Cincy Winter BeerFest: On February 17th and 18th , Cincinnati held its 10th annual Winter Beerfest. This beerfest is unlike any that I have ever been to. There were over 500 beers from over 150 breweries, there was live music for entertainment, food trucks with anything from mac and cheese to barbeque to Asian small plates to a donut burger. If you could imagine it in either beer or food it was more than likely in the Duke Energy Center, including a silent disco. Unlike the Indy Winterfest, it was not nearly as cold nor did people have to stand out in freezing temperatures to get in and enjoy the fruits of so many brewers labor. The convention center was set up so that pre-banding occurred within the same building as the event, literally just upstairs from the main entrance. There was a plethora of security guards to check your ID’s and once you were proven to be worth (21+ yrs. of age), there were around 15 or so lines to let you through to the beer if you hadn’t been pre-banded. Overall the layout of the event and flow of people was astronomically better than Indy Winterfest and there was no need for discounted tickets to another event.
With this being my first beerfest outside of the state of Indiana I was shocked to learn that other states have odd and sometimes confusing alcohol laws and that we aren’t the only crazy state in the Union with some random blue laws. In Ohio, there has to be an exchange occur for alcohol to be served. For this event, everyone was given 25 little blue tickets to exchange for their beer. Interestingly enough, I still had a majority of my 25 tickets left at the end of the night and I didn’t skimp on drinking. If the pourers were from the brewery they really didn’t care about the tickets, they just wanted you to try their beer. The volunteers who were pouring for breweries on the other hand were more in tune with the law and kept asking for the tickets. But enough about how it was different from Winterfest and random state’s blue laws and on to the important stuff, specifically the people, the beer, and the event.
The people, what can I say, the people were awesome. First, Lauren, Vicki, Mickey and myself were in attendance from CCZ (sorry if we missed anyone), and we had a great time hanging out and drinking beer. For a majority of the event it was a free-for-all and we dispersed like a rabid pack of dogs on the event. I went one direction, Lauren followed but headed to a separate table and Mickey and Vicki were off on their own escapades. As all of us had purchased VIP entrance tickets, we were given the 25 tickets and an 8oz glass. Needless to say, I do not need 200oz of beer let alone in a 5-hour period, so Lauren and I were able to split drinks and enjoy more samples without becoming so intoxicated that a small spark would have ignited us. We took the more casual approach to maneuvering the 500 beers and 150 breweries and set out to try beers we hadn’t ever had or breweries we hadn’t heard of. This allowed us to pick and choose the lines we wanted to wait in (not too many) and also spend time talking to the brewers who were more than gracious to talk to a couple of homebrewers who enjoyed their beer (thanks Wooden Cask). Vicki on the other hand had her lineup set with the have to have 30+ beers, the want to haves (another 20+) and then the ‘if I am still standing and want more’ beer list. This plan worked out quite well for Vicki as she was able to check off her entire must have list.
The Beer. Where do I even begin with the beer. Let’s start with the Beer List. There were breweries that were local to Cincinnati, there were regionally located breweries and then you had the giants of the craft beer industry. All of them were more than happy to provide a tasty beverage and some even produced some out of this world samples. My favorite sample was from the already mentioned Wooden Cask who is a recently opened brewery from nearby Newport. They had some spot on British beers with an English Brown Ale that was the perfect balance of malt and hops and an English Porter. I also found that Figleaf, a brewery out of Middleton, OH also produces a great English Special Bitter (ESB). I went into this event really excited to see that a lot of breweries were bringing their Kolsch’s to the event. However, in the end I only got to sample one as the rest of the breweries did not have it. The one I had was just OK, there were some off flavors not normally present in a kolsch. Overall, the beer provided was overall on the up and up and whatever type of beer suits your fancy, you could find it and then some.
The Event. This is an event that I will definitely go back and we are already making plans and trying to get a bigger group to go down and enjoy with us. The people who are volunteering are wonderful, the breweries provided great beer, the venue is set up great for an event and the people of Cincinnati are wonderful and were great hosts. At any point, you were likely to bump into someone, but everyone continuously was saying excuse me and apologizing for bumping into each other. This was a refreshing atmosphere when compared to many events where people get to intoxicated and manners go out the window. Overall this event is one that is a top recommendation for anyone wanting to go to a beerfest outside of Indiana and provides for a nice easy drive and weekend away. Also, see Jungle Jim’s, Ikea, and Bass Pro Shops but that is not beer related, except Jungle Jim’s. While there weren’t any homebrewers and homebrew clubs pouring at this event, we all enjoyed the fruits of many brew master’s labor and will likely be attending the 11th annual Cincy Beerfest.
Matt Wolford – Cincy Beerfest Review