Tuesday, February 26, 2013

March Craft Beer Events

Thirsty for something to do this month? Here are the Chicago craft beer events we're excited about...

Windy City BrewHAHA - Bridgeport Art Center 1200 W. 35th St Chicago, IL
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild brings you a celebration of the best brewers in the Chicagoland area at the Bridgeport Art Center this Saturday. Tickets are $45 per person (includes unlimited amount of tasting of 25+ beers from local brewers, and a souvenir mini beer stein for tasting)
For a list of participating breweries, click here
Saturday, March 2nd, 2013. Session 1: 1pm – 4pm Session 2: 6pm – 9pm

Sausage Fest - Haymarket Pub 737 W. Randolph St Chicago, IL
One of Haymarket's most popular events is returning on Saturday, March 9! Join them for housemade sausages, artisanal cheeses and loads of amazing local craft beer. An entry ticket gets you a pairing of 10 sausages, 10 cheeses and 20 craft beers from 18 local breweries.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here
Saturday, March 9th 1pm-9pm

So Fresh with Fish Bar & Half Acre - Half Acre Taproom 4257 N Lincoln Ave Chicago IL
Half Acre Beer Company and Fish Bar Chicago are pleased to present an interactive brewery tour/beer dinner combination that is unlike any beer dinner you've experienced before. This event has been planned around the central theme of keeping things fresh. So fresh. The tour, food, and beers will highlight this importance, showcasing what freshness adds to the eating and drinking experience.

You'll be treated to a dinner during the tour, with the food paired with beers that bring out the best in each other, and you'll have the option to create your own pairing for the final course. At the end of the tour, you'll be sent home with a Half Acre pint glass plus a trinket from Fish Bar.
Tickets are SOLD OUT.
Monday, March 11th. 7:30pm - 10:30pm

FOOD PAIRINGS- Ceviche w/ Half Acre Lager
- Oyster w/ Baumé Chocolate Rye Stout
- Smoked trout w/ Bones + All Belgian Brown Ale
- Octopus Salad w/ Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
- Lobster Roll & Key Lime Pie w/ a pairing of your choice

3rd Annual Chowdah Fest - Columbia Yacht Club, Navy Pier
Get a taste of the East Coast when 15 local chefs will battle it out to win the title of "Best Chowdah in Town". Goose Island will be there pouring beer. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here
Monday, March 11th, 6:30pm - 9pm

Goose Island Stout Festival - Clybourn Brewpub 1800 N Clybourn Ave Chicago, IL
The annual Stout Fest will have 15+ area breweries and their brewers on hand, pouring their handcrafted Stouts.
Tickets are SOLD OUT.
Saturday, March 16th. 12pm-4pm

Breweries Attending:
Atlas Brewing Co.
Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery
Destihl Brew Works
Deschutes Brewery
Goose Island Clybourn
Goose Island Beer Co.
Half Acre Beer Co.
Haymarket Pub & Brewery
Lucky Monk Brewery
Revolution Brewing
Rock Bottom Chicago
Rock Bottom Warrenville
Pig Minds Brewing Co.
Pipeworks Brewery
Wild Onion Brewery
& more

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ManBQue + Barley's Angels Valentine's Mixer at Local Option

Tired of the same old Valentine's Day dinner plans? Looking for some great craft beer to distract from all of the fuss? Local Option doesn't care if your coupled or single, a romantic or a VDay hater - everyone's invited to this mixer event at one of the city's favorite craft beer bars. On Thursday, February 14th a three course meat and beer pairing dinner will be hosted by Chicago's own grilling club, ManBQue and ladies-who-love-craft-beer club Barley's Angels.

February 14th, 8pm 
Local Option 1102 W Webster Ave  Chicago, IL 60614 [map
Tickets are $30, buy here

Guests are welcomed with a Local Option Dampf Loc 

Course One
Grilled beef heart crostinis, topped with a smoky, raspberry framboise sauce paired with Haandbryggeriet Krekling 

Course Two
Duo of beer braised pork belly, one sweet and one spicy. Served with a side of greens lightly topped with a hops vinaigrette. Paired with Hitachino Commemorative Ale

Course Three
Chocolate torte with bacon studded chocolate crust and boozy cherries. 
Paired with Hof Ten Sherry Barrel-Aged Dormaal #5 
(Provisions for gluten-intolerant or vegetarian guests will not be made for this event.)

In addition, Local Option will have the following beer on tap Thursday night:
Against The Grain Da Butt
Against The Grain Shart Pants
Alvinne MelchoirBell’s ExpeditionBell’s Hopslam
Boulevard Tank 7
Central Waters Lac Du Bay
Central Waters Mud Puppy
Central Waters Y2K Barley Wine
Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
Djœvlebryg Gudeløs
Emelisse Triple IPA
Firestone Walker DBA
Founders Imperial Stout
Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
Green Flash Belgian Blond
Green Flash Friendship
Goose Island BCS
Haandbryggeriet Kreklingøl *(1st course pairing)
Hitachino Commemorative Ale* (2nd course pairing)
Hof Ten Dormaal #5 Sherry* (3rd course pairing)
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere
Local Option Bierwerker Dampf Loc* (Welcome beer)
Local Option Bierwerker Morning Wood
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale
Perennial Vermillion
Prof Fritz Briem 13th Century Grutbier
Three Floyds Gumballhead
Three Floyds Zombie Dust

Barley's Angels is a growing collection of individual chapters around the world that work with craft beer focused breweries, brewpubs, restaurants, alehouses and other public beer establishments to advance the female consumer craft beer enthusiast, resulting in increased patronage and revenue from women, while encouraging education and interest in beer among this often under-recognized demographic group.

ManBQue is a Chicago-based grilling club that holds monthly private grill-based MEATings, offers catering and culinary instruction, and pairs with local bars and restaurants for events that emphasize food, beer, and music. Started in 2007 as a males-only monthly gathering, ManBQue has expanded to co-ed public events, cooking classes, a line of sauces, and a grilling book coming in 2014 from Running Press. But as ever, they gather on the last Thursday of each month to sear meat, drink craft beer, and listen to music at ear-splitting volume. If it's loud, delicious, and/or smells of wood smoke, it's probably ManBQue-approved.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beer + Chocolate = Love

For those chocoholics it's difficult to believe that your favorite desserts could get any better. However, stout has a distinctive flavor derived from the massive amounts of dark malts and a creamy body that give cakes and other chocolate desserts an intense, dark chocolate flavor that is not-too-sweet. Below are two of my favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy!

Mole Stout Truffles with caramel malt garnish
- 8 oz Chocolate, 62% Cacao Semisweet, chopped
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 4 TBSP Stout (see suggestions below)
- 8 oz Dark Chocolate, 71% Cacao, chopped
- 2 TBSP Fleur de Sel Salt, or other garnish to top (optional) - I used crushed 20L Caramel malt which added a touch of sweet, crunchy texture

Take 8 oz of semisweet chocolate and chop into small pieces (which will help the chocolate melt faster). Place in a stainless steel bowl that will fit on top of a small pan filled with a few inches of water (double boiler). Place the pan over medium heat (a rapid boil will make the chocolate burn too fast). Be careful as to not get any water into the chocolate. Add the cream and beer of choice. With a spatula, stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the cream/beer has been incorporated into the chocolate. Remove from heat and let sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes, or until the mixture is the consistency of peanut butter. You can speed this process up by placing the bowl into the refrigerator, stirring every few minutes. 

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper. Using a melon baller or a teaspoon, make small uniform balls and place onto the wax paper. Trying not to over handle the chocolate mixture too much, causing them to melt - use your palms to roll each into a round ball and place back onto the wax paper. Once all the chocolate has been rolled, place the plate back into the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until firm. 

Take the 8 oz of dark chocolate, chop into small pieces, add to another stainless steel bowl. Place over a small pan on medium heat as before and stir with a spatula until chocolate has melted. Take a cake cooling rack, and place a piece of wax paper underneath. Remove your truffles the refrigerator, one at a time, drop into the melted chocolate, turning with a skewer or small untensil, until the truffle is fully coated. Remove from the melted chocolate, place on the rack, and place a pinch of salt (or garnish) on top of each before it cools. Once the chocolate has hardened, place into a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

*Beer suggestions: Any traditional dry or oatmeal stouts work. Some of my favorites are Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Arcadia Cocoa Loco, Founders Breakfast Stout, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Southern Tier Jah-va Coffee Stout, Ska Mole Stout.
** Added Tip: The higher alcohol content of the beer, the more difficult it is to get the chocolate filling to the right consistency. I was rather ambitious with my first batch and decided to make Goose Island Bourbon County Stout truffles. It was an absolutely delicious, but a little more difficult to hold it's rounded shaped treat. For my second batch I used Ska Brewing Mole Stout which is around 5% - the consistency was much more desirable.


Cocoa Loco Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Cake Ingredients: 
- 1 cup stout (see suggestions below)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter - 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder - 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar - 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs - 3/4 cup sour cream

Icing Ingredients:
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 pound dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
In another medium mixing bowl combine the stout, softened butter. Beat in eggs. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Lightly grease 24 muffin tins (or use muffin liners). Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 10 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool.
Icing Directions:
Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours.

Frost cupcakes with a small knife or spatula. Or for an added tip spoon frosting into a resealable bag, cut a small end off of a bottom corner to use as a piping bag. Frost in a circular motion. Dust with cocoa powder or sprinkles.

*Beer suggestions: Any traditional dry or oatmeal stouts work. Some of my favorites are Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Arcadia Cocoa Loco, Founders Breakfast Stout, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Southern Tier Jah-va Coffee Stout, Ska Mole Stout.

For a 3-layer cake version, double the ingredients and follow these instructions.
Cake Directions: Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

Icing Directions: Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours. Place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. 

Makes 12 servings.


Chocolate Dessert Pairings

Of course chocolate desserts marry well with a dark, creamy stout or bourbon-aged Imperial Stout, but if you're looking to mix it up a bit lambics and krieks are a fantastic choice. These Belgian style fruit beers are lighter in body and sweeter in flavor, nicely balancing rich desserts and also appeal well to the wine drinkers.

Featured here are an Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier (Cherry Kriek), Lindemans Framboise (Raspberry) Lambic and a Chapeau Banana Lambic which was surprisingly clean and crisp.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Allagash Coolship: Resurgam Release

Written by Dave Leshinski

Portland, Maine’s Allagash Brewing has always had a soft spot for experimenting with Belgian brewing traditions. From barrel aging with fruit, to wild yeast strains, there isn’t much they haven’t done. 

In the fall of 1997, the brewery decided to take it a step further and bring back a very old and traditional process of cultivating wild yeast from their own back yard. They built a coolship, which is a large, shallow metal pan that quickly cools the freshly brewed wort over night, as well as letting the naturally occurring wild yeast in the air to inoculate their beer. The wort is then placed in wooden barrels to ferment for up to 3 years, or whenever the brewery deems it fit for consumption.

Their Coolship series is very limited due to the length of time it takes for the beer to mature. It is only sold from the brewery and is rarely publicized with hopes that each batch will be readily available to the beer enthusiasts that visit and tour the facility.

Allagash's Coolship. (Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company)

Spontaneous yeast getting wild. (Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company)

Luckily, being the beer stalker I am, I found out that they released Coolship Resurgam the beginning of January and still had plenty of bottles left. I immediately rushed to Portland and snagged 2 bottles.

Coolship Resurgam is a gueuze style beer, that is a blend of one, two, and three year old, un-fruited coolship. It pours a hazy, straw color with a sizable head. Aromas of freshly milled grain, citrus and yeast are present. Tart and lemony up front on the palate, there is a pleasant “funk” from the wild yeast, with a refreshing, peppery finish. It is definitely one of the most balanced and flavorful examples of gueuze I have tried yet. Let’s just say that the second bottle in my cellar will not be around very long.