March First Brewing

15 Apr

March First Brewing brings excellent beer, cider and spirits to Greater Cincinnati with a passion for quality ingredients, attention to detail, and their friendly and knowledgeable staff.

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This week I had the chance to visit March First Brewing (doors should open within a month), located in what appears to be an office building. There’s no sign (yet) and the brewery would be hard to miss if it weren’t for the BAD ASS HUMMER parked in front with their logo plastered from bumper to bumper. If that’s not cool marketing, I don’t know what is. Walking into the taproom, the first thing you notice is the beautiful bar they built with the company name wood burned into the top. The taproom is located in the brewery where you simultaneously enjoy the brews and views: 20bbl fermentation tanks, 10bbl brewery, and even the distillery where they plan to produce whisky, brandy, rum and other spirits.

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March First is specializing in Lagers which take longer than ales to finish, but come out clean and fresh. I sampled their Craft Lager and Bock. Both were delicious, clean, and easy on the pallet; something that I could drink all day until they throw me out. The Bock, which was developed by their head brewer / production manager, is caramel and nutty forward but dry. It doesn’t come across as a sweet malt bomb like other bock beers in the area. It is nicely balanced with a subtle hop bitterness and a smooth finish. The Lager was surprisingly good. I’m not going to lie, I think the Lager might be my go to beer this summer. It is a full flavored lager that is well balanced and drinkable. The 4 week lagering, combined with centrifuging (Yeah, this small 10bbl brewery has a centrifuge and I couldn’t possibly geek out more about it), creates a clear, crisp lager that pairs perfectly with any back yard BBQ or cornhole game.

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I continued my tasting with samples of March First’s three ciders. I tasted a Lime Cider, a Dry Hopped Cider, and a Pure Cider that were all fantastic. The lime and the dry hopped cider had a white wine quality to them that was quite refreshing. Both were thankfully on the dry side which is great for beer drinkers who find cider too sweet. The lime cider was a cool flavor that I can’t wait to try again. I can’t say I’ve ever had anything like it. March First’s pure Apple Cider wasn’t filtered yet and I got to try it right out of the sampling port on the fermenter. All I can say is wow! This cider uses some grade A juice and might have me converting into a cider drinker. The ciders are all the creation of their certified wine specialist. He really knows his stuff. As an environmental engineer and a homebrewer, I had a fantastic time geeking out over all of their quality control procedures and scientific practices.

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As with all craft beer, the real experience comes from the staff. At March First, the staff is incredibly friendly and full of exciting ideas to bring to Cincinnati. This group is eager to offer quality products and step out as one of a kind. Overall I couldn’t be more excited for everything going on here and I’ll definitely be a regular.

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Be sure to follow March First Brewing on Instagram & Twitter

As always be sure to follow CincyBeerBlog on Twitter as that is where the majority of my content is.

Be sure to enjoy craft beer responsibly and cheers!

-CincyBeerBlog

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Cider Review: Woodchuck Gumption

13 May
Woodchuck's Gumption

Woodchuck’s Gumption

Woodchuck's Gumption

Woodchuck’s Gumption

Guess who’s back? Cincy Beer Blog has come out of hiatus because of some exciting new opportunities! This time around I am doing my very first cider review. Today I am reviewing “Gumption”, Woodchuck’s newest cider that will have it’s own launch party in Cincinnati on May 13th! Before I get into the launch party specifics lets talk about woodchuck cider and Gumption.

Woodchuck made its beginnings making apple wine (among other wines) in Vermont. But in the early 90s decided it was time for a change. They dropped their ABV from 12% down to 5% and starting making cider. They dubbed the new cidery “Woodchuck” which is what the good people of Vermont are sometimes called. (ref: http://www.woodchuck.com)

Well its a good thing woodchuck had the gumption to start making cider because we are getting one heck of a launch party tomorrow! But first, the cider!

Tasting notes:

Appearance: Gold and clear with a tiny rim of pure white bubbles.

Aroma: strong fruity white wine notes, similar to pinot grigio. boozy even at 5.5%

Mouthfeel: thin but not as thin as one would expect from a cider. High carbonation.

Taste: Sweet ripe fruit upfront, boozy white wine in the middle, and finishes very pleasantly with a bitter dryness.

Overall: I typically prefer a drier cider but this was a pleasant surprise. My favorite part was the boozy taste and aroma. it would be nice to see this paired with seafood pasta for a new take on a summertime classic. (7.5/10)

Now on to the party!!!

The party is May 13th from 6:00-10:00 pm at the Woodward Theater. Obviously they will be serving the new cider the whole time. The party will be circus themed so prepare to be amazed! Come out and try the newest cider from Woodchuck, Gumption!

More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/371578633034517/

Be sure to follow me on twitter

And as always, please drink responsibly.

DISCLAIMER: While I do accept free samples, I will not give any reviews that are not my honest opinion. If you would like to send me something to review, please email me at cincybeerblog@outlook.com

Cans, Drafts, and Bottles – and why each of them matter.

26 Feb

Cans, Drafts, and Bottles. No I’m not talking about some kind of beer themed Steve Martin spin off of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I am talking about the debate amongst the craft beer world on what the best way to serve is. Everyone has their preference on how they like their beer to be served. And brewers have their preferences on how to serve their beer. I for one will take my beer any way it comes. But for the sake of discussion, lets mull this over.

Bottles

Most peoples first craft experience starts with either draft or bottles. The great thing about craft bottles is that your options are virtually limitless. Walk into any better beer store and you can find walls lined with delicious liquid gold. Bottles are great for micro breweries that want to start distributing their beer because the start up costs are typically lower than canning. However, for a distributer, bottles weigh more and can be costly to distribute. The advantages to bottles for the consumer is that the beer can stay fresh for a fairly long time as long as it is kept cool and away from sunlight. One disadvantage of bottles is that they do not keep 100% of the UV radiation out and your beer can skunk if left in the sunlight. Overall bottles are the best option for storing beer at home, and have little impact on the drinking experience.

Draft

Draft beer rules! There, I said it, you were thinking it. It tastes the freshest, its the most social (it usually must be drank at a bar), and it is the best representation of what the brewer wanted you to experience. It also has some advantages for brewers, namely, you don’t have to have a bottling or canning line. Just transfer it to a keg from the bright tank and ship it to a bar near you. Unfortunately, only having draft can really limit your beers exposure to the public and you will end up selling less. Consumers obviously have limited options when bringing draft beer home. You can get a growler, which has the awesome draft experience at home but only lasts a few days; or you can get a keg, which lasts longer but is a big investment both in the keg of beer and in the kegerator (or equivalent) to keep it cold. Overall, draft is the best drinking experience but it isn’t easy to take home and it typically costs more for the consumer.

Cans

New to the craft beer world is cans. Canning is only recently becoming an option for microbreweries because the cost of canning is dropping. Many breweries that can don’t have the equipment themselves, rather they call in a mobile canning service that comes in and cans their beer for them. With the cheap cost of cans and the cheap distribution cost, cans seem to be the way of the future for microbreweries. The consumers seem to want it as well. This one has always stumped me because canned beer used to get quite a bad reputation. But for some reason, the next big thing is “COME BUY OUR BEER. IT’S IN CANS!“. Personally I like cans to even if I don’t understand the hype. I definitely feel like its cool because now craft beer is becoming “beer”. Its becoming a normal part of life and you aren’t a “beer snob” if you like good beer. I also like cans because it feels nostalgic. I have been known to relive my inner freshman and poor a can of beer for some pong (except now its with Madtree’s PsycHOPathy instead of keystone ice). Overall cans are awesome because they are new to craft beer and because they make craft beer a normal thing. But I refuse to believe that craft tastes better in a can. Also, craft cans are the best beers for the following activities: Everything sports related, mowing the lawn, camping, boating, just about any outdoor activity.

Summary

There is no way to rank the best way to serve because they all serve a different purpose in your craft beer drinking experience. I tend to have all three in any given week so I can’t say which I use more. But, if I have to pick one… (I can’t believe I am saying this) I pick CANS. Only because I really want summer to be here and I want to pick up some craft cans and watch baseball. Otherwise I’d have to say draft because it tastes the best.

What is your favorite way to drink beer? Sound off in the comments.

As always, drink responsibly and be sure to follow me on twitter @CincyBeerBlog

CHEERS!

Untappd: Awesome or Awful?

12 Feb

If you are into craft beer you are probably on untapped. For those who aren’t, what is it like living under a rock? All kidding aside, untappd is probably one of the most popular social apps for for craft beer and it has roughly a crap ton of users. But is untappd good for craft beer? Let’s lay down the pros and cons here.

Why untappd is awesome:

Untappd can be used as a tool in two ways.

  1. It can be used to track all the beers you drink and what you think of them.
  2. It can help you discover new beers that you would have never even known about otherwise.

This is a great resource. Now when you are on the go, you can keep track of what beers you liked, didn’t like, or just thought were interesting/strange. Also, through the use of suggestions, you can find other beers/breweries/bars that you might not have otherwise known about. You can also see what your friends are drinking, this can give you the insight to ask them what they thought of the beer and if you would like it.

Why Untappd is awful:

Untappd creates a bad social culture in the same ways as any mobile social media outlet.

  1. Instead of just enjoying beers with your buddies, you have your nose buried in an app.
  2. It creates a “Drink a new beer every time” mentality instead of drinking what you are in the mood for.
  3. It creates the ‘Badge Hunter’ mentality.
  4. It turns craft beer into a competition rather than an art.

How can I avoid using untappd in the wrong ways?

  1. If you have a good memory, wait until you get home to check into untappd. Then you can have all the benefits of the app without loosing out on real social activity with your friends.
  2. If you must check in on untappd at the bar, Only check in the beers you really enjoy and want to try again. (Or the beers you want to avoid)
  3. Drink the beers you are in the mood for, not just the ones that give you a badge on untappd.
  4. Only share information on untappd that will help your friends choose a new beer to try.
  5. Above all, Have fun and don’t let untappd consume your craft beer experience. Just like in beer: Everything in moderation.

Overall I like untappd, it is a very useful tool to the beer drinker, but sometimes it leads me in the wrong direction as a beer aficionado. Also, I notice I miss out on great conversation if I’m drinking with buddies at a bar and I know my girlfriend doesn’t appreciate it when I’m nose deep in an app during a bar date.

What do you think of untappd? How do you think it affects you as a beer drinker or the craft beer community as a whole?

Be sure to follow me on twitter @CincyBeerBlog

Cheers!

-HDB

Cincinnati Beer Fest: By the numbers (Part 2)

12 Feb

So yesterday the final list for Cincinnati Beer fest came out and I am more than excited. I decided to run some different charts on them to see how the numbers stack up. (Disclaimer: I know I am a big nerd so hang with me). First of all lets look at %ABV at this years Beer Fest!

% ABV
min 3.80%
max 12.00%
average 6.76%
median 6.50%

For those into statistics the distribution of %ABV looks like this:

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Pretty heavy handed this year with 61% of the beers being 6%ABV or higher.

Next I wanted to look at the styles of beer. Now Many beers fall into weird categories so I did some generalizing. For instance: Anything that had anything to do with Belgium was listed as Belgian. This includes Quads, Saisons, etc. Also many of the beers (about 10%) didn’t list a type, and thus went into an N/A category. See this graphic:

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As you can see the vast majority are IPAs followed by Belgians and APAs. This should be expected as all 3 styles are very popular right now.

Unfortunately the State/Country information has been removed so I am unable to update those charts.

All in all their are about 370 beers this year so everyone should try to explore as much as possible.

Needless to say I am more than excited about Cincy Beer Fest and I hope you are too.

 

Check out the full list HERE

Buy Tickets HERE

and as always, be sure to follow me on twitter @CincyBeerBlog

Sierra Nevada – Ovila: Abbey Quad Ale w/ plums (7.5/10)

5 Feb

Today I am having an interesting brew. I have been getting into Belgian beer a lot lately and decided to give Sierra Nevada’s Abby Quad Ale a try. This beer comes from their Ovila series. It is brewed in collaboration with the Monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This Abbey is located in Vina California. For this particular beer, Sugar plums were harvested from the Abbey grounds by its monks and became part of this Quad Ale by Sierra Nevada. Also in the series is a Saison brewed with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns. This quad ale is super boozy at 10.2% alcohol so lets review it before I get too drunk.

Appearance: Dark, almost black, with a rust colored head that didn’t stick around long.

Aroma: Strong caramel scent with a hint of Belgian yeast. 

Taste: Similar to other quads I’ve had. Strong malt backbone, a little sour with just a hint of sweetness. You can really taste the alcohol in this beer as well.

Mouthfeel: Almost full bodied, seemed just a bit low on carbonation.

Overall: A really good beer if you like Belgians. Doesn’t have the characteristic “bubblegum” flavor some Belgians have.  Quads are a bit thick for my blood but on a cold night like tonight, both the body and the booze are welcome. Also, no where did I smell/taste plum in this beer. It must not have had much in it.

Afterthought: This beer should win an award for its label because I think it looks bad ass!

I think its a good beer and I defiantly would recommend it. (7.5/10)

Be sure to hit me up on twitter. @CincyBeerBlog

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Cincy Beer Fest: By the Numbers

30 Jan

Cincinnati Winter Beerfest released their beer list today! Lots of wonderful beers coming our way this February. Being the nerd that I am I took this list to excel and ran some numbers!

Here is the breakdown of beers & breweries by state/country.

Beers by State/Country
State/Country Beers Breweries
Belgium 1 1
CA 38 10
Canada 2 1
CO 16 4
DE 2 1
Germany 1 1
IL 13 3
IN 9 3
KY 5 2
LA 4 1
MA 4 1
MI 23 6
NC 2 1
NH 2 1
NY 14 4
OH 56 10
OR 7 2
PA 6 2
UT 7 2
VT 6 2
WA 4 2

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As expected Ohio dominates with 56 beers and 10 breweries. It is closely followed by California with 38 beers and 10 breweries. Also, this festival is almost purely American with only 4 beers from out of the country.

The average reported ABV is 6.89% with the max ABV at 11.4%.

IPA’s and DIPA’s make up over 20% of the total beer.

Now this is just the first list and everything is subject to change.

Check out the list here: Beer List

Buy your tickets here: Tickets

Be sure and follow my twitter account @CincyBeerBlog

What beer are you most excited for at Cincy Beer Fest? Sound off in the comments!

CHEERS!

-HDB