Top Three Tuesday – December Edition

Eek, December already. Another month has passed in what feels like record timing. But the good news is, it’s time for Top Three Tuesday!

When the hubs and I first moved to Cincinnati two and a half years ago, the brewing scene was a little sad. Since then, breweries have popped up practically everywhere and they are producing some seriously tasty stuff. This month, I’m keeping it local, showcasing my current favorite Cincinnati-made beers.

In no particular order:

MadTree Brewing’s Gnarly Brown.

Brady Duncan, one of the three founders was kind enough to sit down with me and chat about this amazingly delicious brew. If you don’t already know, MadTree started out as three homebrewers with a dream. Since January 2013, when they brewed their first commercial batch, they’ve created quite the impression in the local and national beer scene. Their capacity has been greatly expanded over the past year because of extremely high demand. 

PsycHOPathy, their flagship IPA, is MadTree’s best selling beer, but Gnarly Brown is, in my opinion, MadTree’s best beer. Gnarly Brown was first crafted when a friend of theirs who loves American brown ales needed beer for their wedding. “Bride’s Brown Ale” was born, and eventually morphed into what is now Gnarly Brown. This American Brown Ale/Porter hybrid is 7% ABV. It’s made with a blend of 7 different malts, and 2 kinds of hops, making it extremely complex. On the nose you get vanilla and roastiness, then a wave of coffee and a hint of dried fruit in the flavor, with an amazingly crisp coffee finish. The 32 IBUs worth of hop character help to add some bitterness to create an amazingly balanced brew. Gnarly Brown is available in six pack cans locally, on draft in the tap room (which is awesome!) and other local bars/restaurants. In fact they just started distributing in Northern Kentucky, so yay for everyone who lives across the river.

Next, Turkey Blue.

I am completely in love with the newest release from Rhinegeist – a 6.7% ABV farmhouse saison that’s brewed with locally grown, organic red wheat from Blue Oven Bakery’s own farm in Williamsburg. Bryant Goulding graciously shared with me a little more about the beer and what to expect from Rhinegeist in the near future. The wheat they used was “torrified” in coffee roasters. Torrifying essentially pops the kernels of wheat into a more usable, non-gelatinizing form. This trait of wheat makes it great for baking, but not so great for brewing. Torrifying helps keep the mash from getting all gummed up. They left the beer unfiltered, as you can see, so you can really taste all that wheaty goodness. The base of the beer is pilsner malt, as is traditional with a saison, and they use Motueka hops, a fun New Zealand hop replete with tropical citrus flavors. It works wonders with the beer.

Turkey Blue smells of fruity esters and citrusy hops, with some peppery phenols and just a hint of funky farmhouse yeast. They use a French saison yeast, which creates a clean brew without too many phenols. The flavor hits with just a hint of banana, and much like the aroma, lots of citrus, especially as it warms. The mouthfeel is smooth with a crisp finish. It is extremely easy-drinking due to it’s high attenuation (meaning the yeast ate a lot of the beer’s sugar). It is dry, and lovely.

Rhinegeist has been brewing in a really cool rehabilitated building in OTR since June of this year. They are already producing some great stuff, but this one is far and away my favorite. In December, they plan on brewing up a Belgian Strong Ale and an Imperial Stout, so keep your ears to the ground for those, they are sure to be delicious. Turkey Blue will be available for about the next three weeks at the brewery and a handful of local joints. Grab yourself a growler or pint today!

Last, but certainly not least, Blank Slate’s “Fume” – a 5.4% ABV cherrywood smoked porter that is just delicious.

Now, don’t be scared of the big bad smoked beer. This Blank Slate beauty is crafted with only 5% smoked malt, giving it just a hint of smokiness that becomes a bit more prominent as it warms in your hand. It is a wonderfully drinkable brown porter style beer. It’s got a slight roastiness on the nose, with that hint of cherrywood smoke. The flavor is a little coffee and deep malt, with a crisp finish. This is not a sweet malty beer, but a well balanced porter with an elegant smokiness.

Hopefully, in the next year you’ll be able to enjoy Fume and many of Scott’s other delicious beers at the brewery’s own tap house. I saw the “dream” version of the taproom plans and if this dream can become a reality, I know it will be amazing! I really hope they can make this happen. For now, you can get Fume (available through March) at finer beer bars in the Cincinnati area. If your looking for something even crazier, Fume’s spicy cousin Fumar Chile will be available at The Comet this weekend, during their 6th annual “Hopnosis” event. It sounds amazing!

Make sure to like all of these breweries on their Facebook pages, and follow them on Twitter. Links to all that below:

Cheers to local beers!

3 thoughts on “Top Three Tuesday – December Edition”

  1. your blog is ridiculously good. beautiful pictures to go along with great content. really impressed with what you have going on here. i’ve been spreading the word. glad you are up on wcpo now too so more people discover your site.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Chris! I have a lot of fun with this blog and have learned so much along the way. (my husband taught me all about photography so much of the photo credit goes to him). Glad Cincinnati has such a fun beer+food culture, makes it easy!

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