Updates!

Oh. Hello there.

I have a bunch of updates (since it’s been a few weeks), so I’m throwing them all together into this one bullet-point-like post. I’ll try and avoid being boring.  It’s been a fairly hectic few weeks.  I’m going to boil it down to a few major points, so I don’t end up rambling on and on.

Read on!

– Festiv-Ale was awesome!
Great food, great beer, great people!  It was packed full of people, but it was never too packed to feel you couldn’t get a tasty beverage when you wanted.  Also, buying a VIP ticket was well worth the cost.  It allowed me to get in an hour early and get first dibs on some of the rarer beers.  And the delicious food.  Shining stars:  Flossmoor Station’s smoked porter, Solemn Oath’s Whisper Kisses, and Lagunitas Day Time IPA was a nice surprise.  Also, the short ribs from Wildfire were incredible!

– Brewed again!
Met with a friend to brew and I’ve got high hopes for this beer.  It started out with the standard stout recipe that Pyzocha and I had used for our Vanilla Stout.  Peated malts were worked into the mix and figs and butternut squash were added late in the boil.  Fermentation started a little angrily (the airlock was blown out of the carboy), but order has been restored and the bottling should be happening soon.  It’s like a Christmas Dinner Stout.

-Paddy Long’s Bacon Pairing!
I went to a bacon and beer pairing at Paddy Long’s.  Yes.  A bacon and beer pairing.  It was so good.  Local and house-made bacons (including jowl bacon, which was fantastic) paired up with seasonal craft beers.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

– Frequenting Sheffield’s!
I’ve been able to go to Sheffield’s quite frequently in the past few weeks, and I really love that place.  Their BBQ is incredible.  Sitting around eating delicious food and enjoying some of the best available local and far-reaching craft beers is a good way to kill a few hours.  Also, the Victory Old Horizontal from 2005 I had there on Sunday, was well worth the wait.

I haven’t been drinking too much bottled beer lately (due to my going to Sheffield’s).  But don’t you worry.  I’ll be stopping into Binny’s this week and I’ll get back to my regular format soon.

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35. Lost Abbey – Mo Betta Bretta

Last weekend was a great time!  I got a visit from Pyzocha (you may know him from J Street Beer), a great friend of mine from DC.  When friends of mine come out to visit, it usually means one thing:

We’re going out drinking!

With only a weekend to burn, Pyzocha and I embarked on the abridged Chicago Beer Tour.  We visited both Goose Island Clybourn and Wrigleyville, Big Joe’s for turtle races, and Half Acre for a couple growlers.  We hit Sheffield’s and Piece Pizza for beers and food.  We made it into Binny’s for beer bottle overload.  We even stopped into the Chicago History Museum (see, we’re not complete degenerates).

All in all, it was a beer-packed weekend that was an absolute blast.  Definitely too short.

Do you have suggestions on places we should’ve gone?  This will help my future planning.

I had the pleasure of getting a hold of the Lost Abbey Mo Betta Bretta.

Sight:  Orange-hued golden color with a thin bubbly head.  So pretty.

Smell:  Mild fruitiness in the aroma; I’d go with strawberries.  There was also a slight hint of sourness.

Taste:  Light berry fruit mixes with subtle sweet malts.  Light mouthfeel with a lot of carbonation.  The finish was soft and clean.  The beer was honestly begging me to keep drinking it.

My overall grade:  A

This beer would have to be considered if trying to come up with a top 10.

Half Acre’s Li’l Blaster was another of their summertime saisons that didn’t disappoint.

Sight:  Bright golden color with a light head.  Lots of tiny bubbles.

Smell:  Spices.  Lots and lots of spices.  Definitely a saison.

Taste:  Spicy with a tangy bite.  A thin malty backbone holds it all together, while it finishes subtly with a nice shot of floral hoppiness.

My overall grade:  B

Tasty and light.  A nice beer to relax with while dealing with the summer heat.

And I’m off to lunch!

26. Goose Island – Pere Jacques (2009)

This past Saturday was Cinco de Mayo, but I didn’t do anything Cinco de Mayo-like.  My family headed out to the suburbs for the day, while I got to hang out in the city.  So, since I had the ability to wander around the city hopping from bar to bar, you would think I would do something Mexican-American related.  Maybe I’m getting old.

Instead I watched the Kentucky Derby at Sheffield’s.  Although, I’d be lying if I told you I went there specifically to watch it.  Truth is, I sat down at the bar and glanced up at the TV to see jockeys being interviewed.  Suddenly, I realized I was surrounded by people in wild hats and seersucker jackets.  I didn’t fit the part, but with the delicious barbeque and tasty craft beer I didn’t care.

After hanging out at Sheffield’s for a bit, I headed down to Goose Island on Clybourn.  A trip that turned out fantastic.  Before headed there I had heard good things about a beer called Gold Smoke, a smoked helles beer.  I was intrigued and definitely wanted to try it.  When I got to the bar and managed to find an open seat, this was right in front of me.  It was like the stars had aligned.

I enjoyed a couple Gold Smokes, got a sampler (seen at right), and walked out with a growler of Gold Smoke.

Before heading home, I stopped into my sister-in-law’s, who was having a small get-together.  She made some fantastic mango lime sorbet (well done, Caryn!), which made me seriously consider buying my own ice cream maker.  It’s gonna happen, I just don’t know when.

Since we’re talking about Goose Island, I had the pleasure of getting a hold of this little gem:

Goose Island Pere Jacques (2009)

Sight:  Brownish orange in color and quite cloudy

Smell:  Very fruity.  Apples, pears, citrus, with a slight sourness

Taste:  Very fruity, apples, syrupy mouthfeel, slightly tangy with a surprisingly light finish

My overall grade:  A

Heinz has ingrained into my head that good things come to those who wait.  In most cases, Heinz is wrong.  Incredibly wrong.  But, in this case, Heinz hit the nail on the head.  Three years after this little guy was bottled (honestly, the date matched, I didn’t do it on purpose), it had mellowed out and gained some wonderful flavors.  If you have a Pere Jacques at home, don’t be afraid of letting it sit for a while.

Two Brothers 15th Anniversary Beer #3 – Dark Mild:

Sight:  A molasses brown and crystal clear

Smell:  Lots of toffee.  There was a little light grassy hops hanging out in there too

Taste:  Thin and light.  It has a nice maltiness that isn’t overpowering.  The finish is delicate and slightly bitter.

My overall grade:  B

I could probably drink a six pack of these.  Not only is it light and flavorful, but it’s low on the ABV scale (3.2%). So it makes for a good summer beer, when you’re tired of those citrusy, wheaty “summer” beers.

And now I begin my countdown to the weekend.  104,400… 104,399… 104,398… 104,397… 104,396…