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Wednesday Food: So Many Brew(er)s

I feel much more equipped to be reporting a Tuesday Hatred today but alas, that privilege belongs to another.  Unfortunately none of the amazing dishes I’ve been preparing and eating the last few weeks have been adequately chronicled, but fear not, Heteronomous!  I shall press on with an overview of what’s happening this week in Chicago’s world of beer– the Craft Brewer’s Conference.

The actual event is presented by the Brewer’s Association, and involves a four day conference with lectures and classes ranging from Practical Lautering for Maximization of Quality, Throughput and Yield, to the aptly named Toothpicks, Garlic and Chalk: Three Key Ingredients to Any Brewery’s Barrel-Aged Sour Beer Program and even a panel discussion on Wastewater. Of course all of these offerings are highly specialized and aimed at the professional brewer which explains the enormous expense of registration: keep the hangers-on out!

What is exciting about this event for all the doe-eyed beer nerds, is that it brings together many of the world’s finest brewers, and most of them are accessible at the nearest crafty watering hole.  Along with their persons, the brewers have hauled kegs of their finest to showcase at willing establishments. Some highlights include: Fritz and Ken’s Ale– a very limited collaboration between heavyweights Sierra Nevada and Anchor Brewing; Crazy Ivan– Bear Republic mixes their usual hop blast with Belgian yeast; Other Brother– Allagash Four quadrupel aged with strawberries for a year and a half; and the ever-illusive Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Founders.

The open-to-the-public events kicked off with Dogfloydapalooza II last night, and continue on through Saturday by way of tastings, pairing dinners, hosted taps, meet-and-greets, tours, and private parties.

I just hope I get to meet the esteemed Fritz Maytag– master of brew, booze, and bleus.

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April 7, 2010 - Posted by | Wednesday Food

8 Comments

  1. One of the few, but crucial times I wish I lived in sweet Chi-town. Cheers!

    Comment by vanessa | April 7, 2010

  2. Quadrupel?!

    Comment by ben wolfson | April 8, 2010

  3. I’m sure it is Fritz Maytag that wants to meet you.

    Comment by JoB | April 8, 2010

  4. Have you heard of/had Surly? It comes in a can. I had to do quite a bit of legwork to bring it in for an event last year and it was gone in a flash. They had limited distribution and a 2 year waiting list then but I’ve seen more promo as of late. I like the sounds of the Breakfast Stout! Hops to ya.

    Comment by bonita | April 8, 2010

  5. I’ve heard of Surly, and I’m looking forward to trying some this summer because I’ll be in Minnesota (I live in Pittsburgh, and they don’t distribute here).

    This event sounds great. I read about all these fantastic beers and can only think that I would be ecstatic with a six-pack of any of Three Floyd’s year-rounder.

    Any breakfast stout iteration from Founders is incredible. I once had the chance to have Canadian Breakfast Stout with real Belgian waffles. It was ten in the morning and was the day after a brewing festival. Divine.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | April 8, 2010

  6. J’ai une question. If one were to be in Chicago for only a few nights and wanted to taste the best beer the city had to offer, where would one go? I’m partial to big hoppy monsters at the moment, as that is precisely what is unavailable in Quebec, crisse de câlisse de tabarnak de viarge.

    Comment by Matthew | April 9, 2010

  7. We love Surly here in town, especially Surly Furious!

    Matthew-
    I just sent this list to a friend of my sister who wanted some suggestions on where to drink in Chicago.

    Enjoy! (Hope it’s not too much.)

    *Note: ALL of these places are busy and popular, so focus on off hours, or just be prepared for sipping and standing. Also, I think everyone on this list that serves food supports local/ sustainable farming practices.

    **Dont forget, these are only the places I’m familiar with, needless to say there is more.

    DOWNTOWN:______________________________________________
    The Gage: gastropub, shmancy pants “night on the town” swank. more wine focused, BLAH draft list, but good bottle selection, I hear the food is amazing, maybe one day I can afford it.

    State and Lake: bar manager is Cicerone certified, best draft selection in the loop, kind of a snooty crowd– despite all the yummy beer, half the people are ordering martinis.

    Clark Street Ale House: a new bar to me (which is ridiculous because I work in the area), they offer a quality, moderately wide bottle and draft selection. Just a relief to have a place downtown that has good beer and isn’t full of assholes, but then I’ve only been once.

    Bottom Lounge: this is actually west loop, but an excellent domestic bottle and draft menu, huge place, too. Hosted Dogfloydapalooza.

    NORTHWEST____WICKER PARK/ LOGAN SQUARE/ BUCKTOWN___________
    The Publican: same family as Blackbird and Avec, German hall community seating, excellent draft and bottle selection, these guys hold lots of “brewmaster” dinners. Sort of pricey, but top-notch quality.

    Bristol: the pork palace of Chicago, this establishment holds porcine butchery to new artistic levels, also snout-to-tail. Excellent beer selection, rotates a lot.

    MUST-SEE!!! Map Room: I think the only place without food on this list, but most people consider it the beer mecca of Chicago (I still prefer Hopleaf– maybe just because it’s three blocks away from me!) The owners are supposed to be great folks.

    Quenchers: kind of a chill, hipster hang out, cheap bar food, draft list is import-heavy but bottles are thorough across the board.

    Kuma’s Corner: a “hardcore” burger joint where all the tasty treats are named for metal bands. Outrageously amazing burgers, excellent draft selection, enormous wait– they’ve been written up by everyone now, so the whole world is pouncing.

    Handlebar: good if you’re dining vegan/ vegetarian, above average but not amazing beer selection.

    NORTH SIDE:____LAKEVIEW/ LINCOLN PARK/ UPTOWN_______________
    MUST-SEE!!!!!Hopleaf: my regular bar, has more Belgian bottles than anyone in the Midwest, excellent draft, excellent belgian food, is ALWAYS busy. Sort of a less-old version of Monk’s in Philadelphia.

    The Globe: I used to hang out hear when it was just Carlsberg and Football (soccer) enthusiasts. Went back recently to see a totally new and expanded bottle menu, and definitely the only reliable pub for a Chelsea v. Manchester United match!

    Bad Apple: another newbie, they are still relatively unknown so not too busy. Good, small to moderate sized draft selection, excellent affordable food.

    Bar on Buena: another not crazy-busy bar, because it’s in a less popular neighborhood.

    Sheffields: good beer, good food especially bbq, and to my knowledge they are the only bar always pouring a firkin, but it’s in Wrigleyville and fills up with all manner of Trixies-and-Chads.

    Delilah’s: punk rock whiskey/ beer bar. They’ve played host to some outrageous tastings this year and have a more eclectic, divey feel, just the right amount of grunge. Pool table upstairs.

    Local Option: the beer world frequently forgets about this gem, possibly because it’s on Depaul University’s campus, but a gem it is! Packed with Mikkellers this week– just don’t be like me and order 6 not realizing they’re nine bucks a pop.

    Uncommon Ground: excellent but limited beer selection. good food, roger’s park location has the world’s first certified organic rooftop garden. Also, where my craft beer journey began, when I was just a lowly hostess. The physical bar is handcarved by a local carpenter.

    The Long Room: nice and divey, good beer, no food, very straightshooting.

    BREWERIES/ BREW PUBS:_______________________
    Revolution: brewery/ brewpub, the newest member of the
    Chicago’s growing family. (LOGAN SQUARE)

    Metropolitan: tiny store front brewery just blocks from
    Hopleaf. (ANDERSONVILLE/ RAVENSWOOD)

    Half Acre: brewery across the street from Bad Apple, they are gaining lots of momentum. (LINCOLN SQUARE/ NORTH CENTER)

    Goose Island: north/ clybourn the grandaddy of Chicago beer, it would be hard not to visit. The beer at the north/ clybourn location that is sold ON TAP ONLY is FAR MORE INTERESTING than anything they sell in bottles. recently revamped food menu, also home to the SIEBEL institute. Avoid their Wrigleyville location unless you’re there for Night of the Living Ales. (INDUSTRIAL NORTH/ CLYBOURN)

    Rock Bottom: in general they are the Applebee’s of brewpubs but the grand/ state location is (was) operated (brewmastered) by Pete Crowley who is now laying down construction for his new Haymarket Brewing Co. (DOWNTOWN)

    Piece Brewing: fantastic pizzeria and brewpub, but their only distribution is the growler you take home with you. (WICKER PARK)

    Comment by ebolden | April 10, 2010

  8. Thanks!

    Comment by Matthew | April 11, 2010


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