Christian Moerlein’s winter offering pours an attractive, deep, reddish amber color. On the nose, expect aromas of caramel malts with a toasty, somewhat bready note, overlaid by a rather spicy hop profile and touches of holiday spice akin to nutmeg and cinnamon. In the flavor department, we found Christkindl decidedly malt-centric, with notes of caramel, toasted bread, nuttiness, and mild toffee. Chocolate malt contributes a nice cocoa character, while a wispy hint of licorice and a bit of dark fruitiness comes through a bit with warmth. Though it’s a malt-oriented brew, hop bitterness is noticeable and, along with the spiciness and a touch of alcohol, provides a good counterpoint to the beer’s moderate sweetness. Expect this brew to glide across your palate with a smooth creaminess as it finishes with a bit of lingering hop spice and a nutty hint. Prost!
There’s a rich brewing tradition in and around Cincinnati, OH. In fact, at its peak Cincinnati was home to at least 36 operational breweries, with many not surprisingly located in the German “Over-the-Rhine” area. One of the individuals who was key to establishing the city as a brewing hub was Christian Moerlein, a blacksmith and apprentice brewer from Bavaria who came to America in 1841 and settled in Cincinnati a year later. In 1853 he founded the Christian Moerlein (pronounced like “more-line”) Brewery, which grew to become the most well-known in the city and was ranked among the top ten nationally. Moerlein’s beer was sold across the U.S., and, quite remarkably for the era, internationally as well – which made them unique among Cincinnati’s breweries. Though the brewery carried on after Christian Moerlein’s passing in 1897, Prohibition in 1920 caused the brewery to close its doors.
Luckily, though, our story continues. Hudepohl, another of Cincinnati’s famous German-brewed beer companies (dating back to 1885), brought the Christian Moerlein brand back from extinction and reintroduced their beer as a high-end offering in 1981. This put the Moerlein brand on the forefront of the U.S. beer renaissance which was just beginning to take shape. Eventually, however, the Hudepohl Brewing Company fell on hard times and was purchased by the Snyder International Brewing Group who kept the Moerlein brand going, although just barely. Production of these Ohio-centric beers shifted to Maryland until 2004, when Cincinnati area resident and beer business veteran Greg Hardman bought the Moerlein name and beer recipes in order to rebuild the brand back home in Cincinnati – which he has done with great success in the past few years we might add.
For more information about the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company and the new ‘Moerlein Lager House’ restaurant and brewery coming to Riverfront Park in 2012, check out www.christianmoerlein.com.
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