8/10/18: Rhinegeist's Cheetah

5:25 PM

I feel like people have been talking about craft lager for a while, saying how it'll be "the next big thing." This is a phrase I've been reading for the last year or so. And, you know what? I'm down for it. I'd much rather each brewery have 50 different lagers than 50 different IPAs. Excuse my hyperbole, but you know exactly what I mean. I'm of the opinion that it's more challenging to make a bad lager than it is to gnarly IPA.

If you've hung out around the blog here long enough you know that I'm no stranger to craft lagers (see lagers here and pilsners here). While it's never been my favorite style, it's one that I thoroughly enjoy and, over the years, I've learned what makes a lager seem great to me. And unbeknownst to you but beknownst to me, I love cheetahs. They're my favorite animals and have held that spot ever since Beast Wars was on TV. So, when Rhinegeist announced that their craft lager, Cheetah, was being canned for year-round availability, I just about lost it.

Rhinegeist makes its home in Cincinnati's old Moerlein bottling plant. Moerlein was the city's premier brewery (which is saying a lot, considering the place was largely a city of German immigrants) until Prohibition hit. The company couldn't stay afloat and folded, leaving its former bottling plant vacant. After moving to Cincy in 2007, Bob Bonder dreamed of brewing beer. He gathered a team and bought the old bottling plant. In 2013 that team, calling themselves Rhinegeist, brewed their first batch of beer in their new home. They've been there ever since, crafting beers that are at turns hoppy, sour, and crisp.

Cheetah (to see its bit on Rhinegeist's website, hit that link and click the picture of the golden Cheetah tap handle) doesn't have a full fancy writeup from the brewery. Sure, it has a description but that doesn't tell readers much of what they can expect, only that the lager's crisp, clean, and rings in at 4.8% ABV. What I can add here is that the beer's only available in a 12-pack, but, since each pack is less than $16, the lager's priced to move.

The nose on this isn't anything special. It's not bad (like, it's nothing like what a skunky gas station lager would smell like), but that aren't any special notes pulling me in. Which is definitely welcome because, well, it's a lager. It's clean, with slight rice and toast aromas. It's intended tameness does nothing for Purrl. She gave it one whiff before turning away.

The flavor front is where Cheetah shines. Earlier, I said that I know what I like in a lager. It's corn. I like my lagers to have the taste of corn in them. And Cheetah has that. A quick swig yields immediate cleanliness, but that soon gives way to that corn flavor I seek in lagers. It finishes with a subtle sweetness that lingers on the tongue before a slight corn flavor creeps back into the picture. Where does the corn come from? I don't know. It isn't listed as an ingredient. All I know is that I'm damn happy it's here.

This is a crushable beer. It has a mild carbonation that pulls you in for the next sip. There's a small wash of bubbles in each swig that quickly dissipate and leave an extremely drinkable beer.

Normally, this is where I'd talk about a memory that I associate with the beer I'm drinking. Today, given the beer at hand, I'm doing something different. Have you ever heard of the Cheetah Conservation Fund? It's a leading force in, you guessed it, cheetah conservation. The people behind it are strong advocates for the world's fastest cat. They care for Cheetahs that cannot care for themselves, and their research is actively helping to extend the timespan the species will be around. It's my dearest hope that their efforts will bring cheetahs out of their endangerment.

Through the end of August, all donations to the fund will be doubled (up to $225,000) thanks to some fantastic people who are matching donations. Seriously, every little bit helps. This isn't for me--I get nothing from any donation you may make. This is solely to help one of the world's coolest species to survive as long as it can. If you're interested in making a donation, please see this page.

Now, let's get back to Rhinegeist's Cheetah. To put it simply, I love this beer. I was going to love it anyway, given its name alone. But when you throw in the corny flavor, I'm sold. Will this lager be for everyone? Hopefully! If you buy a pack and don't like it, you'll be out minimal cash and will have 11 cans of beer to hand to friends when they visit. But, I'm willing to bet you'll dig Cheetah. I'm unabashadley giving it a 10/10 rating. Sure, I'm biased. But, stepping away from that for a moment, the beer is damn good.

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