Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Maumee Bay Total Eclipse

When most people think of warm-weather beers, they think of patio pilsners, lawn-mowing lagers and backyard blonde ales. Dark beer is a mere afterthought during the summer months. In fact, people tend to forget about dark beers as soon as they put their sweaters away after the first spring thaw. That’s a shame. A super-frosty breakfast stout is the perfect cold dessert on a hot summer evening. My favorite is the Maumee Bay Brewing Co.’s Total Eclipse from Toledo, which hits the cool spot when the weather is brutally hot.
Total Eclipse is an imperial stout that is made with oatmeal, milk sugar and locally roasted espresso beans from Flying Rhino Coffee & Chocolate. It pours a jet black in color with aromas of mocha, milk chocolate and rich caramel. The beer is softly carbonated, which only enhances its creaminess and delicate texture. Velvety flavors of chicory, cafe con leche and vanilla envelop the palate. The finish is soft, smooth and luxurious with the coffee adding the perfect amount of bitterness to counterbalance the rich flavors.
If you are feeling adventurous, add a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream into a frosty mug of Total Eclipse for the ultimate adult version of an ice cream float. In fact, you can call it a beer float – or, maybe a bloat. Either as is or as a dessert, Total Eclipse is a tasty treat to savor when the thermometer reaches the unfathomable.
It is available in six packs for $14.99. It is distributed locally by Columbus Distributing Co.

Land-Grant Stiff-Arm IPA

The genesis was simple enough: Walt Keys and Adam Benner were two Ohio State University graduates with an unflappable entrepreneurial spirit and a love of craft beer.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2012, a relocation back to central Ohio – and more than two years of delays – Land-Grant Brewing Co. was finally a reality.
At the end of May, Land-Grant made two of its signature beers available in cans, most-notably the Stiff-Arm IPA.
Stiff-Arm pours a bright copper in color with a foamy ivory head and noticeable effervescence. On the nose, the prominent aromas are of spruce and unripened citrus fruit. The palate provides spicy, toasted bread flavors combined with hints of tangerine and wet grass. It finishes with a considerable bite of pine and an earthy funkiness best described as “forest floor.”
At 6.4 percent alcohol by volume and 54 international bittering units, this isn't your typical over-the-top grapefruit-bomb IPA, which is currently en vogue. Stiff-Arm has more structure and depth, which also allows it to be very food-friendly. It’s a formidable match for a French onion soup, a sharp cheddar cheese or even a spicy vegetable stir fry dish.
All of Land Grant’s beers are self-distributed, so the Stiff-Arm IPA should be available in six packs of cans for $9.99 at your bottle shop. If you wish to sample the entire lineup of Land-Grant beers, visit its brewery and taproom, located in Franklinton.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jackie O's PawPaw Wheat

The prairie banana, the banango and Asimina triloba. What do these three things have in common? All are euphemisms for the official native state fruit of Ohio - the pawpaw. In fact, the pawpaw is so celebrated, Athens County has hosted the Ohio Pawpaw Festival annually since 1999.

Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, also located in Athens County, decided to create a brew using this native fruit. The result is their PawPaw Wheat, an imperial wheat ale.

It pours a light amber in color with a fizzy white head. The aroma has notes of fresh-baked biscuits and Juicyfruit gum. On the palate, flavors of papaya, plantain, mango and a whiff of clove playfully mingle together. The tropical stonefruit notes on the finish lead into hints of of sweet malt with a slightly delayed peppery heat from the alcohol. At 9 percent alcohol, this is far from being a sessionable beer.

The PawPaw Wheat would be an excellent match for glazed honey ham or peach cobbler.

It is currently available in 12.7 ounce bottles, which retail for $5.99 each. Locally, it is distributed by Cavalier Distributing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

MadTree Citra High

It all began simply enough. Three friends - one a business analyst and the other two engineers by trade - making homebrew together. The hobby soon became an obsession, so the trio decided to formulate a business plan and gather investors.

After 18 months of blood, sweat and beers, MadTree Brewing was born in the heart of Cincinnati. Thanks to its growing popularity and an increase in production, MadTree was able to expand its distribution into the central Ohio market in December of last year. MadTree's latest beer to hit local shelves is their Citra High, an imperial IPA brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops.

Citra High pours a clear amber in color with a white head and considerable lacing. Aromas of passionfruit, peach and sweet citrus blend harmoniously with toasty malt notes. Hints of spruce meld with the bright, fruity flavors of tangerine, papaya and mango. The long, creamy finish is redolent of juicy tropical fruits.

Though it masks its alcohol quite well, keep in mind that Citra High 10.2% alcohol by volume. It would be a perfect compliment to fare like prosciutto, a sharp English cheddar or a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

Citra High is a limited-release and is currently available in 4-packs for $11.99. It is distributed locally by Cavalier Distributing.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Great Lakes Alberta Clipper

At one time, Cleveland was one of the most-important beer cities in the United States. Unfortunately like many cities, Cleveland's breweries began closing because they could not compete with the national brands. In 1984, Cleveland's last brewery ceased production and shuttered its doors. Cleveland beer was seemingly gone for good. But on September 6th, 1988, Cleveland's rich brewing history began a new chapter with the opening of Great Lakes Brewing Company, Ohio's first craft brewery.

For almost three decades, Great Lakes Brewing Company has been consistently producing award-winning ales and lagers with no signs of them slowing down. Their newest offering is Alberta Clipper, a porter that is brewed with chocolate and raspberries.

Alberta Clipper pours an opaque dark taupe with a creamy tan head and fine lacing. On the nose, aromas of dulce de leche, dark cocoa and fresh raspberry jam blend seamlessly. The predominate flavors are of roasted malt, coffee and caramel combined with decadent notes of bramble fruits on the clean finish. The bitterness on the finish cleanses the palate from the slightly sweet flavors provided by the chocolate and raspberries.

Some potential food pairings are barbecued ribs, Brie fondue or dark chocolate truffles.

Alberta Clipper is a seasonal-release that is currently available in 4-packs, which retail for $9.99. Locally, it is distributed by Glazer's Distributors.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Victory Kirsch Gose

The beer-style of Gose, a sour wheat ale brewed with salt and coriander, dates back to the early 1600s in Germany. During its heyday, it was one of the most popular regional styles of beer in Germany. But by 1988, Gose had become extinct not only in Germany, but throughout the entire world. Recently, Gose has experienced a bit of a renaissance with a handful of craft breweries producing their interpretation of the style.

Victory Brewing first started producing beer in 1996 in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, but its roots began much earlier - elementary school. The two would-be founders met each other on a school bus in 1973 when they were in the 5th grade. That budding friendship would eventually grow into a successful business. In 2013, Victory opened another brewery, which gave them the ability to revamp their lineup and expand their repertoire. The culmination of Victory's exploration is their Kirsch Gose simply described on the label as a "sour cherry bier."

The Kirsch Gose pours a clear scarlet with a pink head and considerable effervescence. On the nose, notes of bing cherries, lemon and seawater combine with aromas of vinegar and funky cheese. Flavors of cherry hard candy, green apple, sourdough bread and saltine crackers combine for a dry, puckering finish.

The confluence of sweet, sour and salty provides a thirst-quenching quality that is second to none. This highly-sessionable brew would pair well with ceviche, Gruyere cheese or a sunny spring afternoon.

A spring seasonal release, Victory Kirsch Gose is available in 4 packs and retails for $9.99. It is distributed locally by Heidelberg Distributing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fat Head's Bone Head Red

Upon its opening in 2009, Fat Head’s Brewery began as a modest brewpub on the outskirts of Cleveland.
In those first few years, Fat Head's gained a cult-like following throughout the country for its hop-centric offerings.
By late 2014, Fat Head’s had opened two additional breweries including a brewpub in Portland, Oregon in hopes of satisfying the demand for its award-winning beers.
The most recent award winner from Fat Head’s is its Bone Head Red, an imperial red ale that took home a silver medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup. A seasonal release, Bone Head takes the bold citrus and pine characteristics of the West Coast style of imperial IPA and amps it up by giving it a malty backbone.
Bone Head pours a deep auburn with an ivory head and thick lacing. Aromas of blood orange, pomelo and spruce combine with slight notes of fresh-baked bread. The palate offers tantalizing flavors of caramel, pine, tropical stone fruits and notes of wet soil that lead into crisp, long finish.
At 9.4 percent alcohol by volume, Bone Head is deceptively strong, so one should proceed with caution while enjoying this brew. It would pair well with dishes such as grilled marinated flank steak and pork chops served with a mango chutney. 
Bone Head retails for $12.99 a 4-pack and it is distributed locally by Cavalier Distributing