Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dayton Brewvet Ride 1: Can Beer

Thus begins our Dayton Brewvet. For this ride, we rolled out to Jefferson County, Indiana to join Swallow Bicycle Works Adventure Ride, which covered 50 plus miles of gravel and paved roads. So there was lots of dusty fun to be had. Emphasis on the dusty.

We were on the road by 6:30 am to make it down to Indiana for the 9:00 am start. Nothing says dedication like intentionally getting up at 5:30 am on a Sunday. At least to this guy. Maybe you’re different. I doubt it, but I’m at least willing to pretend.

Anyway, once we met up with everyone at Camp Meeting Ground and got ready to go, we rolled out. Riding on gravel roads is fun, although it can be a bit dicey at times. The weird aspect of several of today’s roads were that they had not yet been packed down: you could see the imprint left in the gravel and dirt by the bike tires, which is not something you normally experience. This also meant that much of the gravel was extra-loose. Still, that’s the nature of the game.

The overall route was 52.5 miles; Strava said I did 53.2 miles. I’ll attribute the extra seven-tenths of a mile to the swerving back and forth across the road I did during a couple of the steeper climbs, and not to the fact that my phone sucks. You know, for a change of pace. Most of the 2800 feet of climbing was gradual, but there were two steep climbs that did include some suffering, although it was mostly of the kind that, as my father would describe it, builds character. Not that I was contemplating my father’s words of wisdom at the time: I was too busy sweating and grinding.

There was one actual creek crossing on the ride—you know, through the rocks and water—along with several creek crossings across cement levees. We saw a fair amount of wildlife, including two turtles (which were rescued from the road by one gallant rider), a toad, a deer running through the soybean field, and a turkey. Plus many, many dogs, some more barky than others. And a turkey. Undoubtedly there was more that I missed. We did not, however, get to meet Holly, one of the advertised highlights of the ride, but that was the one minor disappointment in a day full of fun.

Once we got back to the Camp Meeting Ground—and it was an actual old-school outdoors camp meeting ground with religious paraphernalia and the likes—everyone dug into snacks and beer. Elli and I partook in Founders All Day IPA. Light, bright, and easy-drinking. After a little under four hours of riding, it really hit the spot. After our long day of adventuring, we still made it back home to Dayton with enough time to longue and watch pre-recorded World Cup action. Thanks to Tom and Sarah at Swallow Bicycle Works for planning such awesome bicycling fun!

Oh, and just so everyone knows, I was the jackass who got the flat.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dayton Brewvet

This post was originally supposed to be published in Telephone Weekly, where I write a craft beer column, but issues have temporarily sidelined them. Boo! Since letting the idea of a Dayton Brewvet to go to waste this summer seemed criminal, we’re getting it started here:

         The summer months are upon us, so it is time to jump on your bike and enjoy the outdoors. Dayton is a great town for cycling; there are more than 250 miles of bike trails in the greater Dayton metro area, which is a fair share more than many lauded bike-friendly cities. With that in mind, I am here today to offer you the Dayton Brewvet. My inspiration is John Roche of, who pioneered the concept of the Brewvet last summer; 
From here
I would have participated this year, but he started it mad early and it was over almost before I thought to look it up! So rather than admitting defeat, I decided a local Dayton version was in order. The idea behind the Brewvet is drawn from randonneuring, a long-distance, non-competitive endurance cycling event; the Randonneur USA website notes that “friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.” The idea of taking pleasure in the event itself rather than focusing on competition is something I can get behind. As Roche explains further, “since a randonneuring event is called a brevet, it only made sense to call our take on this concept the Brewvet.” While we’re leaving behind the long-distance part of randonneuring—with the exception of ride number eight—combining cycling and local craft beer seems a perfect recipe for summer fun. 
          The Dayton Brewvet will run from June 27, 2014 to August 8, 2014, so there will be plenty of time to get out and explore Dayton by bike. The eight rides—and they can be completed in any order you would like—are:

1. Local Brew: During your ride, stop at a local brewery and enjoy a beer.
2. Local Bar: Ride to your favorite local bar and enjoy a craft beer. 
3. Co-op Brew: Ride to the Fifth Street Brewpub Co-op and enjoy a craft beer. Sorry to be self-serving, but I’m a co-op member, and you should be, too.
4. Patio/Outdoor Beer: Ride to a local bar with a patio, or to an outdoor event, and enjoy a craft beer outdoors. 
5. Beer at Home: Take a spin to the store, and bring home a craft beer to drink. 
6. Go Exploring: Ride someplace new, stop in at a new bar or restaurant, and try a new craft beer. 
7. Can Beer: Canned craft beer is all the rage, in part because it packs in and out with ease. Find yourself a bike ride that incorporates beer in a can. Remember, though: you’re adults. Don’t get either of us in trouble. 
8. Bike Path Brew: Plan a longer ride to explore some of Dayton’s bike paths, and use this as an excuse to visit one of the breweries close to the bike path: Yellow Springs Brewery in Yellow Springs (via the Creekside Trail and the Little Miami Trail), Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg (via the Great Miami River Recreational Trail), or, for the truly brave of heart, Fifty West in Cincinnati. If you’re willing to ride to Cincinnati, I’m pretty sure you can figure out a route on your own.

Your eight rides should ideally combine for a total distance of at least 40 miles; as Roche also notes, “A ride qualifies if you either stop to drink a beer during your bike ride, or purchase a beer on your bike ride that you drink shortly after you get back home. Just like in a brevet, you must provide documentation of each stop on your adventures.”
          More on the documentation part in a minute. First, some basic ground rules. Apparently, randonneuring is rule crazy. While I’m less fussy, I’m still going to implement some of the basic guidelines Roche uses for his Brewvet:

1. Limit of one ride per day. Any ride in which you drink more than one beer still only counts as one ride. Be responsible and make adult decisions.
2. Each ride should be to a different location. No doubling up on bars or breweries.
3. Each ride should feature a different beer, with preference towards craft beer. Local beer is even better.
4. The eight rides are to be completed between June 27, 2014 and August 8, 2014.
5. While there is no minimum distance for each ride, aim to cover at least 40 miles over the course of your eight rides. The Bike Path Brew ride is intended to bulk up everyone’s overall numbers. Yes, long rides are hard. But also fun.
6. For each ride, fill out the Dayton Brewvet rider information card (the Dayton Brewvet rider information card can be found here). Please document the following: Destination: from where to where did you ride? Beer: what did you drink? Miles: how long was the round trip? Date: when did you do it? Ride Completed: which of the eight rides was this?

Take plenty of pictures along the way, and use the #daytonbrewvet hashtag when posting them online. As well, Strava, an online app for phones, is helpful for mapping rides and keeping track of miles.
          Once you’ve completed your eight rides, submit your Dayton Brewvet control card and eight pictures (you can also submit links to pictures posted on your blog or other online sites) to tlmorgan3 at The deadline for Dayton Brewvet submissions is August 22, 2014. A few final notes: arranging group rides is encouraged. Use the #daytonbrewvet hashtag to let others know what you’ll be doing. I’ll post a couple of my destinations a few days prior to riding if you’re looking for an excuse to be social. And as an added incentive—although, to be honest, isn’t the delightful allure of beer and bike riding already more than enough incentive?—everyone who completes the Dayton Brewvet will get an official certificate of completion, suitable for framing. Suitable for framing. I’ve always wanted to say that. Awesome. Plus, I’ll buy you a beer when this is all over. So get out and start riding with beer as your destination.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dayton Brewvet Practice Ride #2

Another (and by far more successful) Dayton Brewvet practice run; this one was to Yellow Springs Brewery, and everything went swimmingly. I took the scenic route, which means that I rode on the bike path as much as possible, which makes for slightly longer than 54 mile round trip: it was 27.3 each way on my odometer, while Strava said it was 25 each way. I’m trusting the odometer, as Strava had me biking through the middle of neighborhoods and shopping centers. A fun way to bike, maybe, but not the route I took.
The route was to head to Riverscape, and then follow the Mad River Trail towards Eastwood Metropark, where I caught the Creekside Trail towards Xenia. I left the Creekside Trail before I got to Xenia proper, cutting across the Greene County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds are after the Kil-Kare Speedway (which you can’t really miss); after crossing the street behind Kil-Care, there will be a wooden bridge off the right hand side of the bike path a little over a half of a mile down—take this, follow it up, cut across Fairground Road and follow the path through the fairgrounds and out the back; you’ll get dumped on Alameda Drive, where you’ll take a right on Purcell and then another right on Hollywood. Follow Hollywood to the stoplight. Cross Detroit, and take a left on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which will run you all the way up to the back of Yellow Springs Brewery—after passing through downtown Yellow Springs, you’ll see their patio over-looking the bike path. This route took me 1:50 on the way there, and 1:40 on the way home (it is a slight uphill most of the way there; either than, or I was powered by beer on the way home).
If you want to shave a few miles off the above route, you can always take Xenia Ave. (off Wayne Ave.) to Linden Ave.; take a right on Linden, and follow it across Smithville to the Iron Horse Trail (which crosses Linden); take a left on the trail, and right under 35 (you’ll be turning onto the trail going under 35, so only about 100 yards), Iron Horse hooks up with the Creekside Trail. This will cut about 3.5 miles, leaving you 23.8 each way. Personally, I prefer the bike path, but that’s me.
And as to the beers: after all, that is much more fun to talk about then bike path routes. I started with Zoetic Galaxy, which was crisp and fresh with lots of hop flavor and aroma, specifically citrus and tropical fruit. There is a nice balance between the malt body and hop flavors, with just enough bitterness and carbonation to refresh the palate and leave you wanting more. Next, I had Daily’s Comet, a 3.8% ABV saison that drinks just about perfect for summer: light and bright with hints of hay and grass. It is such easy drinking that it will be gone before you know it! And then it was time to hit the trail for the ride home.
I’ll be posting information on the Dayton Brewvet shortly! Stay tuned! And prost!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dayton Brewvet Practice Ride #1

So today I took a spin from Dayton down to Miamisburg as a test run for one of the Dayton Brewvet rides. What is that, you ask? You’ll find out soon enough, so have no fear. Not surprisingly, it will combine bike riding and beer. And if that isn’t a win win situation, I don’t know what to tell you. So be prepared: I’ll expect all of you to be ready to jump on those bikes and ride when the time comes!

My plan was simple enough. Ride down to Star City in Miamisburg, have a beer, and then ride back home. Sadly, nothing was in the mood to cooperate today. First, it was like a gazillion degrees out today. Second, there was a headwind all the way down to Miamisburg (well, at least the return trip was easy with the tailwind all the way home). And third, Star City was closed. Yes, I should have seen that one coming. But since I always just assume beer will be freely flowing at all hours, I was still a bit shocked. While they did open at 4:00, I didn’t think that hanging out for two-plus hours on their patio was a proper investment of my time. So I instead headed for home in the sweltering weather, wondering why bad things happen to good people. Actually, that’s a bold-faced lie. I really wondered about what beer I would have when I got home as a reward, and then thought about this blog post and my waiting lunch, all three subjects far more promising (and interesting) to speculate upon than the nature of evil.

Finally, as you can tell from the Strava map (at least maybe you can tell—my phone does a terrible job of mapping my ride, making it look like I ride straight direct lines over rivers, lakes and highways), besides the trip to Miamisburg, I put in some extra miles on the bike path for fun, and also rode around my neighborhood looking for apartments for rent for a friend moving to Dayton. The trip to Miamisburg and back covered about 25 miles of my 40 mile ride. Not that all the rides will be this long, mind you. But the occasional long ride is good for you! More soon!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Rockit Cup California Common Recap

Rockit Cup is back up in your face again, although it was another intimate affair with just three brewers. Even I missed this one, although in my defense, I missed it because I was in Grand Rapids attending the AHA NHC. Good enough excuse? Not really? Oh well. Anyway, I put Vanderglas in charge, and he proceeded to win. Well, according to him. So if the following results don’t jibe with what the rest of you remember, please feel free to provide your own commentary! And so, without further ado, the results:

1st: Jon Vanderglas
2nd: Chris Baumann
3rd: Jim Scofield

Thanks to all that participated! Stay tuned for the August Rockit Cup recipe!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Telephone 28: Pucker Up, Buttercup

           Last weekend, I attended Upland’s Sour + Wild + Funk Beer Festival in Indianapolis. Normally, I’m not one for beer festivals; while the variety is wonderful, the crowds, lines, and drunkenness are not. Still, I can be beguiled when the conditions are right. And a beer festival that is small in size, has limited tickets, and focuses on sour beers is not to be missed, even by a curmudgeon like myself. Especially when many of the beers were made specifically for the festival! Sour beers have been growing exponentially in American craft beer over the last several years, thanks in part to perennial figures like New Belgium, Russian River, Allagash, and New Glarus, as well as more recent breweries like the Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin, Goose Island, and Crooked Stave. This growth means that many breweries are producing sour beers as special offerings or starting barrel programs intended to build their reserves of sour beer. Hence, as they might say, a festival of one’s own.
            Many of the usual suspects were at the festival. Upland, the host, has a well-established sour beer program, and had six of their fruit lambics available, along with a couple of other blended beers, although to be technical their lambics are neither spontaneously fermented nor are they from Belgium, so they are actually American wild ales. While they undoubtedly followed Belgian protocol—a lambic is a single, unblended batch of beer that is generally more aggressively sour and served uncarbonated, a gueuze is blend of one, two, and three year old lambic that is highly carbonated, and a fruit lambic is generally, like gueuze, a blend of multiple years and batches aged on fruit—a lambic, like champagne, is geographically (appellation) specific. I’m a critic, dear reader, so it is my job to point these things out to you. After all, if not me, then who? Anyway, many of the flavors in these beers were good, but they were sharp, young, and aggressive; they could have used more time in the bottle to come together. New Belgium, which is the biggest producer of sour beers in the United States, was also there. They age their sour beer in foeders—large wooden tuns—for multiple years before blending them to make their different individual beers. The two main beers that go into the foeders are Oscar, a darker ale, and Felix, a lighter colored ale. La Terrior, for example, is all Felix that is dry-hopped with Amarillo and Citra, while La Folie is mostly (but not all) Oscar. New Belgium also has the benefit of having Peter Bouckaert, who worked at Rodenbach before becoming NB’s Brewmaster. I was excited to try La Terrior, as I had never had it before, and it did not disappoint: it was fruity, dry, and earthy. Goose Island and Rodenbach were also in attendance, but since I am familiar with their offerings, I skipped over those tables. Sorry, but I was interested in the smaller breweries from Indiana that I hadn’t tried before. Thus, I thought it best to sup their wares.
            Amongst the Indiana breweries present, there were several that I had been to previously, but had not tried the specific beers they brought to the festival. Brugge brought Once In A Lifetime; if you are ever in Indianapolis, and would like some good Belgian beer, fries, and mussels, I can’t recommend them enough. Same with Flat 12; their Funk-A-File Dundee, which was the Walkabout Pale Ale fermented with Brettanomyces and aged in used Easley red wine barrels (made from Indiana oak!), was crisp and delicious. As well, there were a couple of breweries I had heard of but had not tried their beers. Foremost among these was DeStihl, which brought several selections from the Saint Dekkera Reserve collection, their spontaneously fermented unblended single barrel beer series. I tried the Kriek (cherry), which had good fruit flavor to balance the acidic, earthy flavors in the beer, and the Paw Paw, which was interesting but overly aggressive—it had a smoky enteric character that got in the way of other elements of the beer. Still, I’d he happy to try a few more of their beers to get a better sense of their offerings as a whole. After all, they are doing interesting things, and developing a good sour program takes years at best.
            The most interesting beers were from breweries I had not heard of before the festival. While Indianapolis and Indiana are not that far away from Dayton, the rapid growth in the number of breweries out there does make it difficult to keep track of them all! My favorite beer of the day was Tin Man’s Zero Out of Fifty. Zero began as a Belgian Pale Ale brewed with Centennial hops and fermented with Ardennes yeast; once fermentation was complete, Brettanomyces bruxellensis was added in the secondary and it was warm-conditioned for five weeks. The results were fantastic: the nose was minty and herbal with hints of grass and hay. There was a slight citrus flavor in the body—most likely the remnants of the Centennial hops with a touch of the Ardennes yeast—and earthy and cracker-like components in the finish, while the bright carbonation gave the beer a dry, peppery bite. All in all, Zero was fresh, bright, and balanced. It was a study in harmony and subtlety that was both restrained yet complex, and slowly unpacking the harmonious flavors was an exercise in deliciousness. Sorry if that sound smarmy, but I did go back to sample and re-sample this beer multiple times, so waxing poetic is appropriate. And nothing makes me wax poetic like good beer.
            When I asked Keenan Zarling, the Brewhouse Operations Manager from Tin Man, about the name, he had this to say: “prior to pitching the Brett in the beer, this was a fantastic Belgian Pale Ale. However, the addition of Brett (and the warm conditioning) drastically reduced (or at least changed) the Belgian yeast profile as well as the hop character. Some of my own personal bitterness (pun intended) came through when I was thinking up a name; what had started as a great BPA was now something ‘else’ and totally not to style. A BJCP tasting score for beer is typically out of 50, with it being very hard to make less than 8/50 if you are in the correct style category and made something potable. So logically, a ‘contaminated,’ warm conditioned, and ‘old’ BPA would not score very high, something like Zero Out Of Fifty. And it was a little tongue-in-cheek fun, too. Most breweries put a lot of energy into telling people how great X beer is, and why it’s a unique and wonderful experience. We decided to go a different route with the description and just trash-talk this contaminated BPA and entice people at the festival to come check it out and maybe have a chuckle about it.” Zarling was correct—there wasn’t much of the original BPA left in the beer I sampled. Still, I find it hard to imagine that it was better than the final product, which was exquisite. I guess I’ll just have to take his word for it.
            My favorite overall lineup was the four beers brought by Daredevil; they included blended primary fermentation versions of their Lift Off IPA and Vacation Kolsch, a blended secondary version of their Carnival Saison, and a soured version of the Vacation Kolsch with Lactobacillus. The first two beers were blends of the regular version of the beer with one fermented only with Brett; as brewer Michael Pearson describes, “For me, these experiments were about seeing how I could utilize an accessible Brett strain in primary to create something interesting and different. I tasted both the straight Brett Lift Off and Brett Vacation and then blended them to a ratio that I thought would allow the base beer to have a presence where anyone who’d had either would recognize them.” The Carnival Saison added Brett and lemongrass in the secondary to build a more complex, rounded beer, while the Vacation Kolsch soured a portion of the wort with Lactobacillus before blending it with already fermenting beer. Of the four, the Brett Lift Off IPA was the most interesting; it was dry and earthy, but still had some residual body. While it was young—Pearson told me the beer was about three weeks old—there was certainly elements of both versions that went into the beer. Compared to other Brett IPAs I’ve tried, this one combined Brett flavors with body in the beer along with the hop characteristics you’d expect in an IPA. Taken as a whole, it was a well-balanced and delicious combination.
            The festival as a whole was a delight, enough so that I’m even considering attending next year. For those of you that would like to find out more about sour beers, I’d recommend picking up either Jeff Sparrow’s WildBrews: Beer Beyond the Influence of Brewer’s Yeast, or Michael Tonsmeire’s soon to be released American Sour Beers. Both are geared more towards homebrewers, but there is a lot of pertinent information and history for the average beer drinker as well. Plus, reading about beer and brewing is always useful. Or you can let me know if you have any questions.
            Next time, some more beer.