Beer notes: West Point, Thirsty Dog announce homebrew contest finalists

By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

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West Point Market and Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. have released the finalists in the second annual Bottle My Brew Ohio Homebrew Challenge.

The winner will be announced Nov. 1 during a tasting at West Point, 1711 W. Market St., Akron. The finalists, in alphabetical order, are (one home-brewer finished with two beers in the top 10):

• Jeff Berghoff of Stow, Mosaic Saison.

• Tom Bullock of Lakewood, Irish Stout.

• Craig Chopak of Medina, Bluesberry Honey Creme Ale.

• Mike Crea of Brecksville, Thrilla Amarilla.

• Peter Ferraro of Cuyahoga Falls, Snooze Stout.

• Joseph Karpinski of Kent, Imperial Commander and Maple Dubbel.

• Keith Kneisley of Akron, Square Bitter.

• Michael Martini of Lakewood, Session Pale Ale.

• Larry Reuter of Akron, Beta IPA.

More than 90 beers were submitted in the competition, which was open to all home-brewers in Ohio. The contest includes cash and other prizes, and the winning beer will be brewed by Thirsty Dog and released commercially.

Last year’s winner was an American barleywine. Thirsty Dog released the beer this year under the name Bernese Barleywine Ale, and it’s now available in 12 states.

The West Point beer tasting is from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 1. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Reservations can be made at www.west or calling 330-864-2151, ext. 129.

Thirsty Dog pumpkin, app

Thirsty Dog, 529 Grant St., Akron, has released its seasonal Pumpkin Ale.

Thirsty Dog Pumpkin Ale is one of the last, if not the last, pumpkin beer to hit the market. But there’s a reason for the late release: The brewery uses fresh pumpkins grown on farms in Portage County, and can’t start making the beer until the pumpkins are ready.

“It’s always the freshest ingredients, all grown locally,” co-owner John Najeway said.

Pumpkin Ale, which is 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, contains five varieties of squash and pumpkin, along with honey and cloves.

The brewery also now has an app for Android phones and iPhones. The free app provides details about Thirsty Dog beer releases and events. “It’s just another way to take Thirsty Dog on the go with you,” Najeway said.

Canned Christmas

Christmas will come in a can this year.

Rocky River Brewing Co. in Rocky River plans to put its Christmas ale, Santa’s Little Helper, in a 16-ounce can with the help of mobile business Buckeye Canning.

It will be an Ohio first. No one is aware of another canned Christmas ale in the state. It’s also unclear how many breweries in the U.S. put their holiday beers in a can.

“I’ve never seen one, but I don’t know what’s on the West Coast,” Rocky River brewer Jim Lieb said.

Santa’s Little Helper is a spiced amber ale featuring cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, coriander, orange peel and honey. It’s about 6.5 percent alcohol by volume.

The beer, sold in four-packs, will be available on a limited basis at the brewpub and some local retailers. The plan is to produce only 100 cases. It’ll be available sometime after Thanksgiving.

Welcome to Ohio

Blue Mountain is coming to Ohio.

The award-winning Virginia brewery will make its debut at a special tasting Thursday during Cleveland Beer Week at Willoughby Brewing Co., 4057 Erie St., Willoughby.

“We’re really excited to be in Ohio,” growth manager Peter Ramsey said.

Owner and brewmaster Taylor Smack is a former head brewer at Goose Island in Chicago and his wife is from Wisconsin, so Blue Mountain has been gradually moving farther into the Midwest to get the beer to their friends and family, Ramsey added.

The brewery, which has won five medals at the Great American Beer Festival since 2010, will launch here with two barrel-aged beers, Local Species and Dark Hollow Artisanal Ale; Steel Wheels ESB and Full Nelson Pale Ale; and two Christmas seasonals, Blitzen and Long Winter’s Nap.

Beer samplers

• Little Mountain Brewing Co. has opened its new brewpub and brew-on-premise operation at 7621 Mentor Ave., Mentor. The brewery had relocated from Kirtland.

• The Tasting Room at Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, 1680 E. Waterloo Road, Akron, promises to spin any vinyl record — remember those? — brought in by customers on Thursdays.

• Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison has a new bourbon barrel-aged beer on draft made with Red Eagle Distillery barrels. The brewery promises it’s not overpowering.

“If I want a beer that’s really boozy, I’ll do a depth charge and drop a shot of whiskey into my beer,” sales and marketing manager Joel Sandrey said. “We want to have that real delicate balance of the interesting flavors that come from the bourbon barrel without it tasting like a bunch of bourbon.”

• Triumvirate — a beer designed to taste like a gin and tonic — is being released in Ohio this week. The beer is a collaboration among Rivertown Brewing Co. in Lockwood, Smooth Ambler Spirits in Maxwelton, W.Va., and the Rookwood in Cincinnati.

• It’s the middle of Cleveland Beer Week, which ends Saturday with Brewzilla, the major beer tasting at the Galleria in downtown Cleveland. Check out www.cleveland for all the details and the rest of the week’s activities.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or Read his beer blog at Follow him on Twitter at @armonrick.

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