Updated: Jan 27, 2019
Last night was the third time I played Brink Brewing in Cincinnati's College Hill neighborhood, and as usual it was a fun night with a pretty rowdy, packed crowd appreciative of the music, and of course we're all there for Brink's phenomenal award-winning selection of beers.
My first visit was on the 2018 Fall Tour, and then I also played this past New Year's Eve (kinda outside the tour). There are nights when things just click, last night seemed to be one, and as a result I played straight through for more than 2.5 hours without a break, until at the end of the night my fret hand finally cramped up on me... so musically it was a particularly satisfying night (and I even fielded a few requests and played a few other tunes on the fly that I hadn't played in MANY years, and pretty much nailed 'em... so good vibes all around).
Brink Brewing Co. - Cincinnati, OH
Beers available on tap and some via growlers.
Played: 11/9/18, 12/31/18, 1/18/19
As I said during my first visit to Brink, it's a cozy taproom, lots of rustic woodwork, and pooch and kid friendly... so earlier on it's a family scene, and as the night progresses it becomes an adult crowd. Food is provided by a pizza joint a few doors down (which I haven't tried, but is looks and smells incredible), and last night there was also a food truck, but I unfortunately didn't get the chance to check them out as I played through my break, so I don't even have their name. Suffice it to say, the whole crowd seemed at one point to be eating food from one or the others, so they both most be good.
One of the cool things about Brink that keeps bringing me back is that while their flagship beers are fantastic, they are adventurous and keep enough newer brews coming through so I can stop in periodically and focus on trying and enjoying the new brews (or at least ones that are new to me).
Last night I started with Stellarest (6.6% ABV), which is a New England IPA. The New England version of the IPA seems to be really gaining in popularity, and with good reason. A brighter yellow hazy pour and a light aromatic head, Stellarest represents the genre well, with tropical overtones and a focus on the New Zealand hops. The NE hazes are very satisfying beers to me, as they quench the thirst and have that slight fruity hop flavor, but without pummeling you with way too much hops. Almost what a session IPA is trying to accomplish, but with a bit more flavor and gravitas.
In the middle of my set I went to my favorite of the Brink “classic” lineup... the Moozie Milk Stout (6.2%). Now, a milk stout is obviously quite the departure from a NE IPA, and this wasn't a new menu sample for me... but the Moozie is just so damn good that I just had to have one. This is a great, great beer. There are hints of coffee, hints of chocolate, and some lactose to add a bit to the creamy goodness... but then with a bit of an edge to keep it from being too milky. If you like darker beers, and especially a good stout, Moozie should be on your must-try list. If I ever compile a short list of my favorite beers ever, Moozie will be on it.
The next selection was a rather natural migration from the Moozie, and that was to the Damocles Black Milk Shake (6.8%). This is a milkshake style black IPA, again with lactose for that creamy body, and made with vanilla. Holy moly! A dark brown pour with a thick, rich head, it smelled delicious and blew me away just with a taste of the head. The brew itself was creamy and a heavenly blend of the darker tones you'd expect in a black IPA, balanced with vanilla, and then a heavier creamy body.... just wonderful. For me this would be a perfect pour to sip on on a cold day watching a movie, or to cap off my evening (what I call “dessert beers”). Like the Moozie, if you're into the dark beers this is a must-try.
As the crowd cleared out (and I was just about to do the same...) I made a hard left turn and ended the evening with a pint of Pineapple Lime Gose (4.2%). On paper that doesn't look too good... following a couple of creamy dark beers up with a citrusy gose, but it had caught my eye earlier in the evening and I really wanted to give it a try. Gose (“sours”, to the lay man) is a style that a year ago I would have told you I didn't like, as my experience was limited to a few ridiculously sour ones that were pretty much undrinkable to my palate. Since then, though, I have had some really amazing ones, and so now I will go out of my way to try them, especially if the fruit selection is appealing. I love pineapple, and I dig lime, so this one I had to try.
Another brighter yellow pour, hazy but probably not quite as hazy as the aforementioned NE IPA, the fruit is very forward on this one, especially the pineapple, with the lime hiving it little heft on the back end. Not only did we have the somewhat sweet, somewhat sour taste of pineapple, but the texture was there as well, which caught me by surprise (a pleasant surprise... it was unusual, but rather nice). The lime provided a little tartness on the back, and this was a really refreshing beer. I could see this one being very popular in the summer, as the pineapple really is out front, so it obviously has a tropic thing going on. This will be an interesting drink in the summer, actually, as it will have that tropical fruitiness, but with a body that's more like a juice or mixed drink than a watery beer that we think of for a hot day (Mexican cervacas, etc.). Mental note to self: Make sure to try the Pineapple Lime Cose in July!
This was my last stop at Brink for a while, as I'll be spending time touring further off lands for the coming months, but I hope to pop in again when the weather gets warmer.
From here the Great Brewery Tour is off to Centerpoint Bewing in Indianapolis and then Findlay Brewing in Findlay, OH... followed by a couple of weeks in hopefully milder temperatures in the Carolinas and Alabama...
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