Archive for December, 2010

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. As this is a work in progress, I have decided to change the name of this series of blogs from “Just out the Keg” to “The First Pour”. This series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.

By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

Availability: November to February
Alcohol: 5.6%
Bitterness: 28 IBUs (Willamette & Tettnang hops)

When you think of Chicago, what do you imagine?: a towering skyline, historic neighborhoods, and deep dish pizza? All are fitting, but dwell also on Chicago’s truly unique ethnic history. Chicago is well-known for having played home to just about every immigrant group in the US, and is still known for having a vibrant Polish population. This Polish influence (think of Polish rye bread) may, we’re speculating here, be part of the influence for another Chicago staple – Goose Island’s Mild Winter Ale.

The beer pours out clear and deep brown – walnut – with a nice rich head. The aroma is very light, but is yeasty and reminds us of rising bread and nuts. The taste is of sweet malts and – true to the style – nicely spiced rye. It’s an extremely enjoyable and slightly spiced beer that isn’t overpowering, but is just complex enough. Because it’s not overpowering like some winter seasonals, this really is a great session beer. Alaina and I have been known to grab at least one growler of this beer from Cicero’s when one of our good friends comes in and visits in the winter times.

 

 

About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.

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The First Pour: Bell’s Porter

Posted: December 26, 2010 in Beer Menu

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. As this is a work in progress, I have decided to change the name of this series of blogs from “Just out the Keg” to “The First Pour”. This series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.

By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

ABV: 5.6%

Bitterness: Unknown

Availability: Year-round

Kalama-what? Our thoughts exactly.

This next beer is brewed by Bell’s Brewery which is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Try saying that town name ten times fast after having a few of their brews – instant entertainment! We believe that there’s very little wrong that Bell’s can do and they did not let us down with this one. Bell’s Porter is a rich, roasted beer that’s well-balanced and flavorful.

The beer is a deep, dark brown – almost black – with a light head that dissipates somewhat quickly off the pour. Your nose will rejoice with this beer and the aromas it offers. The Porter aroma is malty with hints of chocolate and coffee; not brewed coffee though, think of opening a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans and that’s the smell you’ll find. The beer also gives off a bread-like, yeast smell that is very appealing. A toasted coffee taste blends together with chocolate notes and the faintest hint of brown sugar. The brew leaves the tongue feeling a faint hint of hops and hop oil which balances nicely with the malts this beer offers. This Porter is lighter in body than many of its competitors, but we still think that two might be our limit in one sitting as it might start to feel too thick. We really enjoy this beer, but don’t just take our word for it – go try a pint yourself.

About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. “The First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.

By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

Availability: December

Alcohol: 11.5%

Bitterness: Unknown

Now, we know what you might be thinking, “Charleville Vineyards? I thought this was a beer blog!” You’re right, but let us explain. Charleville started as a winery, but in 2004, they dove into the craft beer scene and started their own microbrewery. In 2005, their IPA and Half-Wit Wheat won 1st and 3rd place respectively in the Lift for Life Microbrew Festival in Forest Park. In one short year they went from brewing their first beers to making a splash in the Missouri craft beer scene and they haven’t stopped since. Charleville recently started a craft series that introduces a new specialty beer each month to its fan. When we say recent we mean very recent, this next beer is their inaugural brew in the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we saw that one of the beers we were asked to review was called Whiskey Scented Santa, we were a little skeptical. We’re happy to report that we were pleasantly surprised. The beer pours dark, almost black, with a hint of red that peeks through. The head drops to a nice lace that lingers for the duration of the beer. The smell is almost all whiskey, but after a few smells, sweet malty qualities come through. After taking a sip, raisin notes are apparent, and the sweet maltiness that was on the aroma is also in the taste. Whiskey is the underlying taste and lingers after each sip. With this beer you know what you’re getting. The imperial qualities are there, but the whiskey is the star of this beer. At 11.5% ABV we recommend sticking to one, but if someone else is driving your sleigh home, indulge and have another.

 

 

About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.


Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. As this is a work in progress, I have decided to change the name of this series of blogs from “Just out the Keg” to “The First Pour”. This series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.

By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

ABV: 5.5%

Bitterness: 26.5 IBUs

Hops: Cluster, German Hallertau, Mittlefruh

Availability: November 1st (draft only)

Fact: Dessert is the greatest part of every meal. Okay, maybe I (Alaina) made that fact up, but I think a lot of people would agree with me. Don’t listen to what Mike says because he’s weird and doesn’t really like dessert. You know what I say to that? More for me!

The O’Fallon Cocoa Cream Stout can only be described as dessert in a glass. It has a delicious blend of chocolate and coffee, and is creamy too. Off the pour the beer is black, no light is getting through this brew! A tan, chocolate head sits on top and has decent retention. Off the smell, a perfect blend of coffee and chocolate – like a chocolate flavored coffee – greets you. The taste is creamy, malty, and chocolate-y. O’Fallon adds cocoa powder directly to the kettle while brewing and this creates a smooth chocolate flavor throughout. The beer leaves the tongue clean, but a slight coffee smell lingers in your nose after each sip. This beer is like drinking dessert. While it’s not too sweet or heavy, we both agree that one is the magic number to enjoy to really appreciate this beer. Because O’Fallon releases this on draft only, we suggest running to Cicero’s now to secure your pint.

Here is a wonderful video about the O’Fallon Brewery

 

 

About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.

The First Pour: Odell Isolation

Posted: December 19, 2010 in Beer Menu

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. “The First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.

 

By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

ABV: 6.0%

Bitterness: 29 IBUs

Availability: October – December

The days are getting shorter, the wind is picking up, and the Cardinals are done for the season. All signs that winter is around the corner and you’re about to be bombarded by heavy drinking and heavily flavored seasonal beers.

O’Dell Isolation Ale is a pleasant departure from many other seasonal craft beers currently on the market. The beer pours off the tap slightly hazy and amber in color with a thick rocky head. The aroma was something that captivated our attention throughout the duration of the beer tasting. Aroma hops are hinted at in the initial smell, but most prominent in the aroma were the biscuity malts. The malts aromas are sweet and buttery and reminded Mike of freshly baked cookies. The buttery malt flavor is the power punch when tasting this beer. While our description may make it seem like this beer may be overly malty or sweet, O’Dell does an truly excellent job of balancing the beer with bittering hops. The hops give this beer a very slight on the sip finish. Overall, this is a well balanced, well flavored, and not overpowering seasonal beer. It has a history of flying off the tap in Cicero’s – for good reason – so get a pint or growler while you can and toast to winter!

About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.

How ‘Bout Them Apples

Posted: December 16, 2010 in Beer School, Uncategorized

by Eric Griffith and Mimi Griffith

I know what you’re thinking…”Real men don’t drink cider!”  But you would be wrong.  In fact most men, including our founding fathers, drank plenty of cider during the American Revolution and beyond.  These men were not hiding in their homes sipping the tart stuff; they were out in masses at pubs across the colonies imbibing together while plotting to break free from the Brits.  Benjamin Franklin is credited with the quote, “He that drinks his cyder alone, let him catch his horse alone.”  So hide no more you cider drinkers as tonight is your night.

Dictonary.com defines cider as: the juice pressed from apples used for drinking, either before fermentation (sweet cider) or after fermentation (hard cider), or for making applejack, vinegar, etc.  Lucky for us, we get to try the “hard cider” variety tonight.

Cider School

Derek Bean, Area Sales Manger for Crispin Cider Company, turned beer school into cider school for the evening, and brought four different samples to help us understand the finer points of these apple-based libations.   Launched in 2008 out of Minnesota, Crispin Cider Company is focused on pure apple juice and does not add extra sugar or colorants to their ciders.  The result is a cider that is much more natural in taste and not as sugary sweet as other commercial ciders.  In 2010 Crispin acquired the award-winning Fox Barrel Cider Company of California.  Tonight Derek presented two ciders from each company and suggested to serve the cider over ice and drink with an open mind.

While cider is often presented in six-packs like beer, it is actually more closely related to wine because of the lack of malts and hops and the yeast strains it shares with white wine.  So gather a few of your wine-loving friends and compromise with a round of ciders.

Crispin Original

He says- The Original is clear in appearance with a faint yellow color.  The smell is apple, but is not overwhelming.  Good carbonation creates a very crisp finish.  The flavor is most intense on the front and middle part of the tongue.  The apple is extremely natural and I almost taste the core and seeds in the cider.

She says- I didn’t know what to expect from ciders.  I’ve maybe tasted one or two along the way but that’s it.  The original is very light in color and clear.  It coated the glass in bubbles.  Right away I got a sweet white wine scent.  It reminded me of my early drinking college days when we would go to a Missouri vineyard and would be offered one sweet wine after the other.  My first taste was intensely sweet and tart, and to be honest it made me squint.

Crispin Brut

He says- The Brut appears the same in the glass as the original with faint yellow  color and plenty of bubbles.  This cider feels much dryer in the mouth and is not as sweet as the original.  Less cloying than the original and the experience is more about the mouthfeel than the taste.  If you like the dryness of champagne then you should enjoy this cider.  I liked it better than the Original.

She says- Also light in color, this one was very dry on the tongue much like a champagne.  I easily picked up on the white wine notes.  We learned that white wine yeast is used in the production of the Crispin ciders and they really do remind you of a fruity white wine.  Now I will say that not long after college my palette changed and when it comes to wines I stopped drinking white and moved to only reds.  It has probably been at least twenty years since I’ve had even half a glass of a white wine.  If you’re a white wine lover, then you’ll probably really like this cider on a hot summer day.

Fox Barrel Black Currant

He says- The color reminded me of watermelon juice.  Not as bubbly as the  Crispin, but still carbonated.  Not much to offer on the nose, but some berry aroma.  The cider was more like juice because of the lower carbonation.  The berry flavor was muted in the tasted, but strong enough to cut down the tartness level.  This reminds of the apple juice I drank as a kid.  Goes down very easy and at 5.5% could get you in trouble.

She says- After the first two samples being so similar to white wine, and me not being a white wine lover I was even more skeptical when they poured this one!  It was rose in color and it reminded me of a bad experience with a bottle of Lancers many years ago.   This one was a little bit better to me but still very tart.

Fox Barrel Pear Cider 

He says- Darker in color than the Crispin samples, but nice and bubbly.  This has a nice dry mouthfeel, but still flavorful.  Pear can be a hard flavor to identify for me so I am not sure I would notice the pear flavor without the label information, but I do like the taste and the fact that it is a little mellower makes it more drinkable.

She says- This one was my favorite of the night!  To me, it was not nearly as “sharp” as the previous ones.  I love a good juicy ripe pear in the fall and the pear flavor in this was solid.  I could see drinking this poolside in the summer.  It was refreshing without the overt tartness.  It felt very clean and light.

Mimi’s Last Sip

I’d be interested in trying the Fox Barrel Mulling Cider Derek mentioned.  Also I couldn’t help wondering if any of these ciders could be used in cooking.  Perhaps you could do something with the Brut in a white fish dish, or the Black Currant in a pork tenderloin dish.  When I explored the Crispin web site they do have a list of recipes using their ciders so I wasn’t far off.  I could also see them being paired with artisanal cheeses on a crisp fall day.   It was fun to explore a facet of adult beverages I wasn’t familiar with.

Here is a great video about Crispin founder Joe Heron and his approach to marketing

Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!


The First Pour: Anchor Christmas Ale

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Beer Menu

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. As this is a work in progress, I have decided to change the name of this series of blogs from “Just out the Keg” to “The First Pour”. This series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.

Anchor Brewery Before the Earthquake and Fire on April 18, 1906

 

Anchor Brewey after the Earthquake and Fire on April 18, 1906

 

Anchor Brewery today

 

By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

 

ABV: 5.5%
Bitterness: Varies yearly
Availability: November – January

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse… Oh, sorry about that, we got a little carried away in the holiday spirit. It’s easy to get lost in the holidays when drinking this next beer the – 2010 Anchor Christmas Ale, or as Anchor calls it, “Our Special Ale”. Anchor has a very unique creative process when it comes to their annual Christmas Ale. Each year the recipe changes and is considered extremely top secret. Pay close attention though, because the recipe isn’t the only thing that changes from year to year. The label and tap handle change too and feature a different tree and design each year. This tradition has been going on since 1975 and is one we can get behind. 

The beer pours as a dark, creamy beer that allows just the faintest of hint of light to come through. A great two-finger head accompanies the brew and slowly thins out to a lacing that lasts until the last drop is consumed. There’s no denying that malts will be found here! The smell is pure holidays. Close your eyes and think of all the amazing smells that comes with the holidays – molasses, orange peel, spice, cinnamon, clove – these smells are all found here. Now take a sip. Here you’ll find a faint hint of banana along with clove and cinnamon spices that linger a little after each sip. This is another beer that you can’t judge by its pour. Just by looking at it you’d think it’d be a thick, heavy beer, but it’s just the opposite. Anchor Christmas Ale is light and refreshing and would be a great addition to any holiday party. We know we’ll be returning to Cicero’s over and over throughout the holiday season to enjoy more of this beer. Happy Holidays!

 

 

About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.