18 July 2007

Ohio Brew Week -- Pt. 2

Part two of Ohio Brew Fest for me started at the Pub. The Athens institution features a full service menu with a limited vegetarian selection (warning: their beer cheese soup is NOT vegetarian) and drink specials that include enormous beers served in a glass referred to as an aquarium.

The Pub is hosting Rocky River Brewing Company from the Cleveland area. Rocky River marks their vegetarian selections on their menu. Their beers at the Pub include the Blueberry Trails Blueberry Ale and the
Cabin Fever English style Sharp Ale. The Blueberry Ale had a rich, dark roasted flavor with hints of tart blueberries on the finish. The Sharp Ale is light and clean if uninspiring.

Sports bar Pigskin has huge televisions tuned to the game, and they often have a few good beer choices in bottle and draft alongside a voluminous menu of shots. The menu is pretty veggie unfriendly...pretty much limited to a grilled cheese sandwich. The main attraction to Pigskin is the sports and the drinks. At this point in the evening, I realized that most every bar in the brew week was offering sample glasses for about $1.

The $1 sample allows me to sample every beer from Willoughby Brewing, a brew pub and cigar bar in Willoughby, Ohio. The menu at Willoughby features a few vegetarian appetizers with entrees that include Asian portabello sandwiches and pizzas that are meatless. They feature eight beers in the brew pub, and four of those beers are available at Pigskin.

The Pride of Willoughby is a porter that shows loads of dark chocolate and grilled notes with a long, tapered finish. The Daisy Cutter IPA is made to accent high alpha hops content, with an IBU rating of 75 that bursts through the floral aromas and explodes out of the glass. The Northern Trail Nut Brown was clean but lacked the punch of the porter. The Rapier Wit (one of my favorite names) has the refreshing citrus zing of the traditional summer favorite.

The bar staff was exceptionally helpful, and the shot of pineapple upside down cake that somebody sent over was much appreciated.

Lucky's is also a sports bar participating in Ohio Brew Week. Lucky's is Athens' local Pittsburgh Steelers bar. Browns and Bengals fans can, however, enjoy beer there without the threat of being ridiculed too badly.

Contrary to the Web site, Lucky's features beer from Columbus' Elevator Brewing, a restaurant profiled in the last Ohio Brew Week post. The food at Elevator is absolutely outstanding, at least a step and a half above most of the rest of the brew pub grub crowd. The pub offers nine beers year round in addition to a cadre of seasonal offerings.

The beer I tried at Lucky's was the Vienna Lager Hubris. The beer was ruby hued with a medium body and a smooth finish. Lucky's also has the Belgian Wit and the Buckeye Red, also by Elevator Brewing.

I could continue watching the games at Red Brick Tavern, another stop on the Brew Week train. Red Brick has the classic, vegetarian-hating bar menu. Luckily for me, they also feature beer from Cincinnati's Barrel House Brewing. Barrel House lists five beers, and although they were included on the menu at Red Brick, some of the beers were not in yet. I don't know if they will have the full line of Barrel House products this week or not.

The Boss Cox Double Dark IPA is well hopped and slightly sweet, with a full-bodied malt character. The Duveneck's Dortmunder Style Lager was a medium bodied golden beer that makes for a pleasant quaff. I was a little disappointed that the RedLegg Ale was not on hand, because I'm guessing that this year's batch of RedLegg Ale is probably much better than this year's batch of the Cincinnati Redlegs.

There are a few other spots that are worth checking out. Great Lakes Brewing Company, probably Ohio's greatest brewer, is featured in many locations around Athens. Luckily, my favorite vegetarian Tex Mex spot Casa Nueva (formerly reviewed in this very blog) features Great Lakes beers along with a few others. The Dortmunder Gold is the classic beer from Great Lakes, and the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is another winner. They also feature products from Marietta Brewing, Jackie O's and the Shade Winery.

Further down the street is Broney's, a bar with tons of drink specials and a pretty decent collection of high-end liquors. They also feature two breweries on tap for the brew week.

They have many of the same Great Lakes beers, as well as the seasonal Prohibition Pilsner, which is a beer with real character made in the style of the European macro-brews. It is very good, and it is served alongside Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry IPA, Elliot Ness Amber Lager and Holy Moses White Ale.

Mt. Carmel Brewing from Cincinnati is also featured at Broney's. The Nut Brown is round, sweet and fairly one-dimensional. The Blonde is light and balanced. The Copper is probably the most distinctive of the three beers.

My final goal is to make it by the Oak Room Sunday because they have a pretty wide selection of beers that should provide a great night cap for the Ohio Brew Week festivities. Enjoy the photographs available below.

Ohio Brew Week 2

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