Star City Brewing
The Super Bowl XLIX festivities begin at noon on Sunday, February 1. Pundits are going to spend the entire day analyzing the players, discussing past Super Bowls, and making deflated ball puns. The game itself starts at 6 PM, and will end around 11 PM after all the awards have been given out and more analysis of the game. That is a long drinking day for anyone. You have to pace yourself through a day filled with salty snacks, good friends, and lots and lots of fine, locally crafted beer. Fortunately, British brewers thought of this decades ago, and developed something called a session beer.
During World War I, production of material for the war effort was important. Parliament created a law that allowed for two drinking sessions a day; one at lunch and one at dinner time. Since drinking was much more limited, any typically could only be done at a bar, people would have a few more at lunch then they normally would. They did not want to go back work around dangerous equipment inebriated, so British brewers started to brew beers that were lower in ABV. They typically capped at 5%, but many went as low as 3%. Pilsners, bitters, and pale ales were the styles that were used, offering the most flavor while delivering a love tap of alcohol.
The United States does not have the same fondness for low ABV beers. The legacy of the “little beer” began just before Prohibition as a desperate attempt by then president Woodrow Wilson to stop the inevitable. He proposed that beers of no more than 2.75% ABV be brewed, minimizing the harsh effects of the terrible affliction of alcohol on a delicate public. Clearly, that did not work, and the country dried up for thirteen years. The first beer that came out after the Volstead Act was repealed but before the 21st Amendment went into effect? 3.2% beers. Our legacy with them is much more contentious, thus when the craft beer movement rolled forward, the LAST thing brewers wanted to do was create beers in the Budweiser range of ABV. The ABV War began, trying to create bigger beers, beers full of flavor and alcohol. The winning brewery at this point in time is Brewmeister’s Armageddon out of Scotland, ringing in at an overwhelming 65% ABV. Most beers like this are brewed once for effect, then retired.
Session beers just came back into vogue in the last ten years as a reaction to all of the high ABV beers flowing through the country. Founder’s All Day IPA may be the beer that brought this type of beer to the general attention of the public. This great Michigan brewery sells this in a fifteen-pack, acknowledging that you can sip on this all day and still be able to function at your desk on Monday. It was mentioned more than a few times as a great session beer by the people I spoke with. The 4.7% ABV is perfect for a long session of drinking, and the hops ensures that it is not boring to drink. Fat Head’s Sunshine Daydream out of Cleveland is another highly recommended session beer, creeping up to 4.9% ABV and still delivering with refreshing flavor.
Looking for a local, low alcohol growler fill for the big game? Here is a list of what was found on tap (or in a can) around the Miami Valley. Not all of these fall into the session beer category, but they all hover around the 5% ABV range.
- Lock 27 – Pugilist’s 4.7% ABV seems light for a beer with a fighting name. Session beers are not all light and hoppy. Here is an irish stout whose punch is in the flavor, not the spirits. Order some of their Smoked Wings while you are there. You will not be disappointed.
- Yellow Springs Brewing – If you are going to go to one brewery for all your low ABV beer needs, this is the place to go. They have the biggest selection of tap beers that fall into this category. Their Kerfluffle, an English Mild beer, is the lowest on the list at 3.1% ABV. They also have Daily’s Comet Saison (3.8% ABV), Handsome American Brown Ale (5.5% ABV), Ryatt’s Eviction English Pale Ale (5.0% ABV) and Zoetic Citra American Pale Ale (5.2% ABV). A little something for everyone!
- Dayton Beer Company
– Patterson Pale Ale, at 5.5% ABV, is higher on the list for a session beer, but a delicious option. While you are there, get a growler of their award winning Java Man Cometh (7.0% ABV) to help celebrate if your team wins, or cry into if they lose.
- Warped Wing Brewing Company – They have some heavy hitters in their line up (Baltic Argonaut at 11.5% ABV would make a short session), but they offer their own Self Starter Session IPA at 5.2% ABV. Ermal’s Belgian Cream Ale at 5.4% ABV and their delightfully unique Wedding Beer at 4.5% ABV are options for Super Bowl growler fills.
- Fifth Street Brewing – For my money, kolsch is my favorite style of lighter beer. FSB’s 1600 Kolsch (5.0% ABV) and Deluge Pale Ale (5.4% ABV) are both excellent beers to add to the game day menu.
- Star City Brewing – If you already have plans and will have to miss their Super Bowl Potluck Extravaganza, you can enjoy their kolschy Blonde Ale at 3.8% ABV or Weizen Star Hefeweizen at 4.8% ABV at home with a much different pot luck.
- Lucky Star Brewery – While you are in Miamisburg, you can stop by this brewery as well and pick up their Ojos Locos Mexican Lager at 3.9% ABV or their Redemption Red at 5.3% ABV. Their Wicked Step Mutha Double Stout weighs in at 9.9% ABV, but would be a delicious late game addition to cap off the party.
- Toxic Brew Company – Relax. There is always some Practice Yoga (5.6% ABV) to enjoy during an all-day football binge. Sign up for the Shuffle Board League while you are there so your sports enjoyment can last after football is over. Abby’s Cure at 9.6% ABV came highly recommended for Sunday, but as a tasty treat with your all day sippers.
- Eudora Brewing Company – Another award winning craft brewery in Dayton, their Sundowner Blonde Ale weighs in at 5.0% ABV. Supporting them means you are also supporting charity:water, providing clean water to those with no access to it.
- Hairless Hare Brewery – Hello friends up north! The American Ale here sits at a sessionable 4.9% ABV. And is there anything more American than watching the Super Bowl?
Not enough options? Belmont Party Supply has many, many selections for session drinking. Cincinnati favorites like Madtree offers Lift at 4.7% ABV and Rhinegeist releases Cougar at 4.8% ABV for you to consider. Rivertown’s Little Sipa IPA at a nice and light 4.5% ABV is another Cincinnati option on the table. The new kid in Ohio, Boulevard Brewing Company, has their Pop Up Session IPA that sits at a respectable 4.3% ABV and 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat at 5.5% ABV. Fans of New Belgium Brewing can get their hands on Slow Ride Session IPA sitting at 4.5% ABV. You can also pick up He’Brew’s Dry Hopped Session Pale Ale (5.5% ABV) or Heavy Seas’ Cross Bones Session IPA (4.5% ABV) there. If you want a little more heavy in your seas, their Loose Cannon IPA is an amazing choice with a little more punch (7.25% ABV).
The Super Bowl has become more than just the championship game for the NFL; it is a cultural event that brings people together with friends for good food and good company. Whether you are cheering for the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, or just a halfway decent Super Bowl ad, session beers are one way to sip on great beer all day and still be ready to shout, cheer, cry, and celebrate when the game begins. Now, time to start researching the wings and nachos. Cheers!
In September of 2014, there was a secret experiment going on at Starbucks. They have always been working with trying out new flavors, but this was different. They were not going for your traditional riffs on traditional coffee. There was a new demographic they had their sights on: the beer drinker. Starbucks dabbled in the liquor industry before with a coffee liqueur. It was not on the market very long, but it did deliver the rich Starbucks flavor people expected. The company that ushered in the craft coffee boom was looking to capitalize on the craft beer boom, and they knew their path in. It was not brewing Starbucks beer. It was going to brew a coffee that tasted like beer. The profile they were looking for shared many of the characteristics coffee already has; hints of bitterness mixed with rich complexity, a slight roasted flavor, and something with the same deep brown color as their core product. They were looking to make a coffee drink that tasted like a stout.
November 6 is National Stout Day, and stout is a fascinating beer. Stouts first gained popularity in the early 18th century, when it was discovered this hearty beer was a little tougher than the other ales, and had a little more kick. They were originally known as “stout porters”, since they were as dark as the porters being brewed at the time, but had a higher ABV. Eventually the “porter” was dropped and the style simply became known as stout. The question of “stout vs. porter” now causes some serious debate among the beer brewing and drinking crowd, some insisting the styles are as different as twilight and midnight, some saying that there is little difference other than a naming preference. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) notes a few general differences between the two. Porters are lighter in color, ranging from reddish brown to dark brown, where stouts are dark brown to black. Porters are usually sweeter, while the roasting of the barley for stouts can impart a bitter flavor. Porters roll crisply right over the tongue; stouts are thicker and tend to linger, using less water than their lighter counterparts.
Once you are past the “stout vs. porter” conversation, you can begin discussing the different ways stouts are brewed. It is generally agreed there are six distinct styles of stout:
- Dry Stout – Because of a little Irish brewery named Guinness, this is the most widely known style of stout, though most don’t call it dry. Most people will call it an Irish stout, again because of Guinness. There are some bitter notes in this one coming from the roasted barley and some extra hops. Guinness’ IBUs (International Bitterness Unit) sits is around 47. For comparison, Dogfishhead’s 60 Minute IPA is 60 IBUs. It is usually thinner and lighter than other stouts, making it great to drink over time. Murphy’s Irish Stout is another fine example of this style.
Sweet, or Milk, Stout – Advertisers are tricky. Trying to convince consumers of the healthy qualities of some stouts, they would add lactose, or milk sugar, to the brew to add sweetness. Milk is healthy, right? This type of chicanery caused the designation to be banned in England, but it can be used anywhere else in the world. The sugars mask the bitterness of the roasting and add some weight to the mouthfeel, leaving a rich and sweet flavor to embrace. Left Hand Brewing makes a delightful Milk Stout Nitro, and Southern Tier’s Crème Brulee Imperial Milk Stout are absolute delights to drink.
- Oatmeal Stout – If milk is a healthy addition to the brewing of stouts, why not oats? Oat is a grain, and beer needs grains. You have warm water, oats, flavor…it is like oatmeal! A hearty breakfast in a bottle! They were most popular in Scandinavia, which maintained the tradition until beer explorer Michael Jackson reintroduced the nearly extinct species. The oats added to the mash add their own version of sweetness, while adding some thickness to the beer as well. If you are looking for a local one, you are in tons of luck. Warped Wing’s 10 Ton Stout, Eudora Brewing Company’s Thunderball, Yellow Spring Brewing’s Prowler, Star City’s Old Mill Stout, and Lock 27’s Oat Rodeo are just a few local selections for you.
- American Stout – We have our own stout! American stouts shoot for the full, smooth mouthfeel of the richest stouts while adding extra hops, coffee, chocolate flavors to heighten the natural ones that emerge from the roasting process. They find their way to the higher end of the ABV scale, and are a product of brewers wanting to experiment with the traditional stout formula. The carbonation, usually not overly present in other stouts, emerges more in the American version. Dayton Brewing Company’s new Java Man Cometh would fall in this category, as would Deschutes’ Obsidian Stout and Revolution Brewing’s Rise.
- Russian Imperial Stout – This was brewed in England for the Russian court of Catherine II. Since it was brewed for a country where vodka dominates all other liquor (they put down almost five times the vodka the Unites States does), it had to be stronger than normal and built for a long journey. Most stouts pack a reasonable 6-7% ABV punch. The low end of the spectrum for Russian Imperials is 8%, heading as high as 12%. Toxic Brewing’s Black Tonic sits in this category, as does Hareless Hare’s Rabbit Hole Chocolate Stout. A personal favorite, Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Blackout Stout (our own Max Spang has some thoughts on it as well) and North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin are other well respected versions of this strong style.
Foreign Extra (Tropical) Stout – The home of the stout is a long way from the tropics. Especially in the 18th century, when ocean going wooden ship was the only way to get there. It was brewed with some extra malt, making it sweeter and sturdier to survive the month long journey across the Atlantic. It was nicknamed “Tropical” because the earliest versions of this beer went to the warmer colonies of the British Empire. They are typically a stronger version of a dry stout, but any style can be made into a Foreign Extra Stout. The most well-known of this style is the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, and most breweries dabble in this style, offering it on tap in smaller batches or seasonally. Ridgeway Brewing’s Lump of Coal is a tip top example of a seasonal foreign extra stout.
Starbucks may still be testing their coffee stout concoction for all we know. There is no need to wait for them to enjoy the hearty flavors stouts can provide. And some of them even have healthy ingredients in them (sort of)! Despite the heaviness of these beers, many of them are not much more calorie dense than light beers. Guinness has only 15 more calories per 12 oz. serving than Bud Light, and for the same ABV. Enjoy a stout or two on National Stout Day. You can drink a Founder’s Breakfast Stout or Southern Tier Mokah instead of the Starbucks, right?
Originally a sawmill on the Miami & Erie Canal in the 1828, The Peerless Mill in Miamisburg became a restaurant in 1929. After serving up food for over 8 decades, a major fire destroyed a good portion of the building in 2003. The stone floors and big ceiling beams survived and after a 2 year renovation, the restaurant reopened in 2005. Owner Gary Wiegle had taken out huge loans to rebuild and was faced with increased competition and touch economic times, which he wasn’t able to overcome. The restaurant fell into foreclosure and closed in 2008. After several misfires, it looks like the newest owners, brothers Justin and Brian Kohnen and Brian Yavorsky made have just the recipe to succeed at 319 S. Second St.
The Star City Brewery joins the explosion of microbreweries that are invading the Miami Valley. With their grand opening today (Friday, Nov 15th) at 4pm until 10pm with food catered in from TJ Chumps and Saturday from 1-10pm with a visit from the Harvest Mobile Cuisine Food Truck. There will be 4 beers on tap to start. I was lucky enough to attend a preview tasting last weekend and enjoyed a flight that included:
Belgian Blonde Ale (ABV 3.8%, IBU 21) reminiscent of the German style Kolsch. Light bodied and lager like. $4 pint/$10 growler
Bavarian Hefeweizen (ABV 4/6% IBU 10) an unfiltered wheat beer with a light banana and clove flavor $5 pint /$13 growler
IPA (ABV 7.4% IBU 56) deep golden in color hoppy with citrus and pine notes. $5 pint /$13 growler
Oatmeal Stout (ABV 5/2% IBU 28) and my favorite by far – with a slight sweetness and roasted hop flavor. $5 pint /$13 growler
Eventually there will be 8 taps, which according to Justin Kohnen will always include the standard four already mentioned and 4 seasonal brews that will rotate. Food will be catered in from local Miamisburg restaurants, but opening their kitchen is in the plans, “but that’s sometime in the future,” says Kohnen. He explained that there were a lot of renovations and repairs needed on the 14,000 square foot building and they concentrated on the tap room first. It is in the plans to continue renovating so they can start to open some of the banquet rooms for special event rentals.
Even before opening Star City began teaching home brewing classes including extract brewing, all grain brewing. There next class scheduled for Thurs, Nov 21st form 6:30 – 8:30pm will be about Understanding Flavor Profiles. This class is for aspiring craft enthusiasts and new home brewers who want to understand the many beer styles, origins and tasting profiles. And class attendees will receive 50 cents off of beer during the class. $25/person.
Star City offered membership and prior to opening already had over 60 members. Aside from declaring yourself a craft beer enthusiast, being a member of Star City Brewing comes with certain members only perks. A few such perks include being the first to sample some of our experimental brews and earning double loyalty points on select days.
- A Star City Brewing Company bottle koozie
- A Star City Brewing Company Pint Glass
- $25 annual membership
Level 2 membership includes:
- A Star City Brewing Company bottle koozie
- A Star City Brewing Company Pint Glass
- A Star City Brewing Company T-Shirt
- $75 annual membership
The standard Level 3 membership includes:
- A Star City Brewing Company bottle koozie
- A Star City Brewing Company britannia mug
- A Star City Brewing Company embroidered polo
- 2 Invitation(s) to “invite-only” private “Member Appreciation” parties when hosted.
- Catered Food provided.
- Discounts on pints ($0.50 off per pint anytime you come in)
- $125 membership
Follow Star City Brewing on Facebook for more updates or visit them from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. And look forward to another opening soon of their neighbors, Lucky Star Brewery, located a block away at 219 S. Second St. in Miamisburg.