but Beerfest wins for their brewery and beer selection.

So what’s the bottom line? The best solution is to go to BOTH of course!

Until next year!

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Upcoming Event: AleFest Columbus (2013)

Upcoming Event - AleFest Columbus 2013For the 8th year in a row, AleFest is coming to Columbus! It takes place this Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. It will be held at Aladdin Shrine Center, 3850 Stelzer Road, which is right across the street from Easton Shopping Center. It just so happens it’s conveniently located very close to many Easton restaurants, making it easy to grab a bite to eat after you’re done drinking all that beer!

If you aren’t familiar with this event, AleFest is a craft beer festival. This year they will have more than 100 breweries and over 250 craft beers including rare draught lagers and ales, as well as cask ales.

According to ThisWeek Community News there will be about 15 new breweries and 25 to 30 beers that weren’t available last year, including 4 to 6 gluten-free beers.

As you may be aware, Columbus Winter Beerfest just took place a few weeks ago, on January 11th and 12th. They had quite a selection of beers available, so AleFest has some steep competition! However, I’ve been to this event in the past and it never disappoints. Last year they had around 1,500 attendees, and expect more this year. This is a much smaller number than the crowd that showed up to Beerfest, which in my personal opinion is why this event has a much more “refined” feel to it than the melee that Beerfest seems to be trending towards.

This year, AleFest organizers are also encouraging “tropical attire,” so if you need a break from your cold winter gear, break out your favorite Hawaiian shirt. Or if you’re really brave, maybe some coconuts and a grass skirt. 😉

What To Expect:

  • Over 250 craft beers from more than 100 world-class breweries
  • Expanded draught ales and lagers & cask ales
  • Commemorative AleFest sampling glass
  • Raffle for beer collectibles
  • Retail sales of wearables and glassware
  • Silent auction featuring beer memorabilia
  • Live entertainment by Nick Mitchell
  • Food concession available

Tickets are available for advance purchase on the AleFest website for $35.00 or you may purchase tickets at the door for $40.00. Buying a ticket will get you 20 samples of craft beer, a commemorative tasting glass and a tasting guide. You must, of course, be 21 to attend, and designated driver discounts are available.

A portion of the proceeds benefits SODZ Columbus Area Homebrew Club.

If you have questions or comments regarding the upcoming AleFest, you can email AleFest@earthlink.net, or visit the website www.AleFest.com.

Post a comment if you plan to attend!

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Columbus Winter Beerfest (2013)

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013 - Tasting Glass

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013

This past weekend was the 3rd Annual Columbus Winter Beerfest, held at the Columbus Convention Center. Beerfest goers had the option to buy tickets for either Friday or Saturday. Both nights gave the option of paying $10 extra to get VIP entry – basically you show up at 6:30p instead of 7:30p, get a few special beers and get a real 8oz tasting glass (instead of a 5oz plastic one). All Beerfest attendees were given 25 tasting tickets at the door (although I handed out very few of mine as most booths didn’t seem all that interested in collecting them).

What caught my attention this year was the 310+ craft beers they promised, and when I reviewed the list and saw newcomers to the event such as Kona Brewing, Hinterland and Ballast Point, I was in!

Friday Fun
My friend and I went Friday, which turned out to be a very good idea, as Saturday sold out and according to Amanda Forbes in her article on examiner.com it became “a hot, sweaty orgy of beer tasting.” She wrote “Attendees trying to get from line to line were like worms, weaving through or making their own tunnels through the sea of people.” Approximately 7000 folks showed up on Saturday and the event sold out.

Friday on the other hand, had a nice, leisurely tone about it with only 2,500 or so attendees showed up that night. My friend and I purchased our VIP tickets in December, scoring  them for regular entry price, so we arrived with the early group.

The Experience

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013 - Crowd

3rd Annual Winter Beerfest

The first thing I noticed was the event was relocated to a larger space within the convention center this year, which was fine by me. The only thing I didn’t care for was the florescent lights blaring down the whole time (it didn’t set a very nice ambience). Although after a handful of samplers, I don’t think I noticed it anymore.

Drinking beer is hard work, and the 4.5 hours we were in the convention center flew by quickly as we scurried to sample as many beers as we could. We hit 16 stations total in that time, but there was no way I was able to drink all those generously poured glasses so I focused on getting my evaluative sips, sampled my friend’s as well, then we both poured the rest.

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013 - Homework

Diligently tracking our samplers.

My primary goal of the evening was to try as many beers as I could that I’ve never had before, which meant I didn’t really sample the Ohio beers this time around.

I do have to say that in the past year my knowledge of breweries has steeply increased, so looking at the floor map of the booths made me feel  like I was welcoming old friends. I was a little disappointed to find most of the folks at the beer stations were volunteer pourers, however, and not actually from the real breweries. Hey, you can’t blame a girl for wanting be a beer geek with brewmasters when the chance may arise!

So, all that said, here is my official list of all the beers I tried that Friday at Beerfest. I’ve noted favorites as well as beers that I would consider very unique for the taste buds, and other beers I would steer clear from in the future.

My Beerfest “Sampled Beers” List

A little about my rating system below.  I log all the “new” beers (anything I haven’t had previously or have not recorded previously) on my Beer Advocate profile, then rate them according to their rating scale of 1-5, while evaluating appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, and overall impressions. For each beer below I’ve also listed its style, ABV, and my rating and any notes.

  • Frosted Frog Christmas Ale – Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
    Winter Warmer (8.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 – Very interesting flavor in both of the Hoppin’ Frog beers, a very strong sense of cinnamon in the Winter Warmer especially.
  • Hopped-Up Goose Juice – Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
    American IPA (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Harpoon IPA – Harpoon Brewery
    American IPA (5.90% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Harpoon Leviathan – Czernobog – Harpoon Brewery
    Russian Imperial Stout (10.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75
  • Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale – Stone Brewing Co.
    Belgian Strong Pale Ale (9.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale – Stone Brewing Co.
    Belgian Strong Dark Ale (9.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4 – I really liked this brew (I wasn’t such a fan of the 11.11.11 although I know it’s highly favored by others). The 12.12.12 was an intriguing mix of dark and spicy with sweetness; a very complex and flavorful brew.
  • Big Wave Golden Ale – Kona Brewing Co.
    American Blonde Ale (4.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Koko Brown – Kona Brewing Co.
    American Brown Ale (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 – I rank this one high in the unique flavor category because it is heavy on the coconut aroma and taste (something I haven’t run across in the beers I’ve tried to date). If you’re a coconut fan this one is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
  • Grass – 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
    American Pale Ale (6.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3 – This one gets a special mention because of its unique flavor as well. It is named adequately – it does smell and taste like, well, grass. I wouldn’t particularly care to drink a full pint but it’s now the second “grassy” beer I’ve come across in the past few weeks, and an interesting brew to sample.
  • 5 Vulture – 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
    Chile Beer (6.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3 – I’m wondering if the other beers (besides the two I sampled) from 5 Rabbit are just as unique – this beer was also on the odd side, but an interesting beer to try. This one is brewed with roasted ancho chile – which definitely gives it a spicy kick, but it’s more of a subtle “back of your throat” kind of burn than something that burns the taste buds.
  • Luna Coffee Stout – Hinterland Brewery Restaurant
    American Stout (5.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Saison – Hinterland Brewery Restaurant
    Saison / Farmhouse Ale (6.30% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2
  • Batch 19 – Coors Brewing Company
    American Adjunct Lager (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.25 – I recommend avoiding this one – I wasn’t aware (until later) that it is brewed by Coors, which basically explains why I thought it was very lackluster in flavor, smell, and pretty much all else. I had an issue with this primarily because it seemed they made a point to not indicate it was from Coors anywhere on the booth.
  • Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) – Southern Tier Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial Pilsner (9.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.5
  • 2XIPA – Southern Tier Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.20% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Le Merle – North Coast Brewing Co.
    Saison / Farmhouse Ale (7.90% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale – North Coast Brewing Co.
    American Amber / Red Ale (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Mogul Madness Ale – Rogue Ales
    Winter Warmer (6.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Yellow Snow IPA – Rogue Ales
    American IPA (6.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4.25 – There were several solid IPAs at Beerfest this year, this and the 2XIPA get a spot on the list, as well as the Sculpin from Ballast Point.
  • Old Chub – Scottish Style Ale – Oskar Blues Brewing Company
    Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy (8.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Chaka – Oskar Blues Brewing Company
    Belgian Pale Ale (8.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Sculpin India Pale Ale – Ballast Point Brewing Company
    American IPA (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Calico Copper Amber Ale – Ballast Point Brewing Company
    American Amber / Red Ale (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.5
  • Smooth Hoperator – Stoudts Brewing Co.
    Doppelbock (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady ESB – Stoudts Brewing Co.
    Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale – Green Flash Brewing Co.
    American Double / Imperial IPA (9.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Omission Lager (Gluten-Free) – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    Light Lager (4.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Omission Pale Ale (Gluten-Free) – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    American Pale Ale (5.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25 – One of the best “gluten-free” beers I’ve had to date. It’s strongest competitor being Estrella Daura Damm (from Spain). Both start out with real barley and use an enzyme to strip the gluten away – which is also why both taste like “real” beer.
  • Nelson Imperial IPA – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Eugene – Revolution Brewing Company
    American Porter (6.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Double Fist – Revolution Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.30% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75
  • Railbender Ale – Erie Brewing Co.
    Scottish Ale (6.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Derailed Black Cherry Ale – Erie Brewing Co.
    Cream Ale (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75

Overall, I would say Winter Beerfest this year was a big success and is only growing with each new year. I personally found it provided great exposure to more new brews. They did a great job getting in some new participating breweries as well. Friday is definitely the night to go to avoid the masses. And even in that case, towards the end of the night the less-seasoned craft enthusiasts were dropping their glasses left and right. Thankfully, most of them had plastic tasting glasses. 😉

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Upcoming Event: Brew Review

2nd Annual Brew Review

2nd Annual Brew Review

Calling All Beer Lovers
Come one come all! If you live in Columbus, like beer, and want to support a good cause check out the Brew Review event happening THIS Friday – November 16th at 6pm!

Brew Review is a casual evening tasting craft beers, enjoying hors d’oeuvres and listening to music. The tickets you buy for the event provide fundraising for Creative Living. Creative Living is a non-profit organization encouraging independent living for adults with severe physical disabilities by providing wheelchair accessible housing and assistance and by creating a supportive environment for people to learn, work, live and contribute to the community.


Brews for a Good Cause

Want to know the brews on the menu? An almost-complete list of the tasty beers available for sampling are listed below:

  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Samuel Adams Winter Lager
  • Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager
  • Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
  • Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA
  • Xingu Black Beer
  • St. Peter’s Organic English Ale
  • St. Peter’s Winter Ale
  • St. Peter’s Old Style Porter
  • 3 Monts Golden Ale
  • 3 Monts Amber Ale
  • Marston’s Oyster Stout
  • Scrumpy Cider
  • Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale
  • Mount Carmel Nut Brown Ale
  • Finch Brewing Threadless IPA
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Lagerheads Bed Head Red
  • Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale
  • Hofbrau Original Helles Lager
  • Full Sail Amber Ale
  • Penn Brewing Kaiser Pils
  • Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat
  • Smuttynose Old Brown Dog
  • Brewery Ommegang Ommegang Witte
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • Paulaner Hefe-Weizen


Event Information:

Brew Review
A night of craft beers with Creative Living

Date and Time:
Friday, November 16, 2012
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Location:
Grange Insurance Audubon Center
505 W. Whittier
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Grange Insurance Audubon Center is located on the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus.

Tickets:
$35 per person
Purchase your tickets
today!

Want to invite a friend or follow the event on Facebook? Check out the Brew Review Facebook event page.

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Beers, Brats and Chicken Hats at the Columbus Oktoberfest

Welcome to Oktoberfest!

Last night I attended the opening of the Columbus Oktoberfest, held at the Ohio Expo Center.

When I arrived, the Meiler Vier (the fourth annual four-mile run that kickstarts the festivities) was in full swing. Folks were dressed in a variety of costumes or running gear. Once the race ended, I spoke to a trio wearing full-body beer bottle costumes. They said while it was a challenge to run a 4-mile race as a beer bottle, the rewards they snagged made it well worth the effort. Each participant walked away with an event t-shirt, medal, and a free beer plus a World Famous Sausage and Cream Puff.

Speaking of cream puffs, if you haven’t had a cream puff from Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus you need to pay a visit to their restaurant in German Village and get yourself one! They’re as big as your kid’s head and full of awesome creamy goodness.

The Beer

Brooklyn Oktoberfest

Brooklyn Oktoberfest

The first line of business when arriving at Oktoberfest should of course be BEER. After working our way through the runners, my beer drinking companion and I headed into the Heidelberg Bier Hall to purchase 30 tickets each (plenty for a couple mugs of beer and a snack) then made a beeline for the Oktoberfest beer station. There was also a station for  a regular domestic brand – but any true beer drinker would avoid anything you can easily snag in a 12-pack at a gas station – just sayin’!

Available Oktoberfest brews included choices from:

  • Paulaner
  • Bitburger
  • Hofbräu
  • Brooklyn Brewery

I went with the Brooklyn Oktoberfest beer to start, and I have to say it was quite tasty. It poured with a solid head, dark copper color and was very drinkable (I should know – the mugs sold at Oktoberfest are 32oz!).

Happy about Hofbräu

The second beer I sampled was the Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier. It poured a pale gold with minimal head, and was lighter than the Brooklyn in body, crisp and smooth. I personally preferred the heavier malty taste of the Brooklyn, but you’ll just have to try them and decide for yourself! There were descriptions posted beneath each of the taps at the station, so you can read about each before you choose.

The Brats

There was an array of delicious-smelling meats and decadent desserts available in both the Heidelberg Bier Hall and the Budweiser Prost Hall. Beer brats, Schlamager brats and even deep fried brats abounded. There were also choices of chicken, BBQ pork or ribs, steak on a stick or even fried German bologna.

I personally headed for the desserts and ended up scoring a wonderful pumpkin roll from All About The Zel’s, who were kind enough to give me the roll for 4 tickets instead of 5 (as I’d spent the rest on beer).

The Chicken Hats

Chicken hats for everyone!

Oktoberfest is an interesting mix of folks running around in costumes, peculiar hats, and engaged in general shenanigans. I for one, noticed vendors walking around selling an assortment of chicken hats. While I’m always up for a good hat purchase, I found them a bit over the top. However, a friendly gentleman noticed my interest and offered to go 50/50 on the cost if I would wear a chicken on my head the rest of the evening. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a challenge.

Alpine Horns

Overall, I’d say the Columbus Oktoberfest warrants a visit to sample the beers and do some interesting people (and costume) watching. It’s family- friendly, but a bit pricey. Parking costs $8 a car, although it’s free to enter the event. Beer you get for your buck is average, with a filled 32oz mug costing 15 tickets ($15), and refills costing 10 tickets. I’d recommend going with a group to carpool, and while there are two stages, games (such as cornhole) and other events, we found it to be a bit anticlimactic overall. Expect to create some of your own entertainment – such as waging bets about wearing chicken hats.

Oktoberfest runs through the weekend opening Saturday at noon and running until midnight, and is also open Sunday from noon until 8pm. To read all the details and for directions, you can visit the official Columbus Oktoberfest website.

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Oktoberfest in … September??

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a large festival held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany from late September through the first weekend in October. Originally a celebration first held in 1810

to celebrate a royal wedding, the horse races that were part of the festivities were held again the subsequent year, thus starting the tradition that has evolved into what we now know as Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest in … September?

Ever wonder why Oktoberfest actually starts in September? Well, you can simply blame it on Mother Nature. October weather in Germany is often rainy, grey and cold, so a few years after the festival was started, the date was moved to ahead to span most of late September but still end in the last weekend of October (to uphold tradition). So now you can have your beers and good weather too!

Beer 101: What IS Märzen/Oktoberfest Beer?

Märzen

Märzen Beer

Märzen, also known as Oktoberfest or Märzenbier, originates from early times before the invention of refrigeration. The beer was typically brewed in March (Märzen means March in German), stored throughout the warm summer months to avoid bacterial contamination, and then consumed in the fall (September/October).

Märzen is member of the lager family, which means the beer is fermented cool and stored (in other words “lagered”) at cold temperatures for an extended period of time. It is generally assumed that brewers were fermenting the beer in natural caves or perhaps cellars dug into the limestone hillsides. This style of beer originates from Bavaria and surrounding regions.

The common Märzen/Oktoberfest beer contains 5.0-6.0% alcohol, is amber to pale copper in color, and has a malty sweetness that is balanced with mild hops. It should have good carbonation and low-to-medium bitterness. The style has been changing over the years, however, so it is not uncommon to find brew variations that are paler and drier to accommodate the larger international audience and modern tastes. It is served in a pint glass or mug.

Beers Sold at Oktoberfest

The only beers that may be sold at the Munich Oktoberfest must be original Munich beers that follow the strict adherence of the “Reinheitsgebot” (Bavarian Purity Requirements) and that are brewed by authorized breweries of Munich. However, if you happen to live in the U.S., many American breweries brew their own versions of Oktoberfest beers – there is definitely no shortage of choices to sample.

Märzen History

Märzen officially became a fixed style in 1841, when the Spaten Brewery of Munich introduced the first lager officially labeled as Märzenbier at that year’s Oktoberfest. In 1872, the Spaten Brewery specifically brewed another Märzen-style beer for that year’s Oktoberfest, appropriately dubbed Oktoberfestbier. The name and general recipe stuck from there and you’ll see many beers labeled with “Oktoberfest” in the U.S. and other countries. In Germany, however, the name Oktoberfestbier is legally reserved for only six breweries who many serve their beers at the Munich Oktoberfest. All other breweries may only use the Märzen designation for like-style beers.

There is not a great distinction between Märzenbier and Oktoberfestbier and brewers don’t always use these designations consistently on labels, which is why you may often see them used interchangeably.

Vienna Lager

Märzen has a very close relative called Vienna lager, first brewed by the Dreher Brewery of Schwechat near Vienna in 1841. It is not a coincidence that this beer emerged the same year as Märzen; the two brewers that created these styles were close friends and collaborated together. While Märzen is still fairly popular, Vienna lager is rarely brewed even in the city where it was born. However you’ll actually see it most often these days coming from Mexico – some common examples are Dos Equis and Negra Modelo. This is a result of late 19th century immigrant brewers arriving in Mexico from Austria.

A Little More Info…

Oktoberfest turned 200 years old in 2010, but it has not actually been held that many total times. Due to difficult times such as cholera epidemics and the first and second World Wars, Oktoberfest has actually been cancelled a total of 24 times.

Today the Munich Oktoberfest is the most famous beer festival in the world with an average of 6 million people attending every year

 

Have you ever attended Oktoberfest in Munich or locally in your own city? Share your experiences or favorite Oktoberfest beers with us!

 

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North Market Microbrew Festival (Columbus, OH)

North Market Microbrew Festival – Columbus, OH

 

If you are local to the area (Columbus, OH) it’s time for the North Market Microbrew Festival!  In its 7th year, it is being relocated outside to accommodate a total of 15 breweries (6 more than previous years – now including some from other areas of Ohio outside of Columbus).

Admission to the event is free. Beer tasting admission is $20 and includes a commemorative pint glass, ten tasting tickets and a $5 North Market food certificate. Additional tasting tickets are available for $.50 each.

You can check it out Friday September 14th from 5pm to 9pm, Saturday September 15th from Noon to 8pm, and Sunday September 16th from Noon to 5pm.

The full list of participating breweries includes:

  • Barley’s Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub (Columbus)
  • Buckeye Lake Brewery (Buckeye Lake)
  • Columbus Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Elevator Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Four String Brewing Company (Columbus)
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (Columbus)
  • Great Black Swamp Brewing Company (Toledo)
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland)
  • Hoof Hearted Brewing (Marengo)
  • Mt. Carmel Brewing Company (Cincinnati)
  • Neil House Brewery (Columbus)
  • Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron)
  • Weasel Boy Brewing Company (Zanesville)
  • Zauber Brewing Company (Columbus)

See you there!