Nick Carr on January 19, 2015 1 Comment Quick Characteristics Brewery: Christian Moerlein Brewing Company Location: Cincinnati, OH Style: English Pale Ale ABV: 6.0% IBU: 40 Hops: Cascade, Fuggles Appearance: Chestnut Copper; Not Quite Brown, But Darker Than Red Aroma: Tart & Apple Sweetness; Notes of Darker Sugar, Grassy Hops & Grain Flavor: Sweet Juicy Fruits on the Sip; Grassy Notes of Hops With Wet Grain in the Finish Availability: Year Round Pairs With: Fish and chips, Steak Salad w/ Poppy Seed Dressing, Calmyrna Figs, Orange Spice Cake So, as we edge away from the light strung shore of Christmas, float out past the edge of New Year Bay, and resolutely up the sails, catching that persistent and strange tailwind that pushes us ever into a newly minted year’s deeper waters to search those depths for all there possibilities; I edge away from the holiday beer fare. This isn’t to say it won’t be revisited. That is left to chance and what fine beers my small ship is resupplied with over the close of the winter season. For the moment though, I have taken my leave to review a beer from the very old and prestigious Christian Moerlein Brewery. The brewery was founded by Christian Moerlein, a Bavarian blacksmith and brewer who, in 1841 set sail for America and settled in the mostly German, Over-the-Rhine, neighborhood of Cincinnati. After 12 years of brewing in the back of his blacksmiths shop he turned his eye away from the forge to seriously consider the mysteries of fermentation and thus, the Christian Moerlein Brewery was born. His brewery became the most prominent brewery of the time even exporting to Europe and South America. It continued to flourish even after his death, but like all of America’s fine breweries of the day, it could not slip the noose of Prohibition. The Christian Moerlein name would rise again in 1981. And rise they did. Their Select Lager being the first American beer to pass the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot purity law of 1516, which states that beer should only contain malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. This Brewery could almost be called the Eastern Steam Brewery, or maybe Steam Brewery should be called the Western Christian Moerlein Brewery. It would be a hard thing to prove which would be more accurate. It is safe to say though that, on their respective sides of the country, each played no small part in the birthing and raising of craft beer to the ever growing reach we enjoy today. This beer is a tribute to that old neighborhood and a study of, as stated on the bottle, an old settlers’ ale. A throwback to a time when full refrigeration was a pipedream, instead brewers looked to the hop for its preservation qualities, in keeping their beer safe for the thirsty public. Pour and Aroma: Color is somewhere between chestnut and copper, not quite brown enough for one but too red for the other. We’ll call it chestnut copper, just to cover all the bases. A flat and wispy half-finger of head forms and quickly breaks, disappearing, leaving only delicate flimsy tracks to speak its existence. The depths are hemmed by dusky murk. This is not a clear beer. Held up to light, it is seen as if through a London street fog turned brown. Though, it would have been surprising if it were crystal clear, it being an old “settlers’ ale.” Aroma brings tart and ripe apple saucy sweetness, pears, and some robust darker sugar notes. Some grassy hops and grain are recognizable, but it is the juicy notes that ride high here. Mouthfeel and Taste: It is medium-light in body. Med-carbonation leads the show in, like a hat tip from the ringmaster. “The show” is quite sweet through the tent flap, highlighting some of the same juicy fruits as the aroma, but then it mellows and rounds. Spicy grassy notes from the hops pop before the long drying, slightly earthy, finish sets in. Late flash of fresh, almost wet grain in the finish. Finishing the Impression: This one impressed me. It’s a bit like finding a hop cone in your juicy fruit gum. Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the idea. It is nice and refreshing, not too heavy, while carrying enough warmth to sure up a cool evening or two. It would fit well into any season and would go great with a nice steak salad spattered with poppy seed dressing or another nice vinaigrette; also would be the bomb paired with any kind of citrus dessert. Cheers!