With our rich German brewing history alive in Over-the-Rhine and beyond, it’s no surprise that we’re a recognized beer-drinking city. In 1890, as our drinking claim to fame, Cincinnati was the third-largest beer producer per capita in the U.S. After taking a hit from Prohibition, we have since lost that title, but over the past few years the city has revived its list of growing local micobreweries
One thing we do know for certain is that our fine Cincinnati residents sure can sip, chug and guzzle. The city is embracing its drinking title the first two weeks in February, by celebrating some of the most exciting beer events this year: Cincinnati Beer Week, Cincy Winter Beerfest, Hops Against Cancer.
So come thirsty, pick straws for designated driver now and let beer warm your heart this winter (in case you get dumped before Valentines day).
Hops Against Cancer
To kick off the beer festivities, Tap House Grill will be serving 20 Cincinnati-brewed craft beers Feb. 2-15. The event will support not only local breweries but a charitable cause as well (and they say drinking too much is a bad thing.) One dollar for every beer sold will go toward The Jimmy V. Foundation for Cancer Research. Starting things off this Sunday, Tap House will host a Super Bowl Party with four styles of chili — Cincinnati style, vegetarian, venison and Tap House Stout — complimentary with each $10 purchase of food or beverages per person. During the dates of Cincinnati Beer Week (Feb. 6-13,) a variety of local brewers will be on hand to talk about their creations.
All donations to The Jimmy V. Foundation go toward cancer research, so don’t miss your chance for craft beers, food and charitable giving. More info: taphousecincy.com/events.
Cincinnati Beer Week
will unite for one week as our love for beer bonds us together. A variety of bars,
restaurants and stores all over the city will participate in Cincinnati Beer
Week. For eight consecutive days (because, let’s face it, seven just isn’t
enough) select venues will hold special events like beer tasting, beer-pairing
dinner and brewery nights. Celebrate well-crafted beer and try this year’s
Cincinnati Beer Week feature collaboration beer, Hostivit, brewed at Christian
Moerlein’s OTR production facility with 12 other local breweries. The festivities
run Feb 6-13. Check for a full list of venues and events at cincinnatibeerweek.com.
Cincy Winter Beerfest
Pace yourselves these coming weeks, because no hangover is going to be worth missing the champion of beer events. As one of the top 10 craft-beer festivals in the nation, Cincy Winter Beerfest is the Holy Grail of beer selections. With more than 350 craft beers, this two-day event packs thousands of beer fanatics, satisfying food, live band performances and good ole’ drinking fun into Duke Energy Center. Cincy Winter Beerfest runs Feb. 14-15; regular, VIP and connoisseur packages available online. Non-drinking tickets are also available and special designated drivers tickets will be sold with an included $5 food and soda voucher (because we reward those who put up with our drunken foolishness while being responsible). Doors open at 7:30 p.m., early entry 6:30 p.m. for those with VIP and connoisseur tickets. Tickets and details: cincybeerfest.com.
One of the nation's premier bourbon events is returning within driving distance of Cincinnati (... not that anyone should necessarily be driving after partaking in a bourbon event). The second annual Bourbon Classic comes to Louisville next weekend — Jan. 31-Feb. 1 — offering world-class culinary and bartending talent.
The event is open to bourbon enthusiasts from across the country and will feature forums addressing all aspects of bourbon ranging from its distillation to how to pair it with food and more, with information from leading bourbon distillers, writers, chefs, bartenders, experts and connoisseurs.
“This event is a natural progression in what we do to promote the bourbon lifestyle," says Seth Thompson, publisher of The Bourbon Review and co-founder of the Bourbon Classic, in a press release. "The craftsmanship, the authenticity, the traditions and marry that with the eclectic epicurean culture of Central Kentucky."
The weekend program is split into two parts: Friday night's Cocktail Challenge and Saturday's Bourbon Classic University and Ultimate Bourbon Experience.
The Cocktail Challenge will feature contemporary and classic cocktails plus small plates prepared by teams of chefs and master bartenders representing different distilleries. Cocktails and pairings will be judged by an expert panel including Jennifer Cole from Southern Living, Joy Perrine from Jack’s Lounge and chef Albert Schmid, author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook. Participating teams include the following:
Bradley Hammond, Decca
Chef Terry French, winner of Food Network’s Extreme Chef 2012, Philadelphia
Chris Wilkins, Proof on Main
Chef Levon Wallace, Proof on Main
Colin Shearn, El Camino
Chef Jonathan Lundy, Jonathan's at Gratz Park, Lexington
Isaac Fox, Volare
Chef Josh Moore, Volare
JR Schiavi, Jack Fry's
Chef Shawn Ward, Jack Fry's
Susie Hoyt, Silver Dollar
Chef Tyler Powell, Silver Dollar
Jacquelyn Zykan, La Coop
Chef Bobby Benjamin, La Coop
The Saturday learning portion will focus on education, entertainment and tastings.
The welcome session will feature master distillers and brand legends including Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy, Fred Noe of Jim Beam, Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace, Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon and more, discussing the rising popularity of bourbon and the effect it has on distilleries.
Following the welcome, the Bourbon Classic University will offer a variety of classes split into two learning sessions for ticket-holders to explore. The first session includes classes like "Entertaining with Bourbon Tastings" and the second offers "Bourbon & the Bean: What do Chocolate & American Whiskey Have in Common." (A full list of classes and a schedule is available online.)
After the university, participate in "the ultimate bourbon experience." Enjoy bourbon tastings from Bourbon Classic distillers, many of which will have representatives on hand to discuss what makes their product unique. As you imbibe, you'll also enjoy dishes that have been specially prepared to complement the bourbon as well as a unique marketplace full of bourbon-related products.
7-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31; 2:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. Standard weekend packages for the Cocktail Challenge and University/Ultimate Bourbon Experience start at $249. Tickets available here. All events take place at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky. For more information on the Bourbon Classic, visit bourbonclassic.com.
The hippo pool will be situated in the zoo's grassy-plained Africa exhibit, the most ambitious wildlife exhibit in zoo history. Currently home to cheetahs, a male lion and giraffes, among others, the next phase of building out the Africa exhibit will include the addition of an African wild dog, meerkat, gazelle, lesser kudu, impala, Ruppell’s vulture, crowned crane and kori bustard. The hippo exhibit will be the final piece of Africa.
The zoo will be obtaining/borrowing their hippos — a unrelated male and female pair — from another zoo in order to breed them. The hippos will be what are referred to as Nile Hippopotamuses (not the little pygmy ones from "too cute" memes, although those would be adorable). They're the third largest land animal, weighing in around 4,000 pounds and getting as tall as five feet at the shoulder. So one can imagine building a healthy and suitable pool for them costs a pretty penny.
Well, Lexington, Ky.'s craft brewery West Sixth Brewing is stepping up to the plate for one of their "6th for a Cause" events at Taste of Belgium on Short Vine in Clifton Heights to benefit to zoo in a fundraising event they've dubbed "Hops for Hippos." The zoo gets hippos; you get beer. It's a win-win.
Held up until now at the brewery's headquarters in Lexington, this will be their first 6th for a Cause event and tap takeover in the area. According to a press email, "The partnership with Taste of Belgium, a business that has similar ideals, has allowed West Sixth to take this fundraising effort on the road and to begin to apply the brewery's mission to all communities where West Sixth beer is distributed."
At 6 p.m. on Feb. 6, West Sixth will take over the taps at Taste of Belgium, with their IPA, Amber, Pay it Forward Cocoa Porter and a traditional Belgian style ale that has never been released in Cincinnati, the Transylvania Tripel. Taste of Belgium will be donating 6 percent of the evening's sales and West Sixth will match that contribution to benefit the Cincinnati Zoo.
Zoo director Thane Maynard, zoo COO Dave Jenike and other zoo representatives will be on hand to discuss their good work, help bartend and provide information for those who would like to get more involved. You can probably ask Thane all your hippo-related questions as well.
The evening will also include prize raffles and West Sixth commemorative glasses.
Taste of Belgium is located at 2845 Vine St., Clifton Heights. For more information on the event, zoo or West Sixth visit their websites: authenticwaffle.com, westsixth.com or cincinnatizoo.org. You can also make a donation to support the zoo's hippo efforts here.
The Betts House, located in the Betts-Longworth Historic District in the West End, is the oldest surviving brick building in Cincinnati. Built in 1804, it opened to the public as a museum in 1996. And their current exhibit, Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer: The Architectural Legacy of Cincinnati Breweries, examines the tunnels, breweries, buildings and people that made Cincinnati one of the leaders of the 19th century brewing industry through photos, charts, narratives, technology and more. The show has been extended until March 27, and the house is featuring several beer-related events to close out its run.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Betts House will host a cooking class, Cooking with Beer! Join chef Stefan Skirtz from Findlay Market's S&J Bakery and Cafe as he demonstrates how to utilize beer in your cooking, particularly Christian Moerlein brews. 1:30-2:30 p.m. Free with museum entry ($2). The Betts House, 416 Clark St., West End, thebettshouse.org.
And then from 5-10 p.m. Feb. 7 and noon-8 p.m. Feb. 8, take a tour of the Listermann Brewing Company in Evanston (1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com) to support the Betts House. Explore the inner-workings of the brewery, see some panels from the Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer display and support the mission of the house. Tour is $5 per person with proceeds going to the Betts House. More details here.
Learn more about Triple Digit and Listermann, plus get taproom hours and what's currently pouring at the brewery, here.
Take a break from Oktoberfest brews with something a bit more grapey.
Saturday, pour yourself a glass of wine (or two or three) as MainStrasse Village gives you the chance for a little weekend wining and dining. The festival features tastings from more than 15 local wineries — including Baker-Bird Winery, Elk Creek Vineyards, Purple Toad Winery and more — as well as food, artisans and live entertainment.
So whether you’re looking to sample some local wines, get a taste of perfectly paired food or just want a whole bottle of locally made wine for yourself, you can sip as much as you please.
Rain or shine. 3-10 p.m. $10; admission includes a souvenir wine glass and sample tickets. MainStrasse Village, Sixth and Main streets, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.
According to station WKYT in Frankfort, Ky., around 65 cases of rare, 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon have been stolen from the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
The Frankfort-based distillery produces the coveted brand, bottling only about 7,000 cases per year of Pappy, which is the No.1-rated bourbon whiskey in the world (according to their website). The suggested retail price of a bottle of the 20-year is around $130, so the bourbon bandits made off with more than $25,000 worth of booze. They reportedly also stole some 13-year Pappy rye.
When bourbon ages for such a long time, much of it evaporates as the "angel's share." "Many barrels often yield less than 20 gallons out of the original 53 gallons produced," Julian Van Winkle, president of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, according to a 2012 press release.
Frankfort County sheriffs are consider the heist an inside job. And while the bottles may have been stolen over the past couple of months, their disappearance was noted on Tuesday.
We imagine those who just got thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of the world's best bourbon for free will probably not be returning it, so way to make a rare brand even rarer, burglars. Can't wait to see how much bottles will going for on ebay (an empty bottle is on there now for $69.99).
Japanese pet supplement provider B&H Lifes recently launched Nyan Nyan Nouveau (aka "meow Nouveau"), a bottled wine made specifically for cats — and apparently a pun on a beaujolais nouveau. And while the drink doesn't contain any actually alcohol, it does use cabernet grapes and catnip. And it's apparently great for those special times — cat birthdays, after work — when you just really want to unwind with your favorite feline. There's apparently only 1000 or so bottles of the cat wine in production. (More here if you read Japanese.)
And, Sanrio's Hello Kitty has finally made absolutely logical transition from keychains and tiny backpacks to booze. An Asian company has licensed and released fruit-flavored Hello Kitty brand beer. It's cute, it's alcoholic (only 2.5 percent) and comes in a variety of kitty-tastic flavors: banana, lemon-lime, passion fruit and peach. Brewed by the Long Chuan Beer Company in Taiwan, it's not available in the States, so start planning your mommy-kitty intercontinental trek now.