There’s a little brewery up in Cincinnati, Ohio – Rivertown – being run by a gent named Randy Schlitz. Back in 2008 he teamed up with a local – and fellow home brewer – who had just been one of the winners of the Sam Adams Longshot Homebrew competition. Schlitz and Jason Roeper set out to revitalize the beer culture of The Queen City at a time when money was tough.
With a bank loan finally secured, the two envisioned a small operation that bought local product and sold back to the community. Their choice for brewery location – Lockland, just a bit north outside the city – was even decided by the water available via the Little Miami aquifer. Ohio all the way.
Unfortunately, the two make really good beer, so demand grew. Recently they added an eighth fermenter tank to keep up with the requests throughout their distribution footprint that includes Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Kansas and Florida.
Their adherence to representing local history, culture and landmarks as well as the ingredients going into the beer remind me of Pensacola Bay Brewery and NOLA Brewing in New Orleans. One of Rivertown’s beers in particular grabbed my attention due to equal parts regional referencing and amazing taste.
Roebling Porter gets its name from the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge connecting Ohio to Kentucky. When I first saw this beer, I thought why name a beer after a bridge? Then it dawned on me. Rivertown is utilizing a landmark dear to them to act as a metaphor for the beer style.
Porter as a style was originally thought to be a bartender’s blend of three different beers. What actually happened was England’s taste for more robust brown ale led to breweries aging their beer prior to release rather than let pubs do it themselves. The most common job of the time was that of the porter. These hard-working hand-haulers demanded a hearty drink for their daily effort. As porter beer began to show up everywhere, the upper gentry began to discover its merits and they, too, helped establish its presence.
Roebling Bridge is the perfect inspiration for a beer that spanned the gap between the classes. Name aside, how does it taste?
In a word, fantastic. Almost black with mahogany highlights around the edges, Roebling provides about an inch of tan head before settling into a cap. Vanilla and espresso are added to the beer and the whole batch gets cranked up to a respectable 7.8% abv. Cocoa, coffee, brown sugar, vanilla and dark fruit scents waft up dreamily from the glass. Flavors follow the scents with a little touch of walnut and cream added to the mix. Carbonation is minimal allowing a smooth, almost dangerous delivery.
Cross over from boring beer and come to Rivertown’s shores.