Monday, October 20, 2014

The Great Pumpkin Beer Bread Recipe

For the lover of all-things-pumpkin, we've taste tested and approved The Great Pumpkin Beer Bread Recipe, designed to incorporate your favorite pumpkin beer. We tried the recipe with a traditional ale with spices, but would also highly recommend a pumpkin porter or stout if one is available, as the darker beers provide an extra layer of roasty richness.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we like Trader Joe's Bourbon Vanilla Extract)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
15 oz canned pumpkin
2 large eggs 

12 oz bottle of pumpkin ale
(For a list of some of our favorites, check out The Great Pumpkin Beer Challenge article).

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch loaf pan. 
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl. 
3. In a second bowl, with electric beaters, combine the butter, sugar and oil on high speed in the bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. 
4. In a third bowl, combine pumpkin puree, beer, vanilla and spices. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until smoothly incorporated.
5. Continuing to mix on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture in three parts, until combined. 
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Goose Island Clybourn Releases A Seasonal Brett Bruin

Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub Brewmaster, Nick Barron and team have continued to impress us with a wide range of flavorful and experimental small batch beers over the past few years. Their latest brewpub-only release, Cran Bruin – a seasonal interpretation of an Oud Bruin, is no exception.

Large amounts of Munich malt provide a full body, complimented with caramel malts for color and residual sweetness. The Belgian Abbey yeast strain provides nice spice and candy characteristics. Aged in oak wine barrels for a year with Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces, Cran Bruin shows off mild tart flavors, true to the Flanders Brown/Oud Bruin style. After being removed from the barrel, the beer was blended with 200lbs of cranberries and clarified for a beautiful end result.

Tasting Notes:
Appearance - Vibrant ruby red color, brilliant clarity
Aroma - Rich malt aroma, earthy spices, sweet sugar/cotton candy, slight tart fruit aroma
Flavor/Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, sweet caramel malt upfront. A fruity tartness quickly introduces itself, rounding out to a smooth, dry finish. Prominent cranberry and jammy notes linger.
Overall Impression - Well balanced and layered with enjoyable flavors from beginning to end. For the beginner sour enthusiasts and non-pumpkin beer fans alike, this is a very approachable, seasonal beer that would pair exceptionally well with the rich meats and starches of holiday meals.

Cran Bruin releases today, October 16th at the Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub and will be a draft only offering, available throughout the holiday season.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Goose Island's New United Center Pub

At this Saturday's Chicago Blackhawks home opener game Goose Island will unveil its latest endeavor – a dedicated pub inside of the United Center. Matt Tanaka, Lakeshore Beverage's Digital Marketing Manager had the opportunity to get a sneak-peak of the space, sharing his photos and experience via their blog.

From the Lakeshore Beverage blog:
Goose Island's Ken Stout showed me around as he explained, with an obvious excitement, the vision for the space. "We wanted to bring the brewery into this space and make people feel that same experience of being at Goose Island. A lot of the materials we're using here we use at the brewery."
All of the materials used to build the pub were locally sourced and installed, reinforcing the the importance of creating a uniquely Chicago space. The pub is filled with stories and nods to Goose Island's 26 years of history, from the sections of wood made from Goose Island barrel staves to the lit photos adorning the walls. We highly suggest taking a look for yourself.

Goose Island plans to have 6 beers available on draft including the IPA, Green Line, 312 Urban Wheat, Matilda, and Sofie, as well as a special rotating draft. 

And now for the visuals:

A section of the bar constructed from barrel staves direct from the Goose Island barrel warehouse.

All photos courtesy of Lakeshore Beverage

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New Glarus Pumpkin Pie Lust Review

This past week New Glarus Brewing quietly launched a brand new offering to their seasonal portfolio, a Pumpkin Weiss beer, "Pumpkin Pie Lust". We were able to get a hold of a few bottles to see how the fanboy favorite brewery would line up against the abundance of pumpkin beers on shelf.

From the label:
"It is a fact that Dan, our New Glarus Brewmaster, loves pumpkin pie. So it was inevitable that one day beer and pie would collide. No holiday is complete at our home without home baked pumpkin pie. Just as Dan once baked this pie for Deb, he now creates this brew for you.

First, Wisconsin grown wheat simmers with German Munich Malt. Then he thoroughly stirs in Idaho grown Celeia Hops. Fresh Bavarian Weizen yeast is then ladled into the open top fermentors and a final bottle conditioning makes this beer 100% naturally carbonated. This rich brown Weiss beer pours an elegant spicy nose with a thick creamy head. This Pumpkin Weiss is sure to satisfy your soul’s Pie Lust. "
Our review:
Appearance - hazy, burnt amber color, thick tan-colored head, tight bubbles, lacing
Aroma - earthy spice aroma: allspice, nutmeg. Sweet malt, cream/creme brulée
Flavor - creamy wheat malt, fruit forward, tangy/citrus/orange rind bitterness, pie spices, dry finish. It is unclear whether pumpkin was used in the brewing process. No pumpkin/vegetal notes present, spices are prominent.
Mouthfeel - slightly thin body, high carbonation - almost sparkling
Overall - Smells like pumpkin pie but the bright, citrusy flavor throws of the balance of what we'd expect to be a smooth, wheat-forward, pie spice finish. Not a bad beer, but not the best pumpkin seasonal we've had.

Available at select stores in Wisconsin for $9-10/12oz 6 pack.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Chicago's Authentic German Food and Beer Scene

By guest contributor Eric Zeigler

My name is Eric Zeigler, and if you can’t surmise from my last name, I am of German descent. Even though my family has been in America for many, many generations, I’ve always been fascinated – enthralled if you will, with all things Teutonic. Whether you are talking of cars, the people, or medieval castles, my fascination with Germanic culture has no bounds.

This is especially true when it comes to German food and libations. As a self-proclaimed foodie and hospitality student at Kendall College, I take great pride in seeking out many of the excellent choices that Chicago has to offer in terms of ethnic German restaurants and bars.

One of my favorites is Laschet’s Inn. Far and away, this low-key tudor-style restaurant serves out amazing examples of common German dishes such as Rouladen, Schnitzels and Sauerbraten. Their sausages – Thüringer, Bratwurst and Weisswurst among them are phenomenal examples of basic, hearty fare. If one chooses to eat “lighter”, a perfect meal at Laschet’s would be one of their flown-in-from-Bavaria pretzels and a rare dish called Hackepeter, essentially steak tartar spread over rye bread with chopped onions and capers. All of this can be washed down with what is certainly one of the best selections of imported, on draught German beers in the city. In fact, they recently added one of the rarest – Kloster Andechs, a beer that wasn’t available in America for the past 15 years and is, in my humble opinion, sublimely wonderful.

Lachet's Inn. Photos courtesy of

Those seeking a more “elevated” experience should give The Radler a try. Two established partners in the Chicago scene, Chef Partner Nathan Sears and Managing Partner Adam Hebert, decided to try their hand at elevating German cuisine to a new level, and they have succeeded admirably. Their pickling of vegetables, curing of meats and hand-baked pretzels are all done in-house. They are great supporters of local food purveyors and farmers, and utilize a local suburban brewery to make their house beers. Try the German Onion Pie, a twist on an English shepherd’s pie that is out-of-this-world. One should never pass up house-made charcuterie, and The Radler never disappoints. Venison, pork and boar are transformed into savory delights and are always accompanied by perfectly balanced accoutrement.

Photos by Baskin-White Photography. Courtesy of
There are many more too numerous to mention, but all worth (multiple) visits. Resi’s Bierstube, Mirabell, Huettenbar and the historic Brauhaus round out more of Chicago’s offerings. In the suburbs, the illustrious Hofbrauhaus in Rosemont is astounding, The Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, Schniztelplatz in Glendale Heights. The list goes on and on. 

All in all, the Germanic food and beer scene is well-covered in Chicago, and one would be remiss to pass on an opportunity to experience some authentic Gemütlichkeit.

Courtesy of

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Brothers Rebranding and First Year-Round IPA

Two Brothers Brewing Company unveils two exciting pieces of news – a re-branding of their brewery's logo and label architecture that is featured on their newest artisan beer release, Wobble IPA.
Wobble will join the portfolio as Two Brother's first year-round IPA. Golden in color with a subtle malt character, the addition of Citra, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops add a big complex citrus flavor with piney hop notes throughout the beer.

“We are always pushing the envelope to deliver flavor-forward beers and hope to continue to innovate and introduce bold brews. After nearly 18 years in the industry, we are excited to introduce a beer that wobbles on the edge of really hoppy,” said Jason Ebel.  

Wobble will be available in the marketplace on September 29. To celebrate the beer’s release, Two Brothers Brewing Company will be hosting a month-long celebration at the Two Brothers Tap House in Warrenville beginning October 1 as well as a number of other launch events. (Details below)

In addition to the new beer release, Two Brothers also unveils a new look for their brand and label design, which has continued to evolve over the past 18 years. The new logo keeps the swirl icon from the previous logo, but strips out the gradients of color in a flatter, more modern interpretation. The color palette has shifted slightly more natural, reflecting the focus on quality ingredients and artisanal recipes that Two Brothers prides themselves on. The typography which previously had a more playful/quirky approach, feels more sophisticated while still revealing elements of unexpectedness in the nuances of the letters. 
The evolution of the Two Brothers brand.

The new label design, which will roll out to the other year-round offerings over time, has abandoned the hand-drawn, illustrative style we've grown to know from Two Brothers. The modern, banded architecture focuses on the specific ingredients, characteristics and food pairings of each beer, once again emphasizing Two Brothers' passion for the marriage of food and beer created from quality ingredients. The swirl icon is a design element we've been seeing on their recent can designs, such as Sidekick and Outlaw.

Oktoberfest Beer Pairings With Wicker Park's The Boundary

We were recently invited to The Boundary in Wicker Park to check out their Oktoberfest-themed food and beer specials. Available at Bottleneck Management restaurants* September 20th – October 5th, the recipes and curation are a creative collaboration between the Executive Management team and skilled chefs. ​

"The process around seasonal development is a fun one," says ​Beverage Director and VP of Operations Ken Henricks​."Not only do we have great beer being made here in Chicago, but we also get the best of both coasts. This offers the marketplace an incredible volume of 'unique to market' and 'seasonal' selections from breweries across the country."

With Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers being hugely popular Henricks and team
"take advantage of the traditional seasonal model to pair food items that go well with the flavor profiles of the beers." Once menus are developed the front of house staff works with servers weekly on beer style and food pairing education.

We were excited to take part and make recommendations. For each of the seasonal food dishes we chose a beer pairing from their extensive list of offerings that we felt complimented the flavors of each dish.

Apple Onion Potato Pancakes: 
Fuji apple and Vidalia onions, cinnamon spiced crème fraiche.
paired with
Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale:  
English-style ale, malt and spice aroma. This beer finishes dry with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. Balances well with the sweetness of the potato pancakes.
Beer Mustard Braised Bratwurst: 
Housemade bratwurst, caramelized onions, house-made sauerkraut, 
Dusseldorf mustard, warm German potato salad, brioche bun.
paired with
Erdinger Oktoberfest Weissbier:
A traditional German wheat beer, slightly hazy with notes of citrus fruit, bananas, clove, grainy malt, toasted bread. This beer finishes malty, and slightly sweet, which works well with richer foods like meat, potatoes and kraut.
Pork Schnitzel Sandwich: 
Breaded pork loin, housemade sauerkraut, Dusseldorf mustard, bib lettuce, beefsteak tomato, olive oil parsley fries, Pumpernickel pretzel kaiser roll.
 paired with
Crispin Original Hard Cider: 
 Apples are a natural compliment to anything pork-related. For a beer alternative we chose this crisp, hard apple cider. It is smooth and light with champagne-like carbonation and a moderately sweet finish. No spice characteristics, just apples, apples, apples.

alternate pairing
Great Lakes Oktoberfest: 
A deliciously malty, amber-colored beer with notes of caramel, toffee, toasted bread, biscuit. This beer has little to no hop bitterness, with complex malt characteristics making it a very strong American-style Oktoberfest offering. 

Photos courtesy of

* Bottleneck locations featuring the Oktoberfest food specials (beer availability varies per location) are The Boundary, Sweetwater Tavern & Grille, Howells & Hood, Old Town Pour House, South Branch Tavern & Grille, The Crown at Tribune Tower. For more information visit Bottleneck Management.

Food and beer provided courtesy of Wagstaff Worldwide. Pairing recommendations and opinions are our own.