Archive for April, 2010

Hop(s) Planted

Monday, April 12th, 2010

I planted my first hop plant yesterday out in the yard. Centennial. That is actually 50% less than I wanted to plant. I had another plant but the wife started to freak when I showed her were I was going to put the eye hook to hold the rope. Until that point she was fine with me having two, until that point she was fine with me having ropes hanging from the house, until that point I wasn’t going to be only growing one plant on a trellis. I guess my wife is a little spatially challenged. 🙂

I plan on doing a little bugging of her so that I can hopefully get the one trellis turned back into one eye hook, one rope, and one hop plant growing to its’ full potential. Only time will tell and I don’t think I will have to worry about growth for a least several more weeks, while it continues to warm up.

Of course I read a ton of information before planting so that I can have a successful growing experience. Internet, books, forums, and friends received a grilling. If you haven’t figured this out yet, I can be a little compulsive and go somewhat over board with my interests.

Hopefully next year the one plant will give me enough to brew a batch with: dry hop or wet hop will be the conundrum. I will continue the hop growing saga. Enjoy!

Reviewed: Two Brothers Resistance IPA

Friday, April 9th, 2010


Two Brothers Brewing Company isn’t that far from home from me and even closer to my place of employment. Unbelievably I don’t make it out there all that often. Now this is due for two main factors: I haven’t been blown away by their offerings and the last time I tried to go there for a few beers after work, they were packed.

The first factor doesn’t need an explanation but maybe the second does. I prefer places that are at best about 75% full. I like to have a place to sit and I don’t want to feel like a sardine packed into a tight little corner spot. Why? I am fat, tall, and just an all around (no pun intended) big person. I need my damn space.

Each beer I get from Two Brothers I usually put off drinking until the mood strikes me. Their new Resistance IPA was given to me (as a sixer) by a coworker of my wife. I have given him at least 18 beers in the past (I enjoy sharing) but I have never received anything back. No, I don’t give beer and expect returns until it gets out of hand. Wash that hand that takes care of you. Enough of me bitching.

I had four Resistance IPAs before I even rated it; one damn good beer. I think that Two Brothers has done a great job here and kudos to them. I wouldn’t say it is a hop bomb like some people desire before they give a beer a good grade but a beer that is well balanced, easy drinking, delicious beer. I have already bought another six pack and plan on keeping this one in the normal cellar rotation.

Now, with that review, don’t worry, I plan on giving them another stop by after work to try some on tap. I hope they continue to bring it strong as it would be nice to have an outstanding, sought after brewery that close. Enjoy!

Review: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

Thursday, April 8th, 2010


I’ve had Dale’s Pale Ale and Gordon from Oskar Blues, having thoroughly enjoyed both. My can of Ten Fidy has been sitting in the cellar for close to eight months. Hey, it is a Russian Imperial Stout (RIS) it will last, especially in the can. So I haven’t been in a rush but the weather is finally getting nicer in Chicagoland and I didn’t want the beer sitting down there until next winter. Why? I need room for all the spring, summer, and fall beers that are starting to find their way to the local beer stores.

Upon looking at the bottom of the can I noticed that it was canned on 2008-12-22 making it about 16 months old: great aging time for a RIS. Popping the top and pouring the oily, black, and thick beer into a pint glass brought about a beautiful, mocha, thick foam that had some nice retention. Lacing was a little sticky.

Chocolate and dark fruits were the first aromas to hit my nose. Coffee was there a little later but none of the scents were over powering, just pleasant. Alcohol and hops didn’t come through. The taste follows the aroma with a nice sweetness to the finish. Once again, no alcohol. Probably one of the best, easy drinking RIS beers that I have had to date. Some have that alcohol twinge that makes it difficult to throw back. This one is dangerously easy on the palate.

I have two more in the cellar. Now that I know they are damn tasty, they won’t last long. Enjoy!

Old Beers

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I remember a commercial back about 10 – 15 years for a search engine, I believe it was Hotbot, they had all these old people in a room scrambling around trying to hide. Soon a person knocks on the door and one of elderly people says, “No old links here.” After a few beers I have had lately, I really feel like this applies to American craft beer industry. All these old beers on the store shelves, some with a nice layer of dust. IPAs, APAs, Ambers, etc. some with dates, some without, but many are old and well past their primes.

How can stores put and leave beers on their shelves that have actually have dates that have expired a year ago? How can American craft breweries allow for this? Dates on bottles are a must but if they aren’t manage by the store, distributor, or brewery, what is the use?

This isn’t my problem to solve, just my place to complain.

I guess my path is clear: since most of the local beer stores have exactly the same beers, I will just continue to go to the same store, watch when their perishable style beers come in, and either purchase or pass. I will have to pay a little more attention to the dust level but I think I am up to the task. Enjoy!

Review: The Magician Short’s Brewing

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

short's brewing company the magician

With all the great happenings surrounding the Chicago area with the Craft Brewers Conference, I have had a hard time keeping up on my duties of tasting and reviewing American craft beer. Based on my ineptness over the past week, I will try and make up for it this week with a vengeance. 😉

The Magician by Short’s Brewing Company was the only new beer tasted last night (Pliny the Elder was tasted again). The Magician is an American Amber Ale that instead of being some hop whore it is a nice complex malty expression of goodness.

The beer pours with a huge, half glass, reddish-orange foam that has great retention as it becomes frothy while leaving almost no trace of its existence. The aroma follows and impresses: fruity, almost sweet fruit, with malt as the backbone. Grainy, toffee, roasted, and even coffee/chocolate notes develop. The deep dark hue of the beer as well as the aroma gives off the sense that the beer will have a big taste and body, but that is misleading. The beer is almost thin but most most of the aroma comes through in the taste, just in smaller doses. Nicely complex beer with just a little too much unbalanced sweetness for me.

The look and aroma are the highlight of this beer. Unfortunately it isn’t carried through to the mouth to making it an easy drinking beer. Still really good, just not great. Enjoy!

2010 Craft Brewers Conference Part 3

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

This is a continuation of part 2 and the final of 2010 Craft Brewers Conference. Getting everything from the brochure on here is going to be a task, so much of it I will shorten.

Same color scheme as before:
Brewery Dinners
Brewery Specific Events
Rare Beer Tappings

  • Thursday, April 8, 2010
    • Bblackbird – 7:00pm Jolly Pumpkin, Nogne-O, and Stone dinner.
    • Hopleaf – 5:00 to 11:00pm Vanberg & DeWulf Prix Fixe dinner.
    • Bar on Buena – 6:00pm Lagunitas
    • Big Star – 6:00pm Green Flash
    • Binny’s Beverage Depot – 6:30pm Open house for CBC Attendees w/ Two Brothers
    • Clark Street Ale House – 6:00pm Two Brothers Rare Beers
    • Cobra Lounge – 8:00pm Ska Brew Blowout featuring the Pinstripes
    • Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap – 7:00pm Lagunitas
    • Local Option – All day Shelton Brothers Beer
    • The Long Room – 8:00pm Moylan’s Rare Beer
    • The Publican – 10:30pm to 1:00am Late night beer night with Allagash, Avery, and Lost Abbey
    • Quenchers Saloon – 6:00pm Two Brothers & Stone rare beer
    • Reggie’s Music Joint – 5:00pm Metropolitan Brewing
    • Radan – 7:00pm Surly Brewing rare beer
    • Small Bar Division – 6:00pm Two Brothers rare beer
  • Friday, April 9, 2010
    • Hopleaf – 5:00pm to 12:00am Artisanal Imports Prix Fixe Beer Dinner
    • Brasserie JO – 6:00pm – Left Hand Oak Aged Widdershins Barelywine, Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza, Green Flash Palate Wrecker Double IPA, Bear Republic Baltic Porter, Two Brothers Project 15
    • Clark Street Ale House – 6:00pm – Ska Strong Foreign Stout Aged in Merlot Cask, Stone Old Guardian, Moylan’s Hopsickle, Allagash Interlude, Two Brothers Sour Mash
    • Goose Island Brewing Company – 6:00pm – Boulder Oak Aged Mojo IPA, Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Green Flash 7th Anniversary Ale, Surly Furious Firkin, Two Brothers Project 31
    • Jerry’s Sandwiches – 6:00pm – Boulder Oak Aged Mojo Risin’ Double IPA, Great Divide Claymore Scotch Ale, Green Flash Belgian Stout, Moylan’s Double Kilt Lifter Batch #1000, Two Brothers Brett Moaten
    • Small Bar Fullerton – 6:00pm – Stone Old Guardian, Surly Smoked, Moylan’s Old Blarney Barleywine Bourbon Barrel Aged, Lost Abbey Virtis, Two Brothers Oak-Aged Bare Tree
    • Small Bar Division – 6:00pm – Boulder Oak Aged Mojo IPA, Bear Republic Baltic Porter, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, The Bruery Melange #3, Two Brothers Project 22
    • Twisted Spoke – 6:00pm – Moylan’s Hopsickle, Left Hand Oak Aged Widdershins Barelywine, Surly 4th Anniversary Beer, The Bruery Saison de Lente, Two Brothers Oak-Aged Domaine DuPage
    • Big Star – 6:00pm Stone Brewing
    • Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap – 7:00pm Metropolitan Brewing rare beer
    • Local Option – All day Shelton Brothers
    • The Long Room – 8:00pm Two Brothers rare beer
    • Rodan – 7:00pm Tyranena Brewing
    • Quenchers Saloon – 4:00 to 7:00pm Paramount Merchants event

Okay, three posts and lots of fun coming up this week in the Chicago bar scene. I know I can’t make any of this unfortunately but those of you who can, have a good time. Enjoy!

Rich Actually Blogs And Beer Ramblings

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Is Chicago the epicenter of the Craft Beer World? (At least for the next couple of weeks)

I’m getting dizzy trying to figure what and where I can get away with/to, in terms of beer events in our great metro area of Chicago. The big driver of course is the Craft Beer Conference being held here by the Brewers Association on April 7 through 10. An industry event that apparently is sold out, which gives a further proof point of the explosion currently being experienced by the craft business.

So last night the Two Beer Dudes, started the month right  by attending an Oberon Release party at a large liquor chain store in downtown Chicago. Binny’s South Loop is cool in that it has a tasting room/bar that runs the length of the second floor sales room. One whole side of the bar is a long, glass window that looks out at the Chicago skyline. Bell’s traditionally releases Oberon along with the start of the baseball season (the big league), and in all states they distribute to there were release happening this week. We got attracted to this particular event for three main reasons. One, in addition to Oberon being on tap, they also had Hopslam, Oarsman, and Batch 9000. Don’t know about your neck of the woods, but Hopslam disappeared from the shelves here within a week or so…and you had to beg your local brew store to sell you one or two 12-oz bottle of the B-9k. The second reason was that Larry Bell himself, founder and owner of Bell’s was manning the taps. This was a big crowd and Larry worked hard to move through the room and do the meet/greet. Our beer geek moment was a chance to actually meet and briefly converse with the brewmaster. I’ve heard different things about the man, but in our brief conversation seemed interested in what people had to say and absolutely provided insight to inquiries about his beer / brewery. And, he’s truly one of the craft brewing pioneers, makes a high quality product, stand up for his principles, and I think is a die-hard Cubs fan. Oh, and the third reason we attended was that this Thursday night started a 3-day holiday weekend.

Okay, quickly to all the other stuff that I’d like to do this month. It’s crazy how many craft brewers will be in Chicago over the next two weeks and the shot at some one-time only brews and events. This list is by no means complete, there’s just too much to research. My suggestions is that of you don’t see anything of interest on my list do this. Google keyword of, “your favorite brew” along with “Craft Beer Conference” or “Chicago” or “April 2010”, and you might find other events….cause there’s lot’s of them.

Here’s the events I’d like to catch, in order of dates, sort of:

  • Not technically part of the CBC, but obviously timed to coincide is the start of Stone Brewing distribution to Illinois. I’ve seen some descriptions that the level of activity by one craft brewer in one city for one week is an unprecedented marketing effort on the part of the Stone folks. Their event that caught my eye was a series of tapping/tasting events at all three Small Bar locations in the city on April 2 and they have a bus running between the three bars. Stone has literally multiple events every day from April 1 thru 8, look them up if interested.
  • Dogfloydapalooza 2, it’s pretty obvious who this is. The FFF boys are holding their own concert and tasting party, along with the legendary Doghead Fish Craft Brewery at the very cool Bottom Lounge rock club. This event happened the night of Tuesday, April 6. You may want to check  out the Bottom Lounges website for details on this and a couple of other brew happenings they are having in conjunction with the CBC.
  • The Publican is a newish restaurant and upscale brew hall that gets really high marks for their food, atmosphere, and having really seriously good beer. They’ve got special brewers dinners almost every night of the CBC, but my attention was attracted to three late night events being held there. These special tasting don’t start until 10:30pm each of the three nights (April 7, 8, and 9). On April 7th is a joint event with Stone, FFFs, and Doghead Fish….outstanding! And the FFF’s boys will likely still be woozy from their party the night before…so attend and hit ‘em up for some tic’s to DLD. (just kidding)
  • Lagunitas has a beer created with input from Chicago area chefs/cooks/foodies, it’s called Fusion and they only made a limited amount of the stuff. Apparently on April 7th they tap at a number of bars around Chicago and then that’s it. Sorry I didn’t get all the details, you’ll need to  search more yourself. And, there something important about 4:20 pm on 4/7, but I’m not sure what it is.
  • Also, on April 7th is another truly one-shot event with Short’s Brewing. The beer’s not distributed much outside of Michigan and is definitely not available in Chicago…except for this day. At 7:00 pm there will be (8) Short’s beers on tap at Sheffields. If you’ve never been to Sheffields, they got the best beer garden in the city, maybe the country. And, to be able to have Shorts on tap in eight flavors, well it’s one of those rare things we beer geeks flock to.
  • On Thursday, April 8th there are two great events, but they are separate by enough time so you could make both. The first is local favorite, Flossmoor Station Brewery, holding a tapping of brews by two past and the current brewmasters. Oh, and this one stakes place at the legendary Map Room, maybe the number one brew bar in Chicago. Starts at 5:30 pm and each tapping is only a few gallons, so don’t be late.
  • Then back over to Sheffields for a Michigan Brewers night. I already told you what a sweet venue this is. Now add the mega-strong lineup from the Michigan Brewers Guild, names like; Founders, Bells, Dark Horse, Jolly Pumpkin, Shorts, Acadia, New Holland, and more. Times listed are 9:00 – 11:00 pm.

Then if we survive all this, rest up for Dark Lord Day on the 24th.

Holy swinging monkeys, ain’t it great to be alive.

Bell’s Tapping And Larry Bell

Friday, April 2nd, 2010


Last night at the Binny’s in Chicago’s South Loop, Larry Bell made an appearance to kick off the release of Oberon. Tickets were five bucks which got you a pint of Oberon. Also on tap were Hopslam and Batch 9000. Of course I had to have both on tap. Batch 9000 was really good but, for me, Hopslam on tap stole the evening. The aroma of the hops was so unbelievable while the flavor was robust and full.

What made the evening such a great event of me: Rich, his wife Kathy, and my wife Sue went as a group. Each couple has three kids, so having an evening for adult fun, especially in the middle of week, is almost non-existant. A friend of mine, Dave, who lives in Chicago, also met up with us and joined the group. We had some good conversations and laughs with the guys talking beer and women talking, hmm, who knows what.

Larry Bell stopped by the table for a few minutes to chat before he had to go pour beers. We talked about the history of Oberon which dates back to 1991 and was called Solsta. The named changed to Oberon about 1998 after a claim that the original was trademarked. Rich, being a native of Michigan, talked about his first experience with Oberon.

On a side note, in spite of Batch 9000 only coming out a few months ago, Oberon has a batch number of 9603. They brew a ton of beer. I read where they are making 80,000 barrels of Oberon this year. A big amount for a craft brewer when you think a lot of local places are lucky to make 1,000 barrels total in a year. Enjoy!

2010 Craft Brewers Conference Part 2

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

This is a continuation of part 1 of 2010 Craft Brewers Conference. Getting everything from the brochure on here is going to be a task, so much of it I will shorten.

Same color scheme as before:
Brewery Dinners
Brewery Specific Events
Rare Beer Tappings

  • Monday, April 5, 2010
    • Erwin – 6:30pm five course menu with Allagash Beer with brewmaster Rob Tod. $55/person.
    • Hopleaf – 7:00pm six course menu with Avery and Lost Abbey with brewmasters Tomme Arthur and Adam Aery. $80/person.
    • The Publican – 5:30 to 10:30pm seating four course menu with collaborative beer with brewmaster Jason Ebel.
    • The Long Room – 7:00pm with five drafts from Stone.
  • Tuesday, April 6, 2010
    • Avec – 5:00 to 10:00pm seating five course menu with Barasserie Dubisson, Vanberg, and DeWulf Imports. $50 for food and $25 for beer.
    • Blackbird – 7:00pm seating five course menu with Allagash’s premier beers. $95/person
    • Hopleaf – 5:00 – 11:00pm seating with five Brewery Ommegang Prix Five beers.
    • Clark Street Ale House – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Allagash Curieux, Bear Republic Crazy Ivan, boulder Oak Aged Mojo Risin’ Double IPA, Green Flash Belgian Stout, Two Brothers Paradise Stout
    • Goose Island Brewing Company – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Bear Republic Crazy Ivan, Moylan’s Moylander Double IPA, The Bruery Wine Cellar 45 Anniversary Imperial Porter, Surly 4th Anniversary Beer, Two Brother Oak-Aged Bare Tree
    • The Map Room – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Moylan’s Old Blarney Barleywine Bourbon Barrel, Bear Republic Racer X Double IPA, Boulder Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter, Allagash Four
    • Bar on Buena – 6:00pm Stone Tapping
    • The Beer Bistro – 6:00pm Stone Tapping
    • The Bluebird – 7:00pm The Bruery Tasting
    • Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap – 7:00pm Surly and Stone Tapping
    • Local Option – All day Shelton Brothers Tapping
    • Mrs. Murphy & Son’s Irish Bistro – Lagunitas Beer Night
    • Paddy Long’s Pub – 8:00pm Two Brothers Rare Beer Tapping
    • Quenchers Saloon – 6:00 to 9:00pm Shelton Brothers Beer Tasting
    • Sheffield’s Beer Garden and BBQ Restaurant – 5:30pm Stone Tapping
    • Smoke Daddy – 7:00pm Two Brothers Cask Tapping
    • Whole Foods Market – 6:00 to 9:00pm Two Brothers Tapping
  • Wednesday, April 7, 2010
    • Hopleaf – 5:00 – 10:00pm seating with five Allagash Prix Five beers.
    • Brasserie JO – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, Ska Strong Foreign Stout Aged in Merlot Casks, The Bruery Melange #3, Moylan’s Wet Hopsickle ’09, Two Brothers Oak-Aged Cane & Ebel
    • Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Allagash Curieux, Bear Republic Crazy Ivan, Moylan’s Moylander Doulbe IPA, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti
    • Jerry’s – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Allagash Interlude, Bear Republic Racer X Double IPA, The Bruery Wine Cellar 45 Anniversary Imperial Porter, Sulry Smoke, Two Brothers White Rye
    • The Map Room – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Ska Strong Foreign Stout aged in Merlot Cask, Great Divide Expresso Oak Aged Yeti, Sulry 4th Anniversary Beer, The Bruery Saison de Lente
    • Small Bar Fullerton – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Allagash Four, Green Flash Palate Wrecker Double IPA, The Burery Saison de Lente, Ska Strong Foreign Stout Aged in Merlot Casks, Two Brothers Oack-Aged Domaine DuPage
    • Twisted Spoke – tapping begins at 6:00pm – Allagash Odyssey, Bear Republic Racer X Double IPA, Green Flash LeFreak, Victory Abbey 5, Two Brother Project 22
    • Big Star – 6:00pm Lagunitas Night
    • The Bluebird 5:00 to 7:00pm Brasserie Artisianale Dieu De Ciel Tasting, 7:00 to 9:00pm Jolly Pumpking Tasting
    • Local Option – All day Shelton Brothers Tapping
    • Hackney’s Printers Row – 7:00pm Two Brothers and Metropolitan Tapping
    • The Publican – 10:30pm to 1:00am brewmasters from Dogfish Head, Stone, and Three Flyods
    • Rodan – 7:00pm Two Brothers Rare Tapping

That is enough typing for one sitting. Thursday and Friday lineup to come tomorrow. Once please excuse any typos or incorrect information as I may have fat fingered. Enjoy!

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