Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicago's Women of Craft Beer - 2013 Edition

When I first started homebrewing beer it was for the pure curiosity of the craft. The joy that came from creating something that had such a social and collaborative power to connect people is what turned my hobby into a passion.

After seeing the documentary “The Love of Beer” which follows the rise of women in the beer industry I was inspired to learn that historically in almost every culture, women were the brewers. Women love beer, they just haven't been spoken to by the beer industry really ever.

"The opportunity for all beer companies, no matter how large or small they are, to market authentically, accurately and appropriately to women... is explosive. It's clear that the passion is about the beer... it's about an intelligent beverage for great people." - Ginger Johnson, Women Enjoying Beer

Realizing that a female-focused event had never taken place during Chicago Craft Beer WeekI was eager to put together a night that celebrated Chicago’s own women in the craft beer industry. I started reaching out to see who might be interested in getting involved and was completely blown away by the response. As I began to get to know these women better the thing that really stood out to me, aside from the apparent passion and drive - was the unanimous response that their favorite part about working in the craft beer industry was the camaraderie. That no matter their gender, background, brewery they work for - everyone wants everyone to succeed. This event has been yet another affirmation of that spirit. 

The past two months have been an amazing opportunity to unite a group of women, most who had never met each other, to build a stronger network AND brew an all-women collaboration beer. “99 Problems”, a Saison with ginger and chamomile, brewed together at Rock Bottom Chicago will be tapped as part of Chicago Craft Beer Week at Riverview Tavern on Thursday, May 23rd. Event Info.

Below is an introduction to many of the women involved in the event, who are helping to make the Midwest Craft Beer scene what it is. We hope to see you at Riverview Tavern to say hi and share a pint!

Ashleigh Arnold, who grew up in St. Louis (home of AB) thought of beer as colorless and flavorless, until she tried her first sip of a stout and was hooked! The complex flavors immediately appealed to her and she became a 24/7 beer lover. She’s since relocated to join Two Brother’s as Production Brewer. Ashleigh loves to brew to Indie Rock like Wilco and The Lumineers, as it keeps her grounded and focused. She notes that “Nightly cleanup is when the dance party starts”. Ashleigh is proud to promote her latest beer "SideKick" and has found with hard work and perseverance, everything falls into place. She finds dating to be the real challenge however, saying “Not too many men want a woman who has a more physical job and more beer knowledge.” 

Claudia Jendron recently made the move to Head Brewer, helping Temperance Brewing in Evanston to start up shop. Her appreciation of beer started at a very young age, watching her Granddad homebrew. She even held the coveted role of throwing the hops in the kettle. He was a stout lover, as is Claudia. Her favorite thing about brewing is finishing a long day and feeling so good about what she’s accomplished, barely feeling tired, just happy that making beer is what she’s doing for a living. Her advice to women in the industry, “Women have always played a major part in the beer making process, and you deserve to be where you are right now. From our exceptional palates to our hard work ethic, there will always be a place for women in the future.”

Hayley Shine recently relocated from Miami, FL, in the middle of winter non-the-less, to become Regional Brewer at Rock Bottom Chicago. Her love for craft began by homebrewing in college and quickly grew from there. When not brewing at Rock Bottom, or attending some of her favorite events like the Craft Beer Conference, she’s likely enjoying a hoppy session beer or flanders red. She shared some of her favorite food and beer pairings which include IPA and Chicago mix popcorn or Oktoberfest with pretzels and mustard. 
Beer Geek Alert: She loves drinking beer in the shower.

Jill Sites is Owner of Greenbush Brewing and damn proud to be part of the Michigan craft beer scene (not to mention they’re rocking Chicago!). Jill’s been a craft beer lover since college. When the kids were drinking High Life, she was sipping a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, all the wiser. After a visit to Goose Island in Chicago, she was hooked. Her advice to women competing in a male-driven field, “Don’t let anything stand in your way. If this is what you want to do, be it brewing or anything else, do it. Make yourself indispensable. Don’t let them be able to do it without you. And when other men who haven’t figured out your worth but happen to be in the same field doubt you, just remember to dance circles around them.” Jill is also a firm believer that beer should be brewed to funk music, although almost all of their beer is brewed to metal. Either way, rock on Greenbush!

Carly Katz, Owner of Bottles & Cans in North Center was introduced to craft beer through her husband Joe, and the love continues to grow. Her go-to beer is Revolution’s Anti Hero IPA, however her biggest challenge right now has been being pregnant while opening and operating a beer store. Her favorite beer event is Durty Nellie’s Beer Fest, which she says is small but always a blast. Carly’s advice to women in beer, “Don’t ever feel like you don’t belong in that conversation. You are as knowledgeable and prettier!” 
Beer Geek Alert: Carly’s dream is to have two bulldogs and name them Porter and Stout. 

Did you know that 5 Rabbit's beer, "5 Lizard" is named after Chicago Tavern Historian Liz Garibay? Her website Tales, Taverns & Towns researches, reviews and documents history of Chicago taverns and beyond. She also provides historic consult in naming beer, which is how she met Randy Mosher. The biggest hurdle she's overcome is that the field of tavern history is pretty much non-existant. "I had to create the field on my own, in a way. Getting people to understand it's a true area of research and learning has been a bit difficult. You can lear a lot about history through bars and beer," says Liz. She's likely to be found drinking some of her local favorites like Half Acre Daisy Cutter, Lagunitas IPA, and of course 5 Lizard, which she says pairs wonderfully with steak or fish tacos.

Avid homebrewer and beer blogger for Girls Like Beer Too, Jessica Murphy first discovered craft beer through her husband Christopher and it continued to grow as she’s traveled. “That’s what’s great about beer,” Jess says, “there can be a brewery anywhere so it’s an awesome opportunity to get a taste of the local flavor.” Jessica’s favorite festival is Dark Lord Day. This year marked her 6th, in which she attended pregnant. What a sport! She misses having a beer at the end of a long day, but says she’s overcome it by really concentrating on aroma and appreciating how much it impacts the entire beer experience. “It does get a little awkward when I walk up and start smelling people’s beer, though.” We’ve got your back Jess, smell away!

Lorna Juett, fearless leader of the Chicago Barley’s Angels (a women only beer enthusiast club), regular contributor of the Chicagoist and Sales Rep for Windy City Distribution is fully immersed in the Chicago craft beer scene. As both a lover of beer and a natural educator she’s most comfortable behind the counter, pouring beer and turning people onto styles they are trying for the first time. Some of her favorites are IPAs and most recently sours and wild beers, especially with the weather warming up. Lorna says, “The wonderful thing about beer is that there is truly a style for every occasion, and there is no style I am adverse to and no beer I am not willing to try.” 
Beer Geek Alert: Lorna went to high school in Michigan with Larry Bell’s daugther. Ask her about the story!

It’s no secret that the President of Metropolitan Brewing’s, Tracy Hurst, is a fan of lagers. She finds them to exemplify the skill and expression of the brewer, sharing that “a well-made lager can stop me in my tracks.” Flywheel Bright Lager can always be found in her refrigerator, but has also been enjoying the new SideKick Pale Ale from Two Brothers. Her favorite festival is the Great Taste of the Midwest, put on by the Madison Homebrewers and Taster’s Guild. The event has become an annual retreat for the Midwest industry and is run and attended by people who truly love and appreciate craft beer, setting a standard in hospitality and honest celebration. Tracy’s words of wisdom to anyone in the beer industry, “Take good care of yourself. You’ll perform best at work – whether you’re brewing beer, out in the market selling beer, or involved in brewery operations – if you’re healthy and sharp.”

Two Brothers Brewer, Maryhelen Harper’s appreciation for craft beer grew while working at Oades Big Ten in Lansing, Michigan. Oades boasts a rotating selection of over 600 different beers available in single bottle, 4-pack, 6-pack or case. She graduated from Michigan State, but her Dad likes to joke that she attended Beer College. Right now she can’t get enough of Two Brothers new SideKick Extra Pale Ale and also shared that her favorite beer to cook with is Bell’s Two Hearted. Ask her about the fantastic asparagus recipe she uses it in! When not brewing and cooking, she loves attending beer festivals like Michigan Winter Beer Festival and Great Taste of the Midwest.

Ashley Hunsader, Control Lab Assistant at Two Brothers, graduated with a chemistry degree from Valparaiso University knowing that she wanted to work on something she personally enjoyed consuming. Having an appreciation for craft beer and the creativity that goes into recipe development led her to a career in the brewing industry. “Working at Two Brothers has given me the opportunity to experience a larger range of craft beer and continue working with a product I love,” says Ashley. She’s a big fan of sours and stouts, but always has Two Brothers beer in her fridge.

Shawna Carter, Sales Rep at Flossmoor Station love for beer crosses international borders, as she drank her first Guinness in Ireland and also attended Oktoberfest in Munich. She also enjoys Pale Ales and always has Three Floyd’s Gumball Head stocked in her fridge. She has found as a newcomer to the industry that hard work and persistence definitely pays off, sharing how much she enjoys meeting industry people. “ Any beer event you go to, someone always has a beer you’ve never tried and are always willing to pour you a taste of it.” Beer Geek Alert: Ask her about the chicken head mask she wears to Dark Lord Day.

Two Brothers Retail Manager Amanda Wells discovered a small brewery in Indiana, Back Road Brewery and upon drinking their Blueberry Amber was hooked on craft beer. Losing her job during the recession ended up being a blessing in disguise for Amanda because she started homebrewing, which led her to pursue a career in the craft beer industry. She’s a big fan of the Craft Brew Festival in Winter Park and always has something from Colorado stocking her refrigerator. Her favorite food and beer pairing are omelets with a blood orange Hefeweizen. 
Beer Geek Alert: She has a black Golden Doodle named Stout.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week Spotlight: Tighthead Brewing

Bruce Dir, Owner and Master Brewer of Tighthead Brewing Company in Mundelein started out as a homebrewer, judging and organizing homebrew competitions, researching beer history and it became a clear passion. He spent 20 years in Corporate America, making a good living but not necessarily loving it. “I had always wanted to have my own brewery as most homebrewers dream of”, says Bruce, “So when I lost my job a few years ago, I started thinking more seriously about pursuing it, with the support of my wife Molly”.

Bruce and Billy

The name Tighthead comes from a position Bruce played in rugby, a “tighthead prop” which is a position in the scrummage. He played for about 14 years and says the name is really just a corporate name, the beers have their own names and stories rather than an overall rugby theme.

Once Bruce knew owning a brewery was what he wanted to do, he enrolled in the 7 week Siebel course and finished the Associates Degree. “I was working with a friend who was brewing at Flatlanders. He let me come in and hang out on brew days so I was able to get the hands on experience while I was in the planning stages for Tighthead”, says Bruce. He began production in 2011 with the help of Head Brewer, Billy Oaks.

Bruce had been living in Mundelein for 16 years and wanted to build the brewery there to show support for the community. He had some concerns about Lake County not being a big craft market, but has enjoyed educating people and getting them to try new things. Tighthead gets a diverse crowd with the Tap Room, seeing a lot of people on Fridays and Saturdays before or after dinner for a few drinks or growler fills, which drives a lot of business. Bruce says Lake County has turned out to be a good market, with an increase in craft beer being distributed. “We don’t package yet, we’re draft only. Getting handles out at the bars can be a lot more challenging than dropping off a case of bottles, but it’s definitely getting better!”

Right now Tighthead is draft only and distributing kegs to about 120 bars across Lake, Cook and McHenry Counties. “My business plan all along was to start packaging in year two, and here we are. I’m putting together the plans for equipment to see what it’s going to look like and how to finance it. When we go to packaging we’re hoping to double our base following. There are so many places that just don’t have enough taplines, so bottles or cans will be huge. We have a huge boating and golfing community out here, so cans would be ideal for those reasons as well as beer quality and cost”, says Bruce.

They’ve launched with three core offerings - the Irie IPA, Comfortable Blonde and Scarlet Fire Red Ale, with a number of other “seasonal” offerings including some barrel-aged and cask batches.

Tighthead is excited to be more involved in Chicago Craft Beer Week this year, working on some specials at the Tap Room as well as tap takeovers at the craft bars they distribute to, getting the northern suburbs engaged. We're excited to see them in the city as well. The list of events are below.

In addition they’ll be putting on the Second Annual Mundelein Craft Beer Festival in June. Last year marked the first in the brewery’s parking lot, with over 850 people in attendance and 22 breweries represented. 400 of the 850 people were walkups making it hard to plan, but a big learning experience. “We worked closely with the Village and Mundelein Community Connections, a downtown redevelopment group for the downtown area, giving us access to some of the Village resources, which was very beneficial. We’ve got a couple bands lined up already and are hoping for 35 breweries and 1,300 people”, says Bruce. They’re working with the Chicago Brew Bus on some shuttles from the Libertyville Metra station, to be more accessible to people coming in from the city.

Here are a list of events you can expect to see Tighthead Brewing’s beer at:

May 16 - Garfield Park Conservatory, BUG (Beer under Glass)
May 17 - Lincoln Station (Chicago), Firkin Friday
May 18 - Fireside Restaurant (Chicago), Beer Dinner
May 20 - Firkin (Libertyville), Tap Takeover
May 21 - Village Tap (Chicago), Tap Takeover
May 25 - Park Tavern (Chicago), Beer Dinner

Mundelein Craft Beer Festival, Tighthead Brewing Parking Lot
Saturday, June 8th 1-5pm
Tickets are $35 in advance/$40 at the door and gets you a commemorative logo pint and unlimited 3 oz samples from 20 craft breweries, and live music. (food will be available for purchase). For more information visit

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CCBW Design Brought To You By Miaso Design!

Did you guys know there is not one, but five versions of the Chicago Craft Beer Week logo? As a design enthusiast, it definitely caught my eye! The variation speaks to all of the different events, venues, breweries, styles of beer... we love it!

The creativity behind the logos you're seeing for Chicago Craft Beer Week, Beer In Film (postponed to a later date), and West Loop Craft Beer Fest is brought to you by Chicago's own Kristin Miaso of Miaso Design

Make sure to check out her work and say hi when you see her out over the next 11 days!
Follow her on twitter @miasodesign

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week Spotlight: Jerry's Sandwiches

With over 300 events happening during the 11 day span of Chicago Craft Beer Week, choosing a handful to attend can be a bit overwhelming. Upon scanning the schedule, one of the venues that stood out the most to me was a... sandwich shop? I had heard of Jerry’s Sandwiches, but not having spent much time in Wicker Park, never had the pleasure. I was excited to see that they had recently opened an Andersonville location AND eager to find out about all of the great craft beer events they had lined up.

I was able to share a pint with Bar Managers/Beer Buyers Nick Bondi (Andersonville) and Chris Coons (Wicker Park) at the new location on Clark St. Both fellow beer nerds and former Haymarket Brewpub employees, they have an undeniable passion for craft beer. Nick has been with Jerry’s for 6 years now, previously at the Wicker Park location until this past fall when the Andersonville construction got underway. They anticipate doubling in size within a few months when the beer garden opens, which Nick has played a part in designing and constructing. Nick brought in Chris at that time to manage the bar in Wicker Park.

Both were previously craft beer fans, but seeing how beer is brewed and the community operates made them want to pursue careers in the industry. All Jerry’s servers and bartenders are Cicerone Certified, with the idea that people who are curious about craft beer can come to Jerry’s and get an educated answer. “As more people get into craft beer, we feel it’s important to have staff that can walk them through that without feeling intimidated. We take that part of training seriously, building a knowledge base and promoting an image of approachability”, says Nick.

“It’s a fun time to have so many great breweries making great beer to choose from. It’s a really good problem to have - more great beers than tap handles available”, says Chris. Their focus is North American Craft Beer, anything with an American connection or influence. Of course there’s always personal preference and the public’s preference. With 50 taps in Andersonville and 20 taps in Wicker Park, the goal is to have a balanced representation of different styles.

“There are certain breweries that we know, no matter what they’re doing we want to be a part of", says Chris, “Balance is huge. If a brewery’s core, year round beer is consistently good and they offer some great, specialty stuff - as a beer drinker myself, that’s what makes a brewery interesting to me”. As people’s moods and tastes change, their goal is to have tap handles that reflect those needs.

Their favorite Craft Beer Week event planned is the Division St IPA Crawl on Wednesday, May 22nd, which is a collaborative event between 3 craft beer bars - Small Bar represents the West Coast, Jerry’s the Midwest and Bangers & Lace the East Coast. Chris is lining up 8-9 fantastic Midwest IPA taps for Jerry’s Wicker Park.

The Solemn Oath Brewery night (at both locations) on Monday, May 20th is also a really cool concept. The event, called “Viking’s Feast” pairs old Viking movies, Nordic metal music as the soundtrack and 8 taps and a firkin of Solemn Oath beer.

And of course I had to ask about their favorite sandwiches. Let’s not be so blindsided by the beer list that we forget Jerry’s offers over 120 different sandwiches. Nick’s favorite is the “Steak Sandwich” - grilled sirloin, fried portobello mushroom, swiss, aioli, horseradish dressing on an italian roll. Chris’ favorite is the “Luis M” - chicken salad, smoked sirloin, avocado, swiss and mango-chipotle chutney on a choice of bread. I took their advice and went for the Luis M, paired with the new Stone Dry Double Hopped Ruination, which did not disappoint.

For a full list of their Chicago Craft Beer Week events, visit

Keep an eye out for the Andersonville location Beer Garden announcement. It is definitely a summer “to-do” that you don’t want to miss!

They’ll also be doing a 6th Anniversary event at Wicker Park on July 12-13th with live music and a collaboration beer on tap, to be brewed at Haymarket. Follow them online for more details.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week

One week until the coveted "Chicago Craft Beer Week" kicks off, showcasing local craft beer from all of your favorite and 'yet to be discovered' favorite breweries from the Midwest and beyond. This 11 day celebration is brought to you by the hard working folks of the Illinois Craft Brewer's Guild, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the development and expansion of the local craft beer industry.

This year's schedule is overwhelming to say the least, with over 250 locations involved. Each day offers dozen's of fantastic events, spanning not only the Chicago area neighborhoods, but expands into many of the surrounding suburbs. 

In addition this year the ICBG has published a free CCBW app, to help you organize your event schedule as well as check into events to earn points to win prizes, such as beer festival tickets, t-shirts and more. The app can be downloaded here.

Below are some highlighted favorites, with the best intentions to hit as many as possible. We of course have to spotlight our own event - Celebrating Real Women of Craft Beer on May 23rd at Riverview Tavern. The ladies behind your favorite local breweries will be in attendance to tap an exclusive all women brewed collaboration beer, "99 Problems" - a Saison brewed with Chamomile and Ginger. We'll be screening the documentary "The Love of Beer". 

Hope to see you there!

For the full list of events go to and follow @chibeerweek

Thursday, May 16th
Beer Under Glass
Some would say the most spectacular event to kick off Craft Beer Week featuring all of Chicago’s local breweries pouring beer at the beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory.
Garfield Park Conservatory, 6:30pm, tickets are SOLD OUT

Friday, May 17th and May 24th
Half Acre Double Firkin Tapping
Taking their weekly Firkin Friday to the next level, Half Acre will feature two firkins - to be announced the day of
Half Acre Taproom, North Center

Saturday, May 18th
Ipswich, MA-dness, featuring Boston area breweries Clown Shoes and Brash Brewing. The brewery guys will be in attendance and are ready to rock the Chicago scene.
Jerry’s Sandwiches, Andersonville, 6pm

Saturday, May 18th
Atlas Brewing 80’s Beer Prom/Two Brothers Tap Takeover
A fabulous night of Two Brothers beers, 80's music, dancing, awkwardness, balloon arches, and polaroid photos!
Lincoln Park, 9pm

Sunday, May 19th
Goose Island’s 25th Anniversary Party
Celebrating of 25 years of brewing in Chicago with a variety of beer including the Fulton & Wood and Bourbon County collections.
Goose Island Fulton Brewery, 12pm-3pm, $25 tix

Monday, May 20th
Brown Line Brews, featuring local northside breweries Half Acre Beer Company, Begyle Brewing, Atlas Brewing Company, Metropolitan Brewing, DryHop Brewers
The Longroom, Ashland/Irving Park in North Center, 6pm

Monday, May 20th
Viking’s Feast with Solemn Oath Brewing, featuring 8 taps and a firkin of Solemn Oath’s beer, paired with Viking films and Nordic Metal music.
Jerry’s Sandwiches, Andersonville, 7pm

Wednesday, May 22nd
5 Rabbits Tap Takeover
The Beer Bistro North, Lincoln Park, 6pm

Wednesday, May 22nd
New Wave Brewer Showcase, featuring Temperance, 4 Paws, Lake Effect, Spiteful, Flesk, Ale Syndicate, Begyle & DryHop
Hamburger Mary’s, Andersonville, 7pm

Thursday, May 23rd
Celebrating Women in Craft Beer, featuring the female brewers of the Midwest  from Goose Island, Two Brothers, Rock Bottom, Metropolitan, Greenbush, 4 Paws, Ale Syndicate, Flossmoor Station as well as Bottles & Cans beer store, with an exclusive all women brewed collaboration beer. 
Riverview Tavern, Roscoe Village, 6:30pm


Friday, May 24th
Barrel-Aged Obfuscation Release (I’m proud to have helped brew this beer!!)
Atlas Brewing, Lincoln Park, 7pm

Saturday, May 25th
West Loop Craft Beer Fest
IL Craft Brewer’s Guild & Chicago French Market bring you the city’s largest craft beer block party with over 25 breweries participating
French Market, West Loop, 12pm-5pm, $40 Gen Admission ($65 VIP hour)

Saturday, May 25th
Beerfly Alleyfight - Watch 10 homebrewers compete with the same beer recipe paired with a food dish and a local artist performance. Sample food, beer & art!
Haymarket Pub, West Loop 12pm-5pm, $35 advanced tix

Sunday, May 26th
3 Floyds & Off Color Brewing Tap Takeover
Northdown, Lincoln Park, 2pm