Rivertown Brewing Co. is getting ready to release a new, unusual brew. The Cincinnati brewery collaborated with Smooth Ambler Spirits from West Virginia and Rookwood Bar & Restaurant in Cincinnati to produce Triumvirate, a malt beverage that Rivertown brewer Jason Roeper says tastes like a gin and tonic.
Roeper got the idea after having a Smooth Ambler gin at Rookwood. That gin had been aged for three years in bourbon barrels.
“I said, ‘Man if I could make a beer like this, I would be into money,’ ” Roeper recalled saying.
Then the lightbulb went off above his head. Why couldn’t he?
Smooth Ambler agreed to provide Rivertown with gin barrels, which previously had been used for bourbon. And the brewery created a sour ale with no hops, instead using juniper and lime peel. It was aged with Rivertown's “house funk” yeast for about a year, and then more fresh lime and juniper were added. Rookwood contributed tonic water.
“It tastes like a gin and tonic,” Roeper said. “It tastes like nothing I’ve ever had. That’s what’s so neat. When you talk in terms of beer, most people say that it had a bourbon characteristic but the malt undertones or the hops ... This tastes like liquor. I have nothing to compare it to. It’s kind of like a brand new category a brand new style if you will.”
Triumvirate will be released in Ohio only starting in mid-October. It will be sold in 22-ounce bottles and retail for $13.99 percent. The malt beverage is 6.5 percent alcohol by volume.
In other Rivertown news, Roeper said the brewery is focusing on barrel aged brews and will start to keg sour beers next year.
“We are really investing heavy in our barrel program,” he said. “Next year we’ll start kegging sours. We are looking at making them more accessible. We see sour beers as the next IPA craze.
“The problem is right now is that they are still terribly expensive. Once breweries can start manufacturing these things on a larger scale, i.e. getting them in on draft, you’re going to start seeing some of that cost come down. Bottling and labels and labor to put them in the bottle, it’s terribly expensive. So if you can offset some of that by selling a draft version, you’re going to start to see some of that cost come down. The second that happens, you can start seeing a 10-ounce snifter of lambic or sour in that $5, $6 range, as opposed to now $10.”