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!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Brooklyn Brown Ale Review - Revisiting Old Favorites

I'm listening to Cream this morning as I'm typing this.  When I lived in Cincinnati, back in the day, Saturday mornings were about getting in the 4-Runner, running some errands in the sunshine, and popping some Cream in the CD player. Man, I forgot how great their overamped music is.  "Strange Brew" is one of the best greatest hits comps you'll find for any band; if it were an album it would be an all-time classic.  But from the very first bass notes on "Badge" through "Spoonful" at the end, every icky thump from Jack Bruce's bass and every airy-but-gritty riff from Clapton is a treat.

Of course, this all made me think about beer.  Brooklyn Brown Ale, that is.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA Review - For Times When You Need a Double IPA



As you know, Ballast Point is here!  That's great. Because it means their Sculpin IPA is available in Chicago.    They also brew a double IPA, Dorado.  Small Bar in Chicago was the first place in this market to have it on tap.  Every brewer has to have a double IPA.  It's kind of like how every car manufacturer has to have a crossover vehicle. Would Ballast's DIPA drink as wonderfully as the Sculpin?  Stay tuned after the jump.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Firestone Walker Parabola 2013 at Sheffield's - If You Can't Actually Be at FW


Thanks to the good folks at Sheffield's here in Chicago for sharing with us some Firestone Walker Parabola 2013 the other night. Maybe it's because we're good customers, maybe it's because they know how much we love great beer, or perhaps it's because they're just great folks at Sheff's, but, for whatever reason, they decided to share the amazing bourbon-barreled stout.  It is sensational and I can fully understand why it stocked out so quickly in Chicago. Of course, you cannot do better than Shaun, who got to visit FW's taproom this week.  And, yes, I'm jealous.

Avery Brewing Samael's Oak Aged Ale Review - The Cotton Candy Beer


What a hoss!  I had been sitting on a 2012 bottle of Avery's Samael's Oak Aged Ale, part of their "Demons of Ale" series, and finally opened it last night.  It was massive.  The bottle lists it at 15.47% alcohol.  It's oak barreled.  So, this beer promised to be heavy on two things: vanilla flavor and alcohol.  It proved to be gigantic in every way.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

FW Taster #4 - Double DBA

Math jokes aside the double double barrel ale takes an almost Barleywine taste to it. Very warm alcohol followed by cotton candy that doesn't get too sweet. Love it!

FW Flight #1 - Unfiltered DBA

Firestone has a couple of taproom-only beers and one I was keen to try is the unfiltered Double Barrel Ale. Their British style pale ale. It has a crisp wonderful citrus nose with a slightly sweet malt overtone.

Hazy and caramel colored. It is crisp and the freshness comes through. The malt is biscuity fresh with a crisp citrus hop finish. A lovely example of their flagship.

FW Tasting #3 - Wookey Jack

I have really jumped on the black ipa bandwagon. I just think the chocolate and crystal malts really complement the strong hop flavors in an ipa. And Wookey Jack doesnt disappoint.

Again the peach nose is there. The strong coffee flavors and piney hops somehow just light up my pallet!

FW #2 Double Jack

As Mark and I routinely rave about this beer its no surprise its excellent fresh from the brewery. What is a surprise is how strong the peach nose is and how piney the finish. The sucks your mouth dry and the alcohol warms you back up for another go.

Be Jealous Mark - Firestone Walker taproom visit

Well Mark has posted a bunch of droolworthy posts on Dark Lord and other recent explorations. In my attempt to make him Jealous im visiting the Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles CA this weekend and getting a few fresh amazing tastes.

Be Jealous buddy!