Saturday, November 23 brought me back to one of my local breweries, Little Miami Brewing Co (LMBC) in historic ol' Milford. I've played here numerous times, so often that I don't blog each time, only when something unusual happens, or if they have some new brews on the menu. My last entry on LMBC was an example of the former (our Halloween Night of the Living Dead show), and I'm happy to say that this time it's the latter... new beer!
Because I've written about them numerous times before, I'll just remind you that LMBC is located in an eastern suburb of Cincinnati, on the banks of the Little Miami River, where in the warmer months kayaks and canoes can beach right at the brewery and enjoy a few beers or wood stove pizza before paddling back down the river. They are also going through a pretty big expansion of their taproom, but I'll save that for the next blog, as it will be open and operational when I next play LMBC on December 26th.
Little Miami Brewing Company - Milford, OH
Beer is on tap and to go via pints, growlers and crowlers at the taproom.
So let's keep it brief this time and go right to the new beers... My favorite, which I both started and ended the evening with, had just been tapped for the first time earlier in the day. I saw the news online and was instantly excited to try it: the Tickled Sweet (7%) Opera Cream stout. LMBC's stout is a respectable platform to build specialty beer on, and I've always been a fan particularly for their darker beers. This one was a limited run made in partnership with the Tickled Sweet candy shop just down the street in Old Milford, who contributed their chocolates filled with opera cream. And boy was it good....
Chocolate and stouts go together like milk and oreos, dogs and frisbees... summertime and music festivals... so the pairing wasn't exactly a head scratcher... but the addition of the opera creams really took it to the next level. Creamy and a little rich but without being overbearing, the bold stout flavor came through but carried a slight sweetness in addition to the chocolate that really elevated the beer into a “dessert beer” category. Similar to the way Irish Coffee hits me... you get the “drinking” pleasure of the alcoholic beverage combined with the dessert-like high of, say, a bite of great cheesecake... but all at the same time. What made Tickled Sweet Stout so special was that it wasn't too sweet or rich, so when I got to the bottom of the pint I didn't feel like I needed to retire for the night, but rather I wanted to dive right into another (which I didn't do... but I did have another late in the night to cap off the evening!).
When I say something like Tickled Sweet is drinkable for more than one you can take that to the bank, as I'm actually not into sweets as a general rule... so when I like something “dessert-like” it has to be pretty fantastic. Most candies, desserts, etc. I find to be too sweet (and I don't drink pop, for the same reason). I share this to provide a bit of context when you think about my Tickled Sweet review vs my next review, that being of the Pumpkin Maple Cookie (6%) brown ale.
The Pumpkin Maple Cookie is based on another respectable darker LMBC standard, their Earth Cookie brown ale. This is another go-to that I enjoy when there isn't anything new to try on the menu, but today it was represented by this seasonal alteration made with (obviously) pumpkin and maple syrup. As you might know, I have a bit of an aversion to pumpkin brews, as they often suffer from way too much nutmeg for my tastes. This one didn't seem to suffer from problem, in fact it was quite delicious. It had that pumpkin pie flavor that you'd expect, very out front. I thought I detected cinnamon and brown sugar as well, but was told it was probably the maple syrup I was tasting. Surprisingly, I didn't really detect much maple, which is good because I tend to only like it on pancakes. This brew was really tasty, the brown ale and the pumpkin pie flavors blending as well as any I've tasted... but to my tastes it was a bit sweet. Whereas the Tickled Sweet I found extremely drinkable and could go from one pint right into the next without problem, the Pumpkin Maple Cookie I couldn't see myself drinking a whole pint of. It was really delicious and a pleasure to try... but I just can't consume a whole pint of something that sweet. I'd highly suggest that you try it, as again it's quite tasty... but you might start with a half pint and see what you think. If you're a sweets type of person you'll probably love it.
The other brew that was new to me didn't look particularly appealing on paper, but I ended up loving it... the Dragonfly (7%) apricot sangria sour. I'm not a big apricot fan, and the sangria angle just confused me... and sours can range from heavenly to awful... but I've learned never to judge without trying it, and it was FANTASTIC. Probably more perfectly suited for a warmer day, but it was a delicious lighter ale with an usual blend of fruitiness, all leaning more towards the sour than the sweet, well balanced, very tasty, and extremely refreshing. Brewed with apricot, grape, pear, and orange juice... believe it or not it was still rather crisp and ale-like body wise... the juice provided a complex sourness but without making it too thick or making it seem more like a fruit drink than a beer. A wonderful surprise, I'd certainly go back for this one.
The crowd was a lot of fun on this night. I quickly realized that a fair number of people came after seeing me lead the Dead-themed show that we did on Halloween. I was initially a little worried that they'd expect to hear another all-Dead setlist, but I stuck to my usual mix of my music and a somewhat eclectic mix of other stuff (including a few Dead related tunes), and they were very accepting. I look forward to playing LMBC again the night after Christmas!
I also want to say thank you and safe travels to Katie, who has been booking me at LMBC since they opened. The next chapter in Katie's adventure is taking her to another part of the country, and I wish her happiness in whatever she finds in life. I hope our paths cross again at another brewery down the road, Katie! Take care!