Saturday, May 26, 2007

Review: Arnold's Bar and Grill

Just a quick note, since it's been forever since I've posted anything.

My wife's sister is getting married in Cincinnati today. Last night, Arnold's Bar and Grill hosted the rehearsal dinner. Arnold's, located on 8th street near Main, is a staple of Cincinnati pubs, having been around since 1848. We ate on the outdoor courtyard and where accompanied by a trumpet, bass, and guitar trio. And although the bar has only about 6 beers on tap, I was able to sample several great local beers, including Barrelhouse's Duveneck's Dortmunder and Christian Moerlein's Over the Rhine Ale.

Barrelhouse has always been a favorite for me, back when Barrelhouse was still a brewpub and hosted bands. Their Dortmunder was clean and crisp. The Christian Moerlein beer suprised me--frankly, I knew the name from my younger years, but didn't think they were still brewing. I was impressed--the OTR Ale had a huge, fruity ester flavor, with a nice caramel malt body.

This dinner wasn't my first time at Arnold's, but each time, I leave impressed. It's a funny little place--parts of it are small and oddly laid out, giving evidence to its organic growth. But the staff is always friendly (and especially accommodating last night, even with such a huge group) and the food is excellent. I would definitely put it on your to do list if you come to Cincy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Session: Three Floyd's Pride & Joy Mild

The first Friday of each month marks The Session, a chance for beer bloggers to unite and share a pint. In March, Stan served up stouts. In April, Alan called dubbels. This month, Jay is Wild About Milds.

The name mild sounds, well, mild and mundane. Turns out, getting one's hands on one is anything but. Alan has been lamenting the lack of milds north of the border, and the comments on his post suggest that he is not alone. I thought I would fare better, since Ohio is a beer crossroads of sorts and my local brew store stocks over 800 varieties of beers. Wrong. There was ONE mild available--a whooping one, from a very surprising source--Three Floyds! Imagine, a mild from the same brewery that just hosted the legendary Dark Lord Day; a brewery that prides itself on over-the-top brews.

Mild was once much more popular than it is now. Years ago, it was the British session beer of choice (as were porters before that), but over the last 40+ years, the popularity of milds has steadily declined. In response, CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has made a major publicity push to raise public awareness, dubbing May "Mild Month."

What makes a mild? Milds are generally brown in color, with emphasis on caramel, chocolate, and roasted malts (they are a close cousin to brown ales and are often considered browns on tap). Generally, they are less bitter than ESBs or other British hoppy ales. Perhaps most importantly, they are low in alcohol--under 5%, often as low as 3%. The mild is thirst-quenching beer--epitomizing the concept of a session beer.

So what about the Three Floyds Pride & Joy--does it measure up? I'm not sure. I've sampled several of these over the course of a week or so. It's an interesting beer--huge bursts of citrus hops in the nose, mingling with a caramel backdrop. Hops are pretty prevalent in the flavor, too. I pick up hints of chocolate and caramel, but like the nose, it's mostly in the background. It's a little high in alcohol, too--close to 5% makes it a little high for the style.

However, try as hard as I can, I don't see this beer as a mild, based on what I know of the style. BJCP notes that a mild is a close cousin to brown ales and porters, but I don't pick up the chocolate and toffee flavors in this beer that I associate with those styles. Simply put, this beer is too bright, too hoppy, too citrus to be a true mild (although to be fair, Three Floyds notes that it is a hoppy interpretation of the style). I'm not sure that this version works. I think that as far as session beers go, until we can get more milds in the area, I'll stick with Bell's Best Brown.