Back in July Tom Aguero, the man behind the Brewminds blog (formerly Queen City Drinks) contacted Rick Armon, Ohio’s beer writer laureate and the man responsible for the most up-to-date and informative beer blog in the state, The Beer Blog – Ohio, and yours truly to see if we were interested in participating in the Six-Pack Project — an idea developed several years ago by Bryan Roth of This is Why I’m Drunk.
The idea is to choose six beers that represent your region. Think of it as a recommendation that you might give to an out of state visitor in town for a weekend. Tom would focus on the Cincinnati/Dayton market, Rick would take Northeast Ohio (including Cleveland), and I would make my picks from Central and Southeast Ohio breweries, including Columbus and Athens. As I’m the last to complete my task, you can check out Tom’s selections and Rick’s picks both of which were posted weeks back.
Here are the parameters I was instructed to follow in constructing my six pack:
• Must pick a six-pack of beers that you feel best to represent your area and area’s beer culture.
• Beer must be made in your area, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
• Must be packaged beer (sorry Barley’s, Lineage, Staas, Temperance Row, …), but any size bottle/can is acceptable to include.
• Current seasonal offerings are fine but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.
Following Tom and Rick’s example I did my best to choose a range of styles, opting not to duplicate any beer style within my six picks. It was a challenging task, as there were so many more deserving beers than available slots. I wavered and waffled on the final two slots for weeks on end. I asked for recommendations on social media. I drank beers that were new to me. I perused online beer ratings and reviews. I drank beers that were old to me. I asked my friends what they thought. I started reading the horoscope—Little Fish is obviously a Pisces, but is Hoof Hearted a Taurus or a Sagittarius? Enough is enough, the time has come to reveal my picks. (You can click on the headers for full reviews of most of these beers)
At some point in my deliberations it became clear that one of the barrel aged Little Fish beers should be on the list, but which one? On a visit to the Athens taproom I couldn’t get enough of Aecern (old-English for acorn). Full of smooth, delicious malty goodness, and how many people are rocking English Old Ales, but I think the barrel aged version with Brett needs a little more time in the bottle to reach it’s apex, which should be glorious. I seriously considered Barrel Aged Woodthrush, which won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup this past spring. Finally I landed on Barrel Aged Saison du Poisson. Their flagship farmhouse ale lures you in with a big Belgian nose, and then wows you with a complex yet eminently drinkable mix of flavors. Plus it has to be in the top five for best Ohio beer names.
Bodhi (Columbus Brewing Company)
Picking one imperial IPA for the list was agonizingly difficult. The stable of fruity, cloudy DIPAs that Trevor Williams brews up at Hoof Hearted have a well deserved cult following. Then there’s Jackie Os Mandala line of DIPAs. There’s a lot of love out there for Homestead’s 3MCs. Land Grant’s Anticipation, a can full of hoppy goodness, was released during my deliberations and got my attention. Would I be asked to leave town if I left out CBCs Creeper, winner of a gold medal at the 2015 GABF, and being released in bottles for the first time this week? Maybe, but I couldn’t imagine a six pack representing Central Ohio without including Bodhi. Hardly a new kid on the block, beer geeks have been lusting after it for more than a decade. You can make a plausible argument that it’s not the best DIPA in Central Ohio but it has to be the most influential. Now that it’s “available” in bottles the rest of the state, the country, and the planet, can get in on our not very well kept secret.
Wolf’s Ridge takes their award winning golden cream ale Clear Sky, then infuses it with One Line coffee and vanilla. The beverage that comes out the other end simultaneously changed the way I look at coffee and beer. It’s bursting with fruity, light roasted coffee flavor, balanced by just the right amount of sweetness from the malts, and accented by touch of vanilla. I’m tempted to start every day with one of these, but I usually resist. Last weekend head brewer Chris Davison told me it has become their best selling packaged beer. I’m not surprised.
Jackie O’s has so much gold that any number of beers could make my list, but the magic touch Brad Clark and company have with stouts puts them at the top of my list. While including a Jackie O’s stout was almost a no-brainer, choosing just one was a much harder task. The limited release gems like Oro Negro and Bourbon Barrel Black Maple are crazy good, but in the spirit of this contest I wanted to go with one of the widely available stouts, either Oil of Aphrodite and Dark Apparition. In the end I went with the latter because there’s something undeniably awesome about getting that much complexity with no adjunct ingredients or barrel aging (though the BA versions are also delicious).
This was perhaps my easiest pick. A super pale ale that can go toe to toe with Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust. I did a blind tasting of the two last summer, and it was incredibly difficult to choose which one I preferred. An early adopter of Mosaic hops before they started showing up in every other IPA. More affordable and more accessible than most beers on this list. Just because it’s available throughout Central Ohio year round, doesn’t give you an excuse to take this beer for granted.
When I solicited opinions on social media this beer kept coming up again and again. One person even said it restored their faith in North High Brewing. So I went out in search of a six pack, and after a few stops I found one. I cracked open my first one on a hot and humid Friday evening. I could see right away why this beer was getting so much praise. The Citra hops provide enough aroma for the hop heads and the grapefruit makes it go down so damn easy. It’s a good thing it weighs in at a sessionable 4.7% abv, because that six pack didn’t last long. Forget paying $15 a six-pack for Grapefruit Sculpin, go local with the Walleye. (As an aside I’m told that no fish were harmed in the making of this beer.)
Well that’s it. Let the second guessing begin, I’d love to hear which beers you would have put on the list.