First, a full disclaimer: I am in no way connected to the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. I have never visited their famous Lager House, located in downtown Cincinnati. My only connection to their operation was a couple of tweets I sent to the owner, Greg Hardman, which I received no response. Which is for the best, because my impressions of their beer portfolio is based solely on trying them, which was always the path of discovery, 20 or more years ago. Such is the time honored path of the beer seeker.
The revival of the Moerlein brand coincided with the revival of local beloved brands: Hudy 14-K, Hudy Delight, Burger, and Schoenling Little Kings. This revival included going back to their original recipe formula, before those local breweries ceased operation. From there new beers were added: Moerlein OTR ale, Emancipation Bock, Sangerfest maibock, Christkindl christmas bier, and recently Exposition Vienna Amber Lager.
All of these are flavorful examples of a brewing company seeking to restore Cincinnati’s brewing heritage (Fifth & Vine Oktoberfest). But the line of beer I enjoy the most, is the Hudepohl pure beer series, that is ofcourse, beers made only with the four classic ingredients: malts, hops, yeast and water.
The first to arrive a couple of years back was Hudepohl Amber Lager, a no-nonsense flagship brand, reasonably priced and quite good. Then came the seasonal offerings, a Hudepohl Festive Bock for spring. Then, as of this year, a summertime Hudepohl Summer Pils. A Hudepohl Oktoberfest Bier for the fall. And now for winter, what is proably their finest offering, Hudepohl Classic Porter.
This porter is deeply rooted in the American brewing experience. A bottom fermented (or lager), it takes its inspiration not from the famous Baltic porters such as Okocim, but rather from the Pennsylvania porters associated with the roots of United States beer making. Yuengling Porter is a good example. But a reinheitsgebot pure recipe was a difficult luxury to achieve in those times. New World inventiveness lead to pumpkin ale and many other adjuncts such as birch and spruce, along with assorted spices. But the love of porter goes back to the colonies. So it wasn’t all that surprising that porter continued into a bottom fermented format, using both corn and rice.
But here is where Hudepohl Classic Porter proves to be truly remarkable. This pure beer recipe brings together the friendly drinkable style in a delicious malty showcase. A lager for the season to be sure. In fact, of the many winter seasonal offerings, this one is near the top of the list. Perhaps I was seeking a winter lager without any spices added. This certainly fulfils that. What a remarkably great local beer.