Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bockfest Beer Judging

This marks year number two of my participation in the Bloatarian Brewing League’s Bockfest 2011 Homebrew Contest, which is a still part of the larger Cincinnati Bockfest celebrations. As with last year’s competition, entries were limited to bocks. Hence the name and all. Bockfest is intended to celebrate both the coming of Spring and Cincinnati’s German brewing heritage in the Over-the-Rhine brewery district that was originally home to a large segment of Cincinnati’s German American population as well as many of its early breweries.

Yes, I brought a beer down into the sub-basement with me. Wouldn’t you?

I judged 5B. Traditional Bocks; overall, there were sixteen beers split into two flights; Bill Lakeburg was the overall winner, and complete results can be found here. As well, like last year, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company selected an entry from the Traditional Bock category to be used as the recipe for a special 2012 Bock release; the winner here was Michael Marino.

Passageway between old buildings...

While I did enjoy the beer judging portion of the event, it was not the hightlight of the day. Judging was held in the old Kaufman Brewing Company building (1621 Moore Street), which housed the brewery from 1869 through 1919, when our old friend Prohibition—otherwise known as the 18th Amendment—closed down many fine brewing establishments both locally and nationally. I’m glad the 21st Amendment showed up to kick your ass. While the building subsequently served as the Husman Potato Chip plant (and then lain dormant for a solid chunk o’ time), it has recently been rented by Christian Moerlein with the intention of re-opening the location as a functional brewery. After we were done judging, Mike Carver (I think that was his name—sorry if I am dropping the ball), the head brewer for Christian Moerlein, offered to give us all a quick tour of the old building, which included both upstairs (lots of dark creepy open spaces, old machinery, a room filled with old wooden palates, and one of the original grain hoppers that we were told still had grain in it—talk about your ancient brews) as well as the basement areas of the brewery, which were very cool, specifically because some of the recent renovations in buildings in the area had uncovered previously sealed and unused passageways between buildings, as well as a second level of sub-basements underneath the original basement. Yes, a basement with a basement. Nothing like catacombs under the city to create an eery and macabre effect, especially since the spaces were both very old (I believe circa 1880s), and were used in part to originally lager beer, but also to brew during Prohibition. Either way, the underground tour was awesome—if for nothing else besides trying to figure out where random airshafts ended up or where other catacombs we could see branching off from the the main rooms went. I would have loved to jump the barrier and continued to explore, but the lack of personal light source would have made my trip both short and inept. But a girl can dream, can’t she? I am glad we got to check it out, however, because it was a nice glimpse into the brewing past of Cincinnati.


1 comment:

  1. That tour sounds awesome! So bummed I missed it. Thanks for the pic and the story. Underground Cincinnati ! Sweet