Tag 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. AVP.com.

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

Ohio governor signs bill that benefits craft brewers

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a controversial brewery bill Tuesday afternoon that benefits craft brewers and was blasted by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

The legislation creates a new liquor permit for breweries that make less than 31 million gallons a year. The new permit, called an A-1c, will replace the A-1 permit for small brewers and reduce their annual licensing fee from $3,906 to $1,000.

Craft brewers have praised the legislation, saying it will allow them to invest more money into their breweries.

Only two breweries in Ohio definitely make more than 31 million gallons annually: Anheuser-Busch in Columbus and MillerCoors in Trenton. Boston Beer Co. has declined to say how much it produces at its Samuel Adams Brewery in Cincinnati.

The legislation, called Senate Bill 48, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, but Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, protested a provision inserted at the last minute that bars large brewers from owning or having a financial stake in wholesale distributors. Anheuser-Busch, which owns a distributorship in Canton and will be allowed to continue to run that business, complained heavily and met with the governor and lawmakers to outline its stance.

“We are very disappointed that this legislation will now become law, and remain concerned about the manner in which this anti free market legislation was introduced and passed,” Anheuser-Busch said Tuesday in a statement. “We have, however, had productive and constructive discussions with policymakers, and our concerns about the lack of transparency in the legislative process were heard and acknowledged. Positive assurances were made to address the issues that significantly impact our investments in the state. We are pleased with the open-mindedness demonstrated by the governor and legislators to working towards a more equitable solution.

“Anheuser-Busch is proud of its long-standing roots in Ohio, employing almost 800 people statewide in our Columbus brewery and the Canton wholesale operation. We are hopeful that the final resolution will maintain consumer choice and the free market principles that have made Ohio a great place to do business.”

The legislation also allows liquor permits to be transferred easier as part of economic development projects and permits brewers to open a tasting room within a half-mile of their production facilities.

Angry Orchard Iceman™ and Strawman® Hard Cider bottles go national this week

(Cincinnati, OH) – The cider makers at the Angry Orchard Cider Company have been hard at work on a new project – The Cider House Collection – and have just put the finishing touches on a new batch of specialty ciders that they’re releasing nationally this week.  Angry Orchard Iceman™, inspired by traditional Quebec ice ciders, and Angry OrchardStrawman®, a farmhouse cider, are the result of experimentation with apple varieties, wood-aging techniques and fermentation methods.  Both styles will be hitting shelves across the country this week.

“With Angry Orchard Iceman and Strawman, we put our own spin on ancient cider styles, using cider making techniques that we’ve developed over the past 15 years. To come up with these recipes, we’ve been tinkering with apple blends and fermentation methods,” said David Sipes , cider maker for Angry Orchard.  “Over the past year, there’s been a renewed interest in hard cider in the U.S. and drinkers are exploring ciders like never before. With the Cider House Collection, our drinkers can experience our interpretation of these largely unknown cider styles.”

About Angry Orchard Iceman & Angry Orchard Strawman:
Both complex, wood-aged ciders, Strawman and Iceman, are made with heirloom apples from Italy, where the terroir significantly influences the flavor of apple varietals, and France, where apples unique to cider making have been cultivated for centuries.  The ciders each have unique effervescent qualities and are served in individual, 750ml corked bottles. With higher alcohol content, warm flavors and more body, both ciders complement a variety of foods and are perfect for special drinking occasions or for sharing with a friend over dinner.

Angry Orchard Strawman was influenced by centuries-old European farmhouse cider making techniques. Our team sought the perfect blend of apples and a unique fermentation and aging process to create our own version of a farmhouse cider with an earthy, yet subtly sweet flavor profile,” said Sipes.  “For Angry Orchard Iceman, we took cues from the traditional ice ciders ofQuebec, creating a cider that is both delicate and sweet.”

  • Angry Orchard Strawman’s (10.0% ABV) ripe apple, vanilla and honeysuckle flavors impart an earthy character complemented by a distinct aroma of ripe apples, wood, dark fruits and sweet citrus. Strawman’s earthy characteristics help cut through the fats and proteins of farmhouse cheeses like cheddar, and also pair well with seafood dishes, like salmon or tuna, with its dark fruit, wood and citrus notes.  Strawman is aged on wood with toasted qualities to add to the traditional earthy farmhouse flavors of the cider and with notes of vanilla to help balance this cider’s funky characteristics.  Its complex, earthy, slightly herbal taste is akin to that of a dry, southern hemisphere Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling.
  • Angry Orchard Iceman (10.0% ABV) features flavors of crisp apples with notes of caramel and toffee for a cider that’s sweet, but not cloying, and slightly effervescent to enhance aroma.  The wood aging process imparts notes of vanilla for a smooth finish. Iceman is made by freezing apple juice prior to fermentation, resulting in concentrated sugars and deeper, richer flavors. This well-balanced cider pairs perfectly with delicate flavors like those found in foie gras and cured meats, while its smooth vanilla character compliments creamy, sweet French cheeses like Mimolette or a double cream Camembert.  Iceman’s warm taste, with vanilla and honey characteristics, is similar to a Sauternes or Muscat wine.

“The Cider House Collection ciders showcase complex, wine-like flavors and can be enjoyed alone or with food,” Sipes explains.  “These ciders have distinct aromas and flavors, so serving them in a glass shaped like a goblet or bowl, similar to wine, allows drinkers to have the full sensory experience.  Similar to a white wine, these ciders should be served cool, but not cold, around a temperature range of 45-52 degrees F.”

Strawman and Iceman will be available nationwide for the first time, following a successful limited release in 2012 in parts of New England, California, Minnesota and Washington.

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 www.angryorchard.com/find-angry-orchard/.

Cider lovers can explore the orchard online at www.AngryOrchard.com, like them at www.Facebook.com/AngryOrchard, and follow them at www.twitter.com/AngryOrchard.

New Belgium’s Folly Packs to rotate “Throwback” beers

New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a wide variety of award-winning beers, is bringing back fan favorites from the proverbial “past”. Starting in 2013, each Folly Pack (mixed 12-pack of New Belgium beers) will have a beloved former seasonal release from the archive.

2013_Springboard_Spring_Folly_Angle_Product_Shot

“We’ve been rotating out seasonal releases every two years to keep things fresh for the beer drinker,” said New Belgium Spokes Model, Bryan Simpson. “We get a lot of requests for classics like Loft, Springboard and Giddy Up, so this allows us to revisit some old faves while keeping the seasonal program progressive and dynamic.”

The following beers will be packed for folly: 
Q1: Fat Tire, Ranger, Trippel, and Springboard*
Q2: Fat Tire, Ranger, Shift, Blue Paddle* and Loft*
Q3: Fat Tire, Ranger, Rampant, Shift and Giddy Up*
Q4: Fat Tire, Ranger, 1554, Rampant and 2 Below*

The *asterisks represent the “throwback” beers that aren’t available outside of the Folly Pack.

In other news, New Belgium’s spring seasonal Dig Pale Ale will soon hit the shelves. Dig will be the focus of New Belgium’s upcoming BeerStream, a live video feed hosted by New Belgium that gives fans an opportunity to engage with brewers and assorted brewery folks in a virtual tasting and Q&A. The next BeerStream event is February 12 at 6:00 p.m. mountain time. To learn more, go to http://bit.ly/Wykqim.

To find New Belgium beers in your area, you can use the New Belgium Libation Location tool:http://www.newbelgium.com/beer.aspx. Pricing varies by location. You can also follow New Belgium on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/newbelgium and Twitter @NewBelgium.

Still can’t wait for the day that we can get New Belgium Beer in Cincinnati!

My take on “craft” vs. “craft-y”

There’s been a lot of debate in the beer press lately over what a craft beer is or is not. The Brewer’s Association, essentially the trade group for “craft” brewers, is drawing a line in the sand about the production and promotion of craft-like beers by large, non-craft breweries.

This basically means Blue Moon, Shock Top and the like are excluded from the craft beer boy’s club.

My question – does it really matter? To use the words of Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics, “a rising tide lifts all ships”. While some of the “craft-y” beers might be a little “crappy”, they still represent a shift away from watered down American light lager (a.k.a. Budweiser, Miller and Coors) to beers that offer more flavor and variety. Ultimately, the more variety that is being produced, the more choices consumers have and that makes a better environment for craft beers to find new customers.

The Bud Light drinker of 2010 tries a Blue Moon in 2012 and by 2013 is trying Harpoon, Breckenridge or Southern Tier. I don’t see anything wrong with that side of the picture.

Where I think that the Brewer’s Association might have some issue with “craft-y” beers is in  getting into new markets. If a bar puts Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Miller, Shock Top and Blue Moon on their taps (all pushed by a distributor that doesn’t care to bother to stock craft beers), why does that bar have any motivation to find a craft distributor to fill out their beer menu?

I applaud some of our Cincinnati bars that have taken their taps “all local”. When in Akron on Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of dining at a restaurant that had over 100 beers available, BUT NO BUDWEISER! Amen! I can only hope that once beer drinkers get a taste for better beer, they’ll start to ask their favorite watering hole to carry more variety.

To close, a question for the Brewer’s Association… If craft beer grows so strong as to dominate the market, causing Budweiser to have to dramatically cut distribution, do they get to call themselves a craft brewer? Let’s not argue over semantics. Let’s sit down with a good beer and talk about what makes a good beer.

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 Facebook.com/EatAtTGIFridays.

In addition to Facebook, the initiative expands to Pinterest this year. On T.G.I Friday’s Can For A Fan Pinterest board, Pinterest.com/eatattgifridays/ 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.