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Beer

50 West Brewing Company - Our first visit

2013-02-22 07:23:32 admin
50 west brewing company

50W gets bonus points for this sweet old VW bus

Some Sundays are just downright perfect.  After hitting up a flea market in search of hidden treasures, fellow DWOWer Doug and I grabbed some beer from the fridge and made our way to a favorite dive spot: Eli’s BBQ.  As always, it was perfect, and before we left a gentleman dining alone struck up a conversation.  In talking, he mentioned trying out 50 West Brewing Company.

I had heard mention of this new place, but to be honest, I knew very little about it.  My assumption was the place was located deep on the west side of Cincinnati along River Rd. (50) somewhere.  To my surprise, 50 West Brewing Company is actually located far out on the east side of town.  I am completely befuddled by this name choice, but thanks to smart phones, we tracked down the location and decided to make a quick run.  After all, nothing ties up the ends of a great Sunday like a quick trip to a local brewery.

The man that suggested we visit said he hasn’t been there when the place wasn’t packed, but when we arrived I wondered if the place was open.  We walked in and found a bartender and three other people at the bar- one just happened to be the man that told us to visit in the first place.  Apparently, he gets around on the east side of town.  (And, as we learned, his son-in-law was on MTV for having his horn implants removed or something like that.)

Initial Thoughts of 50 West Brewing Company:

Someone has put a lot of money into this place.  The bar/restaurant (food coming soon) area is filled with rich woods and a slightly upscale saloon feel.  The taps are all brand new and sparkling, and a quick peek at their brewing room lets you know they mean business.  The whole endeavor feels like it has a significant financial backer behind it.  Compare it to the down-home, “we just love to make and drink beer” feel of the tap rooms at Mt. Carmel and Rivertown, 50 West Brewing Company feels much more polished, like a local Rock Bottom style place.

When yo go, order the beer flight and have a great sample for a great price.

When yo go, order the beer flight and have a great sample for a great price.

To my knowledge, 50 West Brewing Company beers aren’t sold in bottles yet, so I hadn’t tried a single one before this trip.  When we sat down the bartender asked what we wanted, but unfortunately we had no idea what they had.  When we looked confused, the bartender looked back at us, equally confused.  A menu or labels on the taps we sat by would have been nice.  But once we overcame the communication gap, the bartender brought us a flight of beers.  Each one was unique, and my personal favorite was some beer that had a banana taste to it.  I think it was called the Robinson Circus?  Most importantly, the price was right.  $4.50 for a beer sampler this size was a deal by any stretch of the imagination.

Overall, you can tell someone at this place loves beer- they seem to have a hundred different types they’re constantly trying.  You can also tell someone has money because I can’t imagine this amount of capital and equipment paying for itself with a draft-only brew house that was practically empty and no distribution.  But what do I know?  (Word on the street is the place is funded by a wealthy family from the east side that distributes some coupon magazine)  I’m probably being a little too crabby about my whole experience.  Craft brewers in Cincinnati are springing up all over the place, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Admittedly, I prefer the, “we’re growing and figuring it out as we go,” atmosphere of the tap room and brewing room at Rivertown, but I can respect a more sophisticated place such as 50W.  If the bartender learns to give menus or tell you about the beers, and if people figure out the place isn’t actually on the west side, I think their great beer will make a name for itself.

Final Thoughts on 50 West Brewing Company

If you’re out on the east side, it is worth checking out.  Once they serve food I could see the place being a great little destination, and the beer is delicious and reasonably priced.  They have more room than the tap rooms at most local breweries so you can actually bring a large group and have seats and space.  Despite all my groveling about a less than stellar first visit, everyone should try it at least once just based on the fact we should all support our local brews.

Learn more about Fifty West Brewing Company such as why they’re named 50W and hours of operation at www.fiftywestbrew.com

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Hop Notch IPA by Uinta Review

2013-02-19 17:58:07 admin
Hop Notch IPA by Uinta

Hop Notch IPA by Uinta

I can assure you, a trip to Whole Foods is expensive enough, but buying beer there too… What is wrong with me?   Dropping money on beer at a high-end grocer when you aren’t loading it into your Range Rover and driving it back to your grand estate is probably a mistake, but I couldn’t help it.  The packaging was so rustic & appealing, and it was my favorite style of beer: India Pale Ale.  So in the cart went a 6-pack of Uinta Hop Notch IPA.

After unloading all my overpriced organic produce for juicing, I threw a couple bottles in the freezer and counted down the hours until they were cold.  I must say, when I finally cracked one open I was surprised.  Most IPAs these days try too hard… They carry a lot of different flavors to make a mellow beer that almost tastes like a dark amber or lager.  Not Hop Notch.  It’s a simple, clean IPA that wakes you up when it hits your lips.

As I’ve mentioned frequently, I am not a beer expert, but I know what I like.  This is some good stuff.  Then I noticed the bottle said it was made with renewable energy?  How convenient given my latest, “love our planet,” kick.  I looked up Uinta on the good ol’ internet, and they are the real deal.

Uinta, first of all, has thrived as a brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This is a city and state with some of the most bizarre liquor laws in the country.  (see this article)  To make beer in this city means you’re not afraid of a little judgment, and I can respect that.  Second, it is true Uinta runs on wind and solar power.  I don’t mean they have a windmill, and it cuts down on their bill.  I mean 100% wind and solar power.  Period.  Add in about half a dozen other eco-friendly practices, and I feel less guilty about the gas and oil used to transport it from so far away to a store in Cincinnati.

I honestly consider each beer review on here to be a bit of a joke, and I’m at least three beer reviews behind, so brace yourselves.  I don’t know anything about good beer beyond knowing what I like.  I can’t give you a specific rundown of the hops and grains or the different fruits and nuts you should taste with a high-end beer.  To be honest, I don’t care.  The bottom line is if you like IPAs you’ll like Hop Notch more than most, and you’ll feel warm and fuzzy about the fact it’s made with renewable energy.

If you’re shopping at a fancy grocery store, consider picking some up.

To learn more about the company, their other brews, and their business practices visit their site

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Silverton Cafe - A classic neighborhood dive

2012-12-17 11:34:45 admin

 

Pretty awesome sign on the back entrance to Silverton Cafe

Pretty awesome sign on the back entrance to Silverton Cafe

This month we didn’t venture too far from our last stop.  Silverton Cafe is located just around the corner from Chicken on the Run and is well-visited by Silverton and Deer Park folks.  Founded in 1993, Silverton Cafe is a large, but homey place that, much like Chicken on the Run, seems like if you went there more than once, you’d quickly be a regular.

At least two of us have a personal history with Silverton Cafe.  I may butcher the facts here, but I believe Mike coached the owners’ kid in Friars League basketball, and I have been going to Silverton Cafe for two years or so to watch the first round of March Madness.  So yes, some of us had been there many times.

We walked in and the same server that has served me every single time I’ve ever been there greeted us.  The special was a pizza and pitcher of beer for something like $11 bucks.  No pizza for us, but a pitcher wasn’t a bad idea.  The whole pizza deal would have only saved less than a buck, not worth it when you’re in the mood for some fried foods.  Per the usual, ordering was a simple affair.  Cheeseburgers and onion rings all around, except me who ordered a Reuben with French fries.

Diehard Silverton Cafe fans are probably a little bothered we didn’t order a double or triple decker sandwich, apparently a specialty of the place.  Our apologies.  Maybe we should have because, to be honest, our food wasn’t anything to write home about.  The burgers were your standard cheap patties, and my fries were soggy and boring.  I appreciated them giving me an unimaginable amount of them, but unfortunately they just weren’t that good.  I left several on my plate.  The redeeming item of the night had to be the onion rings.  While the debate rages on, at least two of the guys suggest these to be the best onion rings ever consumed.  I’m ok with saying they were probably really good, but I’ll stop short of saying best ever.  We’ve got a bad habit of saying things are the best ever on here.  Either way, well done Silverton Cafe.

A massive pile of unimpressive fries.

A massive pile of unimpressive fries.

So while the food didn’t hit a home run, I can’t be too hard on Silverton Cafe.  I will be back in March to watch the tournament, a tradition I have with a good friend.  Well, it’s more of her tradition with her father, but I’m honored to be invited.  This is the best part of Silverton Cafe.  It is the kind of unpretentious place with enough televisions, cold beer, and friendly staff to make you feel at home.  On any given night you’ll find a row of regulars with stories to tell.  I doubt you’ll find that at Applebee’s.  I doubt you’ll find that at a swanky new wine bar.  Only a good dive bar will fit that bill.

If you’re looking for a warm place to grab a beer and some onion rings, Silverton Cafe may be the right place for you.  Check out their website here.  Or just go visit them at 7201 Montgomery Rd.

(As always, if you have a suggestion for our next dive visit or would like to join us, please email us at diveswithoutwives@gmail.com.)

Silverton Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Will Pedal for Beer- DWOW rides the Pedal Wagon

2012-12-04 16:57:13 admin

Here is the post we shared on Facebook that scored us the free tour.

The first time I saw a pedal wagon was during Bockfest last spring.  I knew instantly I must ride on one of these contraptions.  Of course, I forgot about it until a guy in DWOW mentioned it to me, and then I promptly forgot about it again until a couple weeks ago…

DWOW is a big fan of all things local, particularly local beer, so one day on Facebook we stumbled across a post from Mt. Carmel Brewing that said if you shared the post you’d be entered to win a free pub crawl on the pedal wagon.  Done and done.

Last Monday I nearly lost my bladder when I checked Facebook… I had actually won the Mt Carmel contest for the free trip!  I never win anything.  I mean never.  Oh happy day!  Jack from Pedal Wagon informed me to pick 14 friends and come on down to Over-the-Rhine on Friday at 7pm.  I think we ended up filling 13 of the 15 seats, not bad for a bunch of people getting older and less apt to “go out” every weekend.  Oh, and several Dives without Wives fellas brought their wives and significant others along.  It was a big ol’ party.

For those of you unfamiliar with the pedal wagon, it is part bicycle, part barstool, part rolling party.  Although you’re not allowed to drink alcohol on them (yet) in Cincinnati, they’re still the most entertaining way to go bar to bar these days.  Let’s face facts, the limousine went out of style for a “night on the town” about the same time Vanilla Ice and M.C. Hammer were in the Billboard Top 40.  Sure, the “party bus” is still a good alternative for transporting a wedding party to a reception, but the pedal wagon should be the clear choice to transport the bride-to-be or groom-to-be on a little bachelorette/bachelor party tour of your favorite watering holes.

George and Joe even had the skill to pedal and eat a little Neon’s grub.

Probably the best part of riding the pedal wagon is the attention you generate.  Cincinnati isn’t New Orleans or Vegas, so a bunch of jackasses riding down the street on a bicycle contraption with loud music still generates quite a buzz.  Bystanders were taking pictures and waving (and one gave us the finger, so sorry to interrupt his night) as well as cars behind you are honking and waving.  You feel like you’re doing something exponentially cooler than everyone else around you… They’re just walking to the place you’re pedal wagon-ing up to… how lame!  I felt like a pretty big deal Friday night.

The crawl started at Neons and hit up four other bars in historic Over-the-Rhine: Arnold’s, The Lackman, Japps, and MOTR.  Pedal Wagon Captain Zack gave us each the low-down on riding as well as wristbands to get us discounts at each stop on the tour.  After a beer at Neons, we were on the road getting attention from passer-bys and having a good time.

Now, before you accuse us of being a bunch of lushes, there are some cool aspects of Pedal Wagon that kept us from being too shmammered to sit on the thing from stop to stop.  Your whole tour only lasts 2 hours so if you do the math, you’re looking at about 20 minutes per place.  If you’re drinking more than 1 beer in that amount of time, you’re on a mission for destruction.  For the most part, you have a drink at each place, pedal to the next, and have another.  In total you have 5 drinks spread over 2 ½  hours.  It may be a little much for some of the smaller people in this world, but for 25lb overweight me, 5 drinks in 2 ½  hours won’t leave me too bent out of shape.  Of course, you can always skip a drink at a place or two if you’re worried about having a little too much.

Overall the whole experience with the pedal wagon was a blast.  Captain Zack was friendly and energetic (and I think we kinda stiffed him on a tip… I’m not sure an appropriate tip for a pedal wagon drive?  We gave $10-$15?)  If you’re looking for a fun way to get co-workers or friends together, check it out.  They have multiple ride routes and special themes, so there is a ride for everyone at some point in the year.  Spots are still open for their Christmas themed tours, so you might start there.

For more info, visit their website.

And Indianapolis friends… Get ready!  They’re coming to Broad Ripple!

The group pic Captain Zack took. Great Captain, questionable photographer with the iPad.

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Chicken on the Run in Deer Park -DWOW Outing

2012-11-06 16:38:19 admin

Ok so I snagged the logo off their Facebook page… Please don’t sue me.

Deer Park is a special place in Cincinnati.  I call it the West side of the East Side.  Deer Park folks have likely grown up there for at least two generations, and everyone seems to know everyone.  When we walked in to Chicken on the Run this past Monday, I had a feeling this is the kind of place where everyone knows your name.

First of all, for a Monday night there wasn’t a parking spot to be had.  A group of geriatrics took most of the spots with their Buicks and Cadillacs, but luckily my old Buick found a spot among them.  We walked in with a sheepish, “it’s our first time here,” look on our faces, but no one seemed to care.  After wandering around for a while, we grabbed a table and waited.  Quite frankly, we waited a while.  We clearly aren’t the regulars here and would not be treated as such.  In their defense, the old folks in the banquet room were still going strong, and one server is going to struggle to catch up to the people that just walked in.  She did, and we all survived without starving.

With beers, wings, and Saratoga chips on the way, we were content once again.  A jukebox kept things from being too boring as two members of our group babbled about Android vs. Windows phones and internet security.  The wings and chips arrived without too much delay.  The wings were good, although nothing to get excited about.  The chips were still nice and hot, seasoned just right, and the barbeque sauce was thick enough to stay on the chips.  So far, so good.

When the server returned we took to bothering the hell out of her.  When Tim stole Mike’s signature “what would you recommend?” move, Mike was forced to improvise.

“What did you have for dinner tonight?” was his new question for the server.  Although sufficiently creeped out, she ordered him a salad just the way she likes it.  Just so happens, Mike is a pseudo-vegetarian these days so he was on board with a pile of rabbit food as well.  So with everyone else ordering a burger or a salad, I thought I had to try something with chicken in the name.  A double-decker chicken club was ordered up for me.

Excuse the crappy picture. Huge salad.

The food arrived just the way it should at a bar- in a basket on some wax paper.  The fries were, well, your basic fries, but the salad and burgers seemed to hit the spot- thumbs up from everyone but me.  Ironically, the chicken wasn’t very good.  It was tough and dry, way over-cooked.  Other reviews online seem to back me up here, but needless to say I was disappointed.  Overall, however, Chicken on the Run stays in our good graces for a its old-fashioned neighborhood bar environment and good burgers (and dare I say, salad).

And now for our favorite part of the place… As we sat there we noticed that each time the music stopped we heard crazy sci-fi galactic sounds from the other room… Oh yes.  Chicken on the Run has an arcade.  Well, kind of.  They have 6 machines to be exact: a cigarette dispenser, a crane-prize game, Ms. Pac Man, Big Buck Hunter, some truck racing game, and an old NASA themed pinball machine.  Unfortunately, the Big Buck Hunter wasn’t calibrated anymore, the pinball machine had several lights out, and none of us needed a pack of smokes.  But still, who doesn’t love an arcade?  In the age of handheld entertainment devices and crazy at-home systems, the days of the pinball wizard seem numbered.  Kudos to Chicken on the Run for keeping it alive (and keeping several of our quarters).

At $19 for two 20oz. beers, a sandwich & fries, some Saratoga chips, and some wings, it wasn’t the cheapest place we’ve eaten, but it was still a good value.  Throw in the chance to play pinball, Chicken on the Run was an all-around good experience for Dives without Wives.

For more information, visit Chicken on the Run on Facebook

To suggest a place for our next visit or to discuss posting on DWOW as a guest, email diveswithoutwives@gmail.com

Chicken on the Run on Urbanspoon

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