Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicago Beer Gals - December Event

Hey Ladies! Join us for an evening at the Brew Camp Classroom. This month we will be ringing in the holidays with a Beer Cocktail Party featuring custom made recipes by KOVAL and Bottles & Cans. We’ll be providing a special tasting of cocktails as well as snacks.

Special Guests:
Sonat Birnecker, KOVAL Distillery Owner
Carly Katz, Bottles & Cans Owner

Limited seats are available, advanced tickets recommended through Brew Camp HERE
Have questions about the event? Want to be a future guest speaker? Feel free to email me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Art Glass Painting Night with Duvel

We are excited to announce our partnership in this fantastic event, combining our passion of beer + art. Join us Wednesday, December 4th to learn THE ART OF BEER and Glass Painting. Duvel's Andrew Berlanstein, who will be sampling beer and giving a presentation on "Why Beer Is Art".

Fans of Hail To The Ale receive 20% off of your ticket by using the code ALE20

The event will be held at Bottles & Bottega, 2900 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago IL 60657
Wednesday, December 4th, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tickets are $35 per seat (before discount)

Ticket price includes all paint supplies, instruction, aprons, glassware, and FREE beer tasting featuring Duvel (a Belgian Strong Ale) and Duvel Tripel Hop (a specialty brewed with three hop varieties)!

This event is held in partnership with River North Beer, Duvel and Bottle & Bottega Lakeview.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Celebrate The Return of Surly Brewing 11/18-19

We know you are most likely going to be thirsty after a couple of hard days of working for the man, so why not treat yourself and welcome Surly Brewing Company back to the Windy City with a giant bear hug! If you don’t know why Surly’s return to Chicago is such a big deal we suggest you catch-up by reading this Chicago Tribune article.

For those of you in the know can follow along real time on Twitter: @SurlyBrewing #surlyreturnschicago

Monday, November 18

Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640)

Founder Omar Ansari will be at Hopleaf shortly after 6pm serving up some rarities: Cacao Bender (Oatmeal Brown Ale with coffee, vanilla bean and cacao nibs), Dampfbier (German Steam-style beer) and also the ever-popular Furious (IPA).

Northdown Cafe & Taproom (3244 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60657)
The folks at Northdown see a “sick” day in your future....actually you should just take a half day today since they are tapping Surly's flagship beer, Furious (IPA) at 11am

Tribes Mokena & Tribes Tinley Park (11220 W. Lincoln Highway, Mokena, IL 60448 & 9501 West 171 Street, Tinley Park, IL 60477) will open at 11AM with $4 Furious (IPA) pints in honor of Surly's return to IL (while supplies last!)

Tuesday, November 19

Sheffield's Beer and Wine Garden, (3258 N Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60657) 
Slinging drafts of Furious (IPA), Dumpster Fire (Smoked IPA with Puya Chilies) and El Hefe Negro (Imperial Dunkel with Mexican Cone Sugar)

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, (41 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611)
Will furiously be pouring Furious (IPA), as well as Dumpster Fire (Smoked IPA with Puya Chilies) & Dampfbier (German Steam-style beer)! The first tapping starts at 6:30pm and rumor has it that Surly's Founder Omar Ansari will be around!

Riverview Tavern(1958 W. Roscoe , Chicago, Illinois 60657)
Riverview will be tapping a keg of Furious (IPA) at 6pm. Also, to make things interesting, we are going to raffle off a bottle of this year's SURLY DARKNESS!

World of Beer, (1727 Freedom Dr., Naperville, IL 60563)
We know that WOB Naperville will be slinging some Surly Brewing Company starting this Tuesday per this Facebook event, but no draft list has yet to be posted.

Submitted by Ken Getty

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Sour Lovers Christmas in November

This weekend is undoubtedly the Christmas morning for Barrel Aged Beer lovers, but with all of the hullabaloo surrounding FoBAB we look at the line-up of events all over the city tomorrow and ask ourselves... could tomorrow be sour lovers Christmas in Chicago?!?  You decide.

Goose Island ClybournSpecial Tapping of Brettanomite before bottles go on sale Saturday morning at 10am. Remember only 25 cases of this beauty exists!

Jake Melnick's - BeerFX Series Beyond the Brews: Sours featuring Upland, Perennial, Side Project, Penrose & Goose Island

Whole Food Lincoln ParkBeerification of the Red Star Bar featuring Blaugies/Hill Farmstead collaboration, La Vermontoise, and an opportunity to purchase a bottle of Sam Adams Utopia for $3 (yes, only three US dollars!) is being raffled for $1 per ticket from 5pm-7:30pm

Haymarket PubMini FoBAB featuring Three Special Haymarket Pub tappings & Guest Taps from Revolution, Firestone Walker, Solemn Oath, Stone

Also... next Tuesday Lake Effect Brewing will be releasing a Brett Pale Ale at Fountainhead, 6pm.

Submitted by Ken Getty

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Iron Brew Homebrew Challenge with 5 Rabbit

Homebrewers, get ready for the class of a lifetime! 

For this installment of 5 Rabbit Cervecería Event Series, Randy Mosher will be sharing his knowledge and experience on "Brewing with Specialty Ingredients". The material covered and class discussions are tailored for experienced homebrewers. 

Both installments of this 2-part beer workshop will be held at 5 Rabbit Brewery in Bedford Park, IL. Session 1 will take place on Saturday November 23rd, 2013 at which a "secret ingredient" will be revealed, extending a homebrew challenge. For those wishing to participate, Session 2 homebrew judging will be held on Saturday, February 1st, 2014. Further details to be unveiled at the event.

This event is held in collaboration with Kim Leshinski of Hail to the Ale and Liz Garibay of Tales, Taverns & Towns.

Session 1 (Saturday, November 23rd, 2013): 

12:00pm: Bus pick-up at Sheffield's Beer & Wine Garden, 3258 N Sheffield Ave

12:30pm: Ride to the brewery. Chicago beer history from Liz Garibay of Tales, Taverns, & Towns.

01:30pm: "Brewing with Specialty Ingredients" presentation by Randy Mosher. Randy will also reveal the "Iron Brew" Secret Ingredient Challenge. 

03:00pm: Brewery tour from 5 Rabbit Brewmaster John J Hall.

04:00pm: The party continues! Leave the brewery and return back to Sheffield's where there will be a special and unique food menu paired with 5 Rabbit brews as well as a selection of 5 Rabbit beer. (Not included in ticket price, event open to public. Pay per consumption.)

Tickets for Session 1 are $45, which includes charcuterie and a selection of cheeses, bread, and tapping of special beers, exclusive to the Iron Brews event. It also covers transportation to and from the brewery from Sheffield's where, upon our return, the good times are open to all. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pilsner Urquell: Unfiltered and Unpasteurized In Chicago!

This past week Pilsner Urquell shipped fresh kegs of their rare unfiltered, unpasteurized, barrel-aged beer to Chicago, closely guarded by third generation Brewmaster Vaclav Berka. Both made appearances at Map Room, Local Option and Paddy Long’s on November 7th for the exclusive tappings.

Pilsner Urquell is offering this limited opportunity to taste their historical pilsner in celebration of the 171st Anniversary of it’s creation as well as to promote their express shipped cold” initiative. The initiative ensures that drinkers in the US will have the same experience as those in the Czech Republic.

Only 80 kegs were flown to the US, 2 each for the top 24 bars from Draft Magazine and 8 kegs for the top bar.

Map Room served Pilsner Urquell on a German style slider tap, which rather than pulling vertically, rotates the handle horizontally ensuring the desirable, head-prominent pour. When asked why the traditional “slice” pour, which is ⅓ beer, ⅔ foam is desirable it was explained that the thick, tight bubbles create a smooth, creamy mouthfeel similar to what we experience with beers served on nitro. It was indeed a new and very enjoyable way to enjoy this classic style of beer. This article by Esquire illustrates the four types of pours well.

Brewmaster Vaclav took to the mic to share his love for Pilsner Urquell, how it defined the category and what makes their beer unique.

Welcoming Maine Beer Co. Into The Chicago Market

The Maine Beer Co. portfolio. Photo credit Nathan Eldridge.

For the craft beer fans following the emergence of small-batch New England breweries into the scene, there was much buzz over the announcement of Windy City Distribution bringing Maine Beer Co. into the Chicago market earlier this month. 

Since 2009 Maine Beer Co. had been quietly and modestly producing some of the country's best American-style beer in a small industrial park location in Portland, Maine. This past spring with very little publicization they moved to a much larger, custom-built space in Freeport, Maine which includes a 15-barrel system, retail shop and taproom. 

"Our Freeport location allows us not only to produce more beer, but also to be more accessible to the public," said Colleen Croteau, Director of Operations. "The new space offers spacious views of the brewery, 8 taps for visitors to try, as well as bottles of beer to go. We typically have 2-3 brewery-only beers available, in addition to our regular lineup."

15 bbl Brewery. Photo credit Nathan Eldridge.
Freeport Taproom. Photo credit Nathan Eldridge.

From the beginning Owners and brothers Dave and Daniel Kleban have taken a "less is more" approach to their beer, always focused on what's in the bottle and dedicated to producing quality beer that they want to drink. This approach is what made Maine Beer Co. an extremely desirable partnership for Windy City Distributing.

"Maine Beer Company was attractive to us because of who they are and what they do," say Wes Phillips, Director of Business Development for Windy City Distributing. "They differentiate themselves by making exceptional beer, first and foremost and operate with a very functional and sustainable business model." The conversation between Owner Dave Kleban and Windy City started over a year ago after a visit to the brewery. With the expansion in place they are now making enough beer to be able to distribute outside of New England.
Dave & Daniel Kleban. Photo credit Nathan Eldridge.

The Klebans, natives of Michigan still have family ties in the area and were familiar with the Chicago market, making it a natural move. All of their regular portfolio, including the highly sought after Lunch IPA will be available in the Metro Chicago area. There will be some draft accounts but the focus will be on bottles, as in all of their markets.

Another piece of Maine Beer Co.'s commitment to sustainability lies in their "Do What's Right" campaign, donating a portion of sales to a number of environmental charities, including 1% For The Planet. In addition, 100% of tips from the taproom each month go to local charities.

Find Maine Beer Co. in Chicago by using Windy City's Beer Hunter page.

You can also join Windy City for a Maine Beer Co. and Allagash Brewing collaboration event TONIGHT at Trenchermen in Wicker Park, 8pm.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Pumpkin Beer Packaging: Almanac Beer Company

Having a strong passion for design, evaluating branding and packaging design is always present in the way I look at new offerings in the craft beer market. The 24 beer Great Pumpkin Beer Challenge we conducted in October was no exception.

Many of the breweries take similar approaches to their pumpkin beer, using Halloween related illustrations on their labels. Some like Midnight Sun Brewing have a bit more fun bringing a stylized personality to their beers like T.R.E.A.T. and Trickster, but overall many pumpkin beers take a familiar and expected approach making it hard to stand out on shelf.

There was one package in particular that was such a stand out in the crowd from both a craftsmanship and differentiation perspective that we were compelled to find out more about their approach. That winner was San Francisco based Almanac Beer Company's Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine, part of their Farm To Barrel series.

We were fortunate to have a great conversation with Almanac Beer Company's CEO and designer extraordinaire, Damian Fagan. His background previous to Almanac was as a graphics and branding designer in the food and beverage industry for about 15 years. 

"I've been home brewing since 1992 and finally managed to marry two of my passions, beer and design a few years ago when we launched Almanac. We put as much thought and heart into the appearance of our beers as we do the beer itself."

The general theme of Almanac's branding is bringing together old world traditions with new world inspirations, which is how they make their beers; starting with classic, traditional beer styles and bringing their own 21st century, Northern California sensibility to them. 

"I love the classic, traditional feel that woodcut engravings evoke and combining them with bright colors and contemporary typography for an unusual juxtaposition." 

The Farm To Barrel lineup also references mid to late 19th century spirits packaging, where much of the labels are covered in ornate detail, which to Damian always lent a sense of sophistication to the presentation. 

"As the name implies, the Farm To Barrel beers are all aged in oak barrels for many months, so we wanted the appearance to reflect the time and care it took to create the beer."

For more information on Almanac Beer's offerings and where to find them on shelf be sure to visit