Traveling Tuesday: New Orleans Craft in Two Acts

We are happy to welcome a new contributor to Hoperatives. Chris Marshall took Carla’s Introduction to Craft Beer class this past spring as well as Cincinnati State’s Sensory Evaluation of Beer course. He’s new to the Cincinnati area and provides a fresh eye to the local scene. However, his first post is on a part of the country that is important to him.

My fiancée Jennifer and I visited New Orleans twice over the past three weeks. That alone would cause some to go green with envy, and I’m not complaining. The first trip was to attend the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where Jenn and I were introduced last year. Over four days, we were drenched, flooded out, generally left footsore and tired— and saw some incredible performances. If you haven’t been, please go. During our festival visit, we decided to get married in New Orleans, so trip number two was to scout wedding venues. While we weren’t there for the beer, we wanted to sample the craft offerings as much as possible. New Orleans was once home to dozens of breweries, but consolidation and Hurricane Katrina conspired to halt large-scale brewing in the city after 2005, when Dixie licensed production to a Wisconsin brewery. Since 2008, New Orleanians have slowly but surely started producing and embracing craft beer.

Aside from a single tap featuring the excellent Abita Amber, Jazz Fest doesn’t offer much for the craft beer lover. I got in touch with Nora McGunnigle, a local beer and food writer who authors the Nola Beer Blog, for help. Thanks to her, I made it to The Avenue Pub, with 38 beers on tap, a great bottle selection, and a huge array of Bourbon, rye and whiskey. They are also rightfully proud of their commitment to proper gas mixtures and draft line maintenance. You know you’re getting a great, fresh beer here every time! It was the only craft venue I visited on the first trip and it’s a great one.

NOLA Brewing Flight

To cool off during our second visit, we stopped into NOLA Brewing’s taproom for a flight. NOLA Brewing opened its doors in 2008 to fill the local beer void I mentioned above. It boasts a friendly and inviting taproom with knowledgeable staff. While sipping my flight, and snacking on tacos from the pop-up food vendor onsite, I got a glimpse into a brewery where the brewers are fearless about trying new things while respecting the craft, and improving the city. We’re hoping to have our rehearsal dinner there next year.

Fermenters At Crescent City Brewhouse

On our last night, we didn’t want to venture far beyond our French Quarter hotel. Thankfully, Wolf Koehler, a Bavarian brewmaster, opened the Crescent City Brewhouse on Decatur St. in 1991, and continues to brew and serve excellent beer in the German tradition. The beers here don’t have exotic names. There’s a Pilsner, Red Stallion Vienna Lager, Weiss Bier, and Black Forest Munich style dunkel, plus a special monthly offering. That’s it. Koehler lets the beer speak for itself and there’s something perfect about that that befits the French Quarter location and the German beer-making ethos. I’m looking forward to more visits to The Big Easy, and to my wedding next year when I can sample a few more craft beers. These two short trips gave me great memories and left me with more to explore.

Traveling Tuesday: Carillon Brewing, Dayton, OH

When I was an undergraduate I went to a college in East Texas. We used to joke that it was three hours from Houston, three hours from Dallas, and fifty years from anywhere. Going to Carillon Brewing Company in Dayton is a little like that. It’s only an hour or so from Cincinnati, but the whole idea of the place is to take you back to the middle of the 19th-century so you can have a beer.

Carillon exterior
It rained the day we were there. This photo courtesy of Carillon Brewing Co.

Carillon Brewing  is a fully-licensed brewery and restarurant located on the grounds of the Carillon Historical Park. The park itself is an open-air living museum with 30 or so buildings. The idea is to give people a real sense of what it was like to live in Dayton in the 1850s rather than sticking artifacts behind glass in display cases. There’s a modest admission fee to the historical park area, but it’s free to visit the brewery and restarurant.

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The brewing area. Everything is gravity-fed and heated by wood fires. Racking between brewing vessels is via open half-pipes.

The building looks old, but it was actually completed in 2014. Construction techniques from the 1850s were used everywhere modern building codes allowed.

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It’s clear a lot of care was taken to blend education into the experience of being at the brewery. This is one of a series of diagrams on barrel heads that explains what you’re looking at as well as the brewing process itself.

One of the implications of both the building’s construction and open wooden brewing vessels is that wild yeasts and other bacteria have taken hold in the brewery. Think sour beers are a modern thing?  Think again. The day we were there we had a sour Porter that was really quite good — as long as you like sours. Not every beer there is a sour, but there are flavors you’re going to encounter that are quite different from today. There’s a Coriander ale with peppers, a beer containing beets and another containing squash.

Barrels
Barrels are constructed in an on-site cooperage.

If you’ve had enough historical exploration for one day, the brewery also serves beers from other local breweries. The food features locally grown and processed ingredients. When we were leaving from our visit we saw a young lady churning butter on the back porch. You don’t see that at Applebee’s. Spent-grain bread is baked in the ovens and is delicious. The non-alcoholic root beer is really, really good.

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All-in-all you owe it to yourself to make the trip to Dayton and spend a little time at Carillon. You’ll learn something and you’ll have a good beer. Pretty hard to go wrong with that.

Old meets new image
The employees are all in period dress, but there are modern conveniences. You don’t need to bring chickens to barter. They take credit cards.

Traveling Tuesday: Carillon Brewing – Dayton, OH

We had hoped to stop by Carillon last month when we made a quick trip to Dayton, but we ran out of time. You can check them out tomorrow (November 4th) as they celebrate their first anniversary.

Carillon Brewing Co. Brewster

Join us on Wednesday, November 4 at the Carillon Brewing Co. as we celebrate one year of brewing with:
• New Brews
• A Preview of Our New Menu
• Live Music
• Autumn Fun and Festivities for the Whole Family
As the nation’s only production brewery in a museum, Carillon Brewing Co.’s singular nature has garnered it great success, earning the historic brewery many accolades, including:
• Ohio Magazine: Best History Lesson of 2014
• Ohio Museums Association: 2014 Institution of the Year
• Association of Midwest Museums: Best Practices Institution
Official Press Release Below
Carillon Brewing Co. offers visitors a glimpse into 1850s-era Dayton through the authentically prepared food and drink of the times. It’s the nation’s only brewery in a museum.

Gas copper lanterns light the walkway outside, and beyond the large white oak corridor doors — sash-sawn in period fashion with blacksmith-forged hinges and handles — the smell of charcoal and wood fire, sugary wort and timber fill the air.

Dressed in an intricate flounced skirt, on a brick furnace 14 feet above a bustling crowd, head brewster Tanya Brock draws water from a handmade copper kettle before beginning the process of mashing and lautering. Welcome to Carillon Brewing Co. — an 1850s-style brewery, restaurant and museum that opened at Dayton History’s Carillon Park last August. Using replica equipment and traditional recipes, some original to Dayton, Brock brews in mid-19th-century fashion.

Cooper-crafted wooden barrels line the lower floor of the brewery, each one capped by an artful and educational panel detailing the history and science of brewing. In sourcing city directories, canal records, farmers’ reports and the like, Brock carefully analyzed the influences of breweries on the city’s evolution during the latter half of the 1800s.

“As brewing industries grew, so too did the agricultural support,” she explains. “So too did the transportation support, and other industries. Everything was growing at the same time.”

At the foot of the furnace, wearing white canvas braces and a billowing white bishop-sleeved shirt, assistant brewer Kyle Spears tends the fire. Nearby, malt is milled by hand; oven-fresh spent grain bread is baked; a man mends his trousers with thread and needle; a growler of ale is filled; and a costumed wait-staff presents Wiener schnitzel, herb-roasted split chicken and more. The historical German, Irish and English offerings are in homage to Dayton’s early settlers.

“Carillon Brewing Co. is the only museum with a licensed production brewery, and the only brewery in the U.S. replicating the historical process,” says Brock. “On the physical construction of the building, it was a matter of, ‘If we’re going to do this right, well, let’s truly be a museum and replicate everything.’ ”

Carillon Brewing did this by re-creating 1850s Dayton life via presentations, brewing production, exhibits and a full-service restaurant. Theirs is a story of a developing Midwestern city in a growing nation. It’s a tale that spans agriculture, industry, science, immigration, civilization, progress, culture and more. And all of it is told through beer and food. Plans for the brewing complex began in 2007 and Carillon Brewing Co. marked its grand opening in August 2014.

“We wanted to be the first museum in the country to actually have a full-scale production brewery where everybody’s in costume,” says Dayton History president and CEO Brady Kress. “It’s an educational experience. You see it from grinding the grain to filling your glass — a production brewery. People can taste it, people can buy it, people can take it home.”

With every grain of hand-milled malt, with every batch of boiled wort, not only is history replicated, but Carillon Brewing Co. tells Dayton’s story in a new, fun and fascinating way — a tale that its creators hope to expound upon in the future.

“An addition to the building, out among the beer garden, will be a wine pressing house,” explains Kress. “We have the infrastructure to make distilled spirits as well, so that would bring us full circle. When we have a facility that is able to teach these historic processes of distilling, brewing and winemaking, the project will be complete.”

Traveling Tuesday: Crooked Can Brewing – Winter Garden, FL

As Disney Vacation Club owners, we travel to Walt Disney World and Florida several times a year usually. And being believers in better beer, we started going to the Big River Grille and Brewing Works at Disney’s Boardwalk on a regular basis. It was there that we were lucky enough to meet Kent Waugh, the head brewer from 2010 to 2014.

Since then, Kent has moved on to a new brewery located in the lovely town of Winter Garden, Florida just southwest of Orlando. During a trip last month, we were able to check out his new work home – Crooked Can Brewing Company.

Crooked Can - Entrance
The Well is Crooked Can’s tap room and it’s part of the Plant Street Market. You can get food from the other market vendors to enjoy with your beer. We especially liked The Wandering Wonton.
Crooked Can - Patio
The large patio features one of Crooked Can’s tanks. They frequently feature live music on the weekends.
Crooked Can - Windows
This small second bar serves both inside and outside patio patrons.
Crooked Can -  Bar
The main bar with the ever changing chalkboard of beer selections.
Crooked Can - Tap Room
This shot shows the main bar on the left, the second bar on the right and shows some of the rest of the Plant Street Market.
Crooked Can - Tanks
Turning 180 degrees, you can see the actual brewery through a large window. Like many new breweries, they are already looking to add larger tanks.
Crooked Can - Flight
Flights are delivered in this adorable wire airplane. Highly recommend Domestic Bliss! Also check out High Stepper and MacSwagger’s Own.

The Well Tap Room at Crooked Can Brewing is open Monday – Thursday from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm; Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 am; and Sunday from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm. They are located at 426 W. Plant Street; Winter Garden Fl 34787. You can call them at (407) 395-9520.

Traveling THURSDAY: Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fest

With all the craziness I’ve been dealing with earlier this week, I forgot to get this information out for a Traveling Tuesday so instead here’s our first ever Traveling Thursday. We went to last year’s inaugural Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fest and really enjoyed it. A previous commitment is preventing us from attending this year, but if you are looking for a weekend getaway, we highly recommend Lexington.

Grab your sampling glass and get ready – 180 beers brewed by 51 breweries from across the nation will be on tap at the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fest this Saturday, May 16, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Lexington Center’s Heritage Hall. The beerfest is one of the largest in the region and is even doubling its floor space this year, boasting local food, craft distillers, live entertainment and sensory sessions. The Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fest will serve as one of the culminating events for the third Annual Lexington Craft Beer Week May 9-17, a celebration of Lexington’s craft beer culture.

The day will kick off early for go-getters with the inaugural Horse Capital Marathon and Half-Marathon, the only marathon in the state of Kentucky. Alltech just signed on as the title sponsor of the race, which starts at Fasig-Tipton thoroughbred auction firm in Lexington and winds its way through horse country. It is the first full sanctioned marathon in Lexington since 1980 and a Boston Marathon qualifying event. Kentucky Ale® brews will be served at the finish line.

The fun continues at the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fest downtown, with a total of 52 special tappings occurring every 15 minutes from each brewery for specialty and collaboration brews, including brews such as Country Boy Brewing’s Warehouse Experiment 3, Sweetwater Brewing Company’s 18th Anniversary Cork and Cage Belgian Tripel, and a barrel-aged collaboration between Dogfish Head Brewing Co. and Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. A full list of special tappings is available at http://us.alltechbrewsandfood.com/breweries.

Rare brews, including some not yet distributed in Kentucky, like Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing and Cigar City Cider & Mead, will also be on tap – including the company’s highly regarded Jai Alai IPA and Cowboy Dan’s Holiday Extravaganza, a cider that tastes like caramel apples.

Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. will feature multiple rare brews from the brewers’ warehouse including a limited edition Kentucky Kölsch aged in apple brandy barrels; Kentucky Blue Ale, a Belgian ale accented with blueberries; and Kentucky Honey Barrel Brown Ale, a popular past winter seasonal. The brewery’s new summer seasonal, Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale, modeled after an Old Fashioned bourbon cocktail, will also be on tap.

For the first time, the festival will also include craft distillers from across Kentucky, including Limestone Branch Distillery, Lebanon; Barrel House Distillery, Lexington; Copper and Kings, Louisville; Willett Distillery, Bardstown; The Gentleman Distillery, Paris; and Town Branch Distillery, Lexington. Distillers will offer spirits samples for tasting.

Onsite food vendors offering samples and meals for purchase include Claw Daddy’s, The Village Idiot, Enoteca, JDI, Noodles & Co., The Cheezy Mac, Dupree Catering, Popcorn Paradise, COVAP Ham and The Sweet Spot.

Keeping the environment lively throughout the day will be a range of live music from The Bohannons, Willie Eames, Patrick McNeese Band, Josh Nolan, and The Marble Creek Rangers.

The recipient of the Alltech Commonwealth Cup, will be announced at the festival, and staff from the Alltech Brewing & Distilling Academy will be onsite offering sensory sessions. The Alltech Commonwealth Cup, now in its second year, is the only professional craft beer competition in Kentucky and is open to both local and global entrants.

The Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fest serves as a kickoff for the Alltech REBELation, an international event exploring innovation, inspiration and world-changing ideas in Lexington, Ky., USA, from May 17-20. The conference features a Brewing and Distilling symposium, which begins on May 18 and will feature Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co. and Bill Samuels, Jr. of Maker’s Mark. Registration is open to the public and available at rebel.alltech.com.

Brewfest tickets can be purchased online for $30 until Friday, May 15 at midnight, EDT or can be purchased at the door for $35. All tickets include 20 beer samples, three food samples, a commemorative glass and free entertainment. Designated driver tickets without beer sampling privileges will be available online and at the door for $10. Attendees must be 21 to enter.

Join the conversation on Twitter about the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fest using @alltechbrews and the hashtag #AlltechBrews, or on Facebook at facebook.com/alltechbrewsandfood.

Alltech Lexington Brewing

Traveling Tuesday: Dawa Bar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Last week, you may have noticed that we were light on blog posts. We were actually on vacation visiting our happy place – Walt Disney World. We’ve talked about how popular our Hoperatives Guide to Walt Disney World is before and we took some time this trip to check out the revised beer offerings there. We plan to bring you some of our findings over the next few weeks. This week, we’re looking at one of our favorite WDW beer locations that recently moved to a new location.

Dawa Bar at Tusker House

Originally located in the far left corner as you entered under the Tusker House sign above, the Dawa Bar is now to the right and near the front of this space. Because of the brightness outside, it’s hard to see it easily. Look for the three hanging lights to see it better. By the way, if you’re wondering, “Dawa” means “medicine” in Swahili… and damn fine medicine it is!

Dawa Bar at Animal Kingdom

This shot from the other side shows the new location better (recognize the hanging lights?). The new bar has three times as much bar seating space since there is seating on three sides instead of one. Alas, the empty beer bottles (all with animal brewery or beer names) aren’t anywhere to be seen now.

Dawa Bar Beer Menu

While not as extensive as some other locations, the Dawa Bar does feature some beers that are unique to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom resorts. This is one time to skip the generic draft beers and go with the more exotic bottled beers.

Tusker Beer

One of our favorites is Tusker Premium Lager from Nairobi, Kenya. It’s one of the beer options at Boma, Sanaa and the club level lounge among others. It’s great on a really hot day in the parks.

Traveling Tuesday: Milwaukee Beer Week 2014

After a long, cold winter like we’ve had this year (and the insult of one more snowfall on April 15th), a better beer lover’s mind starts to think about getting the hell out of dodge and checking out some other better beer cities. Ever since we read Maureen Ogle’s book Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, we have wanted to check out Milwaukee. And this year’s Milwaukee Beer Week may be the perfect time if you’ve been thinking about it too.

Running April 26th through May 3rd, there is a wide variety of events available to chose from. Some of them are similar to ones offered during our own Cincinnati Beer Week like firkin tappings, samplers and tap takeovers. Some are unique to Milwaukee like the Beer, Cheese, and Sausage Festival scheduled for April 26 from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. Several venues are holding beer cocktail events which sound interesting.

One of the unique features of Milwaukee Beer Week (MBW) that I hope our own Cincinnati Beer Week would adopt is the 2014 MBW Passport. Here is how it works: You can pick up your passport at any official MBW venue or pick it up ahead of time at five specified locations. Then, visit the participating Passport Destinations and get your Official MBW Passport stamped (it’s actually a sticker). Each MBW event is worth two points. At the conclusion of Milwaukee Beer Week, your passport can be redeemed for various prizes. For example, twelve points or six stamps in your passport gets you two brewery tour passes to Milwaukee Brewing Company or Sprecher Brewery. If you have twelve stamps (or 24 Points), you get a brewery wearable AND the two brewery tour passes.

Even if you can’t make it to Milwaukee for their beer week, you might want to LIKE their Facebook fan page for some beer travel ideas in Wisconsin. They are also planning daily daily giveaways via their Facebook page during Milwaukee Beer Week plus the grand prize is a “hard hat” tour for four at New Glarus Brewing Company with a certificate towards an overnight stay.

Milwaukee Beer Week

Traveling Tuesday: 24 Hours of Better Beer in Lexington, KY

Living in Cincinnati, we are lucky to have lots of better beer options right now. Definitely lots more than we started Hoperatives almost five and a half years ago. But, sometimes, you want to get the heck out of town. While Louisville, Indianapolis and Columbus are all close by, Lexington has become our go to weekend getaway.

Recently, Pinterest had a new type of board – the map board. Using FourSquare, you can pin some of your favorite places on to a map to share with others.

Since Pinterest is currently holding a contest for what they call “daycation” map boards, we knew we wanted to create one for Lexington.

Lexington Map Board

We ended up with nine pins and we can add more any time we want. Some of them you’ve read about here on Hoperatives before (West Sixth, Country Boy, Blue Stallion) and some we haven’t written about before (Kentucky Ale Tap Room at the Lexington Legends, Pazzo’s, Beer Trappe and North Lime Coffee & Donuts).

Clicking on one of the pins zooms in on the map and also highlights the pinned information about the better beer location on the left (as you can see it the example below). It’s all rather cool.

Lexington Map Board Close Up

This Pinterest map board turned out so well that we decided to start using them here on Hoperatives. Now, when you click on the Beer Maps link, you’ll be able to go to four different map boards: Breweries in the Cincinnati/NKY area, Brewpubs in the Cincinnati/NKY area, Restaurants/Bars/Pubs in the Cincinnati/NKY area and Beer stores in the Cincinnati/NKY area. The map board for each category is also linked at the bottom of the main page for each category.

As nice as they look, there are some problems. One – If a location isn’t on FourSquare or if Pinterest can’t find it using FourSquare, you can’t pin it to your map. Two – If a location is on FourSquare, but there isn’t an image linked to it and you don’t have an image to upload for it, you can’t pin that one to your map either. We’re in the process of taking more photos of the better beer locations listed here so hopefully we can fix one, if not both, of those problems.

In the meantime, we hope you like the new maps and hope you use them to find more better beer!

— Carla and Tom

Traveling Tuesday: Beer and Disney

While better beer is definitely one of our loves, Disney (especially Disney travel) is right up there too. A few years ago, we set up a portion of the Hoperatives website to provide more information on beer and Disney travel spots. The Hoperatives Guide to Beer at Walt Disney World in particular is one of our most popular web pages and is almost always in our top five.

Beer And Disney Cruise Line

We recently went on a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy and spent some time getting the beer lists for the various bars and lounges on the ship. While the selection isn’t as good as your favorite better beer location, it is getting better.

One thing nice about the Disney Cruise Line is that you are allowed to carry on your own alcohol as long as it fits in a soft-sided 12-pack cooler (No ice – Only one cooler per adult over 21 years of age allowed). As you can see above, we took some local favorites with us and also picked up some Florida favorites before the cruise too. The beverage cooler in our stateroom kept everything cool and our stateroom attendant kept our ice bucket filled so we could fill one of the soft-sided coolers to take with us pool side. Then, at the end of the cruise, we just folded the soft-sided coolers flat and slipped them into our suitcases. Saved a lot on our bar bill this way.

Beer and Disney

The Hoperatives Guide to Beer at Walt Disney World

The Hoperatives Guide to Beer on the Disney Cruise Line

The Hoperatives Guide to Beer at Disneyland

The Magic For Less Travel

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Traveling Tuesday: The Alchemist – Waterbury, VT

This summer my wife and I spent a week in New England driving around, camping, hiking in the mountains, seeing the sights, and, of course, sampling the fine beer that region has to offer.  One of our stops was Waterbury, Vermont, in the northern half of the state smack dab between Montpelier and Burlington. Our first stop in town was the Ben & Jerry’s factory and headquarters, which is one of those places that is so unabashedly fun and happy and delicious that even the most road-hardened traveler can easily overlook how touristy it is.  I mean, they have a graveyard for their retired flavors where visitors can pay their respects.  Yeah, it’s a pretty neat place, and Ben & Jerry’s from the source is every bit as delicious as you can imagine.

Our other stop in Waterbury was The Alchemist brewery. If you’ve never heard of them, you may have heard of their legendary singular product: Heady Topper.  It’s possible you’ve never even tried this beer and you’ve still heard of it – before our visit I was in that boat.  Heady Topper is a double IPA that is loaded up with hop flavor that isn’t too overwhelmingly bitter.  It was famously rated the #1 beer in the world by Beer Advocate.  And just to take the mystique over the top, it is sold in 16 ounce cans that encourage you to drink directly from them (somewhere, a beer snob just felt a great disturbance in the force).

Did I mention THIS IS THE ONLY BEER THE ALCHEMIST MAKES?  Long story short, they used to have a brewery in the basement of a pub where they made many beers, but it was destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011.  Then they moved to their current production facility where they devote themselves to this one beer.

We visited on a Monday to find the canning line in full operation.  We were treated to samples in mini-snifters from their small bar and gift shop.  As we watched the crew working the canning line and sat enjoying what really is a delicious, world-class beer, we noticed a strange thing.  People kept coming in, often forming a line, to buy Heady Topper by the case.  Mind you, a case runs you $72, or $3 a can.  Some purchased so many cases they needed hand-trucks to haul their spoils away.  Yeah.  I guess I don’t need to tell you that the black market for Heady Topper is beyond ridiculous.

Apparently the neighbors were none too happy about all the traffic and line-forming, because The Alchemist just announced they will close their retail operation at the brewery in order to “avoid a neighborhood dispute.”  They’ll keep the brewery running and are exploring other options for retailing their beer, beyond their already extremely limited distribution network.  Until they figure that out, the elusive Heady Topper just got a little harder to come by.

-John (#13)

The Alchemist