After what seems like a month (but was actually only one week) away I’m glad to be back to blogging about beer. My absence was prompted by a big project at work (a grant deadline) that is behind me now. Fortunately, during my hiatus I was able to partake in some beer related activities. Last night we had an Ohio v. Michigan beer tasting party that I have to write up and will be posting during the week leading up to the big OSU-Michigan game. I also had a bottle of Stone Enjoy by 11-12-13 one day after its expiration date (for the sake of research) and I’ll soon be posting a review on that beer (spoiler alert it was still pretty damn good), but for my return to the blog I’ve decided to write about a great event I attended last Sunday—the Die Hard Beer Tasting at Studio 35.
Before getting into the event let me describe Studio 35 for those of you who don’t know about this gem. Studio 35 is an independent, one screen Movie Theater, located on Indianola Avenue in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus, about two miles from my house. According to their website they are the oldest independent movie theater in Columbus. While that scores them some points in my book, what makes Studio 35 one of the coolest places on the planet is the fact that they are also a kick ass draft house with 40 beers on tap. This is not one of those places where 10 or so taps are set aside for boring mega beers either, all of the taps are great beers with a nice mix of local, regional and global beers. Barley’s Brewing seems to brew special movie themed beers just for Studio 35 like the triple hopped Interplanetary IPA for the Star Trek opening. If you like beer and movies and you’ve never been to Studio 35 you need to go to this place. Where else can you take the family for a movie, order pizza to feed everyone, and enjoy out of this world good craft beer? (btw you can just stop in at the draft house and not go to the movie if you like) If you live outside of Columbus make a weekend trip to visit Studio 35, and hit the nearby Crest Gastropub for brunch, and one of the local breweries during the afternoon. If you live outside of Ohio this is my recommendation for your next summer vacation.
Every once in a while when I’m driving into work I see an announcement on the marquee for a beer tasting event at Studio 35. These events are invariably on Sunday afternoons, and I’m a little ashamed to say that I’ve never attended one. However, since I’m now an investigative beer journalist when I saw the announcement for the Die Hard Beer Tasting I felt it would be a dereliction of duty to skip this event. Two hours of beer tasting, followed by the first installment in a movie franchise that has lasted longer than the ultimate Barleywine vertical taste testing, all for $25. I roped in my friend Ted, who is a big Studio 35 supporter, to join me for the beer tasting. My co-worker Kendyl also played a part in encouraging me to abandon responsibility and drink beer when I probably should have been writing about the wonders of methylammonium tin bromide.
Beyond the fact that we were going to be tasting beer and watching German terrorists I didn’t know exactly what to expect. As it turns out the beer tasting happens in the movie theater rather than the draft house part of Studio 35. You are given 10 smallish plastic cups, a handy sheet with brief descriptions of the beer being served, and a raffle ticket. The staff come around and serve you ~4 ounce servings of each of the ten beers in succession, while someone named Andy (one of the owners I presume) tells you stories about craft beer, interspersed with beer/Diehard related comedic video clips and beer swag giveaways. I found Andy’s dialog moderately entertaining, but I’m confident that my retelling of his stories about drinking too much, stuffy beer critics and sassy pregnant women would not be very entertaining. I’ll summarize by saying that he is on good terms with Larry Bell the owner of Bell’s Brewing, but not so much with Garrett Oliver the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewing.
Let’s get to the beer lineup and my brief thoughts on each beer. Nine of the ten beers were ones I had never tried before, which I found to be pretty impressive and for a beer tasting is just what you want. Two beers were last minute scratches, Founder’s Harvest Ale and Green Bullet by Green Flash. Harvest Ale is a phenomenally good beer, and I’ve been wanting to try Green Bullet, so I was a little bummed to miss out on those beers, but still no complaints. These two were replaced by La Fin du Monde, which is one of my favorites, and A Little Sumpin Sumpin Wild, which is not.
- Bell’s Le Batteur Ale (Bell’s) – This is Bell’s take on a French style of beer, Biere de Garde. It was a light beer with Belgian yeast fruitiness, a lighter malt base (I’m thinking Pilsner malts). Nothing too ambitious but pleasant enough.
- Flat Sammich Malt Liquor (Dark Horse) – The words malt liquor conjure images of 40 oz bottles of Olde English 800 (I’m pretty sure it is not brewed in England) and my undergraduate fraternity days, but this beer was pretty tasty. A bit of spiciness from the rye and a little fruitiness from the yeast. This is absolutely the best malt liquor I’ve ever had.
- Wheat Love (Bell’s) – Brewed with 8 different types of wheat and 8 different strains of wheat, I’ve been curious to try this wheatwine for a while. A little sweet, as you might expect for the style, some fruity notes from the yeast. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. I enjoyed it although probably not enough to lay down $14 for a 6-pack, but if you like wheatwines you should definitely check it out.
- La Fin du Monde (Unibroue) – A great beer, one of my favorite Belgian Tripels. It reminds me of a german hefeweizen turned up to 11.
- A Little Sumpin Sumpin Wild (Lagunitas) – A derivative of the hoppy wheat ale A Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale. I have a full review of the base beer over on the beer review section of the site. In short I don’t think the hops and the wheat base compliment each other very well. A Little Sumpin Sumpin Wild uses Westmalle yeast which gives it a bit more fruity and phenolic esters than the base beer, but I’m still don’t the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
- DeProef Belgian Rye IPA (Lochristi-Hijfte) – This is a beer brewed with Citra hops, Westmalle yeast, and Rye malts. It was originally made for Cleveland Beer Week last month. Big time orange aroma and flavor, on top of a Belgian tripel type base. The IPA hop character is dominant though. I normally am not a big fan of West Coast IPA-Belgian hybrids, but this was one of my favorites from the afternoon. The citra hops and belgian yeast go together nicely. I indulged in one full beer after the tasting finished and I picked this one.
- Oracle (Bell’s) – A double IPA that contrasts sharply with the previous DeProef IPA. This is a pine bomb, oily and resinous, fairly bitter. A pretty good beer, but I prefer my IPAs with more tropical fruit.
- Genghis Pecan (Clown Shoes) – This is supposed to be a Pecan Pie Porter but I couldn’t pick up much in the way of pecans. I did get coffee and some brown sugar. A pretty decent porter/stout but nothing super special, but it does get my vote for the best beer name of the day.
- Backwoods Bastard (Founders) – For a long time I’ve avoided Scottish ales because I thought I wouldn’t like their big malty character, but this Founders take on the style aged in Bourbon barrels is fantastic. Big time caramel, super smooth, some dark fruits hiding in the background. My favorite beer of the afternoon, look for a full review over the in the beer review section soon.
- Big Bad Baptist (Epic) – Another beer I’ve been looking forward to trying. Andy said that Studio 35 is the only bar in Ohio that has this beer on tap, and that seems plausible. As much as Backwoods Bastard is about caramel Big Bad Baptist is all about coffee. It’s a 12% imperial stout brewed with cocoa nibs and dark roasted coffee, and the coffee definitely gets the upper hand here.
That was it. Ted and I stayed for the movie, which was a look back to a simpler time when all terrorists were eastern Europeans. We had some popcorn and two pints of DeProef Rye IPA.