CityBeat Blogs - Alcohol http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-40-178.html <![CDATA[Seasonal Winter Releases from Local Breweries]]> Tis the season for winter microbrews, and with MadTree, Rhinegeist, Christian Moerlein and plenty of others putting out unique and distinctive beers this winter, Cincinnatians have plenty of options to choose from.

Your favorite craft brewers have been hard at work combining the flavorful aspects of winter into their latest creations; ones that will surely keep you warm through the rest of the year — or at least drunk. You’ve probably worn thin of the ubiquitous Pumpkin Ales and the dull Winter Lagers, so here’s a list of the latest and upcoming craft beers. You should be able to get everything at the respective brewery's taprooms, but call ahead for availability and other serving locations.  

Blank Slate 
  • Long Way Home: A companion to Blank Slate’s “Fork In The Road” and “The Lesser Path,” this IPA is brewed with chocolate malt and aged on cocoa nibs. It has five different varieties of hops and a 10.4% ABV. 

Christian Moerlein
  • Christkindl Winter Warmer: Unwrap this large-malt bodied ale with the essence of chocolate sweetness, and a balanced hop finish that creates a subtle spice flavor. On draft at the Moerlein Lager House. 6.95% ABV.

Fifty West
  • Coffee Please: Made with local coffee from Madeira's coffee please, this dark stout has a 7/1% ABV. Creamy and made with cold brew.
  • Home Sweet Home: An American brown ale with all the makings for a sweet potato pie, including cinnamon, sage, molasses and pecans. Who needs dessert when you have this. 7.1% ABV.

Listermann Brewing Company/Triple Digit
  • Chickow! Coconut and Chickow! Cinnamon Roll: These two beers will be released on Black Friday, with a limit of four bottle of each beer per customer.
  • White Death: A winter warmer ale with cinnamon, fermented in Kentucky bourbon barrels. 

MadTree 
  • Thundersnow: This sweet and bread beer has an 8.5% ABV, with hints of ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. It's rare, so drink up while you can (or download the recipe at madtreebrewing.com). Look for it at Arnold's, Igby's, Boca, the Moerlein Larger House, Metropole and more; MadTree has a handy zip code locator on their site. 
  • Pilgrim: This is a super limited beer, with hops, malted barley, cranberries, walnuts and vanilla beans. With 5% ABV. 

Mt. Carmel 
  • Winter Ale: An ale with scents of spruce and ginger, and flavors of orange-spiced bread. 8% ABV. 

Rhinegeist 
  • Dad: A hoppy red ale you can take home for the holidays; it will be served in cans for the first time this year. This ale balances crisp hops with juicy malt, and notes of citrus and cherry life savor. 6% ABV. 
  • Panther: Malty with notes of milk chocolate, carob and light molasses. 5.8% ABV. 

Rivertown
  • Winter Ale: This spiced winter ale is thick and creamy, with hints of caramel, toffee and cinnamon. Serve in a snifter. 8.2% ABV.
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<![CDATA[Barrio Tequileria in Northside to Reopen]]>
The relatively short-lived Barrio Tequileria in Northside is re-opening next weekend, under new management and ownership. 

Starting with a grand re-opening Friday and Saturday evening (6 p.m. Nov. 28 and 29) the weekend after Thanksgiving, new owners Thomas Placke and 3TC entertainment say the restaurant will still serve Tex-Mex-style food, with updated offerings including smoked wings, house-cured smoked bacon and Texas-style smoked beef brisket chili. They'll also be serving up imported tequilas and specialty cocktails, like the Helltown Hooch, Pineapple Mint Margarita and Mango Habanero Margarita, plus non-alcoholic libations for kids (and non-drinking adults) like strawberry cucumber lemonade. 

An added bonus? The huge outdoor patio will double as a dog-friendly bar with a fire pit and a s'mores menu in winter, then games when the weather gets warmer.

A recent press release also says, "In commitment to the neighborhood, Barrio will continue with fan favorites such as open mic Jazz on Tuesdays, trivia night on Wednesdays and karaoke thursdays. Barrio will also offer live music nights and delve into the local Northside character by showcasing local artists and talent."

The restaurant will also seek out a variety of nonprofits to donate portions of proceeds to.  

Barrio is located at 3937 Spring Grove Ave., Northside. Follow along with updates on Facebook.
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<![CDATA[Molly Wellmann's Myrtle's Punch House Opening Nov. 28]]> Forget your Kool-Aid and your Sprite and whatever else goes into your office party’s punch bowl, for soon dignity will be restored to punch. Molly Wellmann’s newest creation, Myrtle’s Punch House, will specialize in handcrafted punch and a wide array of wines and craft beers. (The Wellmann Brand also owns Japp’s, Neons Unplugged and Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar.)  

Myrtle’s is located in the historic DeSales Corner of East Walnut Hills, and surprisingly punch itself is also heavy with history. It’s been around since the 1600s and is believed to have been first concocted by British sailors working with the East India Company. With months on deck, beer became flat and stale, and so an alternative was created. Punch originally comes from the Sanskrit word “panch” meaning five, referencing the five ingredients in the original classic punch: lemon, alcohol, sugar, spices and water or tea. Of course, like the rest of the world, punch has evolved, but despite the ingredients, the flavor template has remained the same. 

The opening event on Friday, Nov. 28, will begin at 7 p.m. with ribbon-cutting ceremony with Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, followed by a red carpet entrance, live music and food from Fireside Pizza. 

2735 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills. More information on Facebook.
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<![CDATA[Homemade Happy Hour: A Tavola]]>

A Tavola has made its mark on Over-The-Rhine with its rustic wood fired pizzas and superb flavor combinations. What you might not know about the high-end pizza joint is that its craft cocktails are one-of-a-kind. CityBeat sat down with A Tavola’s head bartender Aaron Strasser to pick his brain, and it turns out he is as personable as he is creative and stirs up one hell of a cocktail.

CityBeat: How did your career in bartending start?

Aaron Strasser: I was a history major at UC, and my favorite period of time was Prohibition. I found it very interesting that you could ban one of the greatest things in the world — the cocktail. I really got into studying that when I was in college. I also started flavor profiles. I grew up in the kitchen with my mom and she always baking stuff and I loved tasting all the flavors and figuring out, ‘Oh, you can pair this with this.’ I got my start here at A Tavola almost four years ago. I didn't know much, but what I did know is flavor profiles and combinations. So the owners gave me a chance and allowed me to make the bar what it is now.

CB: What’s your favorite spirit?

AS: I usually go with my whiskeys and bourbon. Rye whiskey for sure.

CB: What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve used in a cocktail?

AS: I have a couple. I always saw that simple syrups were being made with fruits and some herbs and spices, but I wanted to make a simple syrup out of a vegetable, so I made a red beet and ginger simple syrup, which goes great with gin. It’s very unique, it’s a beautiful color and the taste was very interesting. I didn't want to just use fruit. Another strange ingredient in our new cocktail menu is the jalapeño jam instead of a simple syrup. It’s a recipe that one of my kitchen people and I have worked on. I wanted to have something that was sweet and savory. We do a lot of that as far as combinations go — even in our food — lots of sweet and savory.

CB: Do you see a change in cocktail culture around OTR?

AS: Oh, yeah, its definitely growing. There is a lot more appreciation as far as drinks go. A lot of people are not just ordering cocktails that they know, instead they are actually looking at the cocktails and asking, ‘What does this place have to offer that I haven’t tried before?'

CB: If you had to pick one cocktail to drink for the rest of your life what would it be?

AS: An Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioned

2 Amarena cherries
1 slice of orange
1 sugar cube

1 or 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 oz. rye or bourbon whiskey

Club soda

Place the sugar cube in a glass and add one or two dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of club soda. Muddle the the sugar cube. Add whiskey and ice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. With a lighter, singe a strip of orange peel and pinch the peel to release oils. Add the orange peel and the Amarena cherries to top it all off.

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<![CDATA[The Palace's Chef Joe West Wins CityBeat's Iron Fork]]> Wednesday, Oct. 15, kicked off CityBeat’s maiden voyage for Iron Fork Cincinnati, a Iron Chef-esque cooking competition complete with famous chefs from around the city, closed-circuit television and, of course, plenty of food and drink to keep the attendees happy and buzzed.

The event, which raised money for local nonprofit Gabriel’s Place and its Junior Culinary Institute, took place at the Christian Moerlein brewery in Over-the-Rhine. The restaurants represented (Jimmy G's, Django Western Taco, LaLa's Blissful Bites, Invito Chef, El Rancho Grande, Huit BBQ, Redondo Taqueria, Axis Alley on the Levee, Seasons 52, Silver Ladle, Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House, Washington Platform, Swad, O'Malley's in the Alley, Mazzaro's Place, The Pub, Boswell Alley and Moerlein Lager Houseeach provided a small sample of their favorite items for attendees to nibble on, from mini-steak sandwiches to shot glass-sized pecan pie. Some of the vendors were parked in the more polished taproom, while the majority of the booths and the competition itself appeared in the “basement chic” room next door. Attendees wandered from booth to booth, balancing small plates and frothy cups of Moerlein beer as they waited for the main event to begin. Everyone looked slightly confused at first, but it didn’t take long for everyone to catch on and figure out where to go — the Four Roses bourbon cider probably helped.

Iron Fork’s version of Kitchen Stadium was a small-ish cooking space set up at one end of the very large room. It was fully stocked with brightly colored produce from SYSCO, plenty of spices, gas burners and shiny stainless steel cookware from Cooks'Wares. Scattered across the room were large TVs (not in HD, our spoiled selves lamented) for those who may not be able to find a spot in the small area in front of the kitchen to watch the action. The three judges were perched to the left of the kitchen, presumably starving.

Frances Kroner of Sleepy Bee, Jose Salazar of Salazar and Joe West of The Palace at The Cincinnatian were the three chefs chosen to appear for the event. Each of them had one hour to create a dish using the elusive secret ingredient: figs. (Most of the crowd had left before the secret was revealed; it had to remain a secret to make the competition fair for everyone.) Each chef also had a Junior Culinary Institute student from Gabriel’s Place on their team; all three of the students, it must be said, were incredibly impressive in their professionalism and skill. 

The hour-long cooking time per chef allowed attendees to continue to wander and stuff their faces with local treats. The amount of sweet options seemed high (possibly because it was hard to locate the free water to cleanse your palate). The beer line never seemed to shorten, which was fine. If anything, it allowed for more socializing with the other food enthusiasts. Watching the cooking itself was only really entertaining near the end of the hour-long time limit — Jose Salazar straight up ran to the judges’ table with his dishes at the end, and that’s just good TV. 

Once each chef’s segment was complete and the three judges were served, a fourth dish was auctioned off to a lucky audience member. (Frances Kroner’s dish went for a whopping $150.) 

"All the chefs did a great job and we had a lot of fun sharing our thoughts and our food with the crowd," says judge and CityBeat food writer Anne Mitchell. "Frannie Kroner's lamb chop entree was wonderful, and (Ilene Ross, CityBeat food writer and judge) had a great idea — she added one of her lamb chops to the auction for Gabriel's Place." 

"I ate all three of mine and gnawed the bones clean, so that shows you where my heart resides," she continues, laughing. "Jose's appetizer, lamb tartare, was amazing. Ilene licked her plate. It was the kind of dish that separates ordinary food from art." 

The audience did not hear from the judges until the end, when they named The Palace’s Joe West as the winner for his appetizer and entree dishes. 

"Joe West's appetizer and entree blew us away," says Mitchell. "The scallop crudo was another work of art, and it was the perfect starter for Joe's main dish. I wish I could be 100 percent sure of the description but things got a little crazy at the end and we really didn't hear what Joe said, but I think it was halibut in veloute sauce with bacon crumbles for a garnish, flash-fried potato 'chips' from tiny fingerling potatoes and the figs." 

"Figs were the 'secret ingredient' that all the chefs had to incorporate into their dishes," she continues. "It would have been fun to see them utilized a little more essentially in the dishes instead of used as a (yummy) garnish, but that seems a little like splitting hairs."

Overall, the event’s first run was a success. Did I want to snag one of Kroner’s scallops or a bite of Salazar's lamb tartare right off the judges’ table? Sure. But I didn’t, and it still turned out to be a nice little Wednesday night. 


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<![CDATA[Taste of Belgium Clifton to Host World Cup Viewing]]>
The Clifton location of Taste of Belgium — Cincinnati's only Belgian-inspired eatery — will host a World Cup viewing party for the Team USA versus Belgium game on Tuesday, July 1. (The game begins at 4 p.m.)

The Clifton locale of TOB has seven HDTVs, one large HD projector screen, a big bar and a large beer selection. Afraid of who to cheer for in the Belgian bar? Owner Jean-François Flechet, a Cincinnati resident and Belgian native says, "What better place to come watch USA vs. Belgium than at Taste of Belgium? The entire staff and all our customers have cheered for both teams so far — we hope to see some good soccer."

“I’d be happy either way for either my homeland or my adoptive land to make it to the next round,” Flechet adds

TOB will also be giving away one official Belgian and one official American soccer jersey. Patrons can enter to win the American jersey by ordering a Budweiser and the Belgian jersey by ordering a Duvel. (Those under 21 can simply enter their names.)

Parking is behind Taste of Belgium by the corner of University and Vine streets. Taste of Belgium Clifton, 2845 Vine St., Corryville, 513-394-7105, authenticwaffle.com
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<![CDATA[Rhinegeist Zen Now Available in Cans]]>

Rhinegeist Brewery yesterday released its third canned beer, Zen Session Pale Ale. The brew is described as "like walking barefoot through a citrus grove in the morning. Earthy and orange zest hop character permeates this Session Pale."

The dry hopped brew promises to be a perfect summer companion with notes of grapefruit and pine. Zen features Golden Promise malt and Citra, Mosaic and Cascade hops with a 4.8 percent ABV, all making for a bright and drinkable ale.

You can find canned Zen, along with Cougar Golden Ale and Truth IPA (released in cans earlier this year), at several area retailers. Find one close to you here. Zen and other core and rotating beers are also available on tap at the Rhinegeist Brewery on Elm Street.

Rhinegeist brewed its first batch just under one year ago.

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<![CDATA[Hofbräuhaus Keg Tapping Tonight]]> Hofbräuhaus Newport taps their seasonal June selection tonight — their summer Marzen. The amber-colored beer offers a rich, malty character with a hint of hops and a 5.8 percent ABV. 

The beer will be paired with Ofenfrischer Leberkase, a grilled pork and beef loaf featuring Munich-style finely textured sausage topped with a sunny side up egg and served with German potato salad.

The evening's festivities kick off at 7 p.m. with a tapping followed by German entertainment, jugglers, magicians and a ceremonial keg tapping parade. 

Free. Hofbräuhaus Newport, 200 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-491-7200, hofbrauhausnewport.com.


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<![CDATA[Fort Wright Izzy's Hosts Beer Dinner]]> Atlanta-based SweetWater Brewing Company is heading North to the Fort Wright, Ky., location of Izzy's (1965 Highland Park., izzys.com) for an evening of brews paired with the restaurant's famous corned beef at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 8.

The paired three-course beer dinner will include an appetizer (grilled bacon-wrapped onion rings with Sriracha dipping sauce), entree (Izzy's Mex corned beef with a potato pancake), and dessert (fried ice cream sandwich with raspberry drizzle) with SweetWater's LowRYEder rye IPA, 420 extra pale ale and SweetWater IPA. 

Cost is $25 per person and includes a complimentary beer glass. Reserve a spot by calling 859-331-4999 or emailing jjbent@izzys.com.
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<![CDATA[Tap That Brew Tour]]>

CityBeat hosts an afternoon of drinking and not driving. Start at one of the participating breweries — Rhinegeist, Listermann Brewing Company, Ei8ht Ball Brewing, Christian Moerlein or MadTree — and then hop on a shuttle to the next one. After you’ve visited each, hop back on the shuttle to be driven to your starting location. Tickets include beer at each brewery, a custom CityBeat Tap That growler, lunch from Tom+Chee and shuttle rides. 


Noon-6 p.m. $40. citybeat.com
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<![CDATA[HalfCut Beer Cafe Grand Opening Friday]]> HalfCut Beer Café invites beer lovers to take their taste buds on an explosive journey as they celebrate their opening to the public April 18th.

The cafe — on Walnut Street in Over-the-Rhine, attached to the new taco shop Gomez Salsa — will offer growlers to-go plus beers to sample and drink in-store. Customers walk up to the counter to chat with a knowledgeable beer-ista and then choose the style and flavor of beer they want to indulge in. Then, they have the option of choosing to enjoy their beverage either at the bar or to-go in one a HalfCut growlers. For those in a super hurry, they also have a to-go only window on 12th street.


The interior of the cafe was inspired by a cross-country road trip. HalfCut wants to instill a sense of adventure in its customers via wall artwork by local store Frameshop and a 20-foot mural stretching across their exposed brick wall by Neltner Small Batch that pays homage to beer and the beer-making process telling the story of how beer got from the farm to your hands.


1128 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, halfcut.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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<![CDATA[Arnold's Taps Great Lakes Cherry Vanilla Edmund Fitzgerald for Autism]]> Arnold’s has partnered with Great Lakes Brewing Company and Neltner Small Batch to host a fundraiser for autism, #BeerAutismHope. Great Lakes will be tapping a cask-conditioned firkin of their fabled, impossible-to-find and extremely delicious Cherry Vanilla Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. For each pint sold, a dollar will be donated to Lance’s Room, a charity to fund scholarships for people with autism. In addition to the beer, local artist Keith Neltner will be designing a limited edition, multi-layer Great Lakes Brewing Company art print, released exclusively for the event. A portion of those proceeds will also be donated to Lances’s Room. The Hot Magnolias will perform. 

9 p.m. Friday. Free. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

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<![CDATA[Upcoming Beer and Wine Dinners]]>
Here's a list of upcoming curated wine and beer dinners: 

Experience the Dynamic Flavors of Wines from Argentina at Blinker's Tavern: Robb Rapp of Cutting Edge Selections brings dynamic wines from Argentina to Blinker's Tavern for a four-course dinner. Reservations required. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20. $65 plus tax and gratuity. Blinker's Tavern, 318 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-360-0840, blinkerstavern.com.

Summit Wine Dinner: Clay Shelton, wine educator and district manager of Excelsior Wines, will bring an informed selection of wine from Chile and Argentina to pair with a multi-course dinner. The Gran Reserva Serie Riberas and Trivento wines have been chosen to complement the five-course dinner prepared by Summit's executive chef Sean Kagy and his team of Midwest Culinary Institute students. The greeting course will feature Concha Y Toro Sauvignon Blanc with scallop, puff pastry, truffle and butter; the first course will pair Marques de Casa Concha Pinot Noir with potato-wrapped salmon, wilted greens and Pinot Noir sauce; the second course will pair Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Malbec with short rib empanadas and vegetable hash; the third course will pair Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere with lamb chops and sweet potato and rosemary demi-glace; and the fourth course pairs Concha y Toro Late Harvest with cheesecake and Apricots. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20. $60 per person plus gratuity. The Summit, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, 513-569-4980, cincinnatistate.edu.

Italian Food and Cocktail Pairing Event at Barresi's: Three courses of Italian food paired with vodkas from Columbus, Ohio's OYO vodka. First course pairs blue crab and gorgonzola fritters with spiced pecans, sugar-roasted pear and citrus-dressed field greens with a dirty martini. The second course pairs fingerling potatoes, fried pearl onions, fava beans, caramelized prosciutto and smoked sundried cherry demi glace with an OYO stonefruit vodka margarita. The final course pairs a chocolate pate with OYO vanilla bean vodka fresh espresso, brown sugar and simple syrup. Limited seating; reservations required. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20. Barresi's Italian Restaurant, 4111 Webster Ave., Deer Park, 513-793-2540, barresis.com

Vine & Dine at the Art of Entertaining: Vine & Dine is a new Friday event series at O'Bryonville's Art of Entertaining featuring food and wine pairings and live music. Michael and Jill Denton perform March 21 and 28; Burton Story on April 4; Tery Metcalf with special guest Kelly Richey on April 11; The Billy Rock band on April 25; and Burton Story again on May 2. Reservations are not required, but are recommended. No refunds or cancelations. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $30 for pre-registered guests; $35 at the door. Art of Entertaining, 2019 Madison Road, O'Bryonville, 513-871-5170, cincyartofentertaining.com.

Mad Tree Brewing Beer Dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens: Mecklenburg Gardens hosts local brewery Mad Tree Brewing for a bier dinner on Saturday, March 22. The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. with a Mad Tree keg tapping at 7 p.m. and continues with a German buffet featuring German sausages, sides, salad and dessert. There will also be live music from Alpen Echoes. 6:30 p.m. $20. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, reservations at 513-221-5353.

The Wines of Jean Luc Columbo at 20 Brix: Ryan Oliver joins to discuss finer points of this South American producer. Pairings by Chef Paul. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22. $50. 20 Brix, 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-2749, 20brix.com.

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<![CDATA[February Local Beer Events]]> Cincinnatians are swooning this February and no, not over candy hearts, roses and candlelit dinners for two, but for our utmost affection for beer. Cupid struck beer-lovers’ hearts this season, causing us to fall head-over-heels (literally) for craft beer celebrations.

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

Cincinnati 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.

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<![CDATA[The Bourbon Classic Returns to Louisville]]>

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: 

Angel's Envy
Bradley Hammond, Decca
Chef Terry French, winner of Food Network’s Extreme Chef 2012, Philadelphia

Blanton's
Chris Wilkins, Proof on Main
Chef Levon Wallace, Proof on Main

Buffalo Trace
Colin Shearn, El Camino
Chef Jonathan Lundy, Jonathan's at Gratz Park, Lexington

Jim Beam
Isaac Fox, Volare
Chef Josh Moore, Volare

Michter's
JR Schiavi, Jack Fry's
Chef Shawn Ward, Jack Fry's

Wild Turkey
Susie Hoyt, Silver Dollar
Chef Tyler Powell, Silver Dollar

Woodford Reserve
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.


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<![CDATA[Hops for Hippos]]> The Cincinnati Zoo wanted a hippopotamus for Christmas, and while they didn't quite raise enough money yet, they're hoping to secure the total $7 million that it will take to finish their hippo pool through fundraising and donation efforts.


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.comwestsixth.com or cincinnatizoo.org. You can also make a donation to support the zoo's hippo efforts here

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<![CDATA[Cooking with Beer! at the Betts House]]>

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




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<![CDATA[Moerlein Lager House January Beer Dinner]]> The Moerlein Lager House (115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, moerleinlagerhouse.com) is pairing with local craft brewery Triple Digit Brewing Company, a nano-brewery that shares space with the Listermann Brewing Company in Evanston, for a paired and plated dinner to complement a selection of their unique beers.

The January beer dinner will feature six beers from Triple Digit/Listermann: one of their IPAs; Cincinnatus, a stout aged in bourbon barrels; Jungle Honey, an American pale ale; Nutcase, a peanut butter porter; Aftermath, a Scottish wee heavy; and Colonel Plug, a Kentucky-style common ale. Dishes will be prepared by Moerlein Lager House Executive Chef Nate Whittington.

6 p.m. Jan. 15. $55 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Register by emailing PrivateDining@MoerleinLH.com.

Learn more about Triple Digit and Listermann, plus get taproom hours and what's currently pouring at the brewery, here.



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<![CDATA[Cincinnatians: Awesome at Drinking Beer Since at Least 1879]]> In 1879, the New York Times published an article titled: "How Cincinnati Beer is Drunk at Home: Some rather remarkable stories about the capacity of the Ohio stomach," which told amazing tales of expert Queen City beer drinkers and just how much an average Cincinnatian can drink in a day (several kegs).

The article starts with the tale of a "remarkable statement" that one of the former members of the Mohawk Fire Company could drink 12 glasses or beer on an ordinary work day between when the clock started and finished chiming noon (less than half a minute). According to several credible witnesses, the dude did this pretty frequently — enough that he got irritated with the amount of time it took to lift a glass to and from his lips so he just poured all the beer in a giant bowl and drank from the bowl.

This was followed by an awesome story about a man named Dr. Noeffler, who once drank a keg of beer in two hours at home of his friend, brewer J.G. Sohn. According to the article, "Dr. Noeffler is quite obese, but no more so than before he became a great beer-drinker. The only visible effect which his enormous consumption of beer has had upon him has been to seriously reduce him financially."

And the article goes on and on, including information about how much beer Cincinnati brewery workers were putting away in a day — up to 35 glasses each at the Kauffman brewery, 25 at the Moerlein brewery and only between 5 and 14 at the Jackson Brewery, which was "strictly regulating" employee beer consumption based on age, build and quality of work.

Read the whole story here. (Worth it.)


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<![CDATA[4EG Hosts Party for Their Four Roses Private Label Bourbon]]> 4EG entertainment group's bar Igby's (122 E. Sixth St., Downtown) is hosting a launch party for their very own Four Roses private label bourbon on Tuesday. 

Igby's and The Lackman (1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine) visited the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky., on Sept. 10 of this year and specially select their very own barrel of Four Roses bourbon. The barrel, aged for eight years and four months, was bottled on Oct. 7. The private label bottle is now available for purchase ($55) at Igby's or The Lackman and to celebrate, the bars are hosting a party at Igby's with bourbon tastings and bottle signings by Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge, who has been with the distillery for almost 20 years.

The party kicks-off with a bottle signing at 6 p.m. followed by a "sip and learn" experience with Rutledge at 6:30 p.m. Four Roses bourbon flights will be available throughout the night for $10 and include a complimentary Four Roses glass. 

For more info, visit igbysbar.com


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