This is a phone call I get about five times a year from my mom: “So, I’m in front of the beer section at Kroger, what should I buy?”
Why does she turn to me for beer advice? Because apparently if you frequent OTR, live within the city limits, or talk about beer one time at a family gathering everyone assumes you have a rich and comprehensive knowledge of the Cincinnati brewing scene.
Not all of us are that well informed.
Now, can I tell the difference between a Psychopathy and its blood orange offspring? Sure. But there are so many breweries out there offering so many beers – most of them wonderful – that it’s hard to come up with a list of good suggestions over the phone.
So here you go. This is for people who want to have a few solid local brews at the party, but don’t for the life of them know which ones to buy.
- The Two Favorites: Psychopathy by MadTree Brewing and Truth by Rhinegeist Brewery
People have been predicting the demise of the IPA for years, but it remains a strong front-runner in the craft beer sweepstakes. Hoppy, bitter, and crisp to the max. Truth shines with tropical citrus and a dry finish, while Psychopathy is more floral. Both have flavors that will dance on your tongue long after the bitterness is gone.
- The American Pale Ale: Prodigal by Eight Ball Brewery
...But if you want hops, look no further than Prodigal, which sports the citrus of a Truth, the floral quality of a Psychopathy, and the hoppyness of them both put together. You’ll need to be made of strong stuff to take it, but if you are, you’ll fall in love easily.
- The Blood Orange IPA: Blood Orange Psychopathy by MadTree Brewing
This isn’t just Psychopathy. This is Psychopathy infused with blood orange deliciousness as a nod to Cincinnati’s latest and greatest sports franchise and soon-to-be MLS darling, FC Cincinnati. This is the ultimate statement beer: You're an au courant Cincinnatian, and you're proud of it.
- The Cider: Dry Hopped Cider by Rhinegeist Brewery
“Ciders are the next big thing, I’m tellin’ ya!” –me in 2012. And 2013. And, well you get it. But now, if the Dry Hopped Cider is any indication, I’m about to be proven right. It’s dry hopped and it isn’t overly sweet.
- The Key Lime Beer: Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale by Taft’s Ale House
Continuing upon the sweet streak, say hello to Nellie’s. It’s an American wheat beer brewed with key lime juice and a hint of coriander. What that hint of coriander is doing in there, I don’t know. But I like it. I like it a lot. Think a Corona with lime, but massively better.
- The Chocolate Stout: Rubus Cacao by MadTree Brewing
It’s a raspberry chocolate stout, actually. With cocoa nibs sourced from Maverick Chocolate. That bitterness of the chocolate and the sweetness of the raspberry blend together stunningly. And it’s winter… doesn’t it seem like you should be drinking something like this right now?
- The “Lawnmower” Cream Ale: Storm by Braxton Brewery
“A traditional American lawnmower beer” is how Braxton describes Storm, and I can't come up with a better description than that. It's light, it's creamy, it's crisp, perfect for when you don't want to be punched in the mouth by flavor. It isn't always the right beer, but when it is... it's very right.
- The Kolsch: Lift by MadTree Brewing
Similar to a pilsner, a Kolsch is a German-style lager beer. MadTree's Kolsch is Lift. It's crisp, it’s delicious, and it comes with a hint of orange that’s very up-lift-ing. (Yeah, I went there. But so did they.)
- The Gose: Peach Dodo by Rhinegeist Brewery
Sour and salty. This German gose tiptoes around tart and saline flavors while maintaining a peachy crispness. It’s the perfect beer for a picnic or a Reds post-game. But it doesn’t get here until June.
- The Amber Ale: OTR Ale by Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.
Christian Moerlein goes back to the very beginning of Cincinnati, and so does the OTR Ale. It’s intended to be similar to the ales Cincinnati's early settlers brewed. If it’s anywhere close to accurate, those settlers were spoiled with delicious beer. A bit malty, a subtle hop... this is well balanced stuff.
- The Sour Beer: Finn by Urban Artifact
Pucker up, my friends, we’re back to the sweet/sour end of the flavor spectrum. Urban Artifact's Finn is delicious. “Wild, funky, tart, mouthwatering, and gossip-worthy.” So says them, and they couldn’t be more right. Especially about the "gossip-worthy" part. I certainly mention Urban Artifact wherever I go as "that place you need to try."
- The Winter Warmer: Christkindl by Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.
It’s a dark beer that pours smooth and does just what it says it does: It warms you up in the winter. Caramel sweetness up front gives way to a slightly spicy note on the finish. It’s a deep and rich taste that will leave you pondering its mysteries after you’re finished. Best to pick up a lot, this one seems to be a party favorite when it's cold.
More of a "I need to know what the package looks like to pick it out" kinda person? No worries. Check out the gallery above to see each of these brews.