A very good, if somewhat underwhelming imperial coffee porter. The coffee flavor is much more subtle than a beer like Founders Breakfast Stout, where the coffee is right up front and somewhat bitter. It’s a tad on the sweet side of balanced, with any roast notes pretty muted. I understand the idea of sweet stouts, but a sweet porter is new to me. Overall, a decent take on a style which isn’t my favorite in the world.
(@BellsBrewery Black Note tapping at @Northsidetav (2/7/12))
Last night I was lucky enough to attend a tremendous event at Northside Tavern put on by Bell’s. Because they sell so much of the brewery’s beer (2nd-most in the city!), they were able to get an awesome lineup of beers. They range from a pain in the butt to get to next to impossible to get, but all of them were either close or above 10% ABV, so I had to pick my battles carefully. Considering that I have only ever had Hopslam and The Oracle, this broke my heart.
What they had:
- Hopslam – Needs no introduction.
- The Oracle – Hopslam’s, less-hyped, more-limited, better-tasting double IPA brother
- Hell Hath No Fury: a Belgian strong dark ale
- Sparking Ale: a Tripel
- Black Note: A blend of Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout, aged in bourbon barrels
I was at the event primarily to try Black Note, and oh boy did it deliver. The beer is rated through the roof on pretty much every beer review site out there and it deserves every amazing review it gets. I am here to tell you that Black Note is the real deal: sweet, yet tempered by a slight roast; substantial barrel characteristics (vanilla, oak) without overwhelming the base beer; a substantial, but not thick mouthfeel with a creaminess lended to it from the Double Cream Stout portion of the base; and at 11% or so, just the slightest touch of alcohol heat. It very well might be the best stout I’ve ever tasted — it certainly is in my top five. If you ever see this anywhere and you pass it up, you would be out of your mind. A great, great beer from Bell’s.
After a pint of Black Note, I switched it up with a half pint of The Oracle, then returned to Black Note for another half pint. I decided 32 ounces of high gravity beer was probably enough for one evening, and walked home, the whole time wondering when the next chance to try such an amazing beer again would pop up. Even now, I still have Black Note on my mind…
(Sorry there are no more pictures of the event. They had set the lighting level to ‘sexy’ and I didn’t have a flash on my phone camera, so the pictures turned out like garbage. Nothing too exciting: a full line of Bell’s taps and a pint of Black Note which deceivingly looks like any other pitch black stout.)
With the first ever Cincinnati Beer Week starting today, I thought a breakdown of the events that caught my eye should be in order. This is by no means THE authoritative source (though, I think it’s a pretty darn good list), but it will at least give you a place to start if you’re late to the game.
Without further ado:
A great opening night event at a great bar that I bet a lot of folks haven’t been to. They will have Pannepot, Tsjeeses Reserva 2010, and Ignis Et Flamma on draft; with Pannepot and Pannepot Reserva in bottles. I haven’t had the other beers, but Pannepot and Pannepot Reserva are some of the best Belgian Quads I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. Top five, for sure. While you’re there, make sure you visit the storefront to take away from libations to hold you over for the weekend. They have a remarkable selection.
The best beer bar in the best neighborhood in Cincinnati. They will have an assortment of lambics, gueuzes, and other sour ales to try. Even if you don’t like sours, their beer fridge is full of anything else you could want. Not to mention, if you come for dinner or just need a late night snack, they have great burritos and nachos, with homemade salsas.
This is likely the only chance you’ll get to try the barrel aged version of the already limited 1861 Porter brewed by Moerlein for the oldest bar in Cincinnati. Bonus points for an awesome drinking environment and good food.
Brewers from Mt. Carmel, Rivertown, Red Ear, Listermann, and Moerlein will be on hand to sign bottles of the first ever official Beer Week brew. The beer, a barley wine, was definitely green and needs some age on it, but this would be the only time to start a complete vertical of the Cincinnati Beer Week beers, plus a great opportunity to meet the brewers local to our community. Bonus points: pick up some bottles from JJ’s amazing selection, and perhaps some cheese’s from an equally impressive assortment.
This one sounds really interesting. Not only do you get to learn how to grow hops yourself (a nice money-saving venture for homebrewers), but you get to bring home your own hop rhizome to get you started. Note that supplies are limited, so make sure to reserve your spot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listermann’s doesn’t just sell homebrew supplies. They also sell beer that they brew themselves, including this baltic porter which is lightly smoked and was aged in a bourbon barrel. Odds are you’ll never see this beer again, so go get you some. Note: it’s on cask, so you’ll get a nice, authentic experience here. Also, again, same Arnold’s bonus points listed above.
Go eat some delicious noms at the wonderful Dilly Cafe with Jason Roeper of Rivertown, where you’ll get the opportunity to try their upcoming Brewmaster’s Reserve Limited Release, Pestilence, a hibiscus sour ale. Afterwards, make sure to grab a few bottles from their small in space, yet big in variety selection. Or -gasp- check out their great wine selection. Note: at $45 per person & only 32 seats available, reservations are strongly recommended. Please call 513.561.5233 to reserve your seats.
You’ll get the first chance to try the session IPA being released in bottles by Founders. In addition kegs of, Breakfast Stout, Double Trouble, and Dirty Bastard will be tapped. Of course, at 10:00PM, the real reason folks should be there will occur: the tapping of the mythical Canadian Breakfast Stout will occur. 10:00 is past my bedtime, but if you missed out on the insanely hyped bottle release, this will be a great opportunity to try one of the best beers ever brewed. Bonus point: mac and cheese.
All of this greatness will culminate in the Cincinnati beer event of the year: the Winter Beerfest. Over 300 beers from 80+ breweries will fill the ENTIRE Duke Energy Convention Center. If you haven’t, for some crazy reason, bought tickets yet, I IMPLORE you to do so now. You’ll be missing out on some great fun if you don’t.
So, there we go. That’s my list. Take it, leave it, or write your own. Those are the events I am most excited about this week. If you like good beer, this week should be heaven for you. I thank everyone who was involved for all their hard work and wish them the best of luck this week!