A Craft Beer Weekend To Remember

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last month or so, you probably know that this past Friday and Saturday was the two night Cincy Winter Beerfest along with the 5B conference at the Cincinnati Duke Energy Convention Center.  If you didn’t make it downtown this weekend for the festivities, you missed quite the good time, in my humble opinion.

My planning for this weekend began in December when I booked my hotel room and submitted my vacation request at work.  Did I need to take 5 days off for a two day event, well no, but as I write this on Monday, I do not regret taking the long weekend one bit, was kind of a fun mini vacation kind of thing.  Prior to heading downtown Friday, I stopped and got some snacks and the all-important case of bottled water.  Hydration is very important when you plan to sample hundreds of craft beers in two nights, as you are aware from reading John’s post on how to survive a beer festival posted last week ;).

Being “dedicated to the craft” as I like to say, Jared (#14) and I purchased the upgraded 5B package which included two nights of Beer Fest with Connoisseur tickets both nights.  For the un-indoctrinated, connoisseur tickets allow you access to a special event area featuring the finest beer and food pairings featuring the best local restaurants and breweries from across the region.  Connoisseurs enjoy private restrooms and a complimentary coat check which is away from the sporadic craziness of the VIP and General Admission main event. We were in a larger banquet area this year with more room and table space so things never really got uncomfortably crowded.  The musicians playing were also a welcome feature, all of this made for a very enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere.  If you enjoy fine food and beer, I highly recommend investing in the upgraded tickets.

Cincy Winter Beerfest 2013

The main event area which was comprised of the entire convention center floor was organized very similar to last year and offered over 300 beer selections from all over the nation.  There was an excellent variety of styles and flavors to suit any pallet.  The crowds were large but nowhere near as uncomfortable or rowdy as they were in 2012.  It seems like a lot of people stayed away from Saturday this year which really made it a lot more enjoyable.  On the main floor, we spent a lot of time with the group representing the Northern Kentucky Homebrewers Guild most of which were clad in our guild shirts which apparently made us look somewhat official.  We were asked a lot of questions by a lot of people who were just beginning to explore craft beer.  It was really a fun time getting to talk beer with so many experts and novices alike.

Saturday morning was the second annual 5B (Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging) conference hosted by Hoperatives.  Speakers from all over the region came together to discuss blogging and to help local bloggers, regardless of topic, stay motivated, organized and engaged with their audiences.  Local beer distributers graciously sponsored a beer tasting at lunch and bottle and glassware share ended the event in the afternoon which were excellent additions to this year’s conference.  Regardless of what track you were focusing on, it seemed like everyone really took a lot of great information away, and the collaboration and networking has continued in the days following the conference.

Cafe de Wheels at 5B

If you decided not to attend this year, you missed out on a great time.  This is one of my favorite weekends of the year and I think many in attendance will concur that in large part, it was a great event and wonderful opportunity for the advocates of better beer, food and blogging to get together to both celebrate and introduce the Cincinnati area at large about the unique and passionate community that has been created in Cincinnati.

My hats off to Tom and Carla from Hoperatives, the staff and volunteers from Cincy Winter Beerfest and to all those who came out and celebrated Craft Beer and blogging in Cincinnati.  I also want to commend the members and volunteers from the Cincinnati Malt Infusers who hosted the 2013 All-American Homebrew Competition on Saturday morning as well.  It took a lot of people and hard work to run these events this weekend, so on behalf of all those who enjoyed themselves, thank you to all that dedicated your time and talent.  Now that I have sobered up, I am already looking forward to next year.

Chris (#212)

Repost – PSA: Surviving a Beer Festival

Certain posts need to be re-run just to remind folks to think ahead when attending a beer festival.

With the Cincy Winter Beerfest right around the corner, we thought it might be a good idea to offer some tips for how to better survive and better enjoy ingesting so much better beer. These are all common sense for the most part, but they bear laying out.

1. Eat a good meal beforehand. But don’t stuff yourself too much too close to the event. Make sure you leave room for beer!
2. Drink water. Before, during, and after. A grand tasting is a beer-marathon of sorts. Just like exercise, alcohol dehydrates you – keeping hydrated will help you finish the race on your feet and not be so…um, “sore” the next morning.
3. Pace yourself. Particularly if you have a VIP or Connoisseur ticket, you have plenty of time to enjoy the event. It’s easy to lose count of all those small tastings, which may involve a lot of higher alcohol offerings. Take your time, chat up some brewers and reps, and while you’re at it…drink some water. This will also allow your palate time to recover in between beers so you can taste each one better.
4. Dump it out. Uh, oh…here comes the hate mail. Seriously, though – if you don’t like something or don’t want to drink all your sample, dump the rest out. Save your time (and sobriety) for the other 100+ beers.
5. Have an exit strategy, and stick to it. If you are drinking, you are not driving. Plan to call a cab, take the bus, have a DD, or stay in a hotel room. We want to see you and everyone else safe and sound at the next beer festival or Hoperatives event.

What other tips do you have for surviving and/or getting the most out of your beer festival experience? Post below!

We hope to see Hoperatives out in full force. Have a fun, SAFE time. Here’s to better beer!


Cincinnati Beer Week: Blank Slate Brewing Events

Scott LaFollette from Blank Slate Brewing was kind enough to send us all of the Cincinnati Beer Week events he’s doing.

Friday Feb 8 – Valley Wine and Spirits in Ft. Wright from 4:30-7:30. Several BSBC beers on the growler station.

Friday Feb 8 – Arthur’s in Hyde Park from ~8:30 until ???. Arthur’s is donating part of each sale to different local charities of the Breweries’ choice. BSBC is donating to the Freestore Foodbank. Whichever brewery sells the most, Arthur’s will match the donation.

Saturday Feb 9 – Jungle Jim’s bottle signing of the collaboration Embree’s Baltic Porter. From 12-1 in Fairfield and from 2-3 in Eastgate.

Sunday Feb 10 – Moerlein Lager House downtown meet and greet with other collaboration brewers from 12-3.

Monday Feb 11 – Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash. Sandwich specials and Q and A session with me. Q and A starts at 7:00.

Tuesday Feb 12 – Cock and Bull Mainstrasse. Meet and Greet. I should be there around 7.

Wednesday Feb 13 – Buckhead Mountain Grill in Newport. Meet and Greet with other collaboration brewers from 6-8.

Thursday Feb 14 – Olive’s in Clifton. Pseudo tap takeover with Triple Digit/Listermann. I should be there around 6 or 7.

Friday and Saturday the 15th and 16th look for us at Beerfest! Also, I will be taking part in a panel discussion on Saturday as part of the 5B bloggers conference.

Cincinnati Beer Week: Events at Party Source

Thursday, February 7th from 5:30-8:00 pm – Sours, Ciders & Sliders

As we kick off Cincy Beer Week 2013, The Party Source Beer Department has decided to use this opportunity to showcase some of the most unique Sour and Wild Ales, as well as an array of Ciders, all from the biggest and best producers. Join us for an evening of tastes from the likes of Cantillon, Quaff Bros., Rivertown, Drie Fontenien, Tilquin, Angry Orchard, Mikkeller, Crispin, Woodchuck, Oliver and plenty more alongside three different gourmet sliders. Spots are limited, sign up today!
COST: $25

Saturday, February 9th at 2:00 pm – Three Floyds Zombie Dust Tapping!

Continuing with our celebration for Cincy Winter Beer Week, we are tapping a keg of the astonishing brew Zombie Dust from Three Floyds. With a score of 100 points on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, this promises to be a big turnout. We are also making this a “keep the glass” offering, as you will receive your Zombie Dust in a limited edition 2013 Cincy Winter Beer Fest snifter. This is an opportunity to taste on draft one of the most talked about beers in the world from your own CWBF glassware. The tapping will start at 2:00 pm promptly. Enjoy Zombie Dust while you shop the store. Cost is $8 for each snifter full (limit two) and the price includes the glass.
COST: $8

Tuesday, February 12th at 5:00 pm – Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Pint Night!

For just $10 you can be one of the lucky patrons to get a pint of the hard to find and super rare Goose Island Bourbon County Stout! To find this beer on tap is even more impossible than the bottles (which we have been sold out of for weeks). So come one come all for a pint of this elusive 100 point beer. Also you keep the glass. A Goose Island glass will be filled to the brim for you to keep. The tapping starts promptly at 5:00pm. Again, the cost is $10 and you keep the glass. Limit 1 and don’t be late!
COST: $10

Saturday, February 15th at 1:00 pm – Aisle Tasting with Upland Brewing Co.

Stop by and meet the team from Bloomington based brewer Upland in Indiana. All we ask for is a 50 cent donation (to keep things legal) and sip on some Upland brews while you shop the TPS shelves.
COST: 50 cents

Saturday, February 15th at 2:00 pm – Jolly Pumpkin Aisle Tasting

The Artisanal Ales of Jolly Pumpkin are among the elite in the world. With the gang from Jolly Pumpkin making an appearance at CWBF they are kind enough to stop by and pop a few brews. All we ask for is a 50 cent donation (to keep things legal) and sip on some jolly old brews from the Dexter, Michigan based brewery
COST: 50 cents

2013 5B: Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging Conference Schedule

As you can imagine, we are working feverishly trying to finish up the schedule for the second 5B: Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging conference. We are proud to reveal it now. Special thanks to our co-conference planners: Julie Niesen Gosdin of Wine Me, Dine Me, Andi Brofft of udandi.com & Lunch it Punch It and Shannan Boyer of Scooter Media & Family Friendly Cincinnati.

The conference is set to start at 9:30 am with a Coffee and Conversation time before the opening remarks at 10:15 am. The first sessions kick off at 10:30 am and there will be three more session slots (plus time for lunch from several food trucks) after that one. We will wrap up about 4:00 pm so everyone can attend the Craft Beer industry Trade Show & Locals Tasting Session.

Cheers and here’s to better beer! (And bites and blogging!)

Carla and Tom

2013 5B: Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging Conference Schedule


Registration Application for 2013 5B Conference


Main Page – 2013 5B Conference

Guest Post: Gluten Free Beers Info from ourgoodfoodlife.com

Our friend Jen over at ourgoodfoodlife.com posted yesterday about a question we are getting more and more lately — are there any good gluten free beers out there? With her permission, we are reprinting her post here for our Hoperatives readers and we invite you to join in the conversation.

Monday Links: Gluten Free Beers

Can I just say that 2012 has been my best year ever so far?  I feel healthy, I have so much love, and I am filling my life with wonderful moments.  In fact, just last week when the temperature topped at 65 degrees and the sun was warm on my face, Tim and I sat on our patio, listening to a Spotify playlist that I made for him, a cold beer in front of each of us, and chatted about our days.

Welcome back to my life, Beer.  You are most welcome to keep coming around.

If you are looking for a gluten free beer for yourself or if you’d like to buy something special for when a gluten free friend or family member comes over for dinner, I recommend any of these options.

My very favorite beer is Green’s Gluten Free Amber Ale (pictured above).  I ordered it this past weekend at Brazenhead and even my husband agreed that it was a fantastic option as far as gluten free goes.  It really has a smooth, rich taste without being too heavy and no metallic aftertaste.  (Also, I’m so pleased that Brazenhead had several options for gluten free customers including a few gluten free beers and several ciders on tap.  Way to go, Brazenhead!)

I also tried Green’s Gluten Free Dark Ale at Dilly Cafe, and I was impressed that it was just as dark and thick as a Guinness.  It had a strong chocolate and coffee flavor at the first taste but finished didn’t leave a heavy or sticky mouthfeel.  I thought it was awesome to have the option of a serious dark beer, but I’d prefer it as an after dinner drink rather than something to pair with food.  

Also discovered at Dilly Cafe is DogFish Head Tweason’ale.  It’s a seasonal gluten free beer that has a lovely scent of strawberries on the nose but is not overly sweet on the palate.  Also, the strawberry flavor doesn’t last much after the first sip, and I appreciated that as I don’t usually like my beers too fruity.  It’s a medium bodied beer, very refreshing and would pair wonderfully with some simple roast chicken or a salad.  If you can find it, I’d definitely recommend seeking this out!

A big thank you to the Cincy Beer Festival for including New Planet Gluten Free Beer in their vendor list.  I discovered this beer there and all of the selections offered were wonderful.  I particularly liked their lightest beer, the Tread Lightly Ale.  It’s the perfect backyard barbeque beer, and it’s light enough that it would probably be unnoticeable to any non-gluten free beer drinks that it’s missing the gluten!  Locally, it can be found at the Dorothy Lane Markets in Dayton, and trust me–it’s worth the drive to check out DLM and get this beer!  (I picked up some on Saturday and it was stacked in front of the beer coolers.)

Lastly, I might as well tell you that in just about every well stocked Kroger that I’ve been into around Cincinnati, you can find Anheuser-Busch’s gluten free beer offering, Redbridge.  It’s not my favorite–just like Bud Light was never my favorite–but in a pinch, it’s easy to find, not too expensive, and definitely drinkable.  I’ve picked some up when I just wanted a convenient choice.

I truly appreciate every single one of these companies for pioneering–or jumping on the bandwagon of–gluten free beers!  You all get a big thumbs up from me.

Traveling Tuesday: An Ode To Cincinnati Craft Beer

I was dead set on writing a Traveling Tuesday this week (I even opened a new post and typed “Traveling Tuesday”).  I have been on the move a lot this year, so I still have a bunch of great places to cover.  But once I cracked a Cincinnati Beer Week Barleywine Ale, I began reflecting on what has been the most exciting year of my young craft beer adventures.

See, I wasn't just lying for effect!

Sure, traveling has been a big part of this.  Between two trips to Asheville, one to San Francisco, two to Chicago, one to Louisville, one to Indianapolis, two to the Outer Banks, one to Nashville, and several to Cleveland, I have certainly come across a fair share of cool beer bars, bottle shops, and breweries this past year.  However, when I sit back and think about it, my Cincinnati beer adventures have proven to be every bit as monumental.

I used to be fairly critical of the Cincinnati beer scene.  Part of it was being new to the area.  Great places existed, I just didn’t know where to look.  And let’s face it, with all the ingrained dynamics of this city, it is not always the easiest place for a transplant to break into.  Part of it was growing up in NE Ohio adoring Great Lakes Brewing Co. and seeing craft beer really take off early in that area.  While it has taken Cincinnati a little bit longer to gain steam, it is clear the momentum is here to stay.

Mt. Carmel, Red Ear and Rock Bottom have continued to crank out great beers since I have been here, Rivertown really took off this year and won over the title of my favorite local brewery (I think their Lambic is a religious experience), Listermann increased their production substantially, and Moerlein has the city buzzing about the lager house.   In addition, Blank Slate Brewing is nearing its opening and Brew River Gastropub is in the works.  And judging by the current pace of the industry as a whole, the best guess is this is only the beginning.

That is all exciting stuff, but the real evidence of this momentum is the first Cincinnati Beer Week beginning this Thursday.  Local breweries, bars, restaurants, bottle shops and homebrew stores are collaborating and celebrating everyone’s favorite malted beverages in unison.  From the initial list of events (http://cincinnatibeerweek.com/beer-week-events/), it appears the city is in for a treat.  There are events for everyone this week, from those just starting to dabble in craft beer to those stashing rare bottles in their basement cellar.

I am looking forward to trying some beers I have never had before, as well as enjoying some old favorites in my favorite Cincinnati beer spots.  I am most looking forward to De Struise and 3 Floyds at Dutch’s, Sours at Comet, Bell’s, Blues, and BBQ at Arnold’s (three of my favorite things), and the Rivertown beer dinner at Dilly.  Those are the ones at jump off the page because they involve my favorite beers, but you really cannot go wrong with anything planned.

A lot of people had to put a lot of hard work into making this week happen, and as fellow beer lovers in this city, we owe it to everyone involved to make this week a roaring success.  Raise your glasses, meet some new people, spend more money than you should (beer week only comes once a year, after all…), and support this city’s growing beer scene so we can ensure this event is a mainstay in Cincinnati for years to come.

(Also, it wouldn’t be a bad cherry on top of the week if my Amber Ale won at the All American Ale competition, so keep your fingers crossed.)

Happy Cincinnati Beer Week!