Tour of Rivertown Brewery

Fortune Favors the BraveIMG_1222

Last week my girlfriend surprised me with reservations to tour the Rivertown Brewery in Lockland, Ohio just north of Cincinnati. Rivertown Brewery, started in 2009, have now have reached: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Florida. They have two brews a day to meet up with their demand. I have been to several breweries in the Cincinnati area, but never had a formal tour. This was such a great experience and I highly recommend anyone reading take a tour of your local brewery. We drank beer through the whole tour -that’s a plus.

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We got there over an hour early like the tickets said to. As soon as we walked in there was a huge a bottling machine capable of filling 72 bottles at a time (back left of picture). The whole place smelled of fresh grains and sweet malt. Their taproom stood off to the right of the door. We had a few pints while we waited for the tour and talked to the bartender.

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Six o’clock hit and Josh, Rivertown Brewery’s general manager, gave us a tour of the brewery. It started with showing us the different types of ingredients they use in the beer. We sampled different malts and grains. Josh encouraged only smelling the hops – and rightly so. We moved into the room with their 31 barrel (976.5 gallons) mash tun and half a dozen fermenting vats of varying sizes.

Next was their old bottling machine. At 24 bottles at a time the machine did it’s job well, but Rivertown Brewery is expanding too rapidly for the small thing to meet up with demands. They have a huge rotating 72 bottle capacity machine, but it is not in operation as of yet.

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Josh moved us on to the wooden barrels where they age some of their beers, the pallets of bottles and kegs, and finally to a cooler the size of a three car garage. After the tour we met back up at the front bar and some other employees answered questions.

The shining star of the whole visit was their sour beer. Yes, dear readers, sour beer. I’m not talking about old, skunked, or stale beer. Sour beer is the new style of beer that brewers are making. Think about how food companies take cream and add bacteria to make sour cream for your tacos. This is the same process. Rivertown takes a few of their “normal” recipes, adds bacteria, and creates sour beer.

I wasn’t excited to try it at first, but I knew that I had to take the plunge for my home brewing readers. I did it for you. It took some getting used to, but by the end of the night I got a full pint down and was satisfied. It’s not a beer that you throw back during a sports match or one to sip on.

The preferred technique from the Rivertown brew masters is to drink it in large mouthfuls to saturate the taste buds. The first few drinks were the worst, but as time went on the beer got so much better. I felt myself waiting with anticipation until the next drink. It tasted like someone took a beer and put Warhead candy into it.

I thought that sour beer is genius and Rivertown expects it to be the next big thing. There are several breweries across the country that makes sour beer. I don’t know if this will ever rival the IPA as the flagship of craft brewing, but it could give it a run for it’s money.

Check this beer out and my new friends at Rivertown Brewery. I can’t thank them enough for the amazing experience and knowledge they shared with us. I would also like to thank my lovely partner in crime for surprising me and arranging everything.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

Discussion-

Had you ever heard about sour beer and would you ever drink it?

PROST!

 

How Well Do You Know Your IPA?

Carbonating the Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs

Pliny If you have read more than just this post to the blog you will know that I love IPAs. We have had the opportunity to brew a few of them. Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs (Guy-us Plinius Secendus) was the first and my favorite.

We followed the directions step-by-step. The boil went by perfectly and we transferred to the fermenting bucket like we were supposed to. I was surprised how much hops were in the bottom of the bucket. There was a gallon equivalent in the bottom. This was far more than any other beer we had made up to that point. We dry hopped the fermentation for two weeks before bottling. The whole bottom was green.

After two weeks in the bottles we opened one bottle and it was flat. The flavor was great. It had the classic burnt copper color and had an incredible bitter taste of Centennial and Columbus hops. We were baffled why it was so flat. We waited another two weeks.

On the second try the beer was still flat. We asked the guys at the brewing store and they said to swirl the bottles to agitate the yeast. Ales have a top feeding warm yeast. I looked at the bottles and all the yeast had fallen to the bottom. I swirled the bottles and the yeast spun all around.

Two weeks later the carbonation was perfect. The beer had a perfect white head when poured into a glass. I loved drinking it. The sweet citrus mixed with the bitter hops was delightful. I want to make the beer again.

Bottle conditioning can fix almost any problem you are having with a batch. Making beer is an active chemical process with real organisms. Give them what they need, a little time, and you will have excellent beer.

 

The Flagship of Craft BrewingColumbia Hops

IPAs are the fastest growing type of beer in the United States for drinking and for brewing. It ‘s inevitable that you will run into an IPA somewhere along in your journey; therefore, you might as well know a little bit about them.

There are three main types of IPAs: English-style India pale ale, American-style India pale ale, and Imperial (double) India pale ale along with countless subcategories.

English-style India pale ale are quite balanced in overall malt and hop character. Notable floral, earthy, grassy hop character resides alongside a caramel, bready malt backbone. American craft-brewed versions of the English-style IPA, which outnumber available English-brewed examples, may show a little more hop personality than English-brewed IPAs; however, they remain more restrained in overall hop character than American-style IPAs.

American-style India pale ale- golden-to-copper appearance as English Pale Ale and delivers a medium malt profile, but it then diverges toward a hop-forward personality and often imparts a crisp mouth-feel. Pronounced fruit, citrus, pine and/or floral aromas and flavors from Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and other American hop varietals are often the mark of American Pale Ale. Brewers use techniques such as adding hops late in the boil phase as well as dry hopping to ensure the hop aromas and flavors are harnessed along with bitterness. The American Pale Ale style can perhaps be credited with starting America’s love affair with hoppy beers.

Imperial (double) India pale ale- are all about copious amounts of hops—typically of American variety—with plenty of malts and higher alcohol levels to offer balance to the hop bitterness. Variations exist within the style, with some examples offering a unilateral “tongue ripping” hop experience (to the joy of many hop enthusiasts as of which I am one). Others are balanced overall in hop bitterness and malt sweetness, and still others are complex, with multiple layers of fruity, hoppy, malty character that evolve as the beer passes over the palate and as it warms in the glass.

IPA’s have been the flagship of craft brewing for years now, but there is a challenger to the world of beer. Check out my post next week for more details. My latest experience was fun.

Community Brewing Competitions

For the community news section I will attach the American Homebrewers Association list for the up and coming brewing competitions. Find a competition in your area and try to make it. I look Northern Libertiesforward to the Annual Brewsters Cup Mead Competition near Cincinnati and maybe I will see some of you there.

“For Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Hoppiness”

This week I am reviewing one of my favorite beers Christian Moerlein Northern Liberties IPA. I have been an IPA man for about a year now and this is the IPA that got me into IPAs. It is a smooth beer that is not too over powering. I have had beers with more hops and more bitterness, but this one is just right.

The color is a burnt copper with a perfectly white and aromatic head. Thlife libery hoppinessis is one of the few beers that are an exception to my father’s see through the beer rule (see previous post for the rule). In my Brewing Over an Open Fire post I talked about ales and lagers. Lagers are known for their crisp taste. IPAs are considered ales, but this beer is very crisp. There is plenty of bitterness in the taste and citrus notes abound.

I love this beer. Finish this post and go buy some. You can find it at most retailers with a beer license. I bought my six-pack at Kroger for $8.99.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. Be sure to check the backlist of posts for more content. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

I’ve noticed that the highest day for traffic to the blog has consistently been Wednesday. I’m not sure why, but I welcome it. I will be changing my post day from Thursday to Tuesday to compliment the Wednesday high traffic day.

Discussion-

 

  • Think about your favorite type of beer. For me that is an IPA. What beer introduced you to the style and what about it converted you? Remember to hit comment at the top of the page.

PROST!

Brewing Over an Open Fire

Brewing Update:

My girlfriend Jackie at her uncle's bonfire.

My girlfriend Jackie at her uncle’s bonfire.

As promised in my What Home Brewing Is Not post I will tell the story of when we had to brew over an open fire.

It was our first brew that we had ever attempted. The day was July 4th 2014 and we decided to brew for America. A week earlier we went to the local brewing supply store and bought: a 6-gallon brewing pot, a 6-gallon food grade fermenting bucket, the CO2 bleeder, no rinse sanitizer, a large spoon, thermometer, and the kit of ingredients needed to make the batch.

12, noon hit, we cracked open beers, cheered for God’s America, and got ready to brew. The water began to boil with the bag of grains and we took it off the heat to steep for thirty minutes. After the steep we brought it up to nearly a boil and then the power went out in the house. We had an electric stove. It was a perfect day outside of Cincinnati on the 4th. The sun was shining, there was a little breeze, birds were chirping, everything was perfect outside; but sure enough the power was out inside the house.

We were scrambling around the kitchen trying to figure out what to do. We were committed. It was time for the one-hour boil or we would have to throw out the whole batch and start over. This was our first one, our first attempt, our first shot. We had talked about brewing for years and we were not going to give up now as our forefathers did not give up on that heroic day.

He looked at me and said, “Smoker.” A few weeks earlier my father built a hog smoker made of concrete blocks and metal roofing for my sister’s high school graduation party. The fire was lit in a matter of minutes and the brewing pot was on the spit outside.

The batch started to boil again and we breathed an uneasy sigh of relief. The hour went by and we cooled it to 68 degrees, placed the beer into the fermenting keg, poured the yeast, and waited.

Four weeks later it tasted great. It was a brown ale style, which I am not keen on, but for what it was I enjoyed it. I found that it had a burnt, smoky taste and it was a hit at our summer parties. Our pot still has the burn marks from the fire and every time we pull the pot for another boil I think of the first time.

Factoid- The Classic Misconception: Ale or Lager?

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/beersci-what-difference-between-lager-and-ale

Diagram of Ales vs. Lagers

After about ten minutes in the craft-brewing scene I’m sure that you have heard the terms ale and lager. Unfortunately, they are all too often used interchangeably. I will put this misconception to rest with the help of Popular Science Magazine. The difference is as fundamental as both use different types of yeast: ales have top feeding, warm activated yeast; while lagers use bottom feeing, cold activated yeast.

Ale yeast usually ferments more quickly than lagers and they are often sweeter, fuller-bodied, and fruiter in taste. Classic ales are: IPA’s (my favorite), Pale Ales, Porters, Stouts, Wheats, and Browns.

Lagers are the most widely consumed and available style of beer in the world. They ferment slower than ales and are known for a “crisp” taste. Classic lagers are: Bocks, Pilsners, and Marzens.

You are now smarter. Read the article. It’s neat.

 

Community News- Pacific Flavor Coming to the Midwest

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/10/13/hawaiian-craft-brewer-chooses-cincinnati-to-make.html

Kona Brewing

Kona Brewing Company will be releasing three beers in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. They will be having tastings at Jungle Jims in Eastgate, Ohio on 10/31 and 11/02. They plan on serving their Kua Bay IPA, Lavaman Red, and Black Lava Lager to be sampled at the tastings. I doubt I can make it, but I am excited for the Kua Bay IPA to go on sale.

 

 

 

Review- Coors Brewery Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager

Batch 19 and Glass

Batch 19 and Glass

This week’s flavor comes from Coors Brewery and their Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager. I had never heard of the beer until over the weekend while I was talking to one of my girlfriend’s uncles at a bon fire (see picture of her above in front of the flames). I should have avoided the beer pallet of a man with a Miller Lite in his hand. “Situational awareness,” says my dad. Her uncle is a nice guy, but this is not a good beer.

I grew up with one rule about beer passed down from my father and his father before him going back to the beginning of time, “If you pour a beer into a glass and can see through it don’t drink it” (I have found a few exceptions to this rule, but do not tell them). I knew that I had made a mistake as soon as I could see my fingers on the other side of the glass through the beer.

I will try not to be cruel, but I did not enjoy this beer. It tasted like anything else from the Coors brewery. There was nothing special about the beer to mention. The six pack cost $7.99 at Walmart and the remaining beers will be used as cooking beers. Do not drink this beer.

 

Wish list:

Next week I will review a beer that I know I like and can give you a good review (probably an IPA).

I will also do SEO and other maintenance to the site in order to increase traffic to the site.

 

PROST!

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

Discussion:

 

  • Tell a story of when someone recommended a beer to you, you tried it, and you wondered how in the world he or she could like that beer. Remember to hit comment at the top.

Drinking and Politics

Update 10/23/14

10/23/14

Brewing Update:

We only brew preassembled kits that we get at a local brewing supply store outside of Cincinnati. I will refer to the beers by the names that the store uses for them.

We have not brewed anything new recently. Right now we are drinking on Wrath of the Tsar, which is an Imperial Stout. We did not take a specific gravity, but we are told by the storeowners that it is close to 9% ABV. I believe them. I can feel them hit after just two or three. This is not a get drunk beer, but one to sit and enjoy slowly. It will punch you from behind if you are not careful.

We just bottled the Area 51, which is an IPA. You will find that I am an IPA guy and I am very excited about this beer. We had it in the fermenting bucket for two weeks and dry hopped it one week. It has currently been in the bottles for almost a week by the time this post gets out. We will let it carbonate for one more week and then drink it. I foresee me drinking it more than him, because I am a hophead. I love the stuff, the stronger the IPA the better.

Factoid:

I am an information junkie. I think I have some weird disorder where I get entertainment from learning things. This week’s factoid comes from Ed Crews at Colonial Williamsburg on Drinking in Colonial America. Colonial candidates for political office attracted voters with alcohol. They would distribute pints of beer and hard cider as they gave their political speeches. Imagine how many more people would show up to the ballot box if there was a pint waiting for them. I, as a full-blooded American, do not require alcohol to get me to the ballot box, but I would love for alcohol to get me out.

If you are a candidate during this midterm-election period do what your ancestors did and you will have “one up” on the competition. I’ll vote for you.

You can find the link to the Crews article here. It’s a long read, but very worth it.

Community News:

This week’s news is two fold. First, the American Homebrewers Association is holding its National Homebrewers Conference June 11-13, 2015 in San Diego, California.

Secondly, they are also calling for submissions for presenters to speak at the conference. If you would like to present at the 2015 American Homebrewers Conference you can find the link to the site here.

Review:

For this week’s review I would like to call attention to Rivertown Brewing Company’s Dunkel Beer.Rivertown Dunkle I had another beer lined up, but when I got off of work tonight I tried this great beer and had to change the review.

It’s a Munich style dark lager with mild roasted flavor mixed with caramel. The color is that of a dark, classic dunkel you would expect from a Munich style and it has a smooth finish.

All that aside, I enjoyed drinking this beer. It was around $9 for a six pack. I recommend this beer for those you like smooth, dark lagers. Drink this beer.

Wish List:

I would like to see a brew happen here in the valley by the next post on the 30th so I can have a more interesting Brewing Update for you.

Another item for the wish list would be to have the Instagram set up so you can see all the pictures I take of us brewing and drinking the beers around here.

Thanks for reading this week. Don’t forget to follow the blog, like, share, and comment on the discussion question below. Feel free to email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com with questions or suggestions. I am always open to new things.

Prost!

Discussion Question- Remember to hit the “Comment” button at the top and leave your answer.

  • “Would you rather pay $12 for a six-pack or $6 for a twelve-pack? Why?”