I’ve been tracking the progress of the government-delayed Ohio Brewery beer collaboration, and, despite finding it sold out at Heinen’s, managed to snag a 12-pack at Warehouse Beverage. Overall it held up quite well despite being released six months late.
- Rye Kolsch (Brew Kettle and Willoughby Brewing): My favorite of the bunch. This was supposedly the beer most likely to go off because Kolsch in theory tastes best young, but that wasn’t the case. The aroma was citrusy hops with the flavor nicely balanced between floral (but not overpowering) hoppiness, sharp rye, and a subtle caramel malt evening everything out. I haven’t had a lot of low ABV rye ales, but this was the best I’ve had (less bitter and more drinkable than Acadia’s). The lightness of the beer’s body combined with the refreshing, complex flavors make for a great session beer. Too bad they’re not brewing more of these.
- Barrel-Aged Strong Ale (“Berlot”) (Great Lakes and Cellar Rats): Decent but somewhat disappointing considering the intriguing combination of barleywine and oak merlot barrels. Sweet and boozy with almost no bitterness or oak flavors. I drank half a bottle and let it sit capped in the fridge for a couple days (the oxygen in the bottle “quick ages” the beer) and the flavor mellowed and improved somewhat. I might drink the second bottle in a few months.
- Smoked Black Lager (Indigo Imp and Thirsty dog): This one started to grow on me after trying it a second time. The style is “Brazilian Black Lager” (think Xingu), which is an interesting attempt, and it’s quite drinkable. The only problem is that it’s a tad sweet, perhaps from some of the hops breaking down over time. It probably would have been excellent shortly after brewing.
- Wet Hop IPA (FatHeads and Black Box): Ironically, this beer was supposed to degenerate since brewing, but it was the second best (or maybe the best) in the bunch. The hoppy floral elements were pronounced but not overpowering, and the beer was much better balanced than the other wet IPA I’ve tried (Two Brothers). I’d be happy to pick up a six pack of these if they were available.
- Imperial American Porter (Rocky River and Hoppin’ Frog): A tasty strong porter (not sure I’d call it “Imperial” at 6.9% ABV), with a sweet, roasty front end and a uniquely hoppy aftertaste that seemed to fade more into the background as I got to the end of the bottle.
- German-Style Ale (Altbier) (Cornerstone and Buckeye): This one seems to have gone bad (at least the two in my 12-pack). It overflowed with foam and tasted bitter in a metallic way, which is exactly what’s happened to beer I’ve brewed when some bottles went off. I could only really take a sip or two of this, which is too bad as it sounded interesting. Maybe temperatures got too hot during storage.
I was glad to see my take on these was mostly shared by Brewer’s Daughter. I was a bit sad, though, that I got three smoked lagers and only one Wet Hop IPA in the 12 pack.
The IX International beer fest is coming up in a few weeks. Despite the “international” tag, this is a lot like Brewzilla last fall. There will be plenty of local breweries, including everyone but Black Box from the above collaborations. Most exciting for me is the presence of so many good Michigan Breweries including Bell’s, North Peak (from my home town of Traverse City) and Jolly Pumpkin (who make some of the best Belgian-style ales in the world—don’t miss Oro De Calabaza).
OK, you’ve read (or skimmed) this far and probably saw the “giveaway” in the title. We have a pair of tickets for the event, worth $90 total, good for any of the three sessions (Friday, May 14th, 7-11pm or Saturday, May 14th 1-5pm or 7-11pm). Here’s what you need to do: In the spirit of the Ohio Brewers’ collaboration, reply to this post with your idea for a unique (but hopefully drinkable) beer.
For instance, inspired by Dogfish Head’s use of cedar wood in Grain to Glass, Short’s Brewing Company’s Nicie Spicie (with black pepper) and Heavy Seas Über Pils, I thought about brewing a strong bock with cedar chips and a mix of hot spices. I’ve since abandoned this idea (due to not finding cedar chips and perhaps a lack of nerve) in favor of a well-hopped smoked apricot ale, which I plan to start brewing sometime after the semester’s over (I teach English and am currently buried in grading).
You’re limited to two replies (any after that won’t count) which should be submitted by midnight on May 1st. A winner will be chosen on May 2nd using random.org. If you are so inspired that you can’t limit yourself to two ideas, just combine them in your replies (or post a third not eligible for the drawing).