#SippyTimeBeer Reviews – @StrangewaysRVA

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My first comments after this picture were “I knew my head was large but it looks gigantic.”

Our second brewery tour was not exactly smooth sailing. My brother planned on taking me, the lady and parents to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery but it opened at two instead of noon as my brother had planned. As a back up plan, we headed to Strangeways Brewing which I was looking forward to trying more anyway. To make up for missing Hardywood, my brother got the brilliant plan to bring their Gingerbread Stout to Thankmas later this year. He did list it as one of his five favorite beers last year so I look forward to it. On to the strange beers from Strangeways.

Unlike Rock Bottom, this brewery is a Richmond establishment only. Another thing they don’t share in common is listing IBUs. They do have the numbers listed on their site so I can get into them in my reviews but I was unaware at the time of tasting. It’s pretty easy to guess by type of beer whether it’s going to be bitter or not. I’m not sure that matters in this instance because they’re bringing the funk on their beers that no one else I know is doing.

Strangeways BrewingAlbino White Monkey Ale – The base of this beer is a White Belgian Ale and is part of what they call their “Nucleus” series. They had an option with Grape in it but I had already picked the beer below so I wanted to try one of their beers without extra flavoring. I decided to start with this one because of it’s probable IBU, which ends up being 25. It had a couple of usual suspects in the white ale department, orange peel and coriander. I think what made this peculiar was the use of white pepper. It gives it a little hint of heat that helps pique the other flavors. They also provide just a little heat with the 5.0% ABV. I didn’t have a ratings card for Strangeways and I’m not sure I need one. This beer was a great starter.

Strangeways BrewingCaramel Woodbooger Belgian Style Brown Ale – Without the caramel, this beer is part of their “Nucleus” series too. From their description, this beer is normally more balanced. I don’t think adding extra caramel threw this one out of whack but I’m sure it is sweeter than their regular serving. It has a nice toasted malt flavor to it which brings about the color and classic brown ale taste. As usual, dark chocolate is added to the profile but I had a hard time picking it out. My mother may have considering she felt this beer tasted like burnt toffee. They use fruit esters in this beer too but again, I’m not sure I tasted it. Even though I can’t taste the later two flavors, you can tell how complex the taste is. This beer provided more punch than the last at 6.0% ABV. Even after missing some tastes, this beer tastes fantastic.

Strangeways BrewingMelon Disintegration Barrel Aged IPA – This beer is part of their “Woodsman” series which barrel aged in various casks. This one happened to be aged in oak. I didn’t know that the beer was barrel aged at the time of tasting. Like their other beers, it has a Belgian base for this IPA. It isn’t very high for an IPA with the IBUs at 70. The bitterness was wiped out by the oak flavor. It was obvious as soon as I read about aging. The citrus end of hops didn’t pop up much either. I will account the aging to that also. In my opinion, the barrel aging washes out a lot of flavors of the original beer. Since my mother had enjoyed an IPA the day before, I gave her a try. She told me it was “burny, throaty.” She didn’t like her second venture into IPAs. In IPA fashion, this beer does lay the wood on you at 7.7% ABV. Too bad the wood was the worst tasting beer I tried there.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – @ClownShoesBeer, @IthacaBeer and @RivertownBrew

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It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia High School Reunion

I need to start clearing out some of my inventory. I’ve already had 14 different beers to star the New Year. Two were home brews and another came from my home town of Altoona, PA. Time to rewind though. One night in early November, I had to go to my lady’s high school reunion since it’s only in Dayton. To try and make my night better, I drank these three beers.

Rivertown Hop BarronRivertown Brewing CompanyHop Barron – When you’re in Dayton, you are not very far from Cincinnati so seeing Rivertown on the beer menu was no surprise. What was a surprise was that the draft menu for a craft beer resulted in me having to drink a beer I had already reviewed or an IPA. This Double India Pale Ale didn’t start me off on the right foot though. I haven’t paid much attention to IBUs, International Bitterness Units, but this one is listed at 103 which is why I didn’t like it. It was a little to bitter for me. They use four types of hops to create this beverage that clocks in at 8.5% ABV. I like Rivertown as a brewing company but this is not a beer for me. If you’d enjoy that bitterness, you can find their beers in these locations.

Clown Shoes Hoppy FeetClown Shoes BeerHoppy Feet – This beverage was different than the other two because it was a black IPA which got cover twice recently with 21st Amendment’s Back In Black. Clown Shoes uses roasted malt and dark chocolate to help bring out a completely different. They use grapefruit and pine to help balance out the double dose of hops that they use. I didn’t taste the grapefruit or pine, which is a good thing on the later count since pine isn’t tasty at all. The grapefruit sourness and touch of sweetness help to lighten this beer up in the bitterness department. Clown Shoes doesn’t list IBUs so it’s hard to compare these beers because of it but I’ll trust my taste buds and assume it’s below 103. These Shoes will help fill your liver with alcohol by giving you a 7.0% ABV. This beer out of Ipswitch, MA (I think. Hard to read the label and it doesn’t clearly say on the site.) has an interesting distribution area. If you fit into this clown car of a distribution area, give it a try to see if it’ll make you hoppy.

Ithaca Flower PowerIthaca Beer CompanyFlower Power IPA – My first impression of this beer was that it was smoother than the other two IPAs I had. After looking at their website, they tell you to enjoy the clover honey and tropical nose that comes from pineapple and grapefruit. I can’t say I tasted the honey, pineapple or grapefruit directly but I’m quite sure that it helped to balance out the bitterness that comes from hopping the beer five different times in the brewing and fermentation process. They wet hop with five types and dry hop with three other types of hops. All of this hopping ends up leading to a 7.5% ABV, which I thought was low for the pile of hops they toss in there. Ohio is the furthest south Ithaca distributes but if you live in the northeast, give this beer some peace, love and happiness. – Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – Four Strings, Mt. Carmel and Ted’s

Meisters Mt Carmel Four Strings

I had the first two beers while waiting for the seriously delicious deep dish pizza at Meister’s here in Columbus. I’m not normally one to order deep dish because I think it’s entirely too much bread. It’s the house specialty and it gave me a good forty minutes to drink before the pizza arrived. The pizza was a perfect addition to my stomach after a beer and a half. It’s all hand made and worth the wait, especially with an excellent selection of beers.

Four Strings BreweryCherry Blonde – This brewery is another Columbus special. Four Strings only have three beers listed on their site, one of which is Backstage Blonde, but this beer was definitely different. They need to update their site because I also have a Vanilla Porter from them on my Instagram account which isn’t listed either. Back to the Cherry Blonde though, it certainly had the Backstage base but had cherry added to it. The cherry made it a little too sour for my taste in beer. I want to feel refreshed, not to be puckering my lips like I just had a Sour Patch Kid.

Mt. Carmel  Brewing CompanyBlonde Ale – This brewery is out of Cincinnati and it has several tasty beers. This beer though is fairly average. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing but I want an extra punch of flavor in there which it’s lacking. It worked to help wash down a tasty, tasty pizza though.

Ted's Pail Ale

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing CompanyTed’s Pail Ale – Or at least that the company I believe distributes the beer according to a Google search despite not being listed on Leinenkugel’s site. After I posted a picture of this beer Jeremy gave me his input “Teds us good. stuff”. Setting aside the Jeremese (He has his own language which is displayed quite well in a scant four words and misplaced period), I don’t agree with him. Granted, he’s more of an authority on IPA but I usually like the regular pale ales and it didn’t live up to my standard. Any easy two examples would be a couple of choices in town, Columbus Brewing Company’s Pale Ale and Four Strings Brass Knuckle American Pale Ale. -Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – Cincinnati’s #Bockfest Part II

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On Sunday, we were slated to go on a Prohibition Tour of the Over the Rhine area of Cincinnati. I’ll explain that in a moment. Taste of Belgium was packed so we went to a bar that was supposed to be serving breakfast. The bar tender then told us he could order from Belgium or Coffee Emporium. We decided to walk down to CE since it was on the way to Bock Hall. This was unfortunate because they were showing international soccer including my beloved Fiorentina. The staff had never heard of the sandwich we ordered despite the fact that it was on their menu. The order took absolutely too long. It was worth the hassle though because we got a grilled peanut butter squared (smooth & crunchy), jam and bananas. Nothing fancy but a tasty way to start the day.

The Over the Rhine (OTR) area of Cincinnati is where the majority of German settlers came in the 1840s. At the time, the Erie Canal separated that part of the city. The canal no longer exists but the name remains. On the tour, we learned some factoids that were interesting to me. Cincinnati was hard hit from Prohibition because of the amount of beer produced and consumed locally. The average consumption in the US at the time was 16 gallons per of age adults. The average consumption in Cincy was 40 gallons. This fact is no surprise considering that Germany is number 2 in consumption of beer today. There were 36 breweries in the OTR are at the time with 9 of them being on McMicken Avenue.

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We went into Crown Brewing Company, one of the smaller breweries, to start the tour to look at their lagering cellar (pictured above). Lagering is German for storing. These were used from the 1850’s until the 1890’s when refrigeration became widely used. The rusted piping above was used to cycle water thru to help cool the cellar. The average temperature in these cellars was 42-48 degrees. The tour guide at this station told us that lagering is a different process than making ales but they didn’t get into them much. We also learned that you weren’t allowed to bottle your beer in the same building that you brewed it in. We walked the tunnel where the old lines pumped the beer across the street into a second building. Most full kegs are 31 gallons but because of a tax on the number of barrels by the city government, they were normally made in 36 gallon kegs.

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The next stop was the old Hudepohl Brewery. They had some period actors tell the story of how the brewery was founded. It was cheesy but they also gave a lot of good information. Hudepohl was one of the larger brewers in town making about 100,000 barrels a year.They survived Prohibition. Hudepohl supplied mini canned beers to the troops in World War II. Unfortunately, they still closed shortly after the lifting of Prohibition.

Bockfest Goat

We  visited one last brewery, Kauffman. They mainly showed us these to see larger lagering cellars. They held around 300,000-400,000 barrels. The most interesting part was finally the reason behind all of the goats around Bockfest. It turns out that Bock is German for goat. We also learned that bock beers were used for their nutrition during Lent by monks. I’m not so sure about that one but the Catholics can always find a way to drink. The largest brewery before Prohibition was Christian Moerlein. It didn’t survive Prohibition but it was resurrected in 1981 by new owners. Moerlein is using the Hudepohl label on some of their beers. Moerlein was the main influence to start Bockfest in 1993. Time to finish off the column with a couple of more beers.

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Schoenling Bock was the only beer I had in Bock Hall. It is made from a home brewer’s recipe who won the previous year’s Bock contest. My girl’s brother in law is considering entering the contest next year. I’m still waiting for the oatmeal stout we bought him for Christmas.  It’s made but needs to be kegged or bottled. It was better than the Moerlein special but was the fifth best bock of the weekend. After that one, it was time to tap out of the bocks. I stuck with Moerlein because I haven’t seen it much up here. I went with a  Moerlein Helles. It was a nice change of pace to go with something lighter and less complex than a bock.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Lavomatic Cafe which we stopped into for lunch before heading back to Cbus. She went with the Indian Spiced Hummus that was served fried pita wedges. It was fantastic with the peppery raita & arugala. I went with the Boss Grilled Cheese which had sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and tomatillo. It was served with potato wedges cooked in duck fat with rosemary and a spicy remoulade. It was a fantastic lunch. I also had one more beer. It was the new brew from Great Lakes, Alchemy Hour Double IPA. I have no grasp on this beer. I think I was flavored out. I’ll do a  full review some other time.

This weekend was brought to me by my lovely girl and my friends. Get to Cincinnati with some friends and enjoy a good time. -Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – Cincinnati’s #Bockfest Part I

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The trip this past weekend to Cincinnati for their annual Bockfest is worth two posts. I won’t bore you with details of my trip to Ikea although I am typing this article from my newly purchased lap top table. I’ll be doing a Saturday post which is about beer and food. The Sunday post will be about the Prohibition tour I went on and more beer & food. It was a packed two day trip. I’m sure something similar will be coming after our trip this weekend to Nashville. My girl & I will be meeting Jeremy down there so watch out.

Our first image of Cincinnati is the above picture. My girl & I were heading for our hotel when we ran into these people seeking justice. I still haven’t bothered to look up what the strike or demonstration was all about. I don’t care enough. They were probably out at the bars later in the evening with us. We ran into them as we were trying to find Skyline Chili to eat at. I mention it because I love it. A hot dog with runny chili (beanless) with piles of stringy cheddar cheese. What’s not to love?

After getting settled in the hotel, we headed to Cafe Martin which is in the Garfield Suites. We met my neighbors and their friend Sweet Tea. Yep, we actually called him that. I have no idea what his real name is. My younger brother & wife also met us there. We went there because of the tapping of a limited edition Moerlein Blockhead Bock. The brew master for Christian Morelein, Richard Dube, was on hand to serve it. Much to my surprise, when we got there, they were serving it for free for the first line. You can’t start off the night better than that. I suppose it could have though. After considering the rest of the night, this beer was the worst one. It was still a good beer.

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Our next stop was Arnold’s Bar & Grill. It was opened in 1861 and looks every day of it in a very good way. It was an absolute zoo. I want to go back when it’s not that crazy. I wasn’t going to just come in and out of the bar though. I tried the Triple Digit Gravitator. It ended up being the best beer I had that night. I can’t find the percentage of alcohol but I’m pretty sure it’s really high because that kicked my ass. Despite moving everywhere to avoid waiters and fellow patrons was worth it. So was finding this gem of a sign in the two user restroom that was maybe twice the size of your average half bath. Kudos to my brother for spotting it but doppy didn’t take a picture so I actually went to the restroom specifically to take this picture.

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News We Missed: Chris Sabin, Animal Planet, Randy Orton & Kelly Kelly

Since we haven’t had a news round up in a while, let’s move on for some small ditties. According to Prowrestling.net, Chris Sabin has torn his other ACL and will be out of action again. You’ve got to feel bad for this guy after being back for no more than two months to have it happen again. Granted, he wasn’t going anywhere since his partner in crime Alex Shelley bolted for some pasture that isn’t even as green as TNA. Maybe Sabin can help design TNA’s video game. Oh that’s right, they’re only good enough to have a board game.

Staying in Impact Wrestling, Eric Young will be hosting a program on Animal Planet called “Off The Hook: Extremes Catches”. His first episode will feature how he keeps catching a contract from Dixie Carter. In the second episode, EY will be explaining how he caught ODB as his wife. In the third episode, we’ll find out what Young can catch in his beard. By the time the fourth episode is ready to air, Animal Planet will realize they’ve wasted more money on EY than TNA so they’ll mercifully cancel the show.

Last but not least, both Randy Orton & Kelly Kelly are set to make returns to the WWE. Orton will be ready to go when the WWE visits Cincinnati for Monday Night Raw. I can’t wait for HHH to come out and rip on him for how skinny Orton has become during his hiatus. Kelly Kelly will be sleeping with the guys in the back starting this coming Monday. She will stick around long enough for the WWE to mention Maxim’s Hot 100 enough to make guys feel like that outdated magazine means anything. If you do like that magazine, I feel sorry for your penis when you jerk off. -Kevin

The best wrestling promo of the year so far

IMO. – Dusty

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