Cincinnati, Ohio will always hold a special place in my heart. I lived and worked there for a few years, and I had some truly great times in the city. It was a time of friendship and of loneliness; of coming of age and of immaturity; of academia and of foolishness; it was the sort of years that all young men dream about, and I was fortunate enough to live them. So I am particularly interested in Cincinnati’s microbreweries, and craft beer scene, since when I was there, there was no such scene.
Triple Digit Brewery uses the facilities of Listermann Brewing (another Cincinnati microbrewery) to brew its beer. It is all but impossible to find the year of start-up and the founder’s name of Triple Digit online, but since Listermann opened in 2008, Triple Digit logically must be newer than that. And I was able to act like a private detective to find a small picture of a flyer on the company’s website dated 2013, with text underneath implying that the brewery had been founded one year prior to that, thus 2012. But I digress. I do not believe that it should be so difficult to find such basic information about a company on its website.
Triple Digit Brewery enjoys brewing craft beer that is representative of a particular beer style, but with a special emphasis on quality ingredients and full flavors — so far, so good. And I am a big fan of Cincinnati, so I am all for any brewery that tries its best to make some great Queen City brews. I chose Triple Digit Chickow (ABV 10%) for review. Again, trying to find the origin of the name of this beer is like trying to find a good burger at McDonald’s, so I can offer no information there. But what about the beer itself? It is described (by Triple Digit) as a hazelnut double brown ale. The term double brown refers to the dark brown malted grains used to brew the beer, and the term ale of course means that the beer is brewed with top-fermenting yeast, and is warm-fermented. As for the hazelnut part, the company is frustratingly secretive about it. I believe the company needs to improve its website information. However, knowing beer as I do, I am fairly sure that this means that Triple Digit uses real hazelnuts in the brewing process. The ale is brewed with 2 row malt, wheat, honey malt, and chocolate malt; brewers gold hops; and American ale yeast (at least the website provided this information!). So, how now, brown ale?
Bottle: The bottle is a standard 22 ounce bottle with brown glass. The label is a royal purple with a yellow border and white lettering. The label looks professional and smooth.
Pour: The color is a reddish brown, with undertones of elegant mahogany. In light, there is some ruby garnet color. The light-beige head is one finger, which dissipates quickly and leaves moderate, wispy lacing. It is a very beautiful ale to look at.
Aroma: The main bouquet is of roasted grains, but there is a nutty, hazelnut element to it that is very present. Because the nuttiness is from hazelnuts and not from, say, peanuts, there is a mild sweetness to it that is pleasant. I could not detect much in the way of hoppy bitterness — maybe 5%.
Flavor: As an intensely-brown ale, there is a present nuttiness that exists even outside of the hazelnut element. The malt is nutty and crisp, with some sweetness, but not too much. The hazelnuts themselves are more evident on the finish, but surprisingly, it is their cottony, earthy qualities that come through, not their sweetness only. From the finish to the aftertaste there is a very mild bitterness. The flavor is nice, but it lacks the depth and broadness of some brown ales that I have enjoyed.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with medium carbonation.
Structure: The beer is only moderately structured, with reasonable balance. The structure is acceptable, but not world-class.
Food Pairing: This ale would do well with Gouda cheese or mild bleu cheese. It would also suit a rare-grilled steak, or winter squash.
Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: