You probably don’t think of craft beer when you think of Cincinnati, but that may change thanks to Mt. Carmel Brewing Company. In business since 2005, MCBC is a family operation based out of a farmhouse on Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road. Brewers Mike and Kathleen Dewey endeavor to “provide exceptional craft beers to the greater Cincinnati area”. They’re clearly doing a good job - their average beer rating on Beer Advocate is a B+ (an astronomically high score considering the notorious snobbery of the voting pool!). I decided to start with their Amber Ale for a couple of reasons. First of all, I enjoy ambers. And secondly, I figured this sort of beer would really test Mt. Carmel’s brewing chops. After all, amber ales aren’t considered the most “interesting” style of beer. They’re not hop bombs. They don’t really “challenge” the palate. They’re simple beers, and they can taste pretty generic if they’re not done well. It takes subtlety and craftsmanship to deliver an amber that rises above the pack. When I find brewers that can make smooth, tasty ambers, I know they can make any kind of beer. And by all means, Mt. Carmel has come through with a truly outstanding amber ale! It’s at least as good as a Fat Tire - if not better. It’s balanced and wicked smooth, yet at the same time far hoppier than your run-of-the-mill amber. Roasty and caramel malts hit you first, giving way to buttery, bready deliciousness a la an English bitter. And then the finish is all piny and citrus hops, the bitterness boldly cutting through those sweet malts you notice upfront. The hops are by no means overdone (this is, after all, an “easy drinking” style of brew!). But compared to a “typical” amber ale, it’s got quite a bite to it. All in all, this is an “A” grade amber that I could drink every day, all year. I’ve been fully converted. The next time I’m in Ohio, I’m going hard after the Mt. Carmel beers! I can’t wait to try their nut brown ale and stout!