Archive for February, 2016

Pick Your Poison

Toxic Brew Collage_exteriorHappy Leap Year! While touring the city of Dayton, Ohio, we stopped by the Oregon District, which consisted mainly of a single street with historic houses and a few businesses. While idly wandering the street in the bitter cold, we found a funky little brewery called Toxic Brew Company. There were some cool murals and other art built into the side of the building outside. Walking in, I was struck by the openness of the space. There was lots of funky art on the walls, including some graffiti canvas art and death-inspired paintings. The bar ran down the middle of the room, with a brick wall behind it that split the room into two halves, with the bar and a shuffleboard to the right and some low tables to the left. There were a few Ohio-themed art pieces, including their logo, which features a skull and crossed bottles inside the outline of the state.

Toxic Brew Collage_interiorOf course, I toured their menu by getting myself a flight. I started with the ‘Til Death Do Us Tart Berliner Weisse (4.8% abv). This first one poured cloudy pale yellow, with thin fizzy white head. The aromas were grassy, lemony and somewhat bready. The first taste was quite sour, with lots of funk and some bready barley flavor. The middle was fizzy with light body and light-medium carbonation. It finished sour and tart. Not my favorite style of beer, so not entirely their fault that I didn’t much care for this one.

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Next up was the Abbey Brunette Belgian Dubbel (6.8% abv). It poured bright clear amber, with thin white head. Aromas were very mild, with only a hint of malty sweetness. The taste was malty and sweet. A little dark fruit came through into the middle. Light-medium body and light carbonation lead to a somewhat malty finish. I must have been in the mood for malts because I enjoyed this beer.

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Toxic Brew Flight

The third beer I tried was the Hum Bug Seasonal Ale (7.6% abv). It poured an orangey color, with creamy white head that coated the glass. It smelled very mild, with only a hint of sweet maltiness. The taste was super mild and creamy, starting with some mild malty sweetness, moving to a bit of a spiced vegetal flavor in the middle. Medium in body and light in carbonation, it finished malty and sweet. Despite sounding pretty dynamic, it was just off for a holiday ale.

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I finished my flight with the Lockness Express Scotch Ale (7.6% abv). This last one poured a rich brown amber color, with thin light brown head. It smelled rich, roasty and malty. The first taste was very smooth and mild. Then the malts kicked in, followed by some fruitiness like cherries. The middle was light-medium-bodied and lightly carbonated and it finished somewhat thick with malts and the fruity sweetness trailing.

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Toxic Brew Hanger 18 PorterAs is my habit, my exuberance got the better of me and I did not stop after the flight, mainly because I simply didn’t have room in the flight for the Hanger 18 Porter (6.2% abv). It poured black, with thin tan head. It smelled rich and sweet. The taste was mild and smooth. There was some chocolate and mild sweetness at first, followed by a hoppy bitterness. The middle was smooth, with some bittersweet flavors. Light body and light carbonation lead to a smooth finish, with more bitterness and a touch of coffee flavor. This may have been an average porter, but it was exactly what I wanted on such a cold day.

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I really enjoyed this brewery. Everyone we met was very friendly, the place was entertaining to the eye and the beer was some of the best we had on our trip to Ohio. I definitely recommend it.

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Elevate Your Taste Buds

Elevator Dark Force LagerMaking our rounds in and around Dayton, we stopped by (yes) another pub. This was more of a bar, but one with local beer on tap. One that caught my eye was Elevator Dark Force Dark Lager (5.9% abv). Brewed in Columbus by Elevator Brewery, this beer poured dark amber with thin, sudsy white head. It smelled mild, but of nothing else. The taste was just as mild. There was some bitterness before roasted malt flavors kicked in. The middle was just as mild, as the caremelly roastiness came back. Light body with medium carbonation, the beer finished with the roasty malts and the caramel. Overall, nothing to write home about.

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History in Brewing

Carillon Brewing OutsideAmong the many sights and features around Dayton, we stopped by a museum that housed a working brewery. This was not just any brewery, though. Situated in picturesque Carillon Historical Park, Carillon Brewing Co. was a brick building that resembled an old factory. It actually reminded me of an old firehouse. The only fires involved in this place, however, were the ones used to prepare ingredients for completely house made beer, bread and cheese.

Carillon was a brewery dedicated to brewing both in the style and method of the 1850s. A few volunteers, among regular paid staff, dressed in period costumes and did most of the brewing and baking. All brick and wood, the main room was absolutely cavernous. The bakery and brewing area were directly in front of the door, separated from the rest of the brewery by a ring of barrels. There was a large fireplace surrounded by a bunch of wooden winches, shelving and paddles. The brewing area was up a flight of stairs above the brick oven, with a copper-banded wood barrel. Beyond the baking/brewing area was a full bar. The large seating area was full of hand-planed tables and chairs. There was also an upstairs, loft-like seating area that ringed the main floor. All the history in this place made me hardly able to wait to try their beer.

Carillon Brewing Collage
I ordered a flight, included in which they had several cask beers. Our server warned us that all of their cask beers were served in the 1850s style, which was to say, “flat and warm.” Being an open minded fellow, I decided I could deal with that and started with the Sour Porter. This one poured dark brown amber with no noticeable head. There was a definite sourness on the smell, with some chocolate as well. The taste was very sour at first. A touch of roasty chocolate flavor followed into a very mild middle. Light body and no carbonation lead to a mild and sour finish, with only faint chocolate trailing.

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Next came the Coriander Ale. It poured cloudy orange with no head. It smelled rich and sweet, with a touch of spice. The taste was full of sweet spiciness that reminded me of pumpkin pie spice. The middle was very mild without much change from the beginning. The middle was also vegetal, like bitter squash-like flavor. Light-bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished light with slight spice notes.

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Carillon Brewing Flight

Third, I tried the Irish Red Ale. This one poured cloudy brown, like a cider. Like the previous two, it poured with no head. Aromas of brown sugar, plums and spice got me excited for this drink. I was surprised that it seemed to be more carbonated than the others. It tasted very mild; so mild it didn’t taste like much of anything. The middle was equally mild, with light body and light carbonation. It finished with not much taste, other than a touch of sweetness. A little underwhelming from the promise of the aromas.

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Last, and the one I thought would be most interesting of the bunch, the Squash Ale. It poured rich clear amber with no head. Almost no aroma came from the drink, other than a little spiciness. It tasted sour at first, almost like a cider. There were some spices and a touch of vegetable-like bitterness. Light body and no carbonation lead to a smooth, light finish, with a touch of bitterness trailing. For whatever reason, I expected more from this one. Interesting concept, though.

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I very much enjoyed visiting this brewery. I also appreciated all the hard work both the volunteers and the employees put into keeping alive the traditional brewing techniques and use of handmade equipment.

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Warped Disposition

Warped Wing Whiskey RebellionWhile traveling around the Dayton area in Ohio, we stopped by one of the ubiquitous shopping malls along the highway. This one was a little more upscale, though still a mall. This particular mall, however, included a pub, the name of which I cannot remember. It was a cool place, with lots of rich wood and a sort of Irish feel, if a commercialized version of it.

They had a good selection from all over the country, but I wanted something local, so I opted for a beer from Warped Wing BrewingWarped Wing Whiskey Rebellion (11.2%) was brewed in downtown Dayton. It beer poured black with lots of thick tan head. There was a heavy dose of bourbon on the nose, with some bittersweet chocolate to follow. At first, the taste was pretty mild, but then the bourbon kicked in, coating my tongue. With very heavy body and light carbonation, the middle was a little sticky sweet, with a tiny spice note. It finished with only a little of the bourbon, mostly covered up by the stickiness, which lingered the whole way through.

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A Legend in its Own Right

 The legend of Nosferatu began with a German silent horror film in 1922. It was basically an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s, Dracula.  Legal battles between the filmmaker and the heirs of the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, resulted in most copies of the film being destroyed for copyright infringement. It seems when thing like this happen, legends are born.

I had actually heard about a beer sharing the same name of the film as being something of a legend, so I could not wait to try it out. Accordingly, the next beer I found myself grabbing from the fridge of treasures from Great Lakes was Nosferatu IRA (8% abv).

Great Lakes NosferatuIt poured opaque, rich amber, with loose white head on top. The aromas were fruity and perfumy. It was a little sugary, accompanied by some dark fruits. It tasted rich and slightly tart, with sweetness and only a touch of malt. The middle was medium-bodied and lightly-carbonated, with a little hoppy bitterness. The finish was fruity and smooth.

I’m not sure about the legend, but I will take this beer whenever I can find it.

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