Thursday, January 29, 2015

SideDoor's Rare and Vintage Beer Dinner with Goose Island

By guest contributor Jeff Balasa

Chicago boasts one of the most diverse and innovative craft beer scenes in the country, and arguably the world. Yet as I have seen the “boom” progress, I keep asking myself what are breweries, bars and restaurants going to do to keep beer enthusiasts coming back? Jeff Van Der Tuuk of SideDoor and his visionary staff have embarked on a mission to answer that very question.

I had the distinct privilege of being part of SideDoor's Rare and Vintage Beer Dinner, featuring Goose Island beer this past Wednesday, and what an experience it was. It’s a rare occurrence to find a collaboration of this caliber, teaming up to create an unforgettable night for those in attendance. The focus was the acclaimed Bourbon County Stout, its marvelous variances, as well as some wonderful sour offerings. The beer alone speaks for itself, but when paired with the exceptional cuisine of SideDoor, something profound occurs.

The first course was a salad with fresh greens with a citrus dressing, candied pecans and bourbon macerated blackberries. This dish was paired with Lilith, a pomegranate Berliner Weisse. A magnificent pairing that balanced the spicy nature of the greens with the acidic qualities of the dressing and beer. The blackberries were the stand out element in this dish, and took on an identical flavor profile of Bourbon County Bramble Rye.

Second up, duck confit paired with one of Goose Island’s famous ladies, Madame Rose. Few words need to be uttered about this dish other than WOW. One stab at the duck and it all fell off the bone. An amazing salty and savory taste was only amplified by the tart flavor of Madame Rose. Cherries that had been cooked down under the duck danced on the palette when in contact with the rare beer.

Being affiliated with Lawry’s means you have to bring some steak to the table, and a New York Strip was the answer. Cooked to a beautiful medium rare and accompanied with kale and brussel sprouts, this main course was destined to be a home run. The menu indicated that this dish was to be paired with Bourbon County Stout, which was a bit intriguing as its sweetness doesn't always lend itself to savory flavors. While the dry, tannic qualities of the red wine espresso reduction was a perfect match for the tender steak, it did not pair particularly well with the sweet, fruit forward beer. Bourbon County Stout, as amazing as it is, was reserved on the side to be savored on its own.

Finally, dessert. There was a buzz in the dining room dedicated to the flight of beers that were about to be presented. Bourbon County Barleywine, Coffee, Vanilla Rye as well as Proprietors were delivered to the tables as if Fort Knox was transporting gold bricks. After the sticky toffee pudding with chocolate covered espresso beans was distributed, we all were offered the chance to experiment with the flavors of the BCS varieties. Each offered a unique experience, but in the end Proprietors reigned supreme.

Feeling extremely satisfied, and full I might add, the meal concluded but the experience was far from over. Sitting down with Jeff after the meal allowed me the chance to hear his vision for SideDoor – to bring exceptional, reserve beers to the table with equally exceptional cuisine. Based on the evening I had, this was accomplished with flying colors. 

So what’s next for SideDoor? Well there is a vacant room in the building with some exciting plans in mind, but you'll have to ask Jeff yourselves when you visit him for a stellar evening.

Contributor Jeff Balasa is a passionate advocate of craft beer with experience in Brand Strategy and Packaging Design. Constantly searching for innovative events and experiences, Jeff is always ready to step outside of his comfort zone.

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.

All week, Featured cider drafts and bottles at The Publican. Featuring, on tap: Drouin Poire, DuPont Brute, Sanford Orchard Aston B. Bottles: DuPont Triple, Du Pont Pommeau, Tieton Reserve.

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, Bacon & Seattle Cider Party at Paddy Long's, 7pm. Featuring Seattle Cider Company's Semi-Sweet, Three Pepper and Oaked Maple ciders on tap. All 3 can be tried as a Bacon & Cider flight. Seattle Cider's Gin Botanical Cider will also be available in bottles.

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 6th, Cider Sampling at Walgreens (151 N. State St.), 5-8pm: Louis Glunz will be pouring featured cider samples from their portfolio including Wyders Pear, Reposado Pear, Sam Smith Organic Cider, Uncle John's Apple and Tieton Apricot Cider.

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 7th, Rare Vander Mill Ciders at Links Taproom, 11:30am: Sip on some very rare artisanal ciders from Vander Mill that will showcase the range of tasty possibilities in this emerging trend. Featuring Ancho Mama (crisp with a gentle heat imparted from dried poblano peppers), one of only 2 kegs in the entire city. Complete your evening with a Chicken Sausage Link served with an apple slaw with a jalapeƱo-cider mustard to create the perfect pairing for these crisp and refreshing ciders. These special ciders will be available until the kegs run out. Also on tap: Loving Cup (pink peppercorn & hibiscus), Chapman's Blend Oaked, and a firkin of Too Gold (Golden Russet, Grimes Golden & Gold Rush apple varietals, barrel-aged for 8 months).

Feb 7th, Right BEEday Party at Kaiser Tiger, 7:30pm: Join Right Bee Cider at Kaiser Tiger for cider and curling (weather permitted).

Feb 8thVander Mill Cider Brunch at Farmhouse, 10am-2pm: Featuring a three course paired brunch for $25. First Course: Bagel & Lox (paired with Ginger Peach). House Cured Salmon, Pickled Red Onion, Capers, Whipped Cream Cheese. Second Course: Sweet Potato Hash (paired with The Lovin' Cup). Braised Short Rib, Root Vegetable, Fried Farm Egg. Third Course: Bread Pudding French Toast (paired with Totally Roasted). Orange Curd, Spiced Pecans. Reservations recommended.

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.