I’ve said it on this blog countless times, that craft beer is about a lot more than what you put in your glass. I don’t know the ins and outs of every hop variety, I still think yeast is magic, and for the life of me can’t understand decoction in the same way that I think everyone around me does. But I know what makes beer special.
It’s about the people.
Big Cis is one of the most rewarding things that I get to be a part of every year – not just because of how much fun the event is each year – but because of what it stands for.
Who, or What Is Big Cis?
I know that not all of you listen to Cincy Brewcast (Though, you should be… you like Cincinnati beer, right?) and so not all of you might know about Mike.
Truth be told – I don’t even know if I would have ever started podcasting if I hadn’t met Mike Cisneros. We ran into each other sitting at the tasting bar at Mt. Carmel one night. We were deep in a conversation about how quickly the local beer scene was growing, and some of the fun places that we had been to, or had heard about that were coming, when I believe Andy Clawson (now at Paradise) managed to blow my cover telling mike about this blog. He insisted we exchange information – and a friendship was formed at that very moment… anyone who ever met him can understand his charm.
It was less than a week later when an email dropped in my inbox from Mike outlining his idea for Cincy Brewcast. It wasn’t just a podcast – it was ‘the bottle share on the air’! It gave you a chance to ‘put your ear where your beer is’! Cincy Brewcast was going to be “The Voice of Cincy Craft”. It was brilliant, well planned out and captured something that was right in his wheelhouse… and mine. Together with Tina Cisneros and then brewer at Mt Carmel, Chris Kambouris – we launched in March of 2015.
Mike Cisneros was Big Cis. He was one of the nicest, most welcoming, generous, and passionate people that I’ve ever met. He was a good dude. He personified what it means to “Be Gnarly” in all of the best ways.
Mike passed away in late 2016. And every winter since I have gotten together with a group of local breweries, some of his close friends in this community to brew a beer that honors is memory… that beer is also Big Cis.
His favorite style was Czech Pilsner, so that’s what we brew. Super traditional, cold, fizzy… that’s what he loved. But to really be worthy of being ‘Big Cis’ it has to stand for something too. It can’t just be a beer.
I’ve told you over and over that craft beer isn’t just about liquid in a glass. It was one of the things that I talked to Mike about a lot when it came to the direction of the show, and the blog. The understanding that it was about something much bigger than us, or any one brewery alone – craft beer is about community. Of course, that same idea shapes how we honor him each memory with his beer.
This year, Alexandria, Braxton, Darkness, Municipal Brew Works, Mario Pastura and Don Marsh got together to brew up this year’s batch of Big Cis. Alexandria Brewing Company hosted this years brew – and the tapping is taking place on 12/15 at 6pm.
Every time the Big Cis party is thrown, and the beer is tapped – we choose a couple of charities that get the proceeds, not just from the beer – but from the raffles and silent auctions that go along with it. (This year’s benefactors are Wounded Warrior Project and The California Wildfire Relief) – I record a live episode of the brewcast – we gather… drink heavily… and remember the big guy exactly how he would’ve wanted us to.
I hope that even if you didn’t know Mike you can come to the event and use it as a chance to grab a beer, and take a moment to appreciate all that this community is at it’s very core. We meet strangers who become our friends. We help people we’ve never met. We watch small businesses become centerpieces of their communities.
We drink a beer that would have made Mike smile, and laugh that big, contagious laugh that if you knew him you won’t ever forget.
Forever Mike’s Friend – The Gnarly Gnome