Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest 2014
Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest
February 14 and 15, 2014
Duke Energy Convention Center. Cincinnati, Oh
Thousands of beer lovers gathered together during the two epic nights of the Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest. What some have claimed to become the largest beer hub in the Mid-West, Cincinnati never falls short in bringing the best in beer access and entertainment. Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest featured over 100 different breweries that brought in over 350 different beers to try. How can one person try so many different beers in two nights. Well, that is why PorchDrinking gathered some of the Cincinnati PorchDrinkers to team up and take on the 350 + challenge. Andrew Sharp, Spencer Mapes, and Kyle Buchannan embarked on the four hour trek of tasting all the beers Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest had to offer.
We all met up around the Bell’s Hopslam Corner. After-all, that is where all the action was. People still getting those last few drops of Hopslam before it was all dried up. We discussed our carefully thought out and meticulous plan of action for the night, “Drink some beer over here, then go to that corner and drink some more beer, and then maybe go over to that end of the building and drink some beer”. Believe me, there was a well executed plan for the evening to try and taste most, if not all the beer. I had even downloaded the free app provided by Cincinnati Beer Fest, which by the way, was the best idea ever! You could rate the beer you were trying right then and there with a few clicks of buttons. Wonderful idea. Anyways, we broke from the team huddle and were on our way.
I started with the classics, some Bell’s, a little bit of Three Floyds, and even Founders. Some of my favorite breweries were all lined up next to each other, so I had to camp out in that corner for awhile. Breweries including Fat Heads, Breckenridge, Dogfish Head, and Great Divide, one right after the other. How could anyone not work their way down that line. I also started to realize that the plan to capture all the breweries may be harder than anticipated. I wanted to stay and chat at each stand. I could talk for a good seven minutes about each beer I was drinking…and I did.
The VIP pass got you and hour head start of regular admission and if that wasn’t good enough you were given an 8oz taster glass. Now that size may sound glorious at first, but with great beer comes great responsibility, and yes, having a few 8oz pours of some high ABV tasty beers will catch up to you pretty fast. Kyle was the smart one out of the group. Asking for only tastes of each beer he got. With an 8oz tasting mug samples were pretty big and beer fans could easily get carried away. I do have to hand it to Cincinnati’s beer drinkers, I did not see any crazy mis-behavior or fall over drunkenness, so this city can hold its own!
All of Cincinnati’s local breweries were present and in style. Many of them brought their vans and trucks and were pouring right from the side of the car. It was a great sight. Madtree, Rhinegeist, Ei8ht Ball, Blank Slate, Listermanns, Rivertown, Moerlein, Rock Bottom, Mt. Carmel, fiftywest, Triple Digit just to name a few, were all pouring their finest.The breweries in Cincinnati share a great communal spirit while they all work towards the same goal to provide Cincinnati with the most flavorful, complex, and original craft beers they have to offer.From working together on collaborative brews to hosting brunch cook-offs. Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest was the finale to Cincinnati Beer Week. A whole week of celebrating craft beer in Cincinnati. Breweries, brew pubs, bars, and others all had special events in honor of Cincy Beer Week. Many had events with portions of proceeds going to various charities, while others had special bottle and keg releases. I have to be honest it was an awesome week and to have Cincinnati come together to celebrate beer for 7 days in a row, well it brought a tear to my eye and a delicious beverage to my glass.
Another great aspect of Cincy’s Winter Beer Fest was that proceeds helped support the Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation. Drinking beer just now hit everyone right in the feels because their beer dollars were going to help keep music in public elementary schools. This then created a great mix of music entertainment throughout the festival. Bands were lined up to keep the party going all night long. With multiple stages throughout the center, live music and great beer were being enjoyed side by side. Guests were dancing, cheering, and being merry the entire evening.
One of the hardest parts of the Beer Fest was deciding where to go next. We were all like kids in a candy store. The plan had been shot after the first thirty minutes and it was soon whichever brewer had the most lit up sign or biggest van. After looking back we decided that our only complaint was that there were so many great breweries to choose from and so little time to taste them all. Alas, that is the result of a great Beer Fest. The Duke Energy Convention Center was an incredible venue to host such an event. With a ridiculous amount of floor space, it became a challenge to get to every stand. I would get so wrapped up talking to brewers and vendors on one side that I would forget the other side even existed, but that just gave hundreds of others the ability to have just as intimate conversations with the brewers and vendors as I was having. Hats off to the Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest. It was a wonderful trip. Cheers!