Monthly Archives: February 2011

Small Brewery, Good Brews, Big Contributions

Ohio is home to many microbreweries.  Some of which are well known brewpubs with big names like Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio.  However, others are small brewery-only establishments like Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison, Ohio.

During my adventures so far this semester I have discovered some small breweries that brew some very delicious beers!  This weekend I uncovered the hidden gem called Indigo Imp Brewery.  Blogger Jason on The Greatest Beer of all Time blog had a message for us Clevelanders.

“Wow, I’ve never been jealous of those that live in Cleveland but now I am.  Hell, you guys should stop whining about Lebron, you have Indigo Imp Brewery!!”

About Indigo Imp

Indigo Imp Brewery is an independent, family-owned and operated microbrewery handcrafting small batches of beer in open fermentors.  The brewery is small and sells beer onsite, however, six-packs are available for purchase at local retailers like 101 Bottles, Campus Wine Cellar, and Riverside Wine and Imports in Kent, Ohio.

I was perplexed by the name when I first discovered this beer and did some research to find out what it meant.  According to merriam-webster.com, an imp is a small demon or a mischievous child.  A description like that is enough for a beer brand to get some attention.  I think we’ve all been a little impish at times, some more than others.

Indigo Imp Brewery box

Indigo Imp Brewery thrives on the desire to stand out among other microbreweries.  According to the Website, an imp bottle is the one bottle in every six-pack that is dipped in wax.

“There’s a little Imp in everyone but sometimes one stands out. Are you an Imp?“

I didn’t purchase an entire six-pack of Indigo Imp for this post, but I did go to Ray’s Place in Kent, Ohio and tried a couple of Imp beers.  I love Ray’s Place, so I was excited I got to go there to eat, drink and be merry. 😉

About Blonde Bombshell

This beer was not at all what I expected.  It was a dark amber color with a thin white head.  Carbonation raced up the sides of the glass quickly to the top.  The side of the bottle advised me to pour slowly so I didn’t disturb the yeast.  I prefer the yeast that settles in the bottom of craft beers.  That’s where the entire flavor is!  So, I poured the yeast into my glass once I had a little more room.

The flavors confused my mouth!  It started out spicy with a little bite from all the carbonation but ended sweet with tones of citrus and sugar.  Blonde Bombshell was a very delicious way to start my night at Ray’s Place.  I was delighted with this choice.  The average rating on Beer Advocate is a B- but I think it deserves an A.

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About Jester

Another surprise from Indigo Imp Brewery!  Jester is a Belgian Pale Ale, which means it was brewed with Belgian yeast.  I kept thinking Blue Moon while I was drinking this beer, but the flavor was so much more than Blue Moon.  I couldn’t figure out what the fruit was that I tasted and then it hit me…BANANA!  I was spot on.  Clove and banana radiate through this beer that poured a milky caramel color with minimal head that dissipated quickly.  Ratings on Beer Advocate weren’t too pleasant.  People rating the beer called it boring but I just don’t agree.  I say Jester is a delicious summer beer that I will be picking up very soon.

I was pleasantly surprised with both choices of Indigo Imp beers.  I would have tried more if Ray’s had the selection.

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About Imp’s Green Initiative

Indigo Imp stands out to me because of its green initiative.  The brewing process creates quite a bit of waste and Indigo Imp prides itself on recycling everything it can.  When possible, the water used to brew the beer is recycled into water used to clean.  Indigo Imp recycles any materials that can’t be reused in a future brewing process, like glass and cardboard.  Even the grains used in the brewing process are contributed to a local farm to feed cows.

Many breweries are taking a green initiative.  Not only is it good for the environment, but recycling waste from the brewing process has helped some breweries save money as well.  Last year, Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont installed an anaerobic methane digester that turns brewery waste into natural gas to fuel the brewing process.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and avid home brewer Eric Fitch designed and patented the device after a home brewing blunder that left his basement flooded.

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A Very Ferrante Valentine’s Day

Ferrante Winery, Ohio Booze Blog, Ohio WineryI decided to kill two birds with one stone and celebrate Valentine’s Day with Pat, my boyfriend, at Ferrante Winery and Ristorante in Harpersfield, Ohio on Sunday.  We try not to make a big deal out of this holiday but it just happened to work out this way.  And Pat was feeling the whole wine thing because he just watched Sideways.

The History

The Ferrante family has been making wine since 1937.  The winery originated in Collinwood, Ohio and moved to Harpersfield in 1979.  Ten years later the restaurant opened to showcase the award-winning wines and construct the classic food and wine experience.  Ferrante is one of the largest vineyards in Ohio and hosts events and live music all year.

The Ambience

We were greeted by a very friendly hostess and escorted to our table in the main dining room.  The restaurant was bustling with couples and families enjoying the musical sounds of Joey Vanilli.  Vanilli was nestled in the upper portion of the restaurant; the high ceilings helped his soulful jams radiate throughout the building.

The main dining room was lined with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the 65-acres of vineyards.  The natural light illuminated the dining room, accenting the rustic Italian decorations.

The Experience

Ferrante Winery Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Ohio Winery, Ohio Booze Blog

Ferrante Winery's Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Pat and I started our dinner with a glass each of Ice Wine.  Pat had the Vidal Blanc Ice Wine and I had the Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.  Of course we shared.

The Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is white, creamy, tastes like honey and is $8 for a 4-oz glass. The Cabernet Franc Ice Wine is red, velvety, tastes like berries and is $10 for a 4-oz glass.  Pricey?  Yes.  Worth it?  Definitely.

Readers beware: a 375-mL bottle (about 1.5 cups) of Ferrante’s Ice Wine is between $29 and $35.  The price is pretty standard for a bottle of Ice Wine from the Grand River Valley region of Northeast Ohio.  The 8th Annual Ice Wine Festival is just around the corner, so stay tuned for more information about Ice Wines.

We splurged for dinner, conforming to the celebration of Valentine’s Day.  I had the Vitello alla

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Vitello alla Carciofo Limone

Carciofo Limone, which is a really fancy way to say veal with artichoke hearts, proscuitto, mushrooms and capers in a white wine lemon butter glaze and served with pasta and a salad. It was $19, as veal is normally a little more expensive.

Pat isn’t too adventurous when it comes to food, so he stuck with a pizza.  Both were very delicious.

We decided to try two more wines with dinner and that’s when things got interesting.  I ordered a glass of White Catawba and Pat ordered a glass of Bianco, a white wine I have never heard of or tasted before.  The waitress described it as “a very grapey smell and distinct taste.”

I found out on Sunday that very grapey means it smells like asphalt.  Are you familiar with the smell of freshly paved roads?  That is what this wine smelled like.   The woman working in the wine tasting room warned us not to smell it and just drink it.  We should have listened to her.  It did taste delicious though.

We decided to try every wine on the menu to prolong our Valentine’s Day dinner. We started with the dry to medium dry and proceeded to medium sweet to sweet wines.

Dry to Medium Dry:

  • Reserve Chardonnay
  • Signature Series Chardonnay
  • Signature Series Pinot Grigio
  • Golden Bunches Dry Riesling
  • Signature Series Gewurtztraminer
  • Vino Della Casa White
  • Reserved Red
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Vino Della Casa Red

Medium Sweet to Sweet

  • American Riesling
  • Grand River Valley Riesling
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Bianco
  • Rosato
  • Jester’s Blush
  • Pink Catawba
  • Rosso
  • Celebration Spice

The Lesson

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Ferrante Winery's Celebration Spice

Of all these wines we tried the Celebration Spice was my favorite.  It tasted sweet and full of flavor…like pumpkin pie!  It was an explosion of flavors in my mouth.  I understand why it’s the last wine to taste on the sweet wine sample tray. I loved it so much I bought three bottles of it for $8 each.  I have dubbed it the Christmas Ale of wines.

None of the other wines really stuck out to me too much.  I know everyone has a different palette and prefers different tastes but I just don’t like dry wine.  Especially Riesling.  Maybe that will change one day.  Until then, I’ll stick with my sweets.


Thumbs up for Thirsty Dog

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Photo courtesy of thirstydog.com

Welcome back!  My post this week is going to cover beer brewed and bottled in Akron, Ohio at Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. I created my own six-pack of this craft beer at 101 Bottles in Kent, Ohio.  It was a little pricey.  Each beer was between $2 and $3 but the experience was worth it.

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ABOUT THE BREWERY

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company was established in 1997 by John Najeway and derives its name from Najeway’s dogs, as well as the canines of family and friends.  According to an article by Keith Gribbins on clevelandscene.com, the brewery originally opened as a grill in Canton and decided to get into the craft beer-making business in 2006.  By 2007 Thirsty Dog renovated an old brewery in downtown Akron to brew, bottle, and keg its beers.

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The brewery lends its name and beers to charitable events in the area, which is a great way to create product awareness and brand recognition.

A fun fact about Thirsty Dog Brewing Company is Najeway decided he would only donate money to humane societies and animal shelters.  Organizations can’t afford to give money to every charity and I think it’s great that Najeway’s cause of choice is animals.  I’m a little biased though because I’m a dog lover.

There is a tasting room at the brewery…but it looks more like something out of prohibition.  Upon entering the brewery one would never know that right around the corner is a bar bustling with friends fraternizing over a wide variety of Thirsty Dog brews.  I recommend stopping in during open hours and talking to Ashley, the bartender.

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ABOUT THE BEERS

Now, I don’t expect to love every beer I try and I’m no beer connoisseur but I’m allowed to have my opinions about the beer I taste, right?  Thought so.

I tried these five Thirsty Dog brews:

  • Twisted Kilt Scottish Style Export Ale, 5.3% ABV
  • Old Leghumper Robust Porter, 6.7% ABV
  • Siberian Night Imperial Stout, 9.7% ABV
  • 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale, 8.3% ABV
  • Cerberus Belgian Style Trippel Ale, 10% ABV
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Thirsty Dog's Raspberry Ale and award-winning Siberian Night

These five beers don’t represent the entire litter of beers the brewery makes but were the only five available at 101 Bottles.  You can buy any of the beers straight from the brewery any day of the week, although seasonal brews aren’t always available.

Of the five I tasted I will definitely have to say that 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale was my favorite.  David James of A Microbrew Review Blog agrees. Christmas ales are one of the things that make Christmastime enjoyable, and perhaps bearable for some, and Thirsty Dog’s rendition of this holiday favorite is amazing.  I always hear people rant and rave about Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale and I feel as though Thirsty Dog’s is a nice change from the ordinary.

The flavor is much more distinct and the cinnamon in the brew resonates on your tongue and lips.  There’s no need to rim the glass with cinnamon and sugar, as the beer is already sweet enough.  A great holiday treat.

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I’ll give Cerberus a thumbs-up, as well.  Most would compare this beer to Blue Moon’s Belgian White but the tastes are extremely diverse.  Cerberus is very sweet, very light on the palette, and very citrusy.  A great summertime brew.

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For the stout lovers Siberian Night is one you must try.  The label on the bottle calls Siberian Night the “GRAND-DADDY” of stouts and this could be true.  I guess you could compare it to Guinness but I can’t really comment because I only drink Guinness in Irish Car Bombs.

Siberian Night has won awards at the Great American Beer Festival for three years.  I’m not a dark beer drinker but I would definitely prefer to have Siberian Night in my Irish Car Bombs instead of Guinness.  The beer tastes like chocolate and is one of Najeway’s favorites.

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There’s an article by Sarah Jaquay in The Wine Buzz magazine that divulges Najeway’s 2008 Ohio Brew Week award-winning dessert secret, which includes Siberian Night

ABOUT BLUES & BREWS

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company puts on Blues & Brews every year at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio.  This year Stan Hwyet Hall has decided to no longer host any event where drinking alcohol is the primary activity.  Linda Conrad, president and executive director of the nonprofit organization, stated in the Akron Beacon Journal that hosting occasions where the main event is drinking alcohol does not tie into the organizations mission.

Thirsty Dog is planning to hold Blues & Brews elsewhere this year. The media will be informed when a decision has been made about the new location and what charity proceeds from the event will benefit.  Last year, Blues and Brews raised about $40,000 for Stan Hwyet Hall.