Friday, June 5, 2015

Aboard the WI Beer and Cheese Cruise with BrewFest Partners

By guest contributor MC Johnsen

On Saturday, May 30 I attended BrewFest Partners Wisconsin Beer and Cheese cruise aboard Navy Pier’s Mystic Blue cruise boat. As this unique floating fest left from the pier’s end to sail up and down Lake Michigan for a couple of hours, fest-goers were treated to DJ-provided tunes and a view (albeit cloud-covered) of the Chicago skyline.
   

A handful of Wisconsin breweries, plus two cider-makers were on board pouring their best selections. Clocktower Creamery was also in from Madison, WI to provide three special cheese offerings: Chèvre, a semi-sweet soft and fluffy spreadable cheese, Quark, a salty and slightly sour cheese spread and Squeaks, a salty and delicious rubbery orange-yellow nugget that squeaked when you chewed it.

I’ve paired my top beverage choices from Saturday’s shindig with Clockshadow’s delicious cheeses, as follows:

Squeaks + Really Cool Waterslides American IPA by 3 Sheeps (6% ABV)
3 Sheeps’ flagship beer is a lightly bitter American IPA balanced with quenching floral and mango hop notes. This sweet-and-bitter beverage went perfectly with the chewy, salty curds and both made me thirst for more.

Chèvre + O-Gii Imperial Wit by MKE Brewing Company (9% ABV)
This imperial wit with green tea added had complex notes of coriander, citrus, and tea leaves, all balanced on a creamy backbone that masked the booziness of this beer. In combination with the slightly sweet, tangy and fluffy French-style goat cheese, O-Gii’s sweet citrus notes were made even more prominent and enjoyable. 

Quark + Kinglet Bitter English Cider by AeppelTreow Winery (6% ABV)
Made with bitter, heirloom English and French apples this funky and fruity cider was barely sweet up front and had a dry finish. The quark’s light and tangy, slightly sweet taste complimented the beverage perfectly–both were equally funky and earthy, tangy and sweet. 


Brewfest Partners’ next Chicago event will be the Chicago Small Craft Cruise, also aboard the Mystic Blue on Sunday, July 26th, showcasing 12 “of the most unique and crafty” small breweries of the craft beer scene in Chicago. Tickets ($49) are on sale now, right here


MC Johnsen is a professional graphic designer and illustrator based in Chicago, IL. She is also the artist and author behind beer blog Worth a Thousand Beers. In her spare time MC enjoys homebrewing, taking on DIY projects, CrossFit, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix. Her favorite coffee beverage is an Americano, and she shares a home with her husband Matt and their dog Dallas in Lombard, IL. You can find her on Twitter @worth1000beers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chicago's Women of Craft Beer - 2015 Edition

Join us for the 3rd Annual 
"Celebrating Women of Craft Beer" event
May 21st at Riverview Tavern (1958 W Roscoe), 7pm - ?

As we embark upon Chicago Craft Beer Week and the third year of hosting Chicago's celebration of women in craft beer, it is hard not to reminisce on how much has happened.

In Chicago alone female brewmasters have quadrupled, quietly but fiercely kicking ass in the rapidly growing craft beer movement. Female enthusiasts have spoken loud and clear, making up at least one-third to half of festival attendance, where it used to be difficult to spot more than a few in a sea of beards and testosterone. Awareness and appreciation has amplified through numerous social and educational organizations such as Pink Boots Society, Barley's Angels, She's Crafty, Girls Pint Out, Girls Drink Beer, Women Working in Mixed Media, Pussycat Beer Guild, Fermenta... the list goes on and on – and we couldn't be happier!

This year, in celebration of the 3rd Annual Women of Craft Beer event we have more brewers involved than ever, taking over ALL 26 TAPS at Riverview Tavern. Each beer represents our local women, in addition to event-exclusive firkins. Breweries involved include Temperance, Rock Bottom Chicago, Begyle, Penrose, Goose Island, Revolution, Lagunitas, Metropolitan, Rude Hippo, Motor Row, Church Street, Forbidden Root, 5 Rabbit, DryHop, Two Brothers and Right Bee Cider.

Proceeds from select pints and raffle tickets at Riverview Tavern will go to the Chicago Chapter of Dress For Success, a charity that promotes the economic independence of women in need.

Below is an introduction to some uber talented women who are continuing to shape the Midwest Craft Beer scene. We hope to see you at Riverview Tavern TONIGHT to say hi and share a pint with the women who are making brewing history!

Amanda Bates, Head Brewer at Motor Row had her first amazing beer on a trip to Freiburg, Germany. "I didn't know what it was, but I was blown away that beer could taste good. When I started learning more about beer in the years after that experience, I figured out that I had been drinking Weissbier!" These days she gravitates toward beer with distinct, clean flavors that demonstrate a high level of precision in process and attention to detail for ingredients in recipe formulation, which influences her brewing no doubt. Words of wisdom: "We should all give people the benefit of the doubt that they don't want to be sexist. Some people just don't know when they are crossing that line. Calling people out for saying sexist/heterosexist things is the only way they will learn that your work environment is not a comfy place for that sort of talk."


Diana Rodgriguez started at Goose Island's Fulton Brewery as an intern and is now a full time Brewer, responsible for our favorite barrel-aged beers. In fact, one of the 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout variants will be a recipe that Diana designed as an intern! (We begged to know which one, but her lips are sealed). In a short time she has recognized how amazing the camaraderie and support of the craft beer industry is, adding "Always give the respect that you want to receive. Show your strengths through your work and not through your words."



If you've been to a beer, cider or spirits event in the last few years, you've most likely seen Hilary Jurinak in action at the Binny's booth. Now Communications Coordinator, she began working at Binny's Marcey Street during college and fell in love with craft beer pretty quickly. Her go-to beers are Left Hand Milk Stout and Lagunitas DayTime. Hilary has visited 50 breweries throughout 8 states and anticipates making it 100 breweries by next fall! Hilary is also the Liaison for Pink Boots Society's Chicago Chapter. Her words of wisdom: Be confident with yourself and your decisions. “With confidence, you have won before you have started.” - Marcus Garvey




Jacquie Armanetti has been involved with some of the city's best breweries and bars over the years, but her love of craft beer started while working at Paramount Room. She shared that the late Shawn Koch taught her to love and appreciate all different styles of beer, as well as how to pronounce half of them. Thoughts on being a woman in the industry: "Women prove themselves hard working, competent, and a driving force in every industry, and beer is no different. Today, women have the weight of the world on their shoulders more than ever! Balancing home, family, and a business is something women do daily without celebration. We need to stick together and support each other in a non-judgmental way to help forward movement."



Kate Brankin is a Brewer and Do-er of media things at Pipeworks Brewing. She loves how open-minded, adventurous and supportive craft brewers are, with a community that respects craftsmanship and quality. She has found a lot of inspiration from experimental spirits maker and cocktail lover Mhairi Voelsgen, of BroVo Spirits. Kate's own advice: "Pursue curiosities to their fullest end. Be open to criticism, be proud of your accomplishments. Remember that there is no one else in the world who has your specific and unique perspective – value that."


Meet Katie Morgan, "Queen Bee" and Co-Owner of locally-crafted Right Bee Cider, with her husband Charlie. She first discovered the delicious beverage while studying abroad in the UK and Ireland. On May 4th they won the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” competition in Chicago with a two minute ‘shark tank’ style business pitch. Keep an eye out as they head to the National finals in NYC this December! Katie's words of wisdom – "There is no substitute for hard work. Your gender has nothing to do with creating a quality product. No excuses."




Lisa Gregory left the world of healthcare to open Church Street Brewing with her husband Joe, in 2012. "I’ve enjoyed beer forever, but I’d say in the last 10 years I’ve really started appreciating different styles of beer." Their focus is on Old World European-style lagers, with the "Heavenly Helles" being one of Lisa's favorites to have on hand. She admits there were some hurdles breaking into the beer industry, but with her finance MBA and passion for success, she plays an integral role in running the family business. Even their two dogs have positions at the brewery!



Begyle Brewer and Quality Control champion, Liz French, shared that Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA was her craft beer game changer. Previously a stout and porter fan, the deliciously resinous and complex IPA opened her mind towards exploring new styles and flavors with enthusiasm. Liz says entering the industry with limited knowledge about how to actually brew was a small hurdle. (May we add, she had just graduated with a PhD in Microbiology and is modestly brilliant). "Head Brewer, Matt Ritchey, has taught me so much about the process, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for everything he has learned and passed on to me."



Rude Hippo Brewer Marilee Rutherford's first sip of beer was a homebrew made by her Mom and Grandfather. "God it was good. My Mom had to cut me off at age 6, which is why I really didn't get into beer again until the hubster (Karl Rutherford) and I started homebrewing in my late 20's." Her favorite thing about the industry is the endless imagination, knowledge, passion and tenacity of the people around her, providing opportunities to continually learn, collect and re-carve in her own way. With a more than full plate, Marilee's focus is on building their brand and marketplace presence, in addition to brewing outstanding beer. "Women are blazing trails, kicking ass and taking names, and thanks to the magic of the interwebs, we’re able to be connected to and inspired by those women and their accomplishments."


The Half Acre Taproom has built a team of kick-ass lady Bartenders, including the lovely Rebecca Denton. When she's not slinging some of the city's best beer, she can be found mud wrestling for women's charities – yes, mud wrestling – as "Annie Anthrax" of the Chicago MudQueens (her record is 5-2). Their last event sold a record number of raffle tickets, thanks to the craft beer industry, with donations from Half Acre, Pipeworks, Three Floyds, Spiteful and others. Her other passion is cupcakes, "Tell me your favorite beer, and I'll make you a cupcake that tastes just like it. Then let's eat them and drink that beer. Yum!"



Goose Island Beer Educator, Patti Mandel has a family heritage of slinging booze. Her Great Great Grandfather made moonshine out of the basement and sold it at their family owned candy store in Detroit. These days she keeps a nice rotating stock of beers in her fridge, with a couple bottles of Goose Island Sofie around at all times. On being a woman in the industry: "Take on the challenges and adversities that you will encounter with grace, tact and confidence. There is nothing more inspirational than a woman who pursues what she wants, does the beer industry justice and accomplishes her goals with elegance."



Virginia Thomas, Business Manager at Cicerone Certification Program, single handedly converted an old freezer into a two-tap kegerator for her house. Let's just say her husband and roommate are forever grateful. Her favorite Craft Beer Week event is the Brown Line Brews, which showcases a lot of great, local breweries and is very low-key, yet fun, offering the opportunity to chat with brewers over a pint. Virginia's words of wisdom – "For me, education helped me be taken seriously in a male-dominated field. That, and the fact that I don't take crap from anyone!"






Still didn't get your fill of Chicago's women of craft beer? Check out our previous years posts
Chicago's Women of Craft Beer - 2014 Edition
Chicago's Women of Craft Beer - 2013 Edition

Thursday, May 7, 2015

CCBW: 3rd Annual Celebrating Women of Craft Beer

It's that time again and the third year will be bigger and better than ever! We'll be taking over all 26 taps at Riverview Tavern to represent our local ladies. Numerous female brewed collaborations and special firkins will be tapped as well with proceeds benefiting the local chapter of Dress For Success.

Women from some of your favorite Chicagoland breweries will be in attendance, including Temperance, Rock Bottom Chicago, Begyle, Metropolitan, DryHop, Goose Island, Revolution and Two Brothers.

Newcomers to the scene this year: Rude Hippo, Motor Row, Forbidden Root, Lagunitas and Church Street.

Event Details:
Thursday, May 21st @7pm
Riverview Tavern 1958 W Roscoe
FREE to attend with drinks and food for purchase
Open to men and women and is a family friendly event
Facebook invite

Come out and support the Midwest's most talented women!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Your Go-To Event List for Chicago Craft Beer Week 2015


Every Chicago beer nerd’s favorite 11-day celebration is almost here, but which events should you go to? Since science hasn’t evolved to where you can temporarily clone yourself to be in two places at once, we've teamed up with some of our favorite beer bloggers to streamline your go-to events for #CCBW2015. Get your beers cheers-ing and hung over face emojis ready!

HAPPENING ALL WEEK:
Glazed & Infused serves up a one-of-a-kind beer doughnut IPD, "The India Pale Doughnut" to celebrate CCBW. Available at all locations, while supplies last between May 14-24th.

FEATURED EVENT: (3 out of 4 bloggers recommended this daily dose of fun)
BUT - Beer Under Tin (Free entry, beer and food for purchase) 
Paddy Long’s 1028 W Diversey Pkwy
Thursday, May 14th, 7pm
Beer Under Glass at the Garfield Park Conservatory rightfully gets enormous praise but there are other events going on to ring in Chicago Craft Beer Week 2015. If you don’t want to shell out the dough for a ticket, head on over to Paddy Long’s for Beer Under Tin, or “BUT.” The crew from Metropolitan Brewing and Off Color Brewing will be on hand, and rumor has it that Doug and PK from Metro will be filming an episode of their hilarious rare-beer-chug-a-thon web series, Just Keep Tastin’
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This year's philosphy: relax and enjoy without breaking the bank. Here are Kim (Hail To The Ale)'s top picks of 2015. Follow Kim during CCBW @hail2theale.

Temperance Trikonasana ($10 includes yoga and a 4oz taster)
Temperance Beer Co., 2000 Dempster St, Evanston
Saturday, May 16th, 1:00-2:15pm
Ohmmmmm! That's the sound of giving something good back to your body during a week of beer binging. Join Temperance for the first of their monthly yoga installments, debuting during CCBW. Proceeds will be donated to a different charity each month.

Brown Line Brews 3 Hosted by Cicerone Certification Program (Free entry with RSVP, beer and food for purchase) 
The Long Room, 1612 E Irving Park
Tuesday, May 19th, 6:00-9:00pm
One of our favorite, most chill neighborhood events of the week – featuring the breweries on and around the Brown Line stops. If you are a Certified Beer Server or a Certified Cicerone, the cool folks at Cicerone will give you a custom glass and your first beer free (first 100 guests)!

3rd Annual Women of Craft Beer Event (Free entry, beer and food for purchase) 
Riverview Tavern, 1958 W Roscoe
Thursday, May 21st, 7pm
Bigger and better than ever – 26 taps will be taken over to represent the women working in Chicago craft beer. We'll have special firkins from Temperance and Rock Bottom, a number of female collaboration beers, and the women of craft beer hanging out to chat and toast a pint. Proceeds benefit the Chicago Chapter of Dress For Success.
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Blogger and beer aficionado Jessica Murphy of Girls Like Beer Too! is no rookie when it comes to craft beer events. Below are her top recos. Follow Jessica during CCBW @grlslikebeertoo.

Craft Beerzaar (Free entry, beer and food for purchase)
Dimo’s Pizza 3463 N Clark St 
Saturday, May 16th, 11am 

Beer often walks a fine line between art and science and this event focuses more on the artisan quality of craft brewing. The fine folks at Dimo’s Pizza in collaboration with Half Acre, Penrose, Revolution, and Solemn Oath breweries are throwing a celebration of all things “craft.” A craft bazaar will be featured during the first half of the event and then, as daylight fades into evening, the party gets going with live music by local talent. Specially crafted pizza paired with a four-brew flight available for purchase. 

Blind Flights (Free entry, beer and food for purchase)
Fatpour Tapworks 2005 W Division St 
Tuesday, May 19th, 5pm 
Think you can tell the difference between pale ale and a saison? Test your beer knowledge at Blind Flights at Fat Pour Tapworks where you will receive four tastes of different beers and have to guess which they are off of a selected menu. Choose correctly, and you could win prizes! 

NW Side Craft Beer Ride (Tickets $20 for transportation, beer available for purchase at each of the participating locations)
Thursday, May 21st , 6:00 pm
While Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square have been exuding craft beer cred for years, the Northwest side is often forgotten. But not anymore. Hop on the bus at any of the participating locations (Rabbit’s, Templestowe, Christina’s Place, Breakroom Brewery, Fischman’s Liquors, to name a few) and join a pub crawl like no other. Special tappings and brews will be on hand for purchase. 
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MC Johnsen of Worth A Thousand Beers gravitates towards events with activity or entertainment involved. If you’re into that too, she recommend these ones. Follow MC during CCBW @worth1000beers.

The Beerfly Alleyfight, Eat! Drink! Watch (Tickets: $40)
The Drinking & Writing Theatre at Haymarket Pub and Brewery
Sat, May 16th, 12:00pm to 5:00pm
This truly unique event mashes together all of my favorite creative things: home brewing competition, food pairing, and art! 10 home brewers will present their beer, paired with a meal they have cooked, then an artist assigned to the pairing will share a piece they’ve created, inspired by the beer and food pairing they’ve just tried.

Goose Island’s Second Annual Sunday Funday (Tickets: $25)
Goose Island Barrel Warehouse
Sun, May 17th, 2:00pm to 6:00pm
I’m as much excited for this event’s location as for the event itself. Held in the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse, enjoy special tappings of Goose’s beers, plus a Battle of the Breweries Dodgeball tournament. As a bonus, 100% of proceeds will benefit Special Olympics.

Revolution Brewing x Stay Smooth Craft Beer Cruise (Tickets: $39)
Shoreline's dock at Navy Pier
Fri, May 22, 8:00pm–9:30pm, boarding at 7:45pm
What better way to spend a Friday evening than sailing around on Lake Michigan, gazing at the Chicago skyline, and listening to music? Plus your eyes and ears won’t have all the fun – Rev will be bringing their best beers aboard, paired with appetizers too.
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While narrowing down a calendar full of events seemed an impossible task, beer blogger Grace Weitz picked some really unique ones. Check out The Beer Mile for more events she's excited about. Follow Grace during CCBW @thebeermile.

CCBW Tuesday Brewsday: Learn to Homebrew! (Free Entry)
CHAOS Brew Club, 2417 W Hubbard St.
Tue. May 19th, 5:30pm-11:30pm
Because my 2015 New Year's Resolution was to learn how to homebrew… CHAOS, the first beer club in the nation with their own brew space, hosts monthly brew days, but this one is extra special since it’s CCBW. Education Chair Matt Omura will be taking attendees through an all grain brew. Whether you’re a novice, like myself, or a homebrew extraordinaire you’ll have a chance to check out the CHAOS community brew space, shoot the beer breeze, sample some home brew, learn a thing or two…and maybe even cross off a New Year’s Resolution.

Northside vs. Southside Tap Takeover (Free entry, beer and food for purchase) 
DryHop Brewers 3155 N. Broadway
Thu. May 21st 6:00pm-Fri. May 22nd 2:00am. 
I have to give a shout out to DryHop, my favorite neighborhood brewery and place to hang out. DryHop continually brews solid iterations of hop-centric ales, along with Belgian and experimental brews. They're featuring a Northside vs Southside gauntlet. Breweries from both areas will be “tapping in” if you will. From the Northside: newcomer AlarmistAquanaut and Metropolitan. In the South’s corner: Moody TongueMotor Row, and Marz

It’s My Birthday SOUR BASH (Free entry, beer for purchase)
The Green Lady 3328 N. Lincoln Ave
Fri. May 22nd 4:00pm 
I love the Green Lady, which usually hosts South of 80 during CCBW (hmm)… and I love sour beer… easy decision. In honor of Owner Melanie's Birthday, 30 drafts and 3 firkins will be full of sour deliciousness, as well as plenty of bottles and cans.

Whichever events you choose, we wish you a very happy CCBW. For the full list visit chibeerweek.com. Thank you for supporting local craft beer, cheers!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Blog Series: Beer Glass Guide with Lakeshore Beverage

I've recently embarked upon a new guest blog series with the passionate folks at Lakeshore Beverage, featuring an often overlooked aspect of beer – glassware.

Much like beer itself, the vessels have been around for centuries and have evolved over time to accommodate beer drinker's needs, as well as trends in the structural materials.

Many books have touched on glassware, but my mission is to dive deeper into some of the world's most popular styles, sharing their historic and aesthetic significance.

Part of this exploration was creating a visual reference guide in the form of a designed infographic. To read the full story and view the graphic, check out our first post on Lakeshore Beverage's blog.





Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fest Review: The Second Annual What the Firk?


By guest contributor MC Johnsen

On Sunday, March 29th, I had the great pleasure of attending What the Firk? Firkin Fest held at Headquarters Beercade in River North. Everything about this fest was unique – the location, the beer offerings, and the ability to speak directly to brewers and reps. 

Headquarters Beercade has wall-to-wall arcade games that are free for unlimited play, from Pac Man to pinball, and even my husband Matt’s favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. (He jumped up and down like a little boy when he saw it). The games made the whole atmosphere fun and laid back, and gave you a short reprieve from sampling if needed. On top of this, HQ also provided a free buffet of delicious food for all the fest-goers to enjoy. 

The 50 beer offerings were all one of a kind, many of which were dry-hopped or had spicy pepper additions. Two Brothers got super creative and even added blue raspberry warheads and habanero peppers to their popular extra pale ale Sidekick. Metropolitan served a beautiful, crisp lager Heliostat, dry-hopped with subtly spicy and herbal Sterling hops. Some breweries, such as Three Floyds and Off Color, chose to go old school and presented a popular beer of theirs (Zombie Dust and Scurry, respectively) served at room temp from the cask (although, Off Color did claim to have added magic to their cask of Scurry). Having tasted both of these beers on draft and in bottles before, it was interesting to try them in their pure form at room temperature, too. 

Probably my favorite aspect of this fest though, was that a brewer or very knowledgeable rep from each participating brewery stood right beside their cask and explained how the beer was made as you drank it. There were no lines (people opted to play arcade games rather than wait around), so you felt free to stand and chat with them for a few moments before moving on to the next offering. This fest afforded everyone the opportunity to have relaxed conversations with brewers and fellow beer fans alike, because there was absolutely no pressure to keep a line moving. 

My top three favorites were: 
3) Uncle John’s (St. John’s, MI) - Say Uncle: Almost 2 months after attending Cider Summit, I am still entranced by what hard cider has to offer. This one-of-a-kind blend was Uncle John’s first firkin, and first cloudy cider they’ve ever made!  Usually creators of crystal clear ciders, Say Uncle was unpasteurized, unfiltered, and a beautiful cloudy yellow-green color. It was crisp, a tad funky, and refreshing with a not too fruity finish. (6.5%)
2) 5 Rabbit (Bedford Park, IL) – French Oak-Aged Gran Missionario with Fig: Having recently tasted this year’s regular Gran Missionario, the complexity of flavor added by the woody oak added a nice subtle spice, and the extra fig additions rounded this creamy witbeer out with a chewy, juicy, figgy finish. (6.8%)
1) Desthil (Bloomington, IL) – Ta’Gose: Desthil added lime, peppers, and cilantro to this cask of their Wild Sour Series gose Here Gose Nothin.’ These additions cut the typically sour and salty beer with complex, savory qualities that added so much depth. This tasted of lightly sour lemon and lime, coriander, hints of pepper, and had a chewy, bready finish–phenomenal!

I had such a great time at this fest. It was incredibly refreshing to attend one without the frantic scramble to get into line before a keg kicked. I am already looking forward to next year.


MC Johnsen is a professional graphic designer and illustrator based in Chicago, IL. She is also the artist and author behind beer blog Worth a Thousand Beers. In her spare time MC enjoys homebrewing, taking on DIY projects, CrossFit, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix. Her favorite coffee beverage is an Americano, and she shares a home with her husband Matt and their dog Dallas in Lombard, IL. You can find her on Twitter @worth1000beers.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Beer Card Designs and Retail Placement






















We're excited to announce that a selection of our handmade 3D beer slide cards and folded cards can now be found on our Etsy shop, as well as in our first retail location at Bottles & Cans 4109 N Lincoln Ave in North Center. We hope you'll stop by and check them out.

We've included a new selection of spring designs including the return of our "West Coast IPA" series, made with repurposed California-area maps.