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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

New Holland Cabin Fever Brown Ale

Nestled on scenic Lake Macatawa in western Michigan, the sleepy town of Holland was best known for its tulip festival up until 1997.


It was then that two men set out to build their own brewery from the ground up. After considerable effort and steady growth, New Holland Brewing Co. has become a rousing success. Its winter seasonal, Cabin Fever Brown Ale, is exactly what you would imagine: the perfect fireside companion on a frosty winter evening.

Cabin Fever pours a dark chestnut hue in the glass with a moderate ivory head. The aromas of freshly roasted coffee, baker’s chocolate and toffee are tantalizing and inviting. It has medium heavy body with a rich mouthfeel that is coating without being sticky. Flavors of burnt caramel, figs and toasted almonds complement the mocha backbone.

Dark fruit and raisin notes lead into a dry, satisfying finish that lingers on the palate for a good while.

With the wrath of winter upon us, Cabin Fever keeps the chill of the season at bay. Clocking in at 6 percent alcohol by volume, it’s hearty enough to warm the soul but not too harsh. It’s a good match with beef stew, roasted duck or French onion soup.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lexington Brewing Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Dating back to the late 1700s, Kentucky's reputation as the producer of the finest bourbon is unquestioned. In fact, Kentucky gives birth to roughly 98% of all bourbon worldwide. However, its brewing history languished until 1999, when the Lexington Brewing Company was ressurected from the ashes. Their flagship offering is their Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, which is aged in freshly used bourbon barrels for 6 months.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale pours golden honey color with a small off-white head. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, demerara sugar and oak are released through the beer's mild effervescence. It is fairly light in body and mouthfeel, which prevents its sweetness from becoming cloying. The initial heat from the alcohol is soon replaced with flavors of raisins, cream, dried citrus and caramel, which are balanced out by its whiskey-infused backbone. The beer has a moderately long finish with its vanilla flavors and lingering booziness keeping you warm. Unlike most barrel-aged brews, it is light on the palate and is a perfect after dinner sipper by the fireplace. The alcohol by volume clocks in at a bold 8.19%, so proceed with caution. Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is available in 4-packs and retails for around $11.