Category Archives: Cincinnati

Road to Rio Olympics for beach volleyball players runs through Cincinnati

The road to Rio travels through Cincinnati, Ohio this summer as the top ranked beach volleyball teams in the world attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.  The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) and the Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB) Tours come together to bring the only 2016 Olympic Qualifier in the United States to Cincinnati, May 17th – 21st for the AVP/FIVB Cincinnati Open.

The AVP/FIVB Cincinnati Open will be the third stop on the AVP’s 2016 schedule and the only stop hosted and operated by the AVP as part of the FIVB World Tour. In order to qualify for an Olympic berth, internationally ranked teams must compete in and earn points at 12 FIVB tournaments.  Thus, the Cincinnati Open comes at a critical time for Olympic contenders earning their spot in Rio and building momentum towards the Games.

Among the teams already committed to play at the event are three time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and her partner April Ross (an Olympic silver medalist in 2012).  Walsh Jennings could be competing for her record 4thOlympic Gold Medal for the USA, should she and Ross qualify for the 2016 Games.  2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Phil Dalhausser and reunited partner and best friend Nick Lucena will also compete.  Dalhausser has won at least one AVP title annually since 2005. Powerhouse teams from countries as varied as the Netherlands, Mexico and Vanuatu are already signed up to compete, bringing an international, Olympic flare to Cincinnati.

Donald Sun, Managing Partner for the AVP, recently said, “Cincinnati has been a mainstay of the AVP domestic tour every year since 2005.   I am truly excited that this great city has earned the added excitement of hosting an Olympic Qualifier through its continued loyalty and passion for beach volleyball. We are thrilled to bring so many world class athletes to the Queen City, giving our fans a sneak peak at the teams competing in Rio just a few months later.”

The AVP/FIVB Cincinnati Open will feature the top 32 men’s teams and the top 32 women’s teams competing in four days of main draw play preceded by a one day qualification tourney.  The tournament will take place on four courts built at the world-class grounds of the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, OH. In addition to the world’s best volleyball talent, the event doubles as the ultimate beach festival with interactive activations, music, food and more.

The AVP/FIVB Cincinnati Open is one of eight tournaments on the AVP’s 2016 schedule, which also includes stops in New Orleans, Huntington Beach, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, Manhattan Beach, and Chicago.

The women’s and men’s finals will be broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network.

VIP premium seating for the event is now on sale through the AVP.  General admission is free at the gate.

For more information on ticket availability and competition schedule, please visit www.

2016 AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Schedule

April 15-17 – New Orleans Open, Laketown, Kenner, La.

May 6-8 – Huntington Beach Open, South Side of Pier, Huntington Beach, Calif.

May 16-21 – *FIVB Cincinnati Open, Lindner Family Tennis Center, Mason, Ohio

June 3-5 – Seattle Open, Lake Sammamish State Park, Issaquah, Wash.

June 17-19 – New York City Open, Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 and 26, Manhattan

June 24-26 – San Francisco Open, location TBD

July 15-17 – Manhattan Beach Open,  South Side of Pier, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

September 2-4 – AVP Championships at Chicago, Oak Street Beach, Chicago

*ONLY FIVB Olympic qualifier in the U.S.  in 2016

Cincinnati’s Orchids at Palm Court receives top AAA award

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has awarded the prestigious Five-Diamond Award for 2016 to Orchids at Palm Court, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza’s fine-dining restaurant. This is the second consecutive year the restaurant has received this rating.

“We are humbled to be one of just 64 restaurants in the U.S. to receive a Five-Diamond rating in 2016, especially as the only restaurant in Ohio to secure this honor,” Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Managing Director Matthew Coffey says. “Todd Kelly, executive chef and food and beverage director, and his team were working for the AAA Five-Diamond Award again as a strategic benchmark for 2016, which makes the accomplishment that much more rewarding for all of us here at the Netherland Plaza.”

Chef Kelly adds, “It’s just so incredible to be in the company of the best of the best in the country, and for our team here at the Netherland Plaza to receive this prestigious acknowledgement for the hard work we’re doing.”

AAA and its team of designated field inspectors evaluate thousands of lodging & dining establishments each year and assign an overall rating of one to five diamonds. Five-Diamond establishments are renowned for world-class experiences with cutting edge menus and unique food preparation by a highly acclaimed chef with a maître d’ leading an unobtrusive expert service staff. Only 0.3% of the 30,000 restaurants receive Five-Diamond. The rating will be indicated with the hotel and restaurant’s listings in the 2016-2017 AAA TourBook—a series of travel information guides published for AAA’s more than 55 million members.

Other accolades received by Orchids at Palm Court include:

  • OpenTable has named Orchids “One of the Top 100 Best Restaurants” for five consecutive years including 2014’s raking as No. 7 Best in the U.S.
  • Executive Chef Todd Kelly was named the American Culinary Federation’s U.S.A. Chef of the Year, the highest honor given by the national organization comprising 20,000 chefs
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts No. 1 Food and Beverage Hotel in the U.S. for five of the last six years
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts “Award of Excellence” winner – given to the top five performing hotels, 2015
  • Forbes rated Orchids at Palm Court “Four Stars” for 2013, 2014 and 2015

Oskar Blues posts 42% growth in first two months of 2013

Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery continues to build on its 52% growth in 2012 by posting 42% YTD increase through February 2013 and launching the state of Michigan in the first week of March.  Michigan, known as a hop-savvy state, fits Oskar Blues’ hop-centric approach well represented by Dale’s Pale Ale, Deviant IPA, G’Knight Imperial Red IPA and the recently release seasonal (March to May) GUBNA Imperial IPA.  The original craft brewery in-a-can is poised to reach 125,000 cases this year in Michigan and continue to open additional markets throughout 2013.

“Michigan has a great beer scene fueled by quality breweries; we’re excited to be a adding our voluminous, three-dimensional craft beers-in-a-can to the Michigan mix.” said Oskar Blues’ Regional Sales Manager Nick Lensing.

Last year, Oskar Blues expanded distribution to new markets for the first time in four years.  The markets: Chicago, Ohio, Northern Kentucky and founder Dale Katechis’ home state of Alabama each established the largest craft beer launch in their territories history topped by 14,000+ case equivalents during the first week in Ohio.

Oskar Blues’ continued growth is a result of a new Brevard, NC brewery and taproom that began providing fresh and local beer to Oskar Blues East Coast markets in January.  The Brevard, NC can is pictured to the left.  In addition to the Brevard, NC location the brewery invested $3.5 million in improvements to its Longmont, CO facility in 2012.  Oskar Blues has grown to become the largest American craft brewery to package beer exclusively in cans, producing 85,750 barrels of beer in 2012, and is on pace for 128,000 barrels in 2013.

Watch Oskar Blues Brewery’s new video HERE via YouTube.

Cincinnati’s Angry Orchard releases America’s first elderflower cider

Angry-Orchard-Elderflower-Hard-Cider-6packAngry Orchard, the number one selling hard cider in the U.S.*, is releasing a new cider style from its collection – Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider, the first cider of its kind. Inspired by the European tradition of elderflower cordials which dates back to ancient Roman times, the cider makers at Angry Orchard have crafted a unique hard cider that balances elderflower’s subtle floral notes and tropical fruitiness with Angry Orchard’s crisp apple sweetness.

“For centuries, elderflower has been used as an ingredient because of its delicate floral notes. It also has a great fruity flavor reminiscent of tropical fruits like lychee, pear and citrus, which makes it a great match for the rich, fruity flavors found in the culinary and bittersweet apples we use in our cider,” said David Sipes, Cider Maker for Angry Orchard. “This combination of flavors produces a complex yet balanced, slightly sparkling cider we think is unlike anything our drinkers have experienced.”

Launched nationally in 2012, Angry Orchard has quickly become a favorite among drinkers for its unique, quality ingredients and distinctly crisp and refreshing taste. Angry Orchard hard ciders, including the new elderflower style, are crafted with a unique blend of Italian culinary apples and French bittersweet apples. Angry Orchard in part gets its name because, unlike ordinary apples, bittersweet apples are described as “angry” because of the tart and tannic characteristics they impart to cider creating real apple flavors, and also because of the way they look, small and unattractive.

These bittersweet apples are unique to cider making, just like wine grapes are to wine making. Also similar to wine, Angry Orchardciders go through a lengthy fermentation process and are aged on oak, resulting in an exceptional blend that contributes to the complex flavor profile of each Angry Orchard cider style, including the new Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider.

Hayley Jensen, a mixologist and beer sommelier at Taproom No. 307 in New York City and engaged by Angry Orchard for her expertise, has seen firsthand how elderflower has also recently become a go-to flavor for mixologists and a drinker favorite.

“Elderflower burst onto the cocktail scene recently and the flavor became a runaway hit – it’s refreshing and light, with a touch of sweetness that pairs perfectly with more dominant flavors.  Today, I see a trend of more drinkers asking for cider. So, a cider with a delicate elderflower taste is truly an innovative combination and also a great mixology ingredient, pairing well with light spirits like gin, vodka, white tequila and also jenever, an up-and-coming liquor in the U.S.,” says Jensen. “I think cocktail, wine and craft beer lovers will all enjoy this new cider.”

Hard cider has exploded in popularity recently, growing 65 percent in 2012 vs. 2011, especially remarkable when compared to the growth of beverages like wine and craft beer, which grew 5.6% and 13% respectively.**

All Angry Orchard styles offer remarkably crisp, refreshing and distinct flavors for any palate and are naturally gluten free:

  • Crisp Apple (5.0% ABV) is a fruit-forward cider that balances natural apple sweetness with a subtle dryness for a hard to resist crisp and refreshing taste
  • Traditional Dry (5.5% ABV) is crafted in the style of English draft ciders and imparts bittersweet and slightly spicy flavors with a bright apple aroma. Its dryness makes mouths pucker and look forward to another sip
  • Apple Ginger (5.0% ABV) combines fresh Nigerian ginger and apples for a sweet, yet slightly tart taste, with a distinct ginger aroma and warm finish
  • New – Elderflower (5.0% ABV) showcases tropical fruitiness reminiscent of lychee, pear and citrus to compliment the rich, crisp apple background

Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider is available nationwide from February through summer in 6-packs for a suggested retail price of $7.99 – $9.99 (price varies by market), and in variety 12-packs with three other Angry Orchard styles for a suggested retail price of $14.99 – $17.99 (price varies by market).  To find where Angry Orchard is served near you, visit their “cider finder” at

Cider lovers can explore the orchard online at, like them at, and follow them at

Blank Slate announces plans for 2013

On the Blank Slate Brewing Company blog, Scott talks about the 2013 plans for beer releases, distribution, bottling and more.

It looks like they plan to have 4 “classes” of beer available at any given time. These are broken down into “Round and Round” (a rotating session beer), a Travelling IPA, a “Gastronome” beer (incorporating food influences and designed for pairing) and Carte Blanche (catch all).


They expect to be putting bottles on the shelves by April, though it seems that they are still deciding on whether to go with 4 or 6 packs.

Last but not least, a taproom looks to be on hold for now. He has limited space and funds available, so the focus will be on the beer. Makes sense to me.

Freestore Foodbank, T.G.I. Fridays team up to fight Cincinnati hunger

The Bistro Group, the nation’s third largest franchisee of T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants, announces their third annual Can For A Fan virtual food drive benefitting 9 regional food banks. T.G.I. Friday’s in the greater Cincinnati, OH area will donate one can of food to the Freestore Foodbank for each new Cincinnati local Facebook fan at

In addition to Facebook, the initiative expands to Pinterest this year. On T.G.I Friday’s Can For A Fan Pinterest board, canforafan, users can like the Freestore Foodbank pinned logo and an additional can of food will be donated.

T.G.I. Friday’s will continue the food drive through December 31st or until 5,000 cans have
been donated. Freestore Foodbank works to end hunger in the Cincinnati community through partnerships, innovative programs and community engagement. T.G.I. Friday’s is hosting this virtual food drive as a fun and easy way for individuals to make an impact in their community.

“We’re thrilled to continue the Can For A Fan campaign for the third consecutive year,” shared Amie Dancu, Director of Marketing, T.G.I. Friday’s franchisee. “The services the community food banks provide in our neighborhoods is crucial, and we look forward to giving our support this holiday season as Part of The Bistro Group family’s continued commitment to the community.”

Oskar Blues Has Largest Launch To Date in Ohio

from All About Beer Magazine by Win Bassett

(Cincinnati, OH) – Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery, the first craft brewery in the country to put craft beer in a can in November 2002, continued its red-hot new-market rollout plan by distributing 14,000 case equivalents in the first week in Ohio.

The partnerships with Superior Beverage Group and Stagnaro Distributing produced over 4,000 points of distribution and more than 400 draft handles in the Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus distribution areas marking the brewery’s largest roll out to date.

“Ohio is a great beer state,” said Curt McCamon, chief operating officer of Superior Beverage. “We had fantastic support from our customers from day one and once they had the opportunity to meet with the Oskar Blues crew and taste the incredible craft beer in a can they were quick to get on board.”

“We are very pleased with our first week of sales,” said Mike Stagnaro, President of Stagnaro Distributing. “Thanks to the tremendous support and efforts of our distribution teams, Oskar Blues Brewery and our valued retail customers, Oskar Blues craft beers ‘CAN’ now be found throughout the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky marketplace.”

The record setting Ohio/Northern Kentucky roll-out followed similar successes in Alabama and Chicagoland earlier this year.

Oskar Blues recently posted a 53 percent increase in revenue and 48 percent increase in depletions in its established markets over the first six months of 2012. They were also named one of the “Biggest Momentum Gainers” on the Brewers Association annual Top 50 Craft Brewers List this past spring and included on the Denver Business Journal’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies Listing” in August.

Oskar Blues has grown to become the largest American craft brewery to package beer exclusively in cans, producing 59,000 barrels of beer in 2011, and is on pace for 90,000 barrels in 2012.

The outdoor loving brewery will begin brewing at its new Brevard, NC location and taproom in December 2012. The small town will also be home to a separate restaurant and live music venue as well. The addition of the 30,000 sq. foot Brevard brewery is expected to brew 40,000 barrels in 2013 and increase brewery capacity to 140,000 BBLS.

Cincinnati Beer News – October 29, 2012

I’ve been tied up with being out of town the last couple of weeks, so here’s a couple of beer news highlights from the area featuring Stagnaro, Blank Slate and Triple Digit.

Stagnaro Does It Half Right:

Cheers to local craft beer distributor Stagnaro for picking up the Ohio and Kentucky distribution for the fantastic beers of Oskar Blues. It’s great to have some new options in the region.

Stagnaro managed to do something right on the marketing side, making both local and national news for what was called Ohio’s “biggest craft beer launch”.

If you were a local beer nut, you have every reason to be excited, about the planned “series of events, interviews and tastings”, but here’s where Stagnaro got it wrong. Down to the day that the rollout was to take place, there were no event listings on Stagnaro’s website. Facebook? Yes, but shouldn’t your company website be the major source of news?

This is what I sometimes call “getting it right and getting it wrong”. Companies will occasionally focus on the big national picture without taking care of things locally – I saw it all the time in the cycling industry – a big trade show rollout of a new product, plenty of hype, but when I go home to write about this cool new thing, there’s nothing on their website to link to. It’s as simple as this don’t create excitement and traffic if you’re not ready for customers to beat a path to your door.

As it goes, I didn’t make to any local outlets for the rollout. I was in Akron on business. There were some events taking place up around Cleveland, but after a long day in the office I didn’t want to make the drive.

Speaking of Akron, it needs to be on your beer tour list. Plenty of good stuff happening up there. Separate post on that coming soon.

More Good News, Growth for Blank Slate

First up for Blank Slate is that they have picked a distributor. Owner Scott announced just last week that he decided to go with Stagnaro for distribution around the area. It seems like a good fit. They seem to have knowledge of craft beer as well as good reach around the greater Cincinnati area. Since Scott has been self-distributing since he opened, hopefully this will take some of that work off of his back so he can focus more time on developing his beers. I know that both companies are located close to Lunken Airport so that may help matters as well.

Blank Slate also got to be part of a tap takeover at Arthur’s Cafe in Hyde Park.  In what I hope is a growing trend, Arthur’s is going to have all local beers on tap. There’s plenty of good breweries in town now, and enough varieties rolling out to keep things interesting for fickle customers. Will Arthur’s possibly lose some customers that will be upset about not being able to get Bud Light on tap? Maybe so, but I’ve never been there before, and I’m sure to make a trip there now.

Triple Digit’s Chickow To Make Return

Triple Digit’s Chickow! was a big hit and the Craft Beer Oktoberfest, so they decided to brew another batch. They’ve split the wort between their 7 barrel fermenter and a bourbon barrel, so it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast when it becomes available. It’s supposed to be ready in a couple of weeks.


ArtWorks Installs New Sculptural Bike Rack in Northside’s Jacob Hoffner Park

On September 11, ArtWorks installed their latest sculptural bike rack on Hamilton Avenue in Northside’s Jacob Hoffner Park.  The bike rack is a part of ArtWorks’ Queen City Art Rack project, and was designed by local artist and metal worker Kate Demske.

Queen City Art Racks is an ongoing initiative to bring artist-designed, functional bike racks to public spaces throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  In the process, it engages community stakeholders, employs professional artists, and strengthens the region’s transportation options by creating awareness around bicycle parking. Since its launch in the spring of 2010, Queen City Art Racks has created 14 opportunities for artists. The new art rack in Northside is the ninth to be installed.

The design for this art rack was inspired by Northside history.  Demske, who lives and works in Northside, shared, “This park was once the estate of Jacob Hoffner, noted Northside land owner and philanthropist.  He was also an avid gardener, and Palm Street was named for the most famous plant in his greenhouse: a Sago Palm which had been owned by Robert Morris (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence) before and during the Revolutionary War.  This palm lived more than 130 years and was eventually donated to Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia.  It’s said that the only specimen that could rival it was owned by George Washington.”

The project was sponsored by John Castaldi and Terry Bazeley, with additional support provided by MoBo Bicycle Co-op.  Castaldi stated,

“Terry and I see art created through ArtWorks every single day and believe very strongly that public art enriches the lives of all Cincinnatians.  We are also very committed to Northside and our neighbors here and wanted to do something for our community.  Finally, we wanted the rack to be designed by one of our neighborhood’s many artists and were thrilled with the choice of Kate Demske and the final result.”

Those interested in designing or sponsoring an art rack should visit