Sunday, 13 May 2018

Cincinnati day two (part one)

I'm being picked up by James at 8:30 and need to rise at 7:30. If I want brekkie. Which I do. I’ve got a long day ahead.

No bacon smell as I exit the lift. There's scrambled egg, French toast and the dodgy sliced sausage in a grease bath. With disposable plates and cutlery.

My hotel is in a beautiful building, originally the headquarters of local Newspaper the Cincinnati Enquirer. Clearly there was more money in the newspaper game back then.

When I pop out of the hotel at 8:30 on the dot, James is waiting in his car outside. The plan was for him to pick up Mark Brush first, but he's running a little late. We'll need to make a diversion to collect Mark before heading on to Loveland. Where we'll be brewing a beer.

Loveland is a cute little town on the far outskirts of the city. Our destination - Narrow Path - is a relatively young brewery in former garage. Chad, one of the owners, is already busy mashing when we arrive. The hard way, with a meatal paddle. The beer is 1868 William Younger No. 3. Something I have a very soft spot for. A much later version of No. 3 having been one of the first beers I brewed with my brother back in 1973.

Bob is already there. He’s helping Chad for the work experience part of his brewing course. He’s taking turns to stir the mash. Rather him than me. That shit is much harder work than it looks. Mash is thick and heavy. And my arms thin and puny.

“Would you like a beer?” Chad asks. He doesn’t need to repeat the question.

I plump for a Coconut Porter at 6.2% ABV. It’s very coconutty. The first sip is a bit of a shock. But hallway in, I start to quite like it. Not sure I’d order s second, mind.

“We roast our own coconut, then put it in a brown paper bag and leave it for a few days.” Chad tells us before fetching said bag. The smell is amazing.

Gregg, another owner, arrives. I thought Chad was laid back. Gregg is virtually limboing.

I have a second beer, this time going for the Irish Coffee Stout (6% ABV). It’s very coffe-ey, but also very dry. At least it’s woken me up a bit.

Gregg, another owner, arrives. I thought Chad was laid back. Gregg is virtually limboing.

After a while a tall, softly spoken bloke called Jason turns up. He’s come over on his break to chat with me. He’s another reader of my blog. There seem to be quite a few of them in Michigan. I promise to send him the Stock IPA recipe on which Brewery Yard is based.

About 1 PM to head back to the city centre for a spot of lunch. Our destination is Taft Ale House, a brewpub in a converted church. But on the way there we drop by Dan Listermann’s business empire.

First we take a look around the homebrew shop where everything started. Walking through the indoor beer garden – a large room decked out with picnic tables – we’re invited by one of the brewers to take a tout of the brewery. It’s bigger than I expected – 10 barrels – cobbled together from old dairy equipment.

In front of the brewery is the tap room, the bar and bar back are copies of those at a pub Dan’s grandfather ran. Very pretty. We’re given samples of a few of their beers. There are come, er, interesting ones: Peanut Butter Porter, for example. Not sure that would be my first choice.

James has trouble finding somewhere to park close to Taft's Ale House. All the nearby parking garages are full. But he eventually he finds a spot in a tiny car park in a vacant lot.

It’s stunning inside. There’s obviously been a few bob spent here. We sit on the balcony, which is a good spot to take in the full grandeur of the place.

I order a Gavel Banger IPA. It’s very grapefruity. And 7% ABV, which I like. Now what about some food? A Bhan Mi sandwich will do nicely. Accompanied by an Auld Girthy, a Scotch Ale of 8.8% ABV. Full of malty goodness.

The area we’re in is called Over the Rhine because it used to be separated from downtown by a canal. Also because it was once a mostly German neighbourhood. How appropriate that most of the city’s former breweries should have been here.

Many 19th-century buildings have been preserved. Though there are still some empty and boarded up. But the neighbourhood is generally on the rise and home to many artisan shops and restaurants.

Mark, who conducts tours of the old breweries in Cincinnati, points out various buildings that once belonged to the Moerlein brewery. And the site of where the Brewhouse was, now sadly demolished and replaced by ugly modern industrial buildings.

One part of the complex – Moerlein’s packaging department – is still in use by the brewing trade. Rhinegeist is located there. And our next destination.

After climbing up a couple of floors via an industrial-looking staircase, I’m shocked on entering the main hall. It’s huge. I mean ginormous. The original kit in the distance at one end looks tiny. Which it is compared to the new kit. Wow. They’re brewing on a large scale here.

Austin, one of the brewers, takes us around. His previous job was at Asheville brewing in, er, Asheville. It turns out that he knows Mike Karnowski. It's a small world. Before we set off, I get a Mild. Now there’s a treat.

The operation is as massive as it looks. They have a 20 barrel and a 60 barrel Brewhouse. This year, they’re set to brew over 100,000 barrels. Next year they’re aiming for 165,000 barrels. That must make them one of the largest new breweries in the US.

Austin takes us down to a cellar where all the funky things are going on. Fruit and sour beers are ageing away, some in vats. He gives us samples of a couple. Pretty nice they are, too. In some they’re using a species of Brettanomyces that they found in the cellar. Which Austin found very frustrating.

While he was studying he collected 17 types of wild yeast out in the Maine countryside. It was a considerable effort. Yet none of them were usable for one reason or another. In the brewery cellar they found a viable strain of Brettanomyces on their first attempt.

Tour over, we climb up to the roof, where there’s a bar with great views. It’s a little windy, but the sun is out and its warming rays are raining down on us. I get a Truth, their IPA. Judging by how many batches were on the go in the brew house, it must be their biggest seller. Meanwhile James’s charming other half has joined us. Just in time for the scary bit.

But you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that.

Narrow Path Brewing Co.
106 Karl Brown Way,
Loveland, OH 45140.
Tel: +1 513-291-5503

Listermann Brewing Company
1621 Dana Ave,
Cincinnati, OH 45207.
Tel: +1 513-731-1130

Taft's Ale House
1429 Race St,
Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Tel: +1 513-334-1393

Rhinegeist Brewery
1910 Elm St,
Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Tel: +1 513-381-1367

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I just had a 10 oz. pour of the Wm, Younger No 3 from Narrow Path. It was excellent. Best beer I have had from them!