After recovering from the Memorial Day Weekend Camping Caravan adventure, there was only one more date left in Ohio, then a few days off, and then off to the East Coast where the month of June will be spent playing breweries in beach towns up the coast!
The last Ohio date was at Municipal Brew Works in Hamilton. Hamilton is northwest of Cincinnati, and perhaps best known for up until fairly recently having it's official name end in an exclamation point (Hamilton!). I'm not sure why they did away with the exclamation point, but I think its other claim to fame was as the largest city in Ohio without direct interstate access. Running right through the middle of the downtown area is the Great Miami River (not to be confused with the Little Miami River, also in the region), and on the edge of that river you will find Municipal Beer Works.
As the name might indicate, the brewery occupies a fortress like building that once served as a municipal building. The brewery itself is in the lower level, and the taproom extends out of the production area, where large garage doors (once the first dept?) open to a rather large patio/beer garden area, stocked with plenty of tables and seating, and where you can eat the food provided by a rotation of food trucks.
Municipal Beer Works - Hamilton, OH
Beer is available on top and in growlers at the brewery. Special editions are available in bottles. Kegged beer is currently distributed throughout Ohio.
Music is outdoors only, and as such I think this was my third attempt at playing here, due to two prior rainouts. As a matter of fact, the very first official show of the Great Brewery Tour (summer 2018) was supposed to be at Municipal, but was rained out. On this last day of May 2019, however, it rained all morning and into the afternoon... but the skies opened and it was sunny and hot throughout my sets... and literally the second I loaded my last piece of gear into the van after this show the clouds exploded into torrential downpours for the rest of the evening.... so we finally got it done this time... but barely!
One of the brewery's more popular beers, and certainly the one I've seen the most on tap in other establishments, is its Approachable Blonde (5%) American Blonde Ale. Very crushable, it's a smooth and crisp blonde, clear golden hue with a light white head, a slight bready aroma, medium carbonation and a lighter body. Delivers enough flavor and body to be enjoyable by beer lovers looking for a lighter option, but still light enough for your friend who doesn't normally drink craft beers.
Even more enjoyable was the Orange Agave variety, which was the Approachable Blonde infused with orange and blue agave nectar. The orange aroma was evident prior to taking a sip, and the orange juiciness hits you right up front, with the agave following up. I love orange when it's done well with beer, and this specimen was perfectly balanced and wonderfully refreshing during my sun-soaked, sweaty sets. If I weren't on a quest to sample other beers I could easily have sat and drank more of this one all night long. I next tried the Scout (6.5%) IPA, which is a very well balanced IPA leaning on citra and mosaic hops. Floral and juicy, the citra and mosaic combo really brought out the tropical flavors, with tangerine, orange peel, and grapefruit washing over you, with a slightly piney backend. Hoppy without being too bitter, the juiciness really wins out over the piney hints, making it a very thirst quenching, satisfying IPA.
As it got later I started craving a heavier beer, which I hadn't had in a while due to all the warm weather I'd been playing in. I decided on the True West (5.4%) coffee porter, but first I tried just a small sample of the Guthrie (10%) Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. Scotch ales generally aren't high on my list of favorites, but it sounded good and I hadn't had one for a while, and sometimes I'm surprised by how my tastes change over time. Bold with roasted malt and caramel flavors, it drank very smoothly, and with the alcohol barely breaking through in both the aroma and the sip. I only did a small sample, but I could see going back for a snifter, especially on a chilly night.
The True West utilizes the coffee of a local coffee shop (called True West), and was a nice way to cap off the night The porter was moderately heavy, and the nuttiness of the porter and the richness of the coffee complimented each other perfectly, making for a really well balanced drink. A lot of things can go wrong with a coffee beer, but this one got them all right... the aroma was inviting, the flavor bold without being too much, and the body of the brew was heavy and creamy enough to work perfectly with the coffee flavor, but crisp enough that it didn't become too milky or heavy like a stout. A very refreshing coffee porter, and one worth searching out.
The crowd at Municipal was very friendly and casual on this Thursday night, with at least a half dozen dogs in attendance, and a few kids running around. It seemed like a largely neighborhood crowd on this night, as many seemed to be walking to and from the brewery. I'll look forward to playing Municipal Beer Works again in early August on a Saturday night, digging deeper into their beer selection, and seeing what kind of crowd comes out on the weekend.
I'll be back in the Midwest in July, with a run of shows going deep into the Great Lakes region... visiting Ohio, Michigan, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Minnesota, and Wisconsin... but first it's time for the June run of beach town breweries.... starting June 6 in Georgia, then running all the way up to through Virginia. HUGE fun ahead! Stay tuned...
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