Maumee Bay Brewing Company

Over Easter I found myself away from home teaching a weekend long workshop in Toledo, Ohio. On Sunday, before heading home, I figured I would try myself to some Easter Beer (and some food) at a local brewpub.
I asked around for recommendations and surprisingly heard only crickets. I found it hard to believe that a town bordering two great craft brewing states would not have an enormous collection of brewpub choices.

After a little more social media prodding I decided to check out Maumee Brewing Company. Luckily, not only were they open on Easter Sunday, but they had a special Easter Sunday menu highlighting some of their regular items but with a down-home holiday feel.

Though I am only about a 2-hour drive from Toledo, I know fairly little about the city, and I know less about Maumee Brewing Company. Granted, the streets of Toledo were quite bare being a religious holiday; however, driving up to Maumee Brewing Companies restaurant had me just a little worried… The area was deserted and the part of town seemed like it had had better days (or was in the process of having a better day). In contrast the very large building that Maumee Brewing calls home was clean, bright, and very welcoming (but once again very deserted). I am glad there were ample signs pointing me where to go as there is a Café, a Brewpub, a steakhouse, a sports bar and lounge, and a banquet hall (some of which were closed) all in the same building. I finally found an employee in the massive building who guided me to the brewpub area.

I don’t enjoy sitting at the bar by myself, but I also didn’t want to monopolize one of their larger tables, so when they seated me at the bar I just went with it. Luckily for me the bartender, Lexi, was incredibly welcoming and efficient. I saddled up to my bar stool, pulled out a book and settled in for a relaxing holiday meal.

For dinner, they had a special “Root Beer Glazed Ham w/ pretzel stuffing and honey glazed carrots”. Everything food wise was spot on and their pretzel stuffing was so amazing if I ever find myself in the area again I will most certainly get their pretzels as an appetizer.

When it comes to their brews it was a little hit and miss. It was early in the afternoon so I wanted a lighter beer. I went with their Glass City Pale Ale which boasts citrus and grapefruit notes. The A.B.V. comes in at a respectable 5.7% and I.B.U. 37. The website claims that this pale ale is “dangerously drinkable on a warm day” which is a statement I would totally agree with. Quite honestly this is the way I would like all my American pale ales to taste; Light with a very prominent grapefruit front end, hoppy middle notes and a clear finish. I ranked this beer a 4 out of 5 on Untappd.

I couldn’t leave with just tasting one beer so I figured I would try out the Coffee Cream Ale. As much as I liked the Glass City Pale Ale, I did NOT like the Coffee Cream Ale. It was heavy on the coffee and there was an element of “something else” I could not put my finger on. With “Coffee” in the title I expected something dark and creamy, and this turned out to be a much lighter cleaner beer than expected. With so much coffee flavor it almost felt like they used an artificial coffee flavor, so I was surprised to find out they actually did a cold steep post ferment process (which still makes me wonder how they got the beer so light in color). Quite honestly I don’t really enjoy cream sodas, and I didn’t like this. However, if you like cream sodas and love coffee more than I do (which I don’t know is humanly possible) you might enjoy the Coffee Cream Ale. A.B.V. 5.2% I.B.U. 22 I ranked this beer a 2.5 out of 5 on untapped.

The best advice I could give to someone visiting Maumee Brewing company is to get one of their samplers and try each of the beers before deciding on their drink of choice. While you are there you MUST stay for the food. Where the beers offerings have both good and bad all the food was to die for and all the employees were efficient and friendly.

Reviews Destihl Brewery (Or a GOSEing we will go)

I have made it a goal for 2016 to stop going to chain restaurants if I can at all help it. This is mainly for two reasons: 1.) I want to support local businesses over larger conglomerations 2.) I want to drink good beer at brew pubs whenever (and wherever) humanly possible.

So when I found myself in Champagne-Urbana for a weekend event I asked around for some brewpub recommendations. A good friend and fellow brewer pointed me towards DESTIHL RESTAURANT & BREW WORKS for serving decent food and drinkable brews.

DESTIHL’s restaurant is not your grandfather’s pub- it boasts packed seats, a large college clientele (not surprising in a college town), a candle lit atmosphere and a “hip” menu.

This “gastrobrew” pub is riding a very close line between being a “culinary” destination and trying just a little too hard. However, I am here to review the brews, not the restaurant (although our servers were pretty awesome and made up for some of the almost yuppy atmosphere of the place).

Instead of a flight option they had 4 oz samples available ranging from $1.25-2.75, which I actually appreciated as we could choose as many or as few samples as we wanted. In contrast, something I did not appreciate was that these samples did not come with any way to easily identify one from another. Over the course of the night I think I had to ask my server a half a dozen times what each beer was.

The first beer (and my date’s favorite beer) was the Privyet Russian Imperial Stout. Privyet, which is Russian for ʻhiʼ or ʻheyʼ, is one of their award-winning beers. DESTIHL’s classifies it as a bourbon barrel ale, even though this beer isnʼt aged in oak barrels. They say you can’t notice, but I think you can, as some of the notes come across as burnt as compared to barell aged. They also pride themselves in this being a more hoppy imperial stout, and I have to agree – in the terms that I found it just a little more hoppy then I enjoy in my stouts. The thing they got right was the mouthfeel; this is a smoooooooth beer. It is incredibly rich and creamy and if you enjoyed caramelized burnt hops this is a great beer for you. 12.4% ABV and a solid 4 ranking by others on Untappd.  I would give this beer a 3.75, meaning I wouldn’t buy it to keep it in my fridge but I would drink it when I went out if that is what I was in the mood for.

Next up was the Roggenbier, a German style rye. Basically if a red and Belgium mated this would be their offspring: an unfiltered red. Traditionally Roggenbier’s are older (as in medieval) rye beers made from 50% barley malt and then equal portions wheat and rye malts. They are low in hops and usually unfiltered (which is what gives you the Belgium taste). I applaud DESTIHL’s for choosing beer styles that are not the norm and this Roggenbier is not a bad example of the style even though it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (or pint of beer). 5.7% ABV and a 3.5 ranking on Untappd. I would give it a 3 (OK. Drinkable if there is nothing else. Would not buy a six pack.) because I think it was just to reminiscent of a red beer that happened to be unfiltered over being a true roggenbier

The Black Cherry Stout neither tasted like black cherries or really a stout. It has very little cherry taste to it and it almost seemed liked a dark colored sour beer than a stout. I am calling it a black cherry stout as that is what the server called it (the menu it was listed as just black cherry). At 7.2 ABV this had so few cherry undertones it was one of the beers I had to keep asking the server what it was. Untappd members gave it a 3.5 and I think that is really generous as there was so little good I could write about in the beer. It was not vile, but it was lacking anything really stellar so I had to give it a 2.5 (a 2 means it’s not good and I would prefer to not drink. Would never spend money on it.) In this case I am glad I only spent $1.40 on it.

It wouldn’t be hard to beat the black cherry but luckily our next brew the Farmhouse Double Stout was a decent stout. The Farmhouse Double was just a tad bit harsh on the end but not enough to not drink it. Overall it was mellow with a slight coffee flavor. It also came in at a very strong 9.3% ABV that could easily sneak up on you. Untappd users gave it a 4 and on this one I would agree with them except for the fact that besides being a good decent stout there was nothing that said I must drink this again- therefore I learned towards my 3.5 rating

Now if you are thinking there was nothing really fabulous happening at DESCTIHLS, don’t worry I saved the best for last. I am a hard critic when it comes to sour beers. I either love them or I find them to be the most vile, repulsive thing a brewer can create. Therefore I am always just a tad surprised when I find a sour I really enjoy. Always eager to give sours a chance I went for the DESTIHL’s Wild Sour Series in their Smoked Gose. Now, most regular beer drinkers might not be familiar with Gose beers as they are not ones brewed regularly or found in a six pack at the quickie mart. A Gose is a an old German beer style with a low hop factor, spice from coriander and salt.

SALT?!?!?!?!

Yes Salt! Salt was a common early brewing ingredient used for a plethora of reason from stopping the yeast in a beer from over processing  to changing the flavor of sour bad beers and vinegar like wines. It is easy to over salt any home-brew so it is not one many people try. The salt is DESTIHL’s Smoked Gose is a combination of smoked sea salt and mesquite-smoked malt. I found the Smoked Gose not heavy on the smoked flavor or heavy on the sour. The only thing I regret on the Smoked Grose is that I had a 4 oz sampling instead of a pint. If you have never tried a gose before I recommend DESTIHL’s Smoked Gose. At only 6% ABV, it is an easy Rauchbier (think smoked Octoberfest beer) to enjoy. Try the sample size first, just in case smoked beers, sours or salt in your beer is not the flavors you enjoy. Me? I gave this one an easy 4.5 ( as compared to Untappd’s 3.5- I blame the style of the beer not the beer itself)

Overall I appreciate DESTIHL’s attempt to create beers most breweries aren’t and overall every one we tried was drinkable, even if some of them were not noteworthy. The food portions were good sized and really well done. I would recommend DESTIHL’s for anyone in the Champagne-Urbana area. Though I would try it again if I was in the area, I don’t think this would ever be a regular go to place as I like to feel relaxed in my brew pubs and I found DESTIHL’s was trying just a little to hard to achieve “something” – which is a shame, as I found their food and beers solid.

Cleveland Brewfest

This particular Sunday morning started with drinking a cup of coffee and logging the 23 different brews I tried at Cleveland’s BeerFest the night before.

To those who follow my twitter feed, it must have seemed odd to see me hammering back so many different beers so early on a Sunday… Looking back at it, at only 5 ounces per sample (a little less than half a bottle) 23 beers is quite impressive… that equals about 10 beers for the night. Though truth be told, I had no issue not finishing my brews prior to getting a new one or flat out tossing the worse in the bunch; so my total bottle of beer count is probably closer to 5 or 6…bu still impressive for a girl my size.

Case in point, about 4 years ago at Chicago’s Beer Under Glass, I learned of the horrors of 5 Rabbits, probably some of the worse beers I had tried to that point in my life. I now try to stay very clear of 5 Rabbits, though I am hopelessly in love with their name. I figure I will give them 1 more year of isolation before I go back and give them a chance, just in case their beers have improved.And to me that is the point of places like BeerFest; to try as many brews as possible, finding the winners in the bunch, and staying away from the losers.

However, I digress, let’s get back to Cleveland’s BeerFest. It was easy to spot those who were there to get sloshed, those who were there to be cool, those dragged along by their spouse, and those who were serious about beer. The later group normally had one of the maps and beer list, and some even sported a clipboard  to take notes. I like to consider myself in this group, and though I tucked my beer list into my pocket, I definitely took notes of all the beers I tried.

There were some real winners in the tastings (Ink by Rhinegeist Brewery, Albino Stout by Cleveland Brewing Company, and North County Milk Bourbon to just name a few), some that were ok, and some that could only be described as epically bad (Magic Hat Seasonal Single Chair and Rivertown Sour).I choose brews from breweries I had not tried before, and on the few occasions I revisited a brewery, I made sure to try something entirely new. I tried to properly plan, and knew which beers I didn’t want to try (mostly IPA’s, though I did end up trying a few) and which ones I couldn’t try (I’m allergic to grapefruit). I ended up just going with the flow of the beer tasting ambia I was with. Honestly I am ok with this, as it allowed me to try even more beers and styles than I would normally choose for myself.

When it comes to rankings I have a very easy to remember scale.

  • 5- Favorite Beers
  • 4.5- Would buy and drink when I wanted to have something I wanted to enjoy.
  • 4- Good Drinkable Beer. On the list of beers I would buy at the grocery store or at a pub.
  • 3- Ok. Drinkable if there is nothing else. Would not buy a six pack.
  • 2- Not good. Would prefer to not drink. Would never spend money on it.
  • 1- Nope. Not Going to Do it. I would rather drink a Bud Light.

Here are reviews of 17 of the beers I tried at Cleveland Beerfest 2016.

Score Brewery Name Style ABV Notes
 5  Rhinegeist Brewery  Ink Stout  10% A really great solid stout. Not too bitter, not too sweet. What Guinness wants to be when it grows up. Also at 10% you really don’t need more than one or two.
 4.25  Maumee Bay  5 hole Dunkle Weizen  5.3  A solid winterstyle DunkleWeizen.
 4.25 Maumee Bay Total Eclipse Breakfast Stout Double Stout  9.1 A good smooth very hearty oatmeal stout with a good combination of lactose.
 4  Arbor Blonde Blonde Ale/Herb Spiced  5.5 A little heavy on the honey, but as I like honey I enjoyed it. A nice light blonde that would be perfect for summer drinking.
 4  Arbor Phat Abbot Tripel Trippel  10 Strong (even for a Belgian Tripel), but good.
 4  North County Station 33 Firehouse Red Red  5.5 Normally reds are not my drink of choice, but I liked the North County’s Red. As I can say it’s a red I enjoy, and that’s pretty high praise.
 2  Magic Hat Single Chair Blonde  5% Tastes like Bud Light without the flavor. Honestly, just have a glass of water.
 3  Magic Hat Raspberry Stout Stout  7.5% A little heavy-handed on the raspberry. A good stout, but I doubt you could drink more than one or two before the sweet raspberry gets too much.
 1 Rivertown Divergent Berliner Weisse  3.8% Sours are hard beers to do and you have to like sours to enjoy them. I like sours, but something went wrong in Rivertown’s sour…Like really bad. Like the whole thing turned to vinegar bad. I don’t know if that is their recipe or the batch, but there is no way I would have ever served it as it was.
 2 DuClaw Double Naked Fish Imperial Chocolate Raspberry  8% Way too bitter, even for an imperial.
 2.5 DuClaw For Petes Sake Imperial Peanut butter Porter  8% Better than the Double Naked Fish, but there is an offputting burnt (not smokey – burnt) taste to it.
2.5 Mt. Carmel Amber Ale Red Ale – American Amber / Red  6% Way too hoppy for an amber ale.
 3 Mt. Carmel Imperial Pinapple IPA Imperial IPA  9% I hate IPAs and am not a huge fan of pineapple… However, I would drink this. I would even buy it for a party knowing I might have one to two leftover in my fridge.
 3.5 Mt. Carmel Coffee Brown Ale Brown Ale  6% Good non bitter coffee flavor in a decent brown ale.
 2.5 Heavy Seas Deep Six English Porter  6.8% Way too smokey; even for a porter.
 3 Heavy Seas Double cannon American Double  9.5 Not bad. Drinkable to enjoy while watching a game.
 1.5 Old Firehouse Winterale Double Stout  9 % BAD aftertaste like the batch was infected by an odd bacteria.

Drinks (and in this case drinkers) are like books and should never be judged by its cover. Towards the later part of the night (after I stopped keeping track) I had a string of mediocre beers and really wanted to break the cycle. I figured – who knew the beers better than the people pouring them? So I asked the man behind the tap for something good that is not an IPA. He looks at me and says “you look like an amber fan” and hands me an amber, which turns out to be once again not a winner. One of the others in my group received a dark beer from them that turned out to be fabulous. I ended up going back to the server to let them know I am not an “amber” girl but the darker beer was fantastic.

My favorite beer of the night could also not be judged by its look – very light, white oat ale with subtle sweet chocolate and coffee overtones. Turns out this light ale is actually a stout- an Albino Stout from Cleveland Brewing Company to be exact. Besides being a really drinkable beer, it started a debate amongst our group on what classifies a stout. This is why this beer is my pick of the fest- a well made beer that pleases the tastebuds and ignites conversation amongst friends.