Review: Rock Bottom Cincinnati Buffalo Gold Ale

You know when you’re talking to someone about some problem that you really can’t do anything about and you reach a kind of lull?  And to fill the dead space the other person leans back a little with an air of smug resignation?  You know what’s coming, right?  You wait for it like you would for the sound of Fran Drescher reading The Wasteland.

“Well you know,” he or she intones, “It is what it is.”

I hate that.

I bring this up not because I especially want to have the phantom sound of Fran Drescher reading The Wasteland running through my head all day, but to illustrate in the stupidest way possible the problem of reviewing a Golden Ale.

Golden Ales are not, by their nature, big beers.  They’re not supposed to be.  If you’re looking for a beer to challenge your palette and make you question the fundamental structure of the universe, this ain’t it.  That’s not to say that it can’t be a very good beer, you just have to be prepared to accept it on it’s own terms.

Mitch Dougherty, the brewmaster at Rock Bottom Cincinnati, has brewed a very good Golden Ale.  In his comments at the tapping last night, he said his goal was to be very similar to the Buffalo Gold brewed at Boulder Beer Company in Colorado. Despite the name, the color is really more of a golden copper rather than straight yellow.  It has an almost creamy head, and the carbonation is quite visible in the glass.  I’m not one of those people who can smell something and say “Ah, this has the definite nose of pomegranate that was picked on a … wait … yes … Thursday” (that would be Kevin over at My Wine Education), but I definitely picked up some berry, of all things, in the aroma.  Could even be strawberry.  Not a lot.  Just a hint.  The taste?  Smooth.  Not too hoppy, not too malty, but there’s some body. Of the regular Rock Bottom offerings, it’s close in color to the Tall Stacks Ale, but it’s far less malty, yet it’s more complex than, say, the Cincinnati American Light.

There’s nothing to offend, and that, in the end, is the main selling point.  This is a good beer for someone who might be a bit nervous about trying something other than one of the usual Bud, Miller, or Coors.  If it’s someone who doesn’t like beer, he or she isn’t going to like this either, because it’s definitely beer, but it’s a good gateway to the world of (wait for it) better beer. At first blush winter seems to be an odd time to do a lighter beer like this, but Carla noted that there is something in the finish that’s a little warming.  Almost a tingle.

Give it a try.  Let me know what you think, I’m just one guy, you know?

Rock Bottom Cincinnati Buffalo Gold Ale:  A

Prohibition Resistance Tour 2009 is on!

Steve Hampton of the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (OTR Brewery District CURC for the short-of-breath) dropped us a line to let us know that the 2009 Prohibition Resistance Tour is being planned March 7 & 8 during Bockfest.  Carla and I tried to go last year, but the weather didn’t cooperate.  It was rescheduled (the event, not the weather), but, alas, the rescheduled date conflicted with another commitment.

This year we are so there.

You can get specific details about the here, but I’d encourage you to take a look around the www.otrbrewerydistrict.org site.  Better yet, get involved!  Cincinnati has always been a home for believers in better beer, and this organization is all about preserving that heritage and moving it forward.

Short Hops: Random Notes from All Over

  • Rock Bottom Cincinnati’s Brewmaster Mitch Dougherty will be tapping a brew he’s calling Buffalo Gold Ale at 6:00 PM tonight.  Carla and I will be there to cover the festivities (and review the beer).  Stop in if you have a chance.  Look for us and say ‘hi.’  We’ll be auditioning various Hoperatives secret handshakes.
  • BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse at Tri-County Mall should have their annual Grand Cru back on draft.  We were there last weekend were told that they blew though two kegs almost immediately.  They were to have it back on tap this past Monday.  According to their website there is a special commemorative glass for this year’s edition.
  • Stone Imperial Russian Stout goes exceptionally well with stroopwafles.  What’s a stroopwafle?  It’s a dollop of caramel-y syrup sandwiched between two very thin waffle cookies. (Wikipedia has an article, of course).  It’s one of the approximately 6,876,345 things I’d never heard of that Carla introduced me to and now can’t live without.  She was introduced to them when she lived in the Netherlands for a while.  Call it a Dutch treat?  Nah, too easy.
  • Want to be a Hoperative?  Drop us an e-mail at rollcall@hoperatives.com with your name and location and we’ll add you to the list.  Later on, your number could win you riches fame swag.

New Beer Tasting Added at Party Town

Just received this message from Party Town in Florence:

The party people at Party Town would like to invite YOU to a special new thing we came up with a few minutes ago. Introducing: FRIDAY NIGHT FLIGHT with Eugene Platinum. That means this Friday, and the following ones too, we would like very much if you and any 21 or over friends you may have would come in and try some beer with us from 6pm-7pm. This week we will be spotlighting the Great Divide Brewery, winners of twelve G.A.B.F. medals, four World Beer Cup awards, and current seventh highest rated brewery worldwide by Beer Advocate. So please come in and see us or Eugene will get bored. Thanks and good day.

Party Town – Florence
Location: 6823 Burlington Pike, Florence, KY 41042 (Between Office Depot and Big Lots)
Phone: (859) 371-4466

Review: Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

It would be silly to deny that there’s a rivalry between Cincinnati and Cleveland.  It crops up a few times a year, mainly when the Reds play the Indians and Bengals play the Browns, but it’s always there.  Given that I’m not originally from around here I’m not into the rivalry all that much.  Heck, I live in Kentucky.  I’m confident, though,  that both Cincinnati and Cleveland beer drinkers can set aside their differences long enough to lift a toast and agree that Great Lakes Brewing Company is one of Ohio’s great resources.  Then, I suppose, they can go back to throwing empty bottles at each other.

Edmund Fizgerald Porter is one of the five beers always available from the 21-year-old brewing operation.  It’s dark, almost opaque, with a creamy head that builds during the pour and hangs around.  There are distinct, but not overpowering (or over-roasted), coffee notes underneath and a perhaps a hint of chocolate.  More of a suggestion of chocolate.  A subliminal suggestion.  OK, I wanted chocolate as I was drinking it; It sent those signals.  The finish is nice in that you get a little lift of hops and you think “OK, here it comes,” but then … nope …. done.  It’s a grace note.  The effect is entirely pleasant.

This is a beer to cozy up with.

We haven’t instituted our rating system yet, but Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is a very, very good beer gets an A.

Edmund Fizgerald Porter from Great Lakes Brewing Company:  ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 37.

UPDATE:  Turns out, as Carla reminded me just after posting this this morning, that we have instituted our rating system. We’re both academics to varying degrees (her more than me), so there’s nothing like the good ol’ letter +/- system.

Short Hops for 1/5/09

No more free beer at SeaWorld or Busch Gardens: http://tinyurl.com/9cj46u

The latest in Shiner Brewery’s anniversary beer series will be a Doppelbock called Shiner 100: Commemorator: http://tinyurl.com/7j5jvv

Want to be a Hoperative? Just drop an email message to rollcall@hoperatives.com with your name and location to join our ranks and get your roll call number. Later on, your number could win you prizes. Single digit numbers are going fast gone already!

A little tour around the new place

So far I’ve been doing most of the posting because Carla has been very busy doing some of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. You’ll notice over there on the left that there’s a navigation menu broken out into a number of categories. I hope you’ve take a look around, because that’s where you’ll find the fruits of her labor: In a short period of time she’s made a great start on creating a resource that we hope you’ll find useful. Want to know what beers your favorite beer store has on tap in their growler program? We’ll have them here, updated with the most recent information we can get our hands on.

(By the way, do you own an establishment that fits into one of the categories? Let us know who you are and what you’re doing. We want this to be as comprehensive a resource as we can make it. We’re making the rounds as quickly as we can, but you don’t have to wait on us.)

The events list to the right will always show the next five events we know about, but you can get a more comprehensive view from the full Calendar link on the left.  One event that I’m already looking forward to with great anticipation is the 2nd Annual Midwest Winter Beer Festival slated for February 6-7 at the Radisson Cincinnati Riverfront in Covington, KY.  In many ways, last year’s event planted the seeds for this blog.  It’s well-organized, an incredible value and benefits an outstanding non-profit organization:  the Big Joe Duskin Education Foundation.  This event is an absolute can’t-miss.  Start making your plans.

In the upcoming week you can expect to see some reviews, including one in a category we’re calling “Yeah, We Tried It.”  That’s where we’ll review beers you’ve been curious about, but don’t want to be seen buying.  This week’s entry:  Budweiser American Ale.

Yeah.  We tried it.

We’ll also take a look at Mt. Carmel’s Copper Ale and probably a couple of others to to kick us off.  And we’ll be at Rock Bottom Thursday evening for the tapping of the Buffalo Gold Ale.

Look for us.  We’ll be the ones with the beer.

So What is ‘Better Beer’ Anyway?

Every once in a while I like to take an idea and beat the hell out of it think about it for a while.  It’s either the fact that I have a bit of a philosophical bent, or that I’m just bent.

Take your pick.

Anyway, I have to be honest and say that the motto of this blog makes me a little nervous. It seems like an invitation to mindless snobbery.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have anything against snobbery.  I just don’t like it when it’s mindless.

Continue reading “So What is ‘Better Beer’ Anyway?”

Christian Moerlein Hits a Double

Christian Moerlein owner Greg Hardman has purchased the Little Kings brand from a Pennsylvania holding company, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The acquisition, completed late Tuesday from SBT Corp., an investment group in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.., where the ale is brewed, also completes the assembly of once-famous Cincinnati beer brands by Hardman’s Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Since 2004, Christian Moerlein Brewing has acquired the Moerlein brand, Hudy Delight, Hudepohl 14K and Burger beer brands.

This is a good move at a couple of different levels.  Cincinnati is justifiably proud of its brewing heritage, and it’s good to see a part of that heritage come home (in spirit, if not yet in fact.  Hey, it’s still brewed in Wilkes-Barre).  This is a win for the home team, pure and simple, good news all by itself.  There’s more, though, and it’s probably the most important part of the story.

[…] with the Little Kings purchase, Hardman has doubled the sales volume of his company, and expanded his distribution network, limited until now to the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area, to 26 states.

This is, in a word, huge.  I’m a big fan of the Moerlein beers and I think they’ll do well outside the region.  They certainly deserve to.

At the moment this is a good, clean double, but it could stretch into an inside-the-park home run if Hardman’s strategy pays off:

The Little Kings acquisition gives the company a platform of brands to establish national distribution and eventually build sales volume to where Hardman hopes to re-establish a brewery in Over-the-Rhine, once home to the city’s brewing heritage.

Congratulations to Greg Hardman and all the folks at Christian Moerlein.

A Brand New Bouncing Baby Blog

Welcome to Hoperatives, a place for believers in better beer.

What’s better beer?  It’s not just the beer you like, it’s the beer you love.  It’s the beer you’ll search for far and wide, the one you’ll drive long distances to sample and buy, the one you’ll  hoard for yourself or grudgingly share, but only with friends who get it.

That’s what this site is about.  It’s about the beer, the places that make the beer, the places that sell the beer, and the places that serve the beer.  Most importantly, it’s about the people.  The people who make the beer, and the people who love the beer.

This blog is centered on Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the world’s great beer towns. We’ll focus on the people, places, and events that make it great.  We’ll also look at happenings in the region, which we’re defining as anything within a five-hour driving range.  That takes us from the shores of Lake Erie to the north to the Tennessee River to the south, from somewhere in the middle of Illinois to the west, to somewhere in West Virginia to the east.

Hey, it’s about beer, not geography.

Finally, because the proprietors of this establishment like to take their love of beer on the road, we’ll venture beyond regional and national borders and report back on what we find.

There’s a reason a good beer bar is noisy.  It’s because people are talking.  That’s what this place is about.  It’s a place for believers in better beer to congregate and have a conversation.

It’s going to be fun.

Happy New Year!