Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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.
 
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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.
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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 www.bottleneckmgmt.com

* 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.

Monday, September 29, 2014

October Beer Events We're Excited About

Women Working in Mixed Media: She's Crafty
October 22nd, 6pm
Chop Shop, 2033 W North Ave, Chicago IL
tickets $30, 2/$50

WWIMM is back in action with a new networking event in honor of Oktoberfest devoted to women working in the craft beer industry. Come meet the top women working in the field with our interactive panel, while tasting some of our favorite craft brews.
Panelist include:
Claudia Jendron - Brewer, Temperance Beer Company
Kate Bernot - Nightlife Reporter, RedEye
Kim Leshinski - Design Consultant and Event Curator, Hail To The Ale
Monica Mooney - Field Sales Representative, Bell's Brewery, Inc. (Official)




The Hirter Überbrew Homebrew Contest
Submissions due October 3rd
Judging and Awards Ceremony, October 11th, 7pm
Dank Haus, 4740 N Western Ave, Chicago IL

Only a few days remain to enter your best German-style homebrew into this unique competition hosted by Austrian Euro Craft brewery, Hirter Bier in collaboration with Square Kegs Homebrew Club and Louis Glunz Beer.  

Register your homebrew here!

Come by the DANK Haus following the Uberbrew Homebrew Competition judging for the official awards ceremony, with special guests Klaus Möller and Nikolaus Riegler – 5th and 6th generation Owners of Brauerei Hirt, makers of Hirter Bier.
 

Winners of each category will be announced as well as the grand prize winner, who will receive a $1500 scholarship to Siebel Institute. Beer and food will be available to purchase. Live music. No cover. More info here.




C.H.A.O.S. Brew Club Harvest Fest
October 18th, 6pm
2417 W Hubbard St, Chicago IL 
$30 Trial Membership

Join the C.H.A.O.S. Home Brew Club for their annual Harvest Fest, boasting over 30 beers on tap, a Thanksgiving-style buffet, raffle prizes. Oh, and a 30-day trial membership to check out their unique, brew-on-premise facility. More info.




DryHop Brewer's Evening of Pumpkin Beers
October 30th, 6pm
3155 N Broadway Ave, Chicago IL

For the second year DryHop will tap their delicious pumpkin stout "Starry Night In A Sleepy Hollow" in celebration of Halloween. They'll be sharing the taps with an extensive lineup of craft brewed pumpkin ales, including local offerings. Full list to come. 5oz pumpkin flights and food specials will be available.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Best of Belgian Fest 2014


Goose Island's Belgian Fest is always a happy and hearty way to ring in the fall season. Coinciding with Riot Fest, Great Lakes Brew Fest, and many other events that weekend made this perhaps one of the most under-attended Goose Island events we've experienced. But with copious amounts of Belgian-style beer flowing, a manageable crowd, and zero lines, we certainly weren't complaining. 

The Goose Island Clybourn brewers were indeed the shining star as expected, showcasing experimental, small batch recipes aged in various barrels and bursting with complex flavors. With quite a few of the expected players absent (Half Acre, Pipeworks, Solemn Oath, Three Floyds, Une Annee) left opportunity to spend time with newcomers such as 4 Hands, Aquanaut, Middle Brow, Rude Hippo, Scorched Earth, Bucket List and Moody Tongue.

The common theme of the menu – experimentation. Each brewery had their own spin on the traditional concept of Belgian recipes, pushing the boundaries of beer styles. Collaboration with local coffee roasters is as prevalent as ever, with local, farm-fresh fruit additions in a close second place. A number of breweries including 4 Hands and Transient Artisan Ales showcased beers on the wild side, marrying the Belgian spice characteristics with the tropical fruit and citrus esters from Brett and Lacto fermentation.

Below is a wrap-up of our stand out beers for the day.

Vainglorious, Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub
Full-bodied Belgian stout, split batched and aged in red wine and bourbon barrels respectively. Blended back together with Intelligentsia coffee and black raspberries from Mick Klug Farms. Jammy fruit throughout, sweetness balanced with the roast of the coffee.
(10%)

Robyn Dark Matter Coffee Remix, Middle Brow Beer Co.
Blonde, abbey-inspired farmhouse ale blended with Dark Matter coffee, aged in Goose Island Lolita barrels. Coffee flavor was earthy and well balanced with the ale body. Subtle spice and fruit notes throughout. (6.9%)

Super Flare, 4 Hands/Wicked Weed
100% Brettanomyces fermented IPA with tangerine zest, guava and mango. Dry-hopped with Galaxy and Mosaic. Tropical fruit forward, harmonious, zesty, minimal Brett funkiness. (7%)

Jaggery Tripel, Ten Ninety Brewing 
For the traditionalist, looking to be impressed – a Belgian-style Tripel brewed with jaggery sugar. Complex notes from beginning to end. Residual sweetness lingers with flavors of caramelized sugar, molasses, spice and vanilla. This would be an amazing pairing for rich cheeses or dessert. (11%)

Stella, Aquanaut Brewing
Our first experience with this brewery was a very pleasant one. Full bodied, aromatic Belgian Tripel with notes of creme brulé, clove, cinnamon, floral hops. Smooth caramel, vanilla, malty sweet finish with just a bit of heat that makes it a smooth sipper. (10.8%)

Two Weeks Less, Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub
A cask conditioned wild ale aged 4 months in oak barrels. Citrus fruit aroma, juicy, tart wild peach flavor with a lingering toasted wheat finish. Sweet upfront with a light, tart finish. (5.6%)

(L) The beautiful ruby-colored Vainglorious. (R) Enjoying American-style Belgian beer & football in the Karl Strauss room.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Harvest Ales Deconstructed


What are hops?
Hops are the seed cones of the plant species Humulus lupulus. They grow vertically on hop “bines” that can span anywhere from 10-20 ft high, and thrive in climates similar to wine grapes that have at least 120 frost-free days. Hops have lupulin glands that contain oils essential to brewing that contribute bittering and aroma to beer. 

How are hops harvested?
When hops reach their maturity (usually mid August) the harvest season begins. Hop farmers work around the clock to cut down the bines and send them through machines that separate the cones from the vines and leaves. Hops are extremely delicate and start decaying very quickly, which is why most are immediately dried to preserve the flavors and aromas.

What are fresh hop beers?
Fresh hop, wet hop, or harvest beers refer to a seasonal style of beer in which hops, within 24-48 hours of being picked, are quickly transported and used to brew a beer that highlights the fresh “green” aroma and local origin.

When did harvest ales originate?
Sierra Nevada was the first brewery to take advantage of the fresh-hop process in creating their Harvest Ale in 1996 (now called Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale) and has made it every year since. The close proximity to hop farms in Oregon and Washington was a huge benefit to breweries in the Pacific Northwest, who quickly jumped on the seasonal trend.

With the growing number of hop farms in Michigan and Wisconsin, Midwest breweries are now able to more easily create harvest ales. Many pay special visits to their local hop farm leading up to harvest season to walk the fields and choose their own hops. Harvest Ales have become as much of a fall tradition in American craft beer as the Oktoberfest style is in Europe.


How are fresh hops used in beer?
Fresh hops are typically used in beers such as IPAs and Pale Ales. Since the moisture level is much higher than in the dried pellet versions, they are less bitter and best utilized as an aroma addition, towards the end of the boil. Some brewers use fresh hops to “wet hop” a beer during fermentation, similar to dry hopping with pellet hops.

The ratio of fresh to dried is approximately 6:1 and depends on the Alpha Acid of each hop variety. There are tools available online and in programs such as BeerSmith to help with the conversion. 

What are some examples of harvest ales I should try? 
Harvest ales typically hit shelves mid-September through early October and are best consumed fresh!

Locally brewed in the Midwest
Three Floyds - Broo Doo, IPA
Half Acre - Sticky Fat, American Dark Ale
Two Brothers - Heavy Handed, IPA
Two Brothers - Heavier Handed, DIPA
Founders - Harvest Ale, IPA
Greenbush - Demeter, American Pale Ale
Shorts Brewing - Kind Ale, American Pale Ale
New Holland - Hopivore, Pale Ale
Upland Brewing - Harvest Ale, American Pale Ale
Three Sheeps - Nimble Lips, Noble Tongue Vol. 4
Lake Effect/Fountainhead Collab - 27 Blocks, IPA

National distribution
Great Divide - Fresh Hop, Pale Ale
Left Hand Brewing - Warrior, IPA
Port Brewing - High Tide Fresh Hop, IPA
Deschutes Hop Trip, Pale Ale
Deschutes Chasin Freshies, American IPA
New Belgium - Fresh Hop, IPA
Sixpoint - Sensi Harvest, Pale Ale – check out this great harvest video they made.

Sierra Nevada celebrates the seasonal release of their 5 beer “Harvest Series”, showcasing a range of hop techniques and origins, with a “Single, Fresh, Wet and Wild Harvest Fest” at their estate hop fields in October.
Where can I read more about hops?
For the Love of Hops, Stan Hieronymus
Tasting Beer, Randy Mosher
The Complete Beer Course, Joshua M. Bernstein
Hop Variety Handbook, Dan Woodske

For information on growing your own hops, check out this resource from Midwest Supplies.






Wednesday, September 3, 2014

6 Design Observations from the Craft Beer Aisle

We were recently approached by the folks at Top Hat IMC, a Marketing and PR firm in Philadelphia, to write a guest blog post on craft beer label design. We happily obliged and welcomed the opportunity to explore, from a Nationwide perspective, the current design trends and best practices taking place in the craft beer industry.

For the full story click here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chicago Beer Gals at Lagunitas Taproom

For our next Chicago Beer Gals event we'll be taking it to the new Lagunitas Taproom and brewery in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

We will be joined by special guest Lagunitas Brewmaster Mary Bauer.

Tickets include sampling of beers, private brewery tour and light snacks.

Advanced tickets required & can be purchased HERE.

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The Chicago Beer Gals Collective is a series of craft beer events connecting enthusiasts with women in the industry. Events produced by www.hail2theale.com 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dogs Love Homebrewers Too

If you're a homebrewer and dog lover we have the perfect solution for all of those left over spent grains after a brew day. Simply cool your grains and use to make spent grain dog biscuits that your pup will go nuts over. We stored our spent grain in gallon ziplock bags and froze until ready to bake.

Cookie Ingredients:
4 cups spent grain
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup all natural peanut butter
2 eggs
cookie cutters (we love the dog bone shape)

(optional glaze – MUST be applied before baking
Glaze Ingredients:
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp water
liquid food coloring
pastry brush

yield: approx 4 dozen cookies


Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
2. Flour surface, roll out cookie dough to 1/4 inch and then cut a shape out of them. (Due to the texture it is hard to get a clean cut and some gentle shaping was necessary).
3. If using colored cookie glaze – whisk together ingredients (add color as desired), paint onto cookies with a pastry brush.
4. Put the cookies into a pre-heated oven of 350 degrees.
5. Cook for about 45 mins.
6. Turn off oven for 30 mins and then heat again for 2 hours at 225.
7. Turn off oven and let sit in oven overnight or for 2-3 hours. This helps the cookies get completely dried-out so they don’t get moldy. If the cookies don’t have a hearty snap to them they are not dry enough.
8. Store up to 2 weeks in airtight tupperware, ziplocks or package in cellophane candy bags or with bakers twine as gifts for your dog-loving friends.

Just a few satisfied tasters: