Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Recap of the Midwest Brewers Brawl

You were probably not aware of this in advance, but back in July I served as a beer judge at the Northwest Indiana Leaders' Midwest Brewers Brawl.  I did an entire writeup on it that you should check out.   Following the event I've gained additional respect for beer judges.  It takes a special palate, or special stamina, to sample beer after beer of the same variety and to still be able to identify distinguishable flavors.  I would serve as a beer judge again but I much prefer the reviewing process. Reviewers get more opportunity to focus their thoughts, and, hey, a full beer as a data sample.  To me that seems like the better deal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chicago Craft Beer Week 2014

Greetings, beer advocates.   Here's a new post regarding Chicago Craft Beer Week, which is nearly upon us and looming large, like a gigantic hop monster that's ready to stuff us in its maw. Or maybe it's comparable to something a little less threatening.  But you get the idea: it's nearly here and will be great.   Stay tuned for updates on rare and outstanding tappings around town.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Half Acre Beer Co. Heyoka IPA - An Everyday West Coast IPA

Here is an entry I recently posted on Illinois' Half Acre Brewing Company's Heyoka IPA, in which I also ruminate on how hoppy beers have gotten out of control, sending prices to stratospheric levels.   Enjoy.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Founders KBS Tapping at Sheffield's

Greetings, folks.  It's your friendly beer writer, here to inform you that, as you will see in my linked post, Sheffield's, that bastion of great beer - and growers of a tree - is tapping 2013 and 2014 vintages of Founders KBS tomorrow night.  They'll also have 2-year-aged Founders Imperial Stout, itself a highly remarkable treat that's grossly underrated (it gets a 97 at BA but never any buzz).   Hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Balast Point - Sculpin IPA, Shauns take

We finally have Ballast Point up here now and picked up a Sculpin on Mark's review. It's summer and sunshine is the order of the day up here so I have been looking for an IPA that's refreshing enough for a summer brew. Sculpin delivers in spades.

It starts with a lovely fragrant pine nose. It lets you know up front this is an IPA and not to be confused with something else.

It pours a clear golden carmel color with a fine white head that recedes to a small halo.

It has a piney robust hop flavor with a warmth that settles in on the back of your throat. The hop aftertaste lingers on the sides of your tongue and just keeps going. It doesn't suck the moisture out of your mouth or hit you with so much carmel and alcohol that it puts you out. This is a great sessionable IPA that refreshes on a hot sunny day but still give you a sophisticated IPA punch. I love that this beer has struck a great balance of hop punch, light body, and refreshing mouthfeel. Nicely done Ballast Point!

Pros: Great hop bite with a lovely lingering aftertaste.

Cons: at 7% ABV it can be a little misleading in it's drinkability.

Verdict: A robust pallet rocking piney IPA that still refreshes on a hot sunny day.

4 out of 5 on the Mark-o-Meter.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Northdown Chicago's Lions, Tigers and Beers, Oh My! - June 5, 2013

Summer's here and the time is right, for drinking in the streets - or at bars, anyway.  Especially if the bar is offering a lineup as amazing as that at Northdown Cafe & Taproom during its Lions, Tigers, and Beers, Oh My! event on June 5, 2013, beginning at 11:00 a.m.  I went to this event last year and the mountain is good.  It's an all-day beer event at Northdown in which ultra-rare beers are tapped per a schedule.  Every two hours, on the hour, a new round of these rarities gets tapped.  More after the jump.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Black Hand Milk Stout

A buddy of mine recently went on a date and was fired up about it.  These days, what does a guy do when a date is going well?   He texts his closest buddies about great beers, that's what!  So I get a mid-date text from him demanding that I try and also review Speakeasy's milk stout.  Well, okay!  I had never heard of Speakeasy but am now among the educated few.  They hail from San Francisco and offer a full lineup of ales and lagers.  I finally got to try their arousing milk stout, which is fomally known as the Black Hand.  My review appears after the jump, along with a really bad photo.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week Review: Founders Doom at Northdown Cafe - Bourbon, Please Meet IPA

Chicago Craft Beer Week is in full swing.  Events are taking place all over town.  Beers such as KBS are being tapped in the afternoon at bars that you'd never believe would serve it.  One thing remains constant.  If you bring forth from the woodwork enough craft beer nuts for an event, eventually a healthy debate about beer will ignite.  A little controversy cannot help but occur given some of the unusual brews being unveiled just for this week.  Take, for example, Founders Doom, a bourbon-barreled version of their Double Trouble imperial IPA.  This is a beer certain to spark a taproom fight between IPA purists and barrel-aging radicals, fighting as if it's a battle royale between Samsung Galaxy and iPhone users in a Nokia Windows Phone ad.  Doom is a beer designed to appeal to both camps, but the question is whether anyone gets satisfied.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week - Strategy and Five Events to Attend

Today marks the beginning of Chicago Craft Beer Week.  With roughly 250 venues hosting events, it can be difficult to navigate the hoppy and malty waters in order to maximize your CCBW enjoyment.  If your plan is to try some rare and unique beers, or maybe meet some brewers, you are in luck.  At this Chicago Foodies post, I map out a strategy for meeting these goals during CCBW.  I also highlight five events that reflect these goals and should help to improve your CCBW experience.   Happy reading.

If additional events pop up or are described to me as can't-miss, I'll try to update them here at the blog, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week - May 16 to 26, 2013

Hello Chicagoans and visitors.  Finally, a week arrives that makes all of the writing, analyzing, and fuss about craft beer seem worth it. Chicago Craft Beer week is here!  It's not really a week: it lasts from May 16 until the 26th.  It's not just about craft beer.  There will be a number of food and entertainment events accompanying the beer.  Not all the beer will actually be "craft", as there will be a number of industrial brews produced by craft manufacturers that will be part of the lineup.  But craft beer will indeed be the focus, and there will be some great craft brews offered at the many cool events each day, so let your cup runneth over.

The link to the Craft Beer Week schedule is here and a preview at Chicago Foodies is here.  Also, Chicago Beer Geeks has a piece up here, noting their event which will feature beers from Wild Onion and others.  I have a post going up at Foodies in which I recommend a strategy for approaching the week and also recommend several specific events.  When that post launches, I'll either update it in this post or put up a separate one with the link.  Cheers!