An Interview with Josh Wilson: Fifty West’s Original Haze Boi

Written by Tyler Hooley

It seems like the “Is This Really My Job? Moments” keep coming in full force these last few months. And the “assignment” that came with writing this blog post was no exception. Recently, I was able to sit down with the lead brewer at 50 West Brewing Company, Josh Wilson, to talk beer.

Josh has been brewing with 50 West for the last 3 years. Originally working in their distribution department, he set out to learn about brewing and logged over 250 volunteer hours brewing Fifty West beers. Now Josh works as lead brewer for Fifty West’s Production Works.

After talking brew day specifics, beer sales, and general shit shootin’, we turned our conversation to beer styles. Although Josh’s favorite style to drink is barleywine, (Good taste.  #BIL.), he loves to brew witbiers. Doom Pedal, over the years, has become his baby. Named as a tribute to their late employee, Alan White, who hated Belgian beers, Doom Pedal got its name from Doom Metal. And the brewery worked tirelessly perfecting the beer, making every iteration just a tad different than the previous batch, tweaking until the beer was exactly where they wanted it to be.

So what exactly is a witbier? Also known as white ale, the witbier was the dominant style back in 18th century Brussels. Wits must contain 50% wheat and spices – traditionally coriander and orange peel. Witbiers were the power house of their time and drastically different in look and taste from the other styles of beer available. The use of wheat and sometimes oats gave it a hazy appearance while every other beer was clear, I suppose you could call it the original hazy brew. In the 1960s, however, the beer almost met its demise. The pale lager came onto the scene and crushed the witbier in popularity. Along came Pierre Celis, the savior of the witbier. A loyal drinker of the style, Celis opened his own brewery, De Kluis (The Cloister) and used it as an opportunity to revitalize the style. He then expanded his operations by opening Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas in 1992.

With the resurgence in popularity of witbiers, we saw the birth of many great beers including Allagash White and Avery’s White Rascal entering the scene. And now we have one of the best witbiers right here in Cincinnati. Josh’s best compliment came from Adam Avery himself who said he “loved Doom Pedal”. Now Doom Pedal serves as Josh’s personal playground. He’s currently working on a number of variations, including a wine barrel aged sour Doom Pedal that may or may not have soured off one of his beard hairs. Looks like a little bit of the brewer really does make it into every batch.

Spring Into Day Drinking

by Haley Manker

It’s no surprise: I’m probably as much of a morning person as a morning person can get. It will also come as no surprise that I’m a total brunch fanatic. This typically means that this time of year I get way too excited when daylight saving time rolls around. An extra hour of daylight means an extra hour of activities, and day drinking happens to be one of my favorite activities. Of course I’m going to miss all the long winter nights filled with robust, rich, and satisfying stouts, but it’s time for a change.

At Cappy’s, no matter your tastes, you’re going to find something you enjoy in our aisles. And with our staff’’s diverse tastes and preferences in alcohol, we know you’ll walk away happy, whether you’re looking for liquor, wine, beer, or mead. We love making suggestions to customers. So, in the spirit of daylight saving time and day drinking in general, here are just some of the things  we’re sippin’ on when day drinking calls:

  • Rekordelig Cider – Mixed Berry – 4.5%
  • Cigar City Brewing – Guayabera – Citra Pale Ale – 5.5%
  • Coronado Brewing – Weekend Vibes – IPA -6.8 %
  • Clown Shoes – Mangö – American Kolsch – 5.5%
  • Urban Artifact – Squeezebox – Strawberry Midwest Fruit Tart Ale -8.6 %
  • Farnese Fantini Swarovski Gran Cuvee Spumante Rose – Sparkling Rose – 12% Alc Vol
  • Karrikin Shuga Rum – 40% Alc Vol | 80 Proof
  • Watershed Guild Gin – 44% Alc Vol

I’m going to go ahead and share one of my personal favorite cocktails for day drinking. It’s floral, it’s fruity, it’s balanced, and it’s boozy. The Gilded Squeezebox is going to be a staple in my home and is the perfect way to spring into daylight saving on the right foot:

  • 1 ½ fl oz of Watershed Guild Gin
  • ½ fl oz of lime juice
  • 8 fl oz of Urban Artifact Squeezebox

Combine the gin and lime juice in a shaker with ice, shake for thirty seconds, strain into a chilled pint glass filled with the beer.

You’ve got another hour of daylight, which means another hour of sun to head to Cappy’s and grab some libations to enjoy on our patio or in the comfort of your home.

No Invitation: A Fan-Girl Reflection on our Next Collaboration Beer with Platform Beer Co.

By Kira Hinkle

I’ve been a die-hard Cappy’s customer and craft beer drinker for years, but I’m a total rookie in the beer industry and find myself repeatedly having what I refer to as “pinch-me moments” where I ask myself, “Is this REALLY my job?!”

These happen a couple times a week, but I have to say they KEEP happening, again and again, whenever Platform enters the picture.

I will admit, this is an Ohio brewery that I didn’t know much about prior to working at Cappy’s. I had visited their brewpub on a trip to Cleveland a couple years ago when they first opened, but I hadn’t tried many of their beers since then and it wasn’t a brewery that I encountered much in Cincinnati.

Week one of my Cappy’s gig – Ben told me we had a meeting scheduled and it was one we were going to “take in the back room.” I’d been told that back room meetings aren’t typically a good thing and so I approached it with hesitation. Was this when Ben the Tyrant would reveal himself? Nope. Instead I had what was the first of many, many pinch-me moments specific to Platform. Ben pitched the concept of an ongoing series of collaboration beers – released in can and draft – exclusive to Cappy’s and a handful of other key accounts in Ohio. We would take the wishes, requests and suggestions that our customers often feed us across the counter as they sip pints in our store, and the guys at Platform would turn them into a reality. We left the meeting with plans for a trip to Cleveland to meet the owners and finalize a plan.

Pinch me. Is this really my job?!

Flash forward a couple months and we’re standing on the roof of Platform’s Phunkenship at sunset on a warm September day looking over the city of Cleveland. No, I’m not romanticizing this, it really was at sunset and it really was as badass as it sounds. Pinch me. Is this really my job?! Paul Benner, co-owner of Platform, had just taken us through the facility that was still under construction, walking through empty spaces, talking about the design plans for a tasting room focused on sours, and making statements like, “Imagine this as a whole wall of barrels.”

Later that month, Colin Warren, Cincinnati’s director of sales for Platform, and I exchanged about twenty emails in a single day attempting to find a “Ben-ism” that wasn’t already claimed by another brewery. At the end of the day we landed on “Right On, Baby!” and thus our first collaboration beer with Platform was finalized.

Flash forward to the day before Thanksgiving and Justin, our then-delivery guy and current Platform rep, wheels in a stack of shiny new cans displaying our logo. Brian and I quickly rush to crack a can in the fifteen minutes before our doors open and can sales begin. We take a sip.

Pinch me. Is this really my job?!  

Two weeks ago I found myself back in Cleveland, this time with Nick, Tyler, and Jeff. Our motley crew actually showed up ON TIME, (yes, really) for a 6:30 a.m. brew session. This time we were up for Brew Day for Platform’s next Cappy’s collaboration: No Invitation. Brewed with citra cryo, mosaic cryo, and simcoe cryo, we wanted this one to be (in Ben’s words), “Dank, dank, dank, dank, dank! I mean, you know what I mean?!” The super juicy, super bitter, and super hoppy IPA was inspired by our regulars, many of whom overwhelmingly gravitate towards IPAs.

Paul took time out of his day to show us around the production facility and took as back to Phunkenship. The empty rooms are no longer empty. The tap room is coming together (and is seriously beautiful, people. When it opens, GO). The storage rooms are filling up with beers aging and waiting for their moment to be pulled, blended and bottled. And this time Paul pulled some nails and let us try beers directly from the barrels. As Paul and Jeff huddled around a barrel collecting a nut brown aged in a bourbon barrel, Nick looked over at me, wide-eyed, and remarked, “Is this really my job?!”  

So, when’s my next pinch-me moment coming from Platform? I’m guessing March 21. We’re tapping our first keg of No Invitation, releasing cans of the beer, and pouring additional brews from our friends in Cleveland. We’re also taking the opportunity for you to make some suggestions about what should come next from our collaboration series and one lucky pint night attendee will have the opportunity to win a trip to Cleveland to brew the next one in our series.

Consider it our way of spreading that pinch-me feeling to the people who make it all possible: You.