Notes from the Underground: Bockfest 2009 (Part I)

All week long there’s been this voice in my head nagging me to get up a post about Bockfest 2009.

“You’re a Cincinnati Beer Blog,” says the voice, “Bockfest is one of — if not THE — premier beer events in town.  It has it all: History.  Culture. A gathering of the tribe. Beer.  Remember beer? You posted like crazy before the event.  You go, you have a good — no, make that GREAT — time.  Then nothing.  Hardly a word. What’s wrong with you?”

“But we have real jobs and we have these awful colds and …”, I begin.

“SILENCE!”, says the voice, “I don’t want to hear any excuses! I want a post!”

I really hate that voice.

Even if it is just a cheesy gimmick to get going on this thing.

For Carla and me, Bockfest was an eye-opening experience. We’ve lived here for just a bit over a decade, but in many ways we felt like we were seeing the city for the first time.  That sounds kind of trite, I know, but it’s true. Part of the delay has been the fact that I’ve spent a good part of the week looking at stuff I’ve been driving by for years with entirely new eyes.

Well, not entirely new eyes.  I still need glasses.

This is the first of a series of posts on Bockfest 2009. I have no idea how many there will be.  We have video, We have pictures.  I’m going to tell the stories that go along with them.  When I’m done with the stories, I’ll stop with the posts.

A couple of things that need to be mentioned up front:

  • A sprawling event like Bockfest doesn’t happen without a lot of people trying to make it happen.  There are a lot of moving parts, and most everyone associated with it is a volunteer.  If you went to Bockfest and had a good time, you owe them a bit of thanks.  Better yet, volunteer next year (we are). It also wouldn’t happen without the sponsors.  Show them some love, they deserve it.
  • A big part of the reason we were able to spend as much time we did at Bockfest is that we stayed downtown at the Garfield Suites.  Turns out that one of the managers is a reader and beer lover and gave us a very nice upgrade.  That was very, very cool, but I have to say that I think we would have had just as good an experience if we wouldn’t have gotten the upgrade.  Nice place, nice people.  Loved Cafe Martin.  It’s where we’ll stay for Bockfest from here on out, at the very least.  Definitely consider it if you have folks coming in from out of town and you want them to have some room.  For what it’s worth.

So shut up, Cheesy Gimmick Voice.

This Week in Beer: March 9-15, 2009

Tuesday, March 10th at 6:00-8:00 pm – Beer Tasting with Food Pairings
Featured brewery: Brooklyn Brewery. Cost: $30.00

Thursday, March 12th at 6:00-10:00 pm – Cock & Bull: Pint Night Thursdays
Featured beer: Guiness

Thursday, March 12th at 6:00pm – Mug Club Tapping at Rock Bottom Brewery
This month, it’s Lumpy Dog Porter. Can’t wait to try it!

Thursday, March 12th at 8:00pm – Play it Forward All-Star Concert for a Cause sponsored by Hudy Delight
At the Madison Theater, 728 Madison Road in Covington, Kentucky 859-491-2444. Tickets are $12 or $15 day of show. For more information on the event, visit Play It Forward’s website at www.pifcincy.org.

Friday, March 13th from 6:00-7:00 pm – Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence
We’ll let you know what the featured brewery is as soon as we hear!

Saturday, March 13th from 1:00-3:00pm – Deli Cafe: Beer Tasting
While almost everyone else from Dilly Deli is at the Cincinnati Wine Festival, Peanut is having a beer tasting!

Saturday, March 13th from 3:00pm – Christian Moerlein’s Friend of an Irishman Stout Tapping
Stop by Molly Malone’s in Covington for this special tapping after the Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Our Lady of Knock Division of Hamilton County will be in attendance.

Saturday, March 13th from 5:00-8:00pm – Ludlow Wines: Beer Tasting

This Week in Beer: March 2-8, 2009

Thursday, March 5th at 6:00-10:00 pm – Cock & Bull: Pint Night Thursdays
Featured beer: Kostritzer Schwarzbier

Thursday, March 5th at 6:00pm – Firkin Tapping at Rock Bottom Brewery

Friday, March 6th from 6:00-7:00 pm – Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence
We’ll let you know what the featured brewery is as soon as we hear!

Saturday, March 7th from 5:00-8:00pm – Ludlow Wines: Beer Tasting

BOCKFEST EVENTS

Friday, March 6th

4:00pm – Bockfest Hall (1150 Main St – formerly Jefferson Hall) opens.

6:00pm – Bockfest parade starts at Arnold’s Bar & Grill (210 East Eighth St) and heads north up Main Street. It will end at Bockfest Hall with the Blessing of the Beer.

7:00-9:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Live music by The Bier Band
9:00pm-12:00 midnight – Bockfest Hall: Live Music by Jake Speed and the Freddies

Saturday, March 7th

12:00noon-6:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Bloatarian Brewing League Bockfest Competion, Steins and Breweriana Exhibits, Don Heinrich Tolzmann book signing, and other German cultural events.

7:00-9:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Sausage Queen Finals

9:00-10:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Live music by Star Devils
11:00pm-12:30am – Bockfest Hall: Live music by Straw Boss

Sunday, March 8th

11:00am – Bockfest Hall: German Mass at Old St. Mary’s, to be followed by a German Reception

12:00noon-7:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Steins and Breweriana Exhibits, Don Heinrich Tolzmann book signing and discussion on German American Culture in OTR, other German and cultural events.

1:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Germania Jagdhorn
1:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Band
2:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Enzian Tanz Gruppe
3:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Band
3:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Donauschwaben Schuhplattler

This Week in Beer: February 23 – March 1, 2009

Tuesday, February 24th from 6:00-9:00pm – Midwest Culinary Institute: Karneval! Dinner and Beer Pairing
Celebrate Karneval Cincinnati German style in this fantastic and informative class on pairing foods with beer. Also get a little history on Cincinnati’s beer heritage. Cost: $59

Wednesday, February 25th at 7:00 pm: Hofbrauhaus Tapping – “Märzen”

Wednesday, February 25th – Warsteiner Boot Night at Mecklenburg Gardens
$18 for first liter of beer in boot (you keep the boot glass), $8 refills

Thursday, February 26th at 6:00-10:00 pm – Cock & Bull: Pint Night Thursdays
Featured beer: Bell’s HopSlam

Thursday, February 26th at 6:00pm – Firkin Tapping at Rock Bottom Brewery

Thursday, February 26th from 6:30-8:00p.m. – Lost Coast Beer Tasting at River’s Bend Wine and Spirits
Cost: $15.00 per person (Reservations required)

Friday, February 27th at 6:30pm – Bockfest No Snow Happy Hour at Grammer’s

Friday, February 27th from 6:00-7:00 pm – Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence
We’ll let you know what the featured brewery is as soon as we hear!

Saturday, February 28th from 5:00-8:00pm – Ludlow Wines: Beer Tasting

Bockfest is coming!

After getting hit with a March blizzard last year, Bockfest 2009 is back and better than ever! In addition to the events listed below, there is the Prohibition Resistance Tour 2009 which takes you to various historical Cincinnati brewery sites and includes a special Christian Moerlein Lagers and Ales beer tasting with Greg Hardman, the CEO of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. There’s even a special sneak preview of the new Moerlein beer coming out shortly. Tours are on Saturday, March 7th and Sunday, March 8th but are filling up fast!

Alas, the subway tours hosted by the Over the Rhine Foundation are already sold out. Hopefully, they will offer these again next year.
UPDATE: Hoperative Jared let us know that “additional 11am Subway tour was added so if you hurry you may still be able to get in.” Just grabbed two tickets!

BOCKFEST EVENTS

Friday, March 6th

4:00pm – Bockfest Hall (1150 Main St – formerly Jefferson Hall) opens.

6:00pm – Bockfest parade starts at Arnold’s Bar & Grill (210 East Eighth St) and heads north up Main Street. It will end at Bockfest Hall with the Blessing of the Beer.

7:00-9:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Live music by The Bier Band

9:00pm-12:00midnight – Bockfest Hall: Live Music by Jake Speed and the Freddies

Saturday, March 7th

12:00noon-6:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Bloatarian Brewing League Bockfest Competion, Steins and Breweriana Exhibits, Don Heinrich Tolzmann book signing, and other German cultural events.

7:00-9:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Sausage Queen Finals

9:00-10:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Live music by Star Devils

11:00pm-12:30am – Bockfest Hall: Live music by Straw Boss

Sunday, March 8th

11:00am – Bockfest Hall: German Mass at Old St. Mary’s, to be followed by a German Reception

12:00noon-7:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Steins and Breweriana Exhibits, Don Heinrich Tolzmann book signing and discussion on German American Culture in OTR, other German and cultural events.

1:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Germania Jagdhorn

1:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Band

2:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Enzian Tanz Gruppe

3:00pm – Bockfest Hall: Band

3:30pm – Bockfest Hall: Donauschwaben Schuhplattler

This Week in Beer: February 9 – 15, 2009

Tuesday, February 10 at 6:00 pm – Beer Tasting at 20 Brix
5 different high end Belgian style beers and food pairings – Cost $30.00

Wednesday, February 11 at 6:00 pm – Beer & Cheese Tasting (featuring Goose Island Brewery) at UC’s Catskeller
We visited the Catskeller for the first time last month and loved it. Really looking forward to this tasting!

Thursday, February 12 at 6:30PM – Bockfest Poster Signing Happy Hour – Mr. Pitiful’s, 1323 Main Street
We decided we needed to hit this event too. It means that Bockfest is getting close!

Thursday, February 12 – Firkin Tapping at Rock Bottom Brewery

Friday, February 13 from 6:00-7:00 pm – Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence
Stop by and see what Joe (and Eugene Champion) have in store for tasting this week! Cost: $1

Friday, February 13 at 5:00 pm – Bier Dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens
All-you-can-eat German buffet with German import beers and wines specials. Cost:
$25, reservations recommended. (Thanks to Michelle at My Wine Education [Hoperative #6] for the heads up on this one.)

Quickie Review: Kelly’s Public House

It’s always fun finding something unexpected.  Because Carla and I did the tasting at Party Source on Friday night and the Midwinter Beer Festival on Saturday afternoon, we decided that staying at the Radisson might just be the way to go.  We got back from Party Source and wanted food, and — go figure — one more beer for the night.  With Mainstrasse just a couple of blocks away, there’s no shortage of great places to go.  Carla had noticed, however, that the Radisson has a place that does a Pint Night on Thursdays.  Sure, we were there on Friday, but if they have a Pint Night, they must have something on draft.

Did they ever.

I’ve been in lots of just-off-the-lobby hotel pubs, but I have to say Kelly’s Public House is one of the best I’ve seen. Here’s what they have on tap:

  • Guiness
  • Smithwick’s
  • Sierra Nevada Brown Ale
  • Fuller’s ESB
  • Bitburger
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale

I was told the lineup hasn’t changed in about a year.

In bottles:

  • Blue Moon
  • Kentucky Ale
  • Dos Equis
  • New Holland Mad Hatter
  • Sam Adams Boston Ale
  • Shiner Bock
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Amstel Light
  • Heineken
  • Bass
  • Beck’s
  • Strongbow
  • Bellhaven Scotch Ale
  • Corona
  • Newcastle

They had Bud, a couple of Michelobs, Coors Light and Miller Genuine Draft in bottles, but not on draft.

The food menu was pretty straightforward pub fare, but with one nice twist.  There were several dishes that are regional favorites elsewhere ( a Walleye sandwich, the original Club sandwich as made at the Saratoga Club in Saratoga Springs, NY) .  The one that caught my eye was “Beef on Weck,” a favorite in Buffalo and all of Western New York.  I fell in love with them in another lifetime, but it’s never gotten the love the Buffalo-style chicken wing has gotten.  It’s a roast beef sandwich served a jus on a Kimmelweck roll.  That’s basically a crusty kasier-roll with caraway and very coarse salt sprinkled on top.  The version at Kelly’s was more of a soft bun with caraway and a bit finer salt.  Not quite the same effect, but it’s better than no Beef on Weck at all.

Kelly’s Public House is a couple of cuts above your typical hotel lobby pub.  The staff is quick and friendly, and our server seemed to know her stuff.  My bet is that it doesn’t get too crowded (and it’s a good-sized space).  I think it would be a good choice on a night when you just want something good in a hurry, but for whatever reason don’t want to deal with Mainstrasse.  It’s no Cock & Bull, but Kelly’s Public House is a pretty nice little pub.

Is this heaven? No, it’s Mariemont, Ohio

It’s 515 miles from Dyersville, Iowa to Mariemont, Ohio.

Hang in with me for a second.  That’s going to make sense in a minute

Dyersville, Iowa is where the movie Field of Dreams was filmed.  In its three-hanky-consuming final scene, the long-dead father of main character Ray Kinsella asks his son,  “Is this heaven?” To which the son answers, “No, it’s Iowa.”

In cosmological, if not theological terms, 515 miles isn’t that much.  It would have been a different story and a different movie, but slide the setting 515 miles to the east -southeast and the only answer the Kevin Costner character would have been able to give is “Well, as a matter of fact, it is.”

You see, it turns out heaven has a very specific address.  It’s 6818 Wooster Pike in Mariemont.  Dilly Deli Wines & Gourmet. The bar is in the back.  The bartender’s name is Peanut.  That’s all you have to know.

Many of you already know about Dilly Deli, so you understand (and forgive) the enthusiasm of the newly initiated.  As for the rest of you, well, there’s always time for redemption.  Today, for example, Avery’s Ale to the Chief will be on tap all day today to celebrate the Presidential inaugural. Drop by.  Or drop by tomorrow when something else will inevitably move onto one of the seemingly endless taps (“seemingly endless” being code for “I forgot to count.” The website says 11). Strike up a conversation with Peanut if he’s working*. Mention the most obscure beer in passing.  Not only will he tell you something about the beer you didn’t know, he may run to the back and find you a bottle he’s been holding onto, as if waiting for someone worthy enough to have it. It’s no wonder it appears #12 on the “Best Beer Bars in America” in Beer Advocate magazine. The stock on the shelves is a wonder to behold.

Oh yeah, the food was great.

They sell wine, too.

But for beer lovers, it’s just heaven.


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*If the space-time continuum hasn’t developed a rift, he’ll probably be working.