Monday, January 26, 2015

International Cider Makers Return to Chicago for Cider Week 2015

Cider makers and purveyors from around the world will return to Chicago for the annual CiderCON and Cider Summit at Navy Pier. While the conference itself is industry-only there are a number of opportunities for the public to meet and taste some of the world's best hard cider, perry and mead.

Feb 3rd, Luxbar Cider Mixer, 7:30pm: Mingle with the owners and cider makers of Wandering Aengus and Anthem Cider. Featuring many traditional favorites from Wandering Aengus and Anthem Cider and some new limited releases:
Anthem Cider Gin Barreled - Ransom barrels 2 months
Anthem Pinot Cider - Pinot grapes fermented within the cider fermentation.

Feb 3rdFirkin Loves Vander Mill at Jake Melnicks, 7pm: Featuring firkins of Totally Roasted, Cyser and Single Varietal Gold Rush. Oaked Chapman's Blend, Ginger Peach, Hard Apple and Blue Gold will be on draft. Stop by for a chance to win a Vander Mill wearbles and cider cans.

Feb 4th, Karaoke + West Coast Cider at Emporium Arcade, 8pm: featuring a tap take from 2 Town Cider, Wandering Aengus Cider, Vander Mill Cider, Anthem Cider, Finnriver Cider, Sonoma Cider, Seattle Cider Company and Tieton Cider.

Feb 4th, Cider Maker Meet & Greet at Howells & Hood, 6-8pm: Join cider makers from Vander Mill, Ace, Wandering Aengus and Original Sin for a taste of featured ciders. Open to the public, no ticket required. Vander Mill will be raffling off a pair of tickets to Cider Summit at Navy Pier on 2/7.

Howells & Hood will feature a special cider flight for the week of Feb 2 - 8 in honor of CiderCON, featuring: Ace Cider Co. The Joker, Anthem Hops, Original Sin Elderberry, Vander Mill Totally Roasted 

Feb 4th, Meet the Cider Makers at Whole Foods Kingsbury 1550 Bar, 6:30pm: Sample ciders of Artisanal Imports, with Lanny Hoff from Aspall, Steve Wood of Farnum Hill and Kevin Zolinsky of E.Z. Orchards. Learn what foods pair well with various ciders. Raffling a pair of tickets to Cider Summit with purchase of any Farnum Hill, E.Z. Orchards or Aspall ciders.

Feb 4thTwin Anchors Cider Event, 7pmAlmar Orchards (J.K. Scrumpy), Thistly Cross, and Sheppy’s Cider Bruce Wright (Scrumpy), Daniel Sherry (Thistly Cross), and David Sheppy will be in attendance. First availability of Sheppy’s in Chicago with the owner on hand to taste and share his cider. Casual food pairings and tastings!

Feb 5th, Jake Melnicks A Bushel & A Peck, Interactive Cider Dinner, 6pm: Cider and food pairing stations featuring Wandering Aengus, Original Sin, Vander Mill, Ace, Farnum Hill, Seattle Cider, Finn River, Virtue Cider, Uncle John's. Menu items will feature a wide array from BBQ shrimp and sashimi tuna to charcuterie, sausages and cheese. Tickets $35

Feb 5thMonks Pub Cider Tasting, 7pm: Multiple cider producers on hand, featuring Ace Blackjack 21, Original Sin Northern Spy & Apricot, Aspall Imperial and Vander Mill Chapman's Blend.

Feb 5th, The Power of the Press at Fountainhead, 6pm: The Fountainhead and The Northman explore and celebrate ciders throughout the US, UK, Spain and France paired with inspired menu items from Chef Cleetus. Featured ciders on draft: Wandering Aengus Wickson Single Varietal, Farnum Hill Dooryard, Uncle John's Perry, Original Sin Northern Spy, Seattle Cider Company Gin Botanical, Aspall Imperial, Trabanco Cosecha Propia (Sidra Natural) Viuda de Angelon "Cidre Brut". Plus 35+ bottles available by the glass.

Feb 6thVander Mill Firkin Tapping at The Publican, 6pm: Firkin tapping of "Too Gold," a blend of Golden Russet, Grimes Golden and Gold Rush apples.

Feb 7thCider Summit Chicago, 11am and 4pm sessions in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier: SBS Imports and Seattle Beer Collective return for a third year to produce Chicago's largest cider tasting event. Cider Summit will feature sampling of 162 ciders from around the world, with cider makers on hand. Advanced TICKETS recommended. Chicago Brew Bus will provide shuttle service starting at 10:30am between the Blue Line Grand stop, Red Line Grand-State stop, and Navy Pier throughout the day. CTA buses also run directly to Navy Pier. Onsite parking is available in the Navy Pier garages.

Feb 8thVander Mill Cider Brunch at Farmhouse, 11am: Details to be announced.

Feb 8thCiders of Spain at Binny's Lincoln Park, 2-4pm: Ciders of Spain founding importer James Asbel will be on hand to taste through a selection of his unique portfolio

Jerry's 4th Annual Oak & Iron

The 4th Annual Oak & Iron IV: A Bounty of Barrel-Aged Beers is Thursday, Feb 12th at Jerry's in Wicker Park. Celebrate an eve of magic, myth, and epic heroism. And beer. Lots of barrel-aged beer. 

Oak & Iron begins at 6 pm with an array of fantasy-inspired prog and assorted metals, while regaling you with tales from forgotten sword-wielding cinema on our ten-foot screen.

Live set of crazy rock and destroy your roll from Rabble Rabble at 11pm!

This event has NO entry fee and is pay as you go. Many of these beers are very limited so it's first come, first served for all. Fantasy costumes are encouraged, not required.

Tap List (All beers tap at 6:00 pm.):
Port Brewing / The Lost abbey Angel's Share
Avery Brewing Company Samael
Left Hand Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Wake Up Dead
Solemn Oath Brewery Patron Saint of Quality Footwear
Revolution Brewing Gravedigger Billy
Great Divide Brewing Company Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti
Founders Brewing Co. Backwoods Bastard
Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Barleywine
2013 Point Brewery Whole Hog Barrel-Aged Barleywine
Avery Brewing Company Tweak

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Return of Cider Summit Chicago to Navy Pier

SBS Imports and the Seattle Beer Collective are pleased to announce the return of their successful Cider Summit festival to Chicago, IL. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 in two sessions - 11am-3pm and 4pm-8pm in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

Cider Summit will feature over 120 ciders including regional favorites and international classics from countries such as England, Scotland, France, and Spain with owners and cidermakers will be on hand to inform and guide guests through the samplings.
Tickets are $30 and will be sold online only via Admission includes a souvenir tasting glass, 8 tasting tickets and a $1 donation to Heartland Alliance. Additional tasting tickets will be available for sale onsite at $2 per ticket. Designated driver tickets are available for $5, and include a bottle of water. A separate ticket is required for each session.

The Chicago Brew Bus will provide shuttle service starting at 10:30am between the Blue Line Grand stop, Red Line Grand-State stop, and Navy Pier throughout the day. CTA buses also run directly to Navy Pier. Onsite parking is available in the Navy Pier garages.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beer-Centric Holiday Gifts - 2014 Edition

By guest contributor MC Johnsen

The holiday season is upon us again! In search of beer-centric gifts for (myself and) others, I visited Chicago’s Renegade Craft Fair last weekend, held at the beautiful Bridegport Art Center. There I came across the following artists & makers who all had beverage-centric wares for sale, perfect for design and beer lovers alike:

Swoon Glassware from 3-Switch (starting at $48)
Patrick Fitzpatrick, Alex Zimmerman, and Brent Rogers create beautiful hand-blown glasses and decanters out of their studio right here in Chicago. Perfect for beer, wine, or spirits, you can purchase them in various sets, which include a wooden base to house the pieces. These glasses are special because of their pointy base; when placed on the table, they spin (or swoon, if you will) around on a point, without spilling the contents. The rotation of the glass also provides the perfect amount of agitation to release the flavors and aromas of the beverage held inside. Available on their website or Etsy store


Magnetic, Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener by Drop and Catch (starting at $50)
A bottle-opener attached to a smooth slab of stained wood, this piece uses magnetic power to catch bottle caps as they are popped off. One unit will catch as many as 60 bottle caps which accumulate below the release mechanism, or you can go big and get the opener that catches 100 caps. This piece, created by Joe Walsh, can be wall-mounted or will magnetically attach to the fridge. He also creates wooden 6-pack carriers and handheld openers, all available on his website.


Illustrated Beer & Food Pairings, Pint Glasses, and Tea Towels from RedCruiser ($4–$44)
If you’re looking for illustrated, handmade home goods with a focus on beer, look no further than RedCruiser, created by Heidi Schweigert of Minneapolis, MN. Heidi’s beautiful and playful beer and food illustrations can be found on tea towels in black & white, on a set of four pint glasses, or as full-color, frameable prints. I purchased the Beer & Food Calendar so I could enjoy her illustrations all year. All items, plus more are available in her Etsy shop



Dirty Dishes Beer Steins from My Only Regret Besides Dying ($20)
Emblazoned with phrases that would make a pirate blush, these oat-colored 22oz. steins are not for your grandmother, unless your grandmother loves dirty words. The steins’ original illustrations of hilariously humanlike animals come from the mind of Julie R. Madison, and can be purchased from her Etsy shop


Beer Soaps from Rinse Bath & Body ($6.95)
After those beer steins, you’ll need to wash your mouth out with soap… beer soap, that is! Heather Swanepoel hand-makes these beer soaps in a variety of scents, including Orange Blossom Pilsner, Pumpkin Ale, and even Blue Ribbon! I tried their Chocolate Stout soap, and found that the chocolate and roasted aroma of the stout really came through in the soap’s thick, bubbly lather–very nice! Available on her website


Single Bottle Caddy, Coasters, or Bottle Opener from RxMade ($6–$25)
Rebuilding Exchange here in Chicago uses reclaimed materials to create unique home goods with remarkable character. They made a variety of products, including furniture, and even teach building workshops. Available for purchase from their RxMade Store is a beautiful large-format bottle carrier with a leather strap, or you could opt for their bottle opener or wooden coaster set. All available on their store website

Friday, November 21, 2014

Evanston’s Sketchbook Brewing Company Opens for Business

From homebrewer, to Sam Adams "Longshot" winner, to professional brewer, Cesar Marron and his co-founder and business partner Shawn Decker will celebrate the Grand Opening of Sketchbook Brewing Company tonight – Friday, November 21, from 4p.m. to 8 p.m. Evanston’s first nanobrewery, Sketchbook is located in the Main and Chicago Business District, behind the orange door in the alley of 825 Chicago Avenue.

Below is a list of their current offerings for this weekend's event:

Snowy Owl Rye Amber, American Amber Al
Primo, Session IPA
Bud's Corvus, Dry Stout
Cheerio!, Oat and Wheat Porter
Smokey Jack, Pumpkin Saison
Sparta Tarta, Cherry Cider

The first 50 customers TONIGHT will receive a free growler with a beer fill purchase.


Sketchbook Brewing Company
825 Chicago Ave (Alley entrance)
Evanston, IL
Hours: Fri 4-8pm, Sat 12-6pm, Sun 12-4pm

Goddess Thanksgiving with Revolution Brewing and Chef Stephanie Izard

By guest contributor MC Johnsen

On Wednesday, November 12th, at Goddess and Grocer’s newly renovated Damen location, I had the pleasure of attending “Goddess Thanksgiving” dinner with beer pairings featuring the culinary talents of well-accoladed Chicago chef Stephanie Izard and the beers of local favorite, Revolution Brewing. Izard is also a local favorite – she was the first female to win Bravo TV’s Top Chef (2008) and is the Executive Chef of well-loved local restaurants, Girl and the Goat and Little Goat. Izard comedically narrated four demos of her cooking process to a lively crowd of fifty, which showcased her new line of three sauces and three rubs branded “The Flavor.”

Chef Stephanie Izard demos recipes featuring her product line, "The Flavor."
Throughout the course of the evening, we enjoyed Chef Izard’s dishes which were each thoughtfully paired with a Revolution beer. Stephanie only pressed pause to sip these delicious (and generous) three ounce pours, and to turn the floor over to Revolution Head Brewer, Jim Cibak, for some off-the-cuff beer schooling. Cibak explained the impetus behind each paired beer, and aptly reminded us all that brewing and cooking share a common key ingredient: balance.

Welcome Beer: Oktoberfest Marzen Style beer
We were each greeted with a pour of Revolution’s Oktoberfest, a well-balanced, bready beauty made from malt sourced entirely from Germany. Über-authentic and easy-drinking, this was a perfect gateway into the rich abundance of flavors we were about to experience.

1st Course: Fist City American Pale Ale, Holiday Brussels Sprouts + The Saute
After Cibak enumerated the aromatic qualities of this hoppy american pale ale – powerfully floral and citrusy in aroma, a creamy head of white foam, clear as a bell and golden orange in color with a citrusy hop bite – Stephanie regaled us (all while preparing the Brussels sprouts) with her own personal experience surrounding the uses of commercial hop pellets: “Don’t ever throw a hop pellet into your mouth.” The crowd roared.

Our Brussels sprouts arrived charred, quartered, and gleaming in butter, piled on the plate with purple radicchio leaves and crunchy Marcona almonds. “The Saute’s” fish flavors really came through as a fatty, quenching, umami sensation, which contrasted delightfully with the Fist City APA. Its citrusy floral elements were highlighted beautifully by the saltiness of the dish, and even some spicy herbal notes came forward to compliment the subtle, building heat from The Saute sauce.

2nd Course: Red Skull Imperial Red Ale, Butternut Squash Kimchee + The Chee
Next came butternut squash “quick kimchee.” Stephanie used The Chee sauce to speedily impart a fermented soybean flavor to paper-thin squash shavings. Half-moon slices of fennel bulb and basil chiffonade completed this richly flavorful dish, which was expertly paired with an equally rich beer.

A ruby red color, Red Skull’s sweet aroma contrasted perfectly with the spicy, pickled scent coming off the bright orange plate of salty squash. The sweet malt of the boozy beer stood up strongly next to the powerful kimchee flavors, tasting similarly spicy and herbal in comparison.

3rd Course: Eugene Porter, Peking Style Roasted Turkey + The Marinade,
Croissant Turkey Gravy, + Rub #1, Spiced Apple Sausage Stuffing + Rub #2
My favorite pairing of the night came third. Nothing could have prepared my taste buds for the utter salivation and joy they experienced when Izard plopped the tray of just-prepared spiced apple and sausage stuffing with peking-style roasted turkey, smothered in croissant turkey gravy onto the table I serendipitously chose as mine. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. Yes, I gobbled more than I should have. No, I did not care – it was #goddessthanksgiving, dammit.

This particularly decadent dish was paired with Revolution’s Eugene Porter, a dark black beer with garnet highlights, this opaque brew was smooth and barely bitter with hints of coffee and caramel and a slightly fruity, roasted chocolate finish. When paired with the dish, the beer’s fruity sweetness was really brought to the forefront, its roasted malt finish effortlessly melding with the flavors of the roasted meat and the sliced apples. Absolutely delightful… and I’m drooling just thinking about it.

4th Course: Gravedigger Billy Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, Pecan Not Pie + The Marinade
Chef Stephanie left us with a scoop of sweet vanilla gelato topped with warmed pecan pieces smothered in browned butter, sugar, and cream. The decadent dessert was paired with Gravedigger Billy, a 10.4% ABV Scotch ale aged in Old Forrester Woodford Reserve barrels for 6 months. This boozy, sweet, strong beer was a caramel brown hue that tasted like a maraschino cherry dipped in bourbon. This beer, quite literally, was the liquid cherry on top of a mound of gooey pecan goodness, its candied flavors in perfect harmony with the sweet, creamy treat. 

Jim Cibak, MC Johnsen, Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard truly put on a cooking clinic, giving us all a delicious taste of what it’s like to observe someone in their element, doing what they’re meant to do on this planet earth. Goddess and Grocer was the most gracious hostess, and the Revolution beers were the icing on the cake (or the topping on the not-pie). Cheers to all, and thanks for a night my taste buds and tummy won’t soon forget. 

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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Barrel-Aged Beer-Filled Week In Chicago

This weekend marks the Annual Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB), here in Chicago, drawing breweries from around the nation to our fine city with kegs of delicious, wood-aged beer. If you did not get tickets to the sold out fest, have no fear, as Chicago's craft beer bars are filled with opportunities to get your lips on some of these award-winning beers throughout the week, and meet the brewers behind them.

Upland Brewing Co., Tour de Sour - Five events held over four nights, each featuring super rare (and surprise) sour and barrel aged beer that rarely make it to Chicago.
Nov. 12th - Bangers & Lace (1670 W. DIVISION ST), 6PM
ov. 13th - Logan Arcade (2532 W. FULLERTON AVE), 7PM
ov. 14th - Old Town Social (455 W. NORTH AVE)
ov. 15th - Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar (960 W. 31ST ST), 7PM
ov. 15th - Moxee Kitchen & Madmouse Brewery (724 W. MAXWELL ST.)

Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub
Nov. 10-16th – "3rd Base," Oak Aged Belgian Triple, aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces (11.2%)
Nov. 14th (Friday only) –
2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout on draft all day and bottles of 2013 BCBS Backyard Rye (dine-in only).   
Nov. 14-15th – "Cran-Bruin," Flemish Style Sour Brown Ale with Cranberries, aged in oak barrels with Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces (5.2 %).

Surly Beer Dinner and Tap Takeover - Surly's return to Chicago: 1 Year Anniversary Dinner featuring 5 courses and 9 Super rare beers, 20 seats only. Tickets. Nov. 12th, 6pm

Local Option, Jonny Coffman's Bottle Rockets' Autumn Bottle Share - Epic bottle share, keg of Metropolitan Brewing Magnetron, as well as an ever-impressive tap list of stouts and barrel-aged beers. Nov. 12th, 7:30pm

Thanksgiving Dinner with Stephanie Izard and Revolution Brewing - Chef Stephanie Izard will be preparing recipes featuring products from her line of sauces and spices. Each course will be thoughtfully paired with a beer from Revolution Brewing, including their barrel-aged Scotch ale, Gravedigger Billy. Tickets and more info here. Goddess & Grocer Bucktown location. 
Nov. 12th, 6:30pm 

Hopleaf, Tri-Coastal Beer Dinner - Join the chefs of Hopleaf in collaboration with The Bruery's Jonas Nemura, Allagash, and Penrose for a 6-course beer pairing dinner. Tickets and more info here. Nov. 12th, 7pm 

4 Hands FoBAB Pre-Party, Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar
Featuring barrel-aged drafts including Cuvee Diable and Late Harvest Saison plus Ca$h Mony, Passion Fruit Prussia and 2013 Bana Fide. Food by Won Kim – Gochujang chorizo chili, fingerling potatoes, beer cheese, leeks and sweet onions that pairs nicely with the featured beers. Nov. 12th, 7pm

SmallBar Division, THE WRAP PARTY - After 10 years, SmallBar Division is set to close after one last night of the very best beer. Brewers on hand with tappings from Allagash, Avery, Firestone Walker, Goose Island, Half Acre, New Belgium, Three Floyds, Perennial and more! Nov. 13th, noon - close

The Village Tap, Second Annual “Couldn’t get a Ticket to FOBAB Barrel Aged Beer Event” - featuring 20+ barrel-aged beers from breweries such as Allagash, Central Waters, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Goose Island, Revolution, Surly and more!
Nov. 13th, 5pm through Nov. 16th (while supplies last) 

Against The Grain Brewery/Takeshi Brew/Marz collaboration release, Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar - Tapping of "Umami," Barrel-aged Imperial Stout with 80's Youtube Karaoke!
Nov. 13th, 8pm 

Northdown, Baller Barrel-Aged Beer Bash - Meet the brewers and enjoy draft rarities from: Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, Perennial Artisan Ales, Off Color Brewing, Side Project Brewing. Nov. 13th, 6pm

Whole Foods Kingsbury, Red Star Bar - Stone's Arrogant Birthday - Join Stone Brewing Company's Steve Gonzales for some barrel-aged beers and Q&A to celebrate Stone's Arrogant Birthday.
Nov. 13th, 5pm 
The Beer Temple, Abraxas Day - Perennial has chosen The Beer Temple for their annual Abraxas Day release. Abraxas, an Imperial Stout brewed with Ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks, is one of America's most delicious stouts and a highlight of Perennial's many offerings. Nov. 14th, 2-5pm
  • Bottle sales begin at 3:00PM
  • First 100 people will get a chance to win other Perennial beers, store discounts, glassware, clothing and more!
  • A small bottle share will take place the hour before from 2:00 - 3:00 at the back entrance of the shop.
  • Small Bar Logan will be serving Abraxas 2013, Abraxas 2014 and Coffee Abraxas in coordination with our event.

    Upland Brewing Presents a Winter Warmer, Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar - Featuring their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Warmer, Dragonfly IPA and Dantalion Wild Dark Ale. To compliment these specialty brews, Chef Won Kim will be cooking in our outdoor patio grill a complimentary menu consisting of platters of barbecue chicken, potato salad, grilled vegetables and hot links.
    Nov. 15th, 7pm 

    Other exceptional spots to keep an eye to the taplist this week:
    Jerry's (Wicker Park and Andersonville), Fountainhead, The Map Room, Half Acre Taproom, Revolution Taproom, Binny's South Loop and Lincoln Park Tasting Rooms.

    Looking for something different...

    Kaiser Tiger's Lagerfest - Drink your way through lager history with their "Evolution of the Pilsner flight" featuring 8 lagers on tap including Pilsner Urquell and Weihenstephaner.
    Nov. 14th, 7pm

    Paddy Long's Barrel-Aged Malort and Cheap Beer Festival -  featuring 12 Cheap Beers from around the country $3 each, Regular and Barrel-Aged Malort shots.
    Nov. 15th, 8pm

    Don't forget about the upcoming #GooseIslandBlackFriday release of the 2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout variants. Events hit Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 26th. For more information visit the event website.