Quaff Bros: Catching Up, Blue Melvin, and Beyond

Quaff Bros. is a gypsy beer label from Cincinnati, and now across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. It’s been three years since my post helping you know your local brewery. There have been some changes at Quaff Bros that we’re going to get into, but rest assured, the future is bright and blue (melvin)!

Quaff Bros

Continue reading “Quaff Bros: Catching Up, Blue Melvin, and Beyond”

Know You Local Brewery: Quaff Bros

I stopped by The Party Source for a conversation with Quaff Bros co-founder Danny Gold and Quaff collaborators Scott LaFollette, head brewer at Blank Slate Brewing Company, and Jason Brewer, from Listermann’s/Triple Digit, about wandering breweries. That discussion evolved into a full history of Quaff Bros which you can learn about below.

Quaff Bros

Continue reading “Know You Local Brewery: Quaff Bros”

Review: Quaff Bros Big Kahuna

IMAG0661

Coconut beers always seem to be a disappointment to me. It always just seems to be a hint of coconut, leaving me wanting more. After drinking Big Kahuna from our buddies Quaff Bros across the river (though brewed on this side at Listermann), I can safely say that this is no longer the case. Utilizing coconut flakes, toasted coconut, and coconut oil, this beer essentially tastes like it has been aged inside of a giant coconut that previously housed bourbon.

It starts off looking like every other stout, porter, etc. in the world. The only differentiating figure looks-wise is the Coca Cola head on it; big brown bubbles. It gave me pause for a moment because I was under the impression that fatty coconut kills head retention. I guess not always. From the smell alone, you know that you’re going to be in for a treat if you’re a fan of coconut. For just about the first time I’ve experienced with a Quaff Bros beer, the barrel takes the back seat here. In the driver’s seat (and probably the passenger’s, as well) is COCONUTBourbon is in the child seat in the back and the base beer (an imperial porter for those who care), is bound and gagged in the trunk.

The taste, following this trend, is dominated by coconut, with a slight butterscotch flavor either from barrel or base beer. It’s tough to tell. The bourbon is even more muted in the flavor, though to be fair, barrel characteristics often include coconut notes, so it’s entirely possible this is getting lost. Also strange is a slight lactic twang on the finish. I have not the slightest idea what would lend this, but I don’t care for it.

The coconut here is obnoxious and somewhat reduces drinkability (in my modest opinion, of course), but that’s the whole point. It’s supposed to be obnoxious. This is a good, not great, beer, but I am happy that I have another bottle. If I’m going to buy a unique beer, I’d much rather make it a local one than one Sam has recreated from some terracotta pot in a third world country. I know there are a handful of people whose palates I respect who really enjoyed this, but I’m having a tough time putting it on the same level as Sour Grapes, Joseph, and a few other top tier Quaff beers. Maybe it’s just that I don’t appreciate coconut enough. Who knows.

There are still more than fifty bottles of this at Party Source, and if you and a buddy go in on it together, at $9.99 a bottle it won’t cost you more than buying a drink at the bar. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of coconut, you owe it to yourself to get over there and pick up the maximum of four bottles you’re allowed to buy.

P.S. In other cool Quaff Bros news, their “Corn on the Knob” will be on draft at Great American Ballpark on June 14 when the Reds take on the Milwaukee Brewers.

Quaff Bros.’ Manhattan Project

IMAG0543

Sometimes craft beer is weird. Brewers of beer (or at least craft beer) are an inherently creative bunch. With brewers, like bakers, chefs, and pretty much anyone else who uses their noggins to turn a concept into a finished product, you’ll find that the concept itself is often as important as the process that leads to the finish product. And boy, oh boy, do the Quaff Bros. have some concepts. Strong – sour – barrel aged – stout- wheat – IPA, their creations run the gamut. I thought Sour Grapes (check out my review) was weird, but apparently I had seen nothing yet.

Obviously, following a sour brown ale aged in bourbon barrels with wine grapes (yep), they release a beer that attempts to mimic a classic cocktail. Manhattan Project is a rye beer, aged in rye whiskey barrels with maraschino cherries and bitters. Like I said, craft beer is weird.

Anyways, on to the good stuff. Continue reading “Quaff Bros.’ Manhattan Project”

My New Year’s Drinking Resolution: To Drink Local-er

Oh, New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never much been one for them, but being a grownup with a wife, kids, and a house gives me enough things to improve myself on that I think I’m going to give a few a whirl in 2013. Among the more trivial of those are related to alcohol. Because I don’t drink that much, my resolutions aren’t related to the Betty Ford Clinic or anything so dramatic. I’d like to homebrew more often, make better homebrew and — the topic of this post — I would like to give local beers more of a chance.

Most of the beers I review for this site are brewed in the Cincinnati region. Behind the scenes and away from this blog, though, local beers make up a tiny portion of what I consume. There are a number of reasons for this: up until this last year, there really wasn’t a great deal of locally-brewed beers on the shelves that were up to par or better than the non-local options sitting right next of them for the same price. Many of the beers that I would then actually rather buy than their non-local counterparts were either draft only, growler only, or not available on most stores’ shelves. Not exactly conducive to everyday drinking.

With the last year, a lot of this has changed. Though Cincinnati still needs to get with the program and catch up to its C-named sisters in terms of producing a really good, off the shelf IPA (Cleveland with White Rajah and Head Hunter, Columbus with Columbus IPA and Bodhi), the options have improved substantially in terms of quality. In many ways, 2012 was a banner year for better beer in Cincinnati. Rivertown now puts out a sour for almost every season of the year. Listermann/Triple Digit, who turned Cincinnatus from a pretty bad barrel aged stout into a fantastic one, has been pushing out high-gravity beers than can be found all over the place, including places like Walgreens. We’ve also seen Blank Slate welcomed to the scene, Fifty West (my current favorite and most promising brewery) opened their taproom doors with more than ten offerings out the gate, and MadTree is going to be making a splash immediately from the looks of their setup and capacity. And that’s without even mentioning the crazy barrel-aged only stuff that Quaff Bros seem to be constantly brainstorming.

Even with all of that, local brews currently don’t make up anywhere near half of the beers I drink. When I can pick up a six-pack of Two Hearted from the gas station a block away from my house, it’s always going to be an uphill battle for local breweries. But, you know what? I’m going to try in 2013 to give local breweries a fair shake. I’m going to try this: half the beers I drink, at least to start 2013, will be locally-brewed. I’m even going to include my own homebrew into that bucket, so it should make things a little easier.

I’m certainly not bought into the “buy local” beer movement and I probably never will be. More than blindly buying local, I advocate being a smart consumer first. I’m happy to give local beer a try, but when it’s not as good as the commonly-available non-local alternative, I’m not going to continue to buy it just because it’s local. So, I’m asking you, local brewers, keep improving your regular lineups so I can keep this resolution moving. Even better, if  you have something you’re proud of, fill me in. I’m always happy to put up reviews to give local beers their time in the spotlight.

Happy New Year’s to all you Queen City Drinks readers out there. Drink well, but more importantly, drink safe and we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2013!

Josh’s Favorite Beers of 2012

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been going through my Untappd profile, rounding up my most memorable beer than I was lucky enough to try in 2012. I ended up with a total of fifteen beers, consisting of a top ten and five honorable mentions which were just short of the cut. It’s not quite the end of 2012 yet, so I suppose it’s possible that late additions bump some of these out, but it’s a risk I’m going to make.

My takeaways?

  1. I definitely like barrel-aged beers.
  2. Cincinnati-area beers performed well, taking 4 of the 15 spots.
  3. This list was really, really hard to cull down. There is so much great beer out there and I’ve been able to try so much of it. I love the choice that better beer drinkers have now.

Now, for the list. There are more details for each beer in the captions of the slideshow below, but this here’s the summary. By the way, the top ten are in no particular order.

Top Ten

  • Rivertown Lambic (2010)
  • Founders Looking Glass
  • Sierra Nevada barrel-aged draft only beers
  • Quaff Bros. Joseph
  • The Bruery Black Tuesday (2009, 2011) & Chocolate Rain
  • Goose Island Juliet
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth (2011, 2012)
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2012)
  • Westvleteren XII
  • Listermann Cincinnatus

Honorable Mentions

  • Rivertown Sour Cherry Porter
  • Stone Enjoy By 11.09.12
  • Quaff Bros Sour Grapes
  • New Belgium La Folie
  • Founders Better Half

The format is a little awkward below with the captions, so if you’d like a better view of them, you can do so here.

[gigya type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” src=”https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf” width=”400″ height=”267″ flashvars=”host=picasaweb.google.com&captions=1&noautoplay=1&hl=en_US&feat=flashalbum&RGB=0x000000&feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2F112623189967225981728%2Falbumid%2F5823309371816619489%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26authkey%3DGv1sRgCNfGiv2QkseZ2QE%26hl%3Den_US” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”]

 

The Three Best Things I’ve Drank in November

Because I like to think that people actually read what I’m writing here and hopefully they do so because they trust my taste, I’m going to start a new series that I’ll try to get up at the end of each month. In it, I’ll give a brief memorial for the three most stellar things I’ve drank over the month. They might not all be beer; spirits, wines, hell, even not-alcoholic things are fair game. Maybe the other QCD contributors will decide to post theirs, as well (hint hint), and we’ll get a wide spectrum of ideas.

Note: since some of these beers will be limited or draft-only, you may be SOL on trying to get ahold of it when the monthly post goes up. Also note that these are in no particular order.

IMAG0313
Bell’s Black Note
Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

This is kinda cheating because I knew it was going to be on my list before I even drank it. I’ve had it once before during last year’s Cincinnati Beer Week, and it blew my mind. A blend of Bell’s Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout aged in bourbon barrels, this beer hits every check box for a beast-like imperial stout. Sweet, yet countered by a slight roast, this beer treads all over your average barrel-aged stouts without even trying. If you see it on tap and don’t order it, that sound you hear is my head shaking at you in shame. If you need any indication of how good this beer is, when I saw it was on tap, I connived to have family in town for Thanksgiving go to the Lager House for lunch the day it was tapped so I could get a pour. Not moving mountains or anything, but still.

IMAG0266
Quaff Bros
Sour Grapes

Though this local beer could have qualified on creativity alone, it scores massive bonus points for being really tasty. Take a hearty red wine, mix it with a brown ale or porter, aged that in a bourbon barrel, and then pretend it doesn’t sound disgusting. That’s what Sour Grapes is like. They were barrel-aging a brown ale, when – OOPS! – it sprung an infection and soured. In trying to salvage the beer, they added Sangiovese grapes and let it ride. The fact that this “by the seat of their pants” project worked out is pretty amazing. Sadly, unless you rob my cellar, good luck getting a bottle. Like every one of the Quaff Bros bottles, these went pretty quickly.

If you’d like, feel free to check out my full review.

Quaff Bros
Joseph

Believe me, I was just as surprised as most of you are to see two local brews on this list. It’s probably the first time I would have ever been able to do this and I think it speaks highly to the improving quality of beers brewed in this area. Not to mention the ass that Quaff Bros are kicking all over the block with the stuff they’ve been putting out.

Joseph is a mild coffee stout (coffee provided by Taste of Belgium) aged in Elijah Craig barrels. This is easily in my top five of any beers drank by yours truly with coffee influence. The coffee takes a slight back seat to the bourbon, which is preferable, in my opinion. Perfectly balanced and dangerously drinkable (at 9.5%), if Quaff Bros don’t put another batch of this together on their own regards, I think I’m going to kidnap them and force them to do so. If you move quickly, you can still pick up a growler of this at Party Source ($9.00 for 32oz, $ $17.99 for 64oz) and I urge you to do so. Not only is it delicious, a growler of this might be one of the best barrel-aged beer deals you’ll ever find.

That’s what impressed me this month. Did anything blow you away in the month of November?