Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ohio Brew Week Beer Judging 2013

Ohio Brew Week is back, which means it was time to pack the van and head to Athens to judge some beer. In addition to the usual cast of miscreants (i.e. Jeff and Jeffrey), we added two other members to our indubitable squad, Mike Nereng and Jon Vanderglas (of last year’s Vander-dance fame). I guess they thought the van ride would add to the mystique of the weekend.

Friday night began where all things should begin: Jackie O’s. The best commercial beer of the weekend was Jackie O’s Hop Rye-Mosa, which was the Hop Ryot spiked with orange and grapefruit juice & zest. It was magical. After dinner, we decided to hit the town to sample some other wares. We found some Indigo Imp at the appropriately named Broney’s. I got the Firebrand, a Belgian IPA, and Jeffrey got Jester, the Pale Ale. Mine was better, but both of us lost. You think that after a couple of years they could clean up some of the fermentation issues, but I guess not. Afterwards, we rolled to the J Bar, where we saw the biggest human being any of us had ever seen in our life. He looked like he could pick up and snap NFL players like twigs. (A side note: we did spend the rest of the weekend looking for Gigantor, but we never saw him again. Sad.) Anyway, I couldn’t stomach the chemical peanut butter smell of Listermann’s Peanut Butter Porter with Jelly, so I had the Jungle Honey Pale Ale. After these couple of beers, we voted unanimously to return to Jackie O’s to close out the evening. Which we did.

Saturday morning came, as it is wont to do, and with it came our beer judging responsibilities. I was on 12. Porters in the morning, which was an easy albeit unexciting flight with fourteen beers and two sets of judges—we rolled right through them and moved on to lunch. In the afternoon, I was paired with Jeff Fortney for Belgian Pale Ales and Saisons, which was a pleasant and delicious flight, especially since we got all of the good beers. Another fourteen beer flight with two sets of judges. I may have been a bit too harsh on Matt Aerni’s saison, but since it won the flight, I’m guessing he’ll forgive me.

This year’s “Worst In Show” sampling was cut short by an invite to the craziest beer tasting I have ever attended, easily topping the previous Dark Lord vertical sampling that held the title. We all got to sample something like twenty New Glarus beers that most of us never even knew existed, and for many of them there were multiple vintages to try. It was, put bluntly, an embarrassment of riches from which we all supped. We hung around so long we missed the free dinner and the awards ceremony, but it was totally worth it watching the habanero salsa almost kill Vanderglas. My beers did not fare as well this year as last: Charnel House Quad got second, even with another year of aging on it!
Jeffrey is a winner!
And my American Wild Ale did not even place. Jeffrey’s English Barleywine, Kittens on Ice, however, won the flight and got 3rd in BOS judging.

The rest of the evening was a bit more sedate than last year: Jackie O’s for dinner, followed by more beer samplings at other establishments, including Tyranny IPA by Lagerheads Brewing at the Red Brick Sports Pub and Cosmic IPA by Willoughby Brewing at Pigskin. Cosmic IPA was very well done, and I look forward to trying more from Willoughby; even so, we ended up back at Jackie O’s to close out the night once again. 

Sunday morning we had brunch and spicy bloody maries at Casa Nueva; Jennifer Hermann from Market Garden Brewery joined us for breakfast, while Jason Brewer from Listermann Brewing joined us for drinks. And then the mountain biking began...

[Update: I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the ping pong played at Pigskin. Watching people dodge the errant ping pong ball was both awesome and hilarious, and chasing the ball across the floor of a crowded bar was equally amusing!]


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