Add A Comment October 24th, 2012

Yellow Brick Pizza

Posted by Kyle

Good Pizza. Good Beer. Good Vibes.

I’m not going to mince words; Yellow Brick is my favorite place in town. I’m there, at minimum, once a week. But if you were to ask me what one thing keeps me coming back, I’d be hard-pressed to find an answer. I could tell you about their great and abundant pizza offerings. Or about their incredible draft selection and seemingly endless (yet super rare) bottle fridge. Or I could tell you about their infinitely captivating Netflix queue. But not one of those things could do YBP justice. The experience there is simply more than the sum of its parts.

Even if Yellow Brick served no beer, they could solely subsist on slinging pies; they’re that good. And if you like options, or seemingly strange concoctions, this is the place for you. The menu offers up six classics (basic to meat lovers to veggie) and 16 signature pies (ranging from Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder to a Boise Surprise and everything in between) plus a weekly-ish — usually off-the-wall — special, featured on the big board (The Latin Lover, above). If that’s not enough variety, you can also choose from seven different sauces, 28 toppings, and a gluten-free option, to create your own. YBP has other items on their menu too — wings, tots, salads, etc. — but to be honest, I haven’t ventured too far beyond the pizza and cheesy bread. When I’ve got a good thing, I usually stick with it. My girlfriend and I have worked our way through almost all the topping and pizza options to arrive at our “usual,” damn near every time we go in.

There to accompany the doughy goodness down your gullet, is Yellow Brick’s bread and butter: their beer menu. As much as YBP could be only a pizza shop, it could be only a beer bar just as easily. Their 16 rotating taps are the main attraction here, changing almost weekly and featuring the everyday to the sublime. If it’s good — or rare — and it’s available in Ohio, chances are they’ve had at least a quarter-barrel of it. Backing up the tap list is a veritable encyclopedia of bottles and cans. Housed in a handy-dandy black book, the bottle list is truly something to behold. If you can’t find a beer you like in their fridge, you probably don’t like beer; there’s regular offerings from Dogfish Head, Evil Twin, Great Divide, Mikkeller, Omnipollo, Stillwater, Stone, the list goes on. From domestic to import, draft to can, as far as I’m concerned, Yellow Brick has one of the top three beer menus around.

Pizza and beer aside, YBP is just the kind of place where you can lose an evening. People-watching looms large with the ever-eclectic clientele, myself included. Local artwork adorns almost every wall for your viewing pleasure. The music they pump through the speakers changes even faster than their draft list, and is even more varied (think Sinatra to Gaga to DMX, all in the span of 10 minutes). And who knows what they’ll be screening on their Netflix queue; could be a BBC nature documentary, could be a 90s classic, could be a sci-fi thriller; you never know. Actually, there is one day of the week you can know what to expect: Twin Peaks Tuesdays. Every Tuesday features an extended happy hour (read: half-off drafts) from 4-8, sometimes a pizza special, sometimes a new keg tapping, but always a chronological run of Twin Peaks episodes.

All this aside, I could get into how the Owner/GM team of Bobby and Faith have lead the charge and helped change the face of the Olde Towne East neighborhood, but that’s a totally different article. All you need to know for now, is that Yellow Brick Pizza is THE place to go if you want good food and great beer in a laid back setting. Hippies, be sure to use the front door.

Yellow Brick Pizza is located at 892 Oak Street in Olde Towne East.
Hours are Mon-Thu 11am–11pm / Fri-Sat 11am–12am / Closed Sundays
October 23rd, 2012 Add A Comment
Oskar Blues Brewery

Deviant Dale’s India Pale Ale

Posted by Kyle
2012 batch, from a 16 oz. can, served in a pint glass
RateBeer: 99 / Beer Advocate: 89 / Untappd: 4 caps

LOOK

Golden amber color. Half-inch, off-white head that mostly maintains. Heavy lacing.

SMELL

Strong hop presence. Fresh, citrus/pine aroma. Hints of earthiness underneath.

FEEL

The carbonation is on the higher end of moderate. Great effervescence. The way an IPA should be.

TASTE

Light malt start with a strong hop finish. The hop character is like that of a double IPA — really biting, especially compared to the beginning — but proportionally smaller.

OVERALL

Oskar Blues is the newest brewery to hit Ohio, starting statewide distribution just yesterday. You should start seeing their six varieties — Dale’s Pale AleOld Chub Scotch AleG’Knight Imperial Red, Mama’s Little Yella Pils Pilsner, Ten FIDY Imperial StoutGubna Imperial IPA, and Deviant Dales IPA — on shelves soon, if not already. Based in Longmont, Colorado, Oskar Blues was the first modern American craft brewery to start canning their beer, but their influence reaches far beyond the can revolution. All of their beers — this IPA, especially — are an example of what that style can be; each variety is absolutely solid, if sometimes slightly overpriced. Their presence here is really great news for Ohio beer-drinkers, and Oskar Blues alike. I think they’ll be a huge hit in our burgeoning craft beer scene. Check it out as soon as you get a chance.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Spotted: Weiland’s Gourmet Market
  • Style India Pale Ale
  • ABV 8.0
  • IBU 85
  • Origin Colorado
October 22nd, 2012 Add A Comment
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew Imperial Stout

Posted by Kyle
2012 batch, from a 22 oz. bottle, served in a snifter
RateBeer: 99 / Beer Advocate: 92 / Untappd: 4 caps

LOOK

Dark, dark brown. Opaque. Thin khaki head. Little to no lacing.

SMELL

Raisins. Fig. Smoked malt. Tobacco. Honey.

FEEL

Moderate body. More porter than stout. Coats the tongue. Properly carbed.

TASTE

Deep. Dark. Roasty. Smoky. A bit sweet, but really complex. Nice earthy notes.

OVERALL

It’s a really great beer; no doubt about it. Masterfully crafted. Definitely lives up to the hype. It’s tough to drink a lot of, though. Bitches Brew is an assault on the senses. But the warmer it gets, the more the honey comes through, both in flavor and mouthfeel. And I have to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what a gesho root is, or what, exactly, it adds to the beer. A cursory Google search tells me, via Wikipedia, that gesho root (rhamnus prinoides) is an Ethiopian shrub whose stems are used in a manner similar to hops, and mixed with honey to make mead. I’ll assume most of the earthiness and the hints of bitter are from the gesho. Whatever it’s from, it complements the honey nicely, and adds loads of depth to the imperial stout base. If you happen upon this beer anywhere, by all means, buy it. Age it. Enjoy it. It’s worth every penny.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Spotted: Weiland’s Gourmet Market
  • Style Imperial Stout
  • ABV 9.0
  • IBU 38
  • Origin Delaware
October 17th, 2012 Add A Comment
Finch's Beer Company

Threadless India Pale Ale

Posted by Kyle
2012 batch, from a 16 oz. can, served in a pint glass
RateBeer: 90 / Beer Advocate: 80 / Untappd: 4 caps

LOOK

Golden yellow; standard IPA color. Thin, off-white head. Fair lacing.

SMELL

Slight musty aroma mixed with hop florals. Some bready yeastiness.

FEEL

On the heavier side of medium. Moderate carbonation.

TASTE

Nice bready malt flavor up front, solid hop finish. Some of the yeast from the aroma comes through near the end as well.

OVERALL

It’s a good IPA. Slightly above average. But it doesn’t knock my socks off. The yeastiness is a slight issue, as with the pale and the blonde. There’s a nice crispness to everything, distinct flavors, nice finish. It fits in well with the other two releases, even with the yeast notes notwithstanding. Is there some tweaking to be done? Sure. But it’s a good beer from a new brewery, and the guys behind it have big plans. Keep your eyes peeled.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Spotted: Kroger – Brewery DistrictWeiland’s Gourmet Market
  • Style India Pale Ale
  • ABV 6.0
  • IBU 90
  • Origin Illinois
October 16th, 2012 Add A Comment
Finch's Beer Company

Golden Wing Blonde Ale

Posted by Mike
2012 batch, from a 16 oz. can, served in a wheat glass
RateBeer: 61 / Beer Advocate: 76 / Untappd: 3 caps

LOOK

Light hazy golden color with about a half inch of head and moderate lacing.

SMELL

A light malty sweetness with a bready yeast aroma

FEEL

Moderate carbonation. A little creaminess.

TASTE

Very much the same as the aroma. Sweet at the start with a bready yeast finish.

OVERALL

A very solid blonde ale. Very light, drinkable and refreshing. Kyle and I had the pleasure of meeting the guys from Finch a few weeks ago at Dirty Frank’s here in Columbus. The Golden Wing that I had that night had a little more of a hop bite to it and less yeasty qualities which I think I preferred. This batch is a little more in category with a lower IBU and still very good. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s next from these guys. I’d especially like to get my hands on some of their Imperial Red, “Fascist Pig.”

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Spotted: Giant Eagle Market District, Kenny Road Market
  • Style American Blonde Ale
  • ABV 5.0
  • Origin Illinois
October 15th, 2012 Add A Comment
Finch's Beer Company

Cut Throat Pale Ale

Posted by Kyle
2012 batch, from a 16 oz. can, served in a pint glass
RateBeer: 79 / Beer Advocate: 78 / Untappd: 3 caps

LOOK

Slightly hazy, dark gold, with an orange tint. Moderate off-white head with decent lacing.

SMELL

Bready citrus with a hop back. Nice balance on the nose.

FEEL

Medium body with moderate carbonation. Nice, dry finish.

TASTE

Flavor is slightly weaker than the aroma. The malt comes through a lot more; hops a little less. Yeast plays a prominent role in the finish.

OVERALL

Pretty solid pale ale; nothing extraordinary, but refreshing. The orange peel addition is apparent, and a really nice hop enhancer. Really well-balanced, but the amount of yeast flavor at the end is slightly off-putting. It doesn’t detract from the drinkability of the beer at all, but it’s the only noticeable flavor that doesn’t seem to belong. I’ve had this beer a handful of times before without any yeasty finish, which makes me think the issue is isolated to this batch. Regardless, Cut Throat is a good beer from a new brewery, and a great sign of things to come for the the midwestern craft beer scene.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Spotted: Kroger – Brewery DistrictWeiland’s Gourmet Market
  • Style American Pale Ale
  • ABV 5.6
  • IBU 40
  • Origin Illinois
October 4th, 2012 Add A Comment
Hoppin' Frog Brewery

Super-Charged Saison IPA

Posted by Kyle
2012 batch, from a 22 oz. bottle, served in a tulip glass
RateBeer: 85 / Beer Advocate: N/A / Untappd: 4 caps

LOOK

Warm, ruby-brown hue, off-white head, little-to-no lacing.

SMELL

Very sweet aroma, dark fruits, hints of yeast.

FEEL

Thick. Syrupy. Matches the nose, but not in the right way.

TASTE

Really sugary-sweet. Too much. A tiny kick of hops at the end, but not enough.

OVERALL

I had really high hopes for this beer. I read about it shortly before it was released. I even watched the video of Hoppin’ Frog in Europe making it. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I was anticipating a really traditional saison dryness — almost puckering-ly so — with a huge hop kick at the end for more pucker. The name ‘super-charged’ fooled me. The candy sweetness of the beer is overpowering, and really hurts the drinkability. It’s more of a hearty, wintery saison mixed with an IPA, rather than a crisp, summery saison. Those two styles just don’t mix well. I have to imagine, though, if this beer were to age for 4-6 months, it would come out a little more balanced and closer to what I had in mind, but for now, it’s just too much sweetness for me to handle.

Rating: 2.25 out of 5

Spotted: Weiland’s Gourmet Market
  • Style Saison/Farmhouse Ale
  • ABV 10.9
  • IBU 60
  • Origin Netherlands
Add A Comment October 1st, 2012

Brew Day: Imperial Stout

Posted by Mike

Now that the weather has been turning a little cooler, I’ve found myself drinking more and more stouts. And since I had a few empty carboys sitting around, I decided that I should just go ahead and brew one.

GRIST

  • 11lb Maris Otter
  • 1lb Flaked Barley
  • 1lb Carmel 120
  • .3lb Black Malt
  • .3lb Chocolate Malt

ADDITIONS

  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar (1 min)

HOPS

  • 2oz Fuggles (60 min)
  • 2oz Northern Brewer (20 min)

YEAST

  • White Labs Irish Ale Yeast

PROCESS

  • 1 hour Sacch Rest at 152°F
  • 1 week primary
  • 3-4 weeks secondary
  • 2-4 weeks bottle conditioning

According to iBrewMaster this recipe should have put me in the 1.102 range for OG, about 80 IBUs and 10.7 ABV. Being the amateur home brewer that I am, I didn’t come close to the OG. After recirculating once, I ended up with a stuck sparge. To try to salvage the beer, I scooped some grain out of the mash tun into a grain bag and dropped it right into my kettle. Once I added some sparge water and stirred the grain around a little bit, I was able to get the wort moving again and added all the grain back into the mash tun.

A pretty simple boil and a few rain storms later, I chilled the wort, aerated, and pitched my yeast. My OG ended up right at 1.080, even with the last ditch effort of adding some brown sugar to try to give it a boost. So if the calculation is correct, that puts my efficiency at 52%. I’m sure the stuck sparge issue contributed a lot to the loss of efficiency, but I also think I sparged too quickly, trying to hurry things along with the rain rolling in.

I always lose a little efficiency because my sparge method is sort of a bootleg combination of fly sparging and batch sparging. Since this brew day, I have acquired a second cooler I hope to convert to a sparge tank to do a little better continuous sparge method.

I completely made up this recipe with some loose inspiration from other imperial stout recipes I found online. If you would have done something different with the recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts.

September 27th, 2012 Add A Comment
Green Flash Brewing Co.

Double Stout

Posted by Kyle

2012 batch, from a 12 oz. bottle, served in a pint glass
RateBeer: 99 / Beer Advocate: 91 / Untappd: 4 caps

LOOK

Opaque abyss brown with a khaki head. Not much lacing.

SMELL

Cocoa, coffee, oats. Lots of full, roasted character.

TASTE

Big, bold, dark flavors. Abundant chocolate notes.

FEEL

Really smooth with a bit of a tingle at the very end.

OVERALL

I’ve had some serious stout cravings lately since the weather started to turn, and this one hits on all cylinders. It’s a big beer, in every way, and the word ‘balanced’ doesn’t belong anywhere near it. It’s a celebration of dark, roasted malts and the flavor profiles that come with them. Those flavors really start to expand once the beer warms up a bit, too, allowing the more subtle, cocoa notes and a great dryness to come through. The end is absolutely incredible; bitter, dark chocolate with no hint of alcohol. I’ll probably end up waiting to enjoy the other three bottles until winter hits and this beer becomes a full-body warmer.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Spotted: Grandview Carryout
  • Style Imperial Stout
  • ABV 8.8
  • IBU 70
  • Origin California
2 Comments September 21st, 2012

The Actual Brewing Co.

Posted by Kyle and Mike

A common love of beer often creates a feeling of brotherhood. So do beards. Both instances were in full effect when we visited Fred Lee and Rob Camstra over at The Actual Brewing Co.

Through a slightly convoluted back-and-forth on The Twitter, Fred and Rob invited us out. When we arrived — after pleasantries were exchanged — the first words out of Fred’s mouth were, “So… you guys want a beer?” We gladly obliged. Within moments we each had a fluted glass in hand, filled with a pilot version of their French farmhouse ale.

The beer was pretty incredible. It started out extremely subtle; a solid Bière de Garde with some slight hints of peppercorn. The peppercorn stayed on the tongue after every sip, though, and after every new sip, that spice built and built and built. Halfway through the glass, the peppercorn was blatant, but not over the top, lending the perfect amount of contrast to the grassy body.

As we drank, Fred and Rob showed us around the facility. They showed us their 20-gallon pilot system, which was hand-crafted, and very impressive on its own. They also showed us what will become their full-scale production line — including a giant vat that used to be in a dairy factory — once they finish hacking everything together. And they showed us their lab, cobbled together from space-age eBay acquisitions, where they check quality control and cultivate their own yeast strains. This is where we really got in over our heads, science-wise, and asked some very dumb questions that the guys were kind enough to answer. (They are, by far, two of the smartest beer dudes we’ve met.)

After the tour, we all sat in the back and shot the shit. We talked about the current beer scene in Columbus, ancient philosophy, upcoming breweries, secularism, and Actual’s future plans, which include an even bigger production facility and a Downtown brewpub.

Near the end of the conversation, while Fred was waxing poetic about the brewery’s roots, he said, “We’re not trying to say we make the best beer in the world, or we’re better than any other breweries. We just want to make honest, straightforward beer.” That really seemed to stick out to us. In a time where craft beer is becoming more and more competitive, and it seems every month someone is touting the “highest-rated this-or-that,” these guys just want to make good beer.

If that French farmhouse ale was any indication, they’ve certainly got the chops to do it.

Actual is awaiting licensing approval to start full-scale production, and hope to be operational by November. Once approved, they plan to launch with two or three varieties, available locally in 750ml bottles. Keep an eye out.