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Recollections of the Windy City – What you need to know about Chi-Town Beer

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Rachael and I recently made the trip to Chicago, Illinois for a wedding – Shout out to Gabe and Gissele Villacis! Their wedding on the 67th floor of the Willis Tower was a great time (and had a great view to match!).  Although it was a short trip (three nights, two days) we were able to acquire a sufficient flavor of this big city meets mid-west mash up. Under the guise of an eager tourist, you will encounter many sights and sounds that you may gravitate to and I’ll attempt to do that justice a bit later in our story. For now let’s get down to business and talk about the craft beer, the beautiful craft beer!

I’m no Mid-west beer expert, not yet anyway, but I know what I like and here’s some of that mid-west craft flair that will guarantee to tantalize you taste buds.

Shout out to the gang over at Beer Temple located at 3185 N. Elston Ave Chicago, IL 60618. A lot of the beers that I’m about to discuss were procured from this fine establishment. They bill themselves as a craft beer shop with a diverse selection of hard-to-find brews and they don’t disappoint. If you’re a local looking for some of that craft beer magic or in town for the weekend, you need to check them out. The venue is small with a deceptively large selection of alluring offerings. Fun fact, they offer daily tastings and free parking.

Three Floyds Zombie dust – Presented by Three Floyds Brewing, what can I say about this one? Well I’ll start with wow.  This was the show stopper as far as my weekend beer consumption was concerned. Formerly known as Cenotaph, this magnificent beer is single hopped with 60 IBUs and features Citra Hops from the Yakima Valley. It pours a beautiful golden hue; the moment you inhale this juicy floral fruit bomb you know an experience awaits you.  It is supremely well balanced with a nice hoppy kick and a crisp finish. I urge you all to consume this instantly and gleefully.

Three Floyds brewing located at 9750 Indiana Parkway Munster, Indiana 46321 has been around since 1996. They brew a wide variety of styles, and they ‘strive to make the best and most memorable beers—always setting themselves apart.’ Although they have many fine offerings, this is likely their very best.

Brickstone APA - American Pale Ale with an ABV of 6.25% that is chock full of Amarillo hops (and also dry hopped for 4 days). Back in 2012 Brickstone won a bronze medal for its American pale ale —at the World Beer Cup. Later that year it took home a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Needless to say Brickstone’s APA is the real deal. It pours golden orange in the glass and possesses notes of tropical fruit and slight hints of caramel with some of that hop trademark dankness. Very similar flavors hit your tongue as your palate soaks this one up. It’s relatively light for its 6.25% alcohol content and it is a very solid APA that many say is on par with Zombie Dust.

Brickstone restaurant & brewery has primarily been focused on their cuisine but their award-winning craft brews are gaining well deserved recognition nationwide. Check them out!

Mosaic Hero IPA - Brought to you by Revolution Brewing Brewed heavily with Mosaic hops and also accompanied by Warrior and Zythos.  Pale and CaraFoam malts and Naked Golden Oats are included in this India Pale Ale that comes in with an IBU count of 85 and an ABV of 7.5%. Rich copper color on the pour, tropical  fruit, citrus and some pine on the nose and tongue that finishes with a toasty (almost smoky) malt flavoring.

Revolution Brewing, Illinois' largest craft brewery opened its doors in 2010. It was started by home brewer Josh Deth, a former cellarman and brew pub brewer at Goose Island. Revolution expanded their operations by adding a tap room in the spring of 2012.

Half Acre Daisy Cutter is brought to you by Half Acre Beer . Available all year round, Half Acre’s flag ship brew is a west coast style Pale Ale that’s dank and aromatic. It comes in with an ABV of 5.2%. It is a hazy orange on the pour, dank on the nose, with definitive notes of citrus and pine, some mango, melon and caramel are in there as well. Taste and smell align well; this one is hoppy and juicy on the tongue. Very solid and enjoyable, this pale ale deserves to be consumed in excess.

Half Acre Beer Co, originally built in 2008, has two breweries on the north side of Chicago.  They brew classic American micro styles, weighted barrel offerings and wyld beers. This is a top notch brewery and deserves further exploration from the BTBT team.

Three Floyds Gumball Head – The second offering from 3 Floyds Brewing Co. is very different from the first. Had this one, along with a rye whiskey shot at The Mash over on 4535 N Lincoln Ave. This American Pale Wheat Ale comes in with an ABV of 5.6% and 35 IBUs.  This session beer is brewed with Amarillo hops. It pours a slightly cloudy amber color in the glass. Citrusy and zesty notes on the nose; taste is similar, it has that hop bitterness that I enjoy but also just a tad bit of malty sweetness is detected as well.

Goose IPA- brought to you by Goose Island . Goose was once at the forefront of the Illinois craft scene, paving the way for many of the breweries referenced in this blog today. Alas Goose joined the dark side and was bought up by a global conglomerate and is no longer technically a craft beer operation. We preach craft not crap and we all say that craft rules everything around me. Those statements are both valid and true; but in some very rare instances beer that is not craft is also not crap. This is such an instance. This IPA comes is at an ABV of 5.9% along with 55 IBUs.  It possesses a light golden color when poured into a glass. Notes of Citrus and malt are on the nose. Those very same elements are also on the tongue. Overall this is not the strongest or most memorable entry on this list but by no means a bad IPA. I have somewhat of a soft spot for these because my dad and I drink them when we watch NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. Goose IPA shouldn’t aim to punch above its weight and you shouldn’t expect it to either. For a commercial style beer compare it against others and you’ll see that it’s not a bad entry.

I didn’t spend my whole time guzzling craft beer in Chicago, although I certainly wouldn’t have minded. Chicago, like any place, is obviously more than just a new place to drink. We enjoyed the Museum of contemporary art on magnificent mile. The MCA had an exhibition on the work of Kerry James Marshall that focuses on Marshall’s paintings made over the last 35 years. We also enjoyed the carousel at Navy Pier park, which at the height of the ride provides you with spectacular waterfront views. We had a chance to check out ‘the bean’ or Cloud Gate, by Anish Kapoor. Inspired by liquid mercury, this is the first public outdoor work installed in the U.S. and is among the largest, measuring roughly 66-feet long by 33-feet high. Big and Littles is an awesome tucked away gem of a quick serve restaurant that has some of the best fish and chips that I’ve ever had. Honorable mention goes the ahi tuna taco and the spicy pork taco. Last but not least we were able to dine at David Burke’s steak house located at the James Hotel on 616 North Rush at Ontario. Their famous savory 55 day aged rib eye was phenomenal! Thinking about it as I type is almost making me salivate.

Quick check in on the rest of the BTBT crew….Pete spent a few days in Vegas mostly drinking gin and tonic but did manage to sneak in a few Ballast Point Sculpin IPAs and Joe IPAs from 10 Barrel Brewing. Darwin hit the first ever can release from Brooklyn Brewery, Green Point Beer and Ale located at 7 N15th Street, Brooklyn NY 11222. Green Point first opened its doors in January of 2014 and they are a welcome addition to the New York Brewery family. They currently specialize in small batch ales, lagers, and brett beers brewed five barrels at a time. They emphasize that they are heavily influenced by brew traditions of England, Belgium, and Germany, but still add their own American flare to the proceedings.  The release featured Smash Street Extra Pale Ale 6.2% ABV and Instant Credibility Double IPA 7.8% ABV. Be on the lookout for more good things from this exciting brewery. Shout out to Josh and Cindy!

Chicago was a real good time and Rachael and I will make our way back there again. The rest of the BTBT boys kept themselves engaged and entertained in what was an all-around solid weekend.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

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