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.

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

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!

Christian Moerlein Ice Bar on Fountain Square for New Year’s Eve

The (formerly?) local brewery Christian Moerlein celebrates New Year’s Eve in mega style with the construction of a 20 foot long, 12 foot high ice bar made out of about 15,000 pounds of ice. The taps were frozen inside the ice sculpture.

Christian Moerlein Ice Bar at Fountain Square
Photo courtesy of 5chw4r7z

Here’s the press release from 3CDC:

WATCH THE ICE BAR BEING BUILT FOR TONIGHT’S 2009 KROGER NEW YEAR’S EVE BLAST ON FOUNTAIN SQUARE
15,000 pounds of ice used to create elaborate bar

WHAT: Construction of the Christian Moerlein Ice Bar on the U.S. Bank Ice Rink on Fountain Square.

WHEN: Crews arrive around on the Square around 3:30pm today and start work around 4:30 pm. Workers will unload an additional 10-12 blocks of ice to complete the Ice Bar, made up of a total 15,000 pounds of ice.

WHERE: Northeast corner of the U.S. Bank Ice Rink

ICE BAR FEATURES: Faucets are frozen inside the bar so beer can be tapped from inside the ice sculptured bar, which is about 20 feet long, 12 feet deep and 10 feet high. In addition to beer, martini drinks will be sold.

ON-SITE CONTACT: Jeff Stahl, Arctic Diamond Handcrafted Ice Sculptures, 276-3341 (cell)

The Christian Moerlein Ice Bar is part of the Kroger 2009 Fountain Square New Year’s Eve Blast. Festivities begin at 8pm with free ice skating and skate rental, courtesy of Strauss & Troy, LLP, DJ Pillo, soft drinks and snacks and a countdown to midnight capped off by a fireworks show by Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks.

Special thanks to our title sponsor Kroger and presenting sponsors Strauss & Troy and Christian Moerlein as well as U.S. Bank, sponsor of the 2008-2009 Fountain Square Ice Rink. For daily skating rink hours, visit http://www.myfountainsquare.com. The rink is open New Year’s Day from 2pm to 10pm.

New Year’s Eve parking is available in the Fountain Square Garage for $4. The 2009 Kroger New Year’s Eve Fountain Square Blast is produced by Fountain Square Management Group, a subsidiary of 3CDC.