Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fountainhead's Harvest Dinner with Metropolitan and Angel's Envy

By guest contributor Eric Zeigler

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a dinner to celebrate the onset of Fall and all of the delicious foods and libations that accompany the season. Fountainhead is a Ravenswood neighborhood gastropub that perfectly exemplifies this feeling in both décor and ambiance. I was a guest for the Harvest Dinner on the Roof Deck: A Night with Angel’s Envy and Metropolitan, and it was a splendid way to enter "comfort food" season.

Chris Kafcas (Front of House Manager) and Cleetus Friedman (Executive Chef) at Fountainhead gave a warm welcome and relayed their reasons for having such a dinner. Everyone has a fondness for Fall, but one of the special attributes the season imparts is a warmth and fellowship in gathering people together around comforting foods and perfectly-paired libations.

With that in mind, and the plates of food beginning to arrive from the kitchen, Chris first introduced Doug Hurst from Metropolitan Brewing. Doug gave a quick synopsis of Metropolitan and its German lager-style brewing philosophy. In fact, Metropolitan has been instrumental in guiding many of the new Chicago craft breweries as they have been starting out.



As Doug was speaking the plates were arriving and set before us. Piles of bone marrow with Herbes de Provence, pickled vegetables and fruit mostarda. This was paired with Metropolitan’s Dynamo Copper Lager. Its copper hue comes from a wonderful balance of 2 kinds of hops and Vienna malts.

The next two family-style dishes were superb! Hearty strips of kale, butter-roasted sunchoke, toasted sunflower seeds and onion frizzles coated in an apple sunflower vinaigrette. Also, a brussel sprout and delicata squash hash in a warm drizzle of nutmeg brown butter. These two sides were perfect examples of what Fall vegetables provide in terms of freshness and flavors.

For this particular dinner, three of our beer pairings would be served at cask temperature. Normally I am not partial to this, but suffice it to say, I would be a complete convert by the end of the dinner. A Metropolitan dry-hopped cask with beautiful notes of grapefruit and a collaboration American IPA cask with Lake Effect Brewing called 27 Blocks. Last but not least, a black pepper cask version of Dynamo that was, in my humble opinion, one of the best session beers I have ever tasted. It was a sublime pairing with the herbed roast beef and horseradish cream, which was the main entrée.

It was at this point, nearing the dessert phase of the dinner, when the representative from Angel’s Envy, Joe Nelson, was introduced. He gave an impassioned story of the founder of Angel’s Envy—Lincoln Henderson—who recently passed away and was the guiding passion behind this exemplary whiskey. We tasted their cornerstone bourbon,
Angel’s Envy Port Finished Bourbon, which is aged in port casks – along with a Fonseca tawny port to compare and contrast subtleties of flavors imparted in each. Paired with the delicate caramel apple bread pudding as the last course of the dinner could not have been a wiser choice.

As the plates were being cleared from the tables, Joe invited all of us to sample some rarefied examples of their cask strength bourbon flagship which won the Best Spirit in the World in 2013 by the Spirit Journal. Also, a particular highlight for me was their Rye finished in Plantation XO barrels. To a rye and rum aficionado such as myself, this was a perfect ending to a spectacular evening.

All in all, the attendees of this dinner were left with not only the warmth of the spectacular food and libations, but also the embracing atmosphere created by Fountainhead, Angel’s Envy and Metropolitan. Rest assured if they collaborate again, it will surely be an event not to be missed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fight Breast Cancer with Green Flash Brewing

On Monday, October 27th join Jerry's-Andersonville for a night of amazing beer, great food & good company while supporting a great cause with Green Flash Brewing, Jerry's and Pintley. Event starts at 7pm. 5419 N Clark.
 

This event is showcasing Treasure Chest, a Barrel-aged Belgian-Style Saison with Plum. This beer was fermented in red wine barrels with house Brettanomyces, then conditioned with plums for six months.It is extremely rare; you will not be able to get outside of the Treasure Chest Events. 

Also for each Treasure Chest pour, Green Flash will donate $1 to charities fighting against Breast Cancer.
 

Also featured:
8.8% Double Stout, a brew that's a twist on19th Century British Stout recipes, it has delicious hints of bittersweet chocolate & coffee.
 

8.1% West Coast IPA, a beer with a myriad of hops: Simcoa, Columbus, Centennial, Citra, and Cascade.
 

Hang out with Mario from Green Flash & take home a Green Flash pint glass (free with purchase while supplies last)! And make sure to pair your beer with delicious food –

10% of all dinner sales will be donated to the Susan G. Koman foundation!
 

This is THE LAST keg of Treasure Chest in Chicago! Free event, please RSVP HERE.

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.

Ingredients:
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 (for more bready, less dense/chewy bread use 1/2 a can)
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).
 

Preparation: 
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.
4.5/5

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.
3.5/5

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 lachetsinn.com


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 dasradler.com
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 huettenbar.com