As I sit here sipping our very own homemade cider, I can’t help but smile. This has been an amazing week. It started out pretty normal, working the daily grind at my real job. And then the good news started pouring in: First, I got invited to the media preview for Ei8ht Ball Brewing, Greater Cincinnati’s newest brewery. (The event was Thursday and it was amazing. I’ll expound on that in just a second I promise). Next, my Beer Glassware post went viral on Reddit with over 15,000 views thanks to my friend Tom of Queen City Drinks. Then, the kicker. I got the email I’ve been waiting on for the past nail-biting month:
“On behalf of Cicerone Program Director Ray Daniels and the Cicerone Exam Management Team, I’d like to congratulate you on passing the Certified Cicerone® exam!”
I nearly peed and threw up at the same time. Months and months of hard studying, tasting, and evaluating has paid off: I am a Certified Cicerone®.
Whew! Exciting stuff, guys.
But enough about that, like I said, this Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited to the media preview event for Ei8ht Ball Brewing. Ei8ht Ball is located at the Party Source, the epically huge and amazing liquor store just over the river from Cincinnati in Bellevue, Kentucky. They have an amazing beer selection and now, they have their very own brewery and tap room.
There have already been some excellent articles about Ei8ht Ball that are must reads (like this one, and this one, and this one) so I won’t belabor the point. Here are some interesting things I learned while talking to Mitch, their head brewer, Peanut, the legendary beer man himself, and Danny Gold, the beer buyer for the Party Source.
First of all, every single one of these guys is extremely nice and willing to share tons about the brewery, so don’t be afraid to ask.
I met Peanut for the first time a few months back while I was on a mission to find a Belgian Pale ale (De Koninck is the classic). After a lovely chat, I gave him my card and left the store with a great beer and a huge smile – I mean seriously, how can you not love a man with that epic of a mustache. When I saw him at the event, he remembered exactly who I was. He is a fantastic gentleman who literally lives for beer. Nothing better than that.
Danny is all about beer education. In fact, he has plans to drop some serious knowledge on the citizens of Great Cincinnati with all sorts of educational events, including hosting the Cicerone program, and even doing beer and food pairing events. I’m trying to weasel my way into some of these and help out as much as possible. I am thrilled to see education as one of their main goals for the business.
Mitch, the head brewer, patiently answered my questions, explaining that he and assistant brewer Andrew Ritterbeck, aka “Turtle” plan on making a variety of beers, within style guidelines, but with a twist. With just a taste of “K-Hole,” a coffee, chocolate, imperial milk stout You can already see he’s having fun. They have bourbon barrels all ready for a serious barrel aging program (eee!). They hope to have twenty or more Ei8ht Ball beers on tap at any given time, not to mention the twenty world class guest taps.
Mitch was even kind enough to share the hop profile for their first release: Prodigal Son, a lovely and drinkable American Pale Ale (I had two, it really is delicious). It starts with mostly simcoe and some cascade in the boil, then is dry hopped with a blend of 50% cascade, 20% mosaic, 20% Nelson Sauvin, and 5% Falconer’s Flight, which I’d never heard of but after doing a bit of research I realized it isn’t a single hop, it’s a proprietary blend of 7 different hops. Crazy awesomeness. All of the grapefruit, citrus and piney goodness you would expect in a good APA is here. Mmmmm.
If their first two beers are any indication, which I am sure they are, Ei8ht Ball is going to some pretty wonderful, and delicious places. I can’t wait to get on for the ride.