ABV Chicago Craft Beer Podcast

It’s that magical time of year again where the warm weather and budding flowers necessitate the enjoyment of saisons - and it’s also when we have our annual Saisonathon event during Illinois Craft Beer Week on Tuesday, May 14th at Forbidden Root! Outside of a few other shameless plugs for the event, this show is one we’ve always wanted to do. We take seven saisons, mostly representing more “classic” interpretations, and we review and rank them in a blind tasting. As usual with our blind shows, the results are a total surprise, and our guessing abilities are....limited. We also talk about Spring Break Craig’s wardrobe, Big League Chew, ultimate buffet pairings, That Beer Craig Had In Germany, and Saison Detectives. (Pssst….go to that thing we mentioned.)

Saison Reviewed Blindly (in order of appearance)

Brasserie Dupont - Saison Dupont

Brasserie St. Fuellien - Saison

Funkwerks - Saison

Off Color Brewing - Apex Predator

Allagash Brewing Company - Saison

Boulevard Brewing Co. - Tank 7

Forbidden Root - Saison

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_273_Blind_Saisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Mike Pallen and his crew at Mikerphone are some of the most prolific collaborators in the business, and each year they expand their Cool Beer Friends Club by throwing an invitational they call Smells Like A Beer Fest. So to ready ourselves for this year’s shindig on April 27th, we drink five collaboration beers between Mikerphone and five other excellent breweries. Craig also gives us his White Sox Beer Review for the year, Ryan serves up a game of “Did They Duet?,” and we fixate on one of the worst songs and videos of all time. There’s also a new Beer Crank Bucket (inspired by Twitter), a little beer negging, and some real irie vibes. Stumble down the palate with us.

Beers Reviewed

Windmill Brewing & Mikerphone - Feel Good Inc. (Milkshake-style IPA made with passion fruit, coconut, lactose, and vanilla)

Cerebral Brewing & Mikerphone - Just The Two Of Us (Blonde ale w/ marshmallow fluff, raspberry puree, cacao, and lactose)

Lil Beaver Brewery & Mikerphone - Cupcakes, Cookies, & Rainbows (Imperial stout with milk sugar, chocolate and vanilla)

The Bruery & Mikerphone - Icky Thump (Imperial stout w/ Tugboat coffee)

WeldWerks Brewing Co. & Mikerphone - Sweet Disposition (Imperial Stout brewed with maple syrup, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, and Papua New Guinea vanilla beans, aged in a mix of bourbon and rum barrels for 18 months)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_272_Mikerphone_Duets.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

It’s a high concept week in the bunker as we gamify our cellars by letting a roll of the dice determine the show’s lineup. Both Craig and Ryan dug deep into their closets to offer up a range of twelve interesting offerings that go from forgotten oddity to valuable rarity. Each host rolls a six-sided die three times to determine the six beers for the show, and the tension is more than could’ve ever been imagined. This was a crazy fun time to record, and we hope you enjoy the results - you’ll have to listen to find out the final lineup. There’s also some stuff about Doomsday Preppers, perpetually wet floors, Pappy Kong, and a cuvee of dolphins. (Also, mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 14th as we bring Saisonathon to Forbidden Root!)

Our Twelve Cellar Offerings, in order of dice value

Craig

  1. Transient Artisan Ales - Sporadic #2 (Wine barrels)
  2. Hoppin’ Frog Brewery - Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Van Wink Oatmeal Imperial Stout
  3. Evil Twin Brewing - Imperial Biscotti Break Bourbon Barrel-Aged
  4. Hill Farmstead Brewery - E.
  5. Cycle Brewing Company/Mikkeller - DOS Brunch
  6. Cigar City Brewing - Double Barrel Hunahpu’s

Ryan

  1. Avery Brewing Co. - Mephistopheles (2011)
  2. Draai Laag Brewing Co. - R2 Koelschip
  3. Paradox Beer Co. - End of the Beginning Vol. II
  4. De Struise Brouwers - Cuvée Delphine (2013)
  5. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. - Double DBA (2013)
  6. Goose Island Beer Co. - Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout (2013)
Direct download: ABV_Chicago_271_Cellar_Roulette.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Though the name suggests a more rustic approach, Forager Brewery out of Rochester, Minnesota is finding an audience with their adjunct-laden stouts and mixed-culture sours. We get our hands on four dark beers and one barrel-aged sour to learn more about this brewery that wowed us at GABF in 2017. Succumbing to the fudge giggles, we also find ourselves considering cereal smells, questioning our broken palates, and getting stickier than ever before. (Also, we share the big news about Saisonathon 2019, so tune in to this one for some details - or keep an eye on our website for more!)

Beers Reviewed

Sherpa’s Survival Kit (Imperial stout)

Pudding Goggles (Imperial porter w/ coconut, cinnamon, vanilla beans, and cacao nibs)

Obscurely Referenced (Sour blonde ale aged in gin barrels - collaboration with Fair State Brewing)

Happiness Layer (Imperial milk stout w/ roasted pecans, toasted coconut, vanilla beans, and cacao nibs)

Mexican Mocha (Imperial stout w/ vanilla beans, cacao nibs, habanero, guajillo, ancho, and mulato peppers, ceylon cinnamon, and coffee)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_270_Forager.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

A sequel almost five years in the making, this episode reunites us with the beers of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales thanks to listener Mike Rousseau. Recognized by RateBeer as the 10th best brewery in the world, SARA may have built its legacy on oak-aged saisons, but here we get to sample some of their recent forays into IPA. Craig seeks out some dog walking advice, Ryan shares the smartest snack, we practice a little tantric sipping, and we explore themes of the next films in the Expendables franchise. Decanting suggested!

Beers Reviewed

Woven (Oak-aged blonde ale - collaboration with Half Acre)

Tomorrow, Today (IPA)

Then Again (Blend of 1-, 2-, and 3-year old barrel-aged saisons)

Of This World (Triple IPA)

Cask 200: Batch 2 (Solera-style saison)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_269_SARA_Revisited.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

An ancient prophecy foretold of a legacy brewery that would make a baffling number of IPAs to be available all at the same time, and that those IPAs would remind two lowly podcasters about why they fell in love with beer in the first place. Yeah, the Sierra Nevada love is strong on this one, especially from Ryan, whose CostCo shopping made this show possible. But we do find a lot of interesting variation in the seven IPAs in this lineup. Craig tries not to lean too hard into the “tastes like a beer” angle, we explore the next frontier in cooking shows, and there’s a bunch of bizarre stuff about dinosaurs. Dig those whiffs!

Sierra Nevada Beers Reviewed

Resilience IPA

Torpedo Extra IPA

Tropical Torpedo IPA

Brut IPA

Hop Solo IPA

Sidecar Orange IPA

Ruthless Rye IPA

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_268_Legend_of_Seven_Sierras.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

To help push us through the last bits of this awful Chicago winter, we drink beers from paradise to tackle our 19th state show. This episode features five beers from five Hawaiian breweries, and they taste pretty great even without the tropical background. We also introduce our extremely on-brand Sweet 16 bracket challenge, give you Something Else to Complain About Ⓡ, and explain how Craig’s mom is awesome (and better than Ryan). You’d expect us to say “aloha” here, but we didn’t. Ha.

Beers Reviewed

Lanikai Brewing Company (Kailua) - Route 70 (Saison w/ hibiscus and honey)

Waikiki Brewing Company (Honolulu) - Hana Hou Hefe (Hefeweizen w/ strawberry puree and orange peel)

Big Island Brewhaus (Kamuela) - Overboard IPA

Mehana Brewing Company (Hilo) - Volcano Red Ale

Maui Brewing Company (Kihei) - Imperial Coconut Porter (w/ toasted coconut and cacao nibs)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_267_The_HI_Show.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Like a lucky slot machine pull, we have a winning lineup of cherries on this show as we try five different styles of beer from five breweries, all featuring cherry. We learn quite a bit about these versatile drupes while we rank this group that has a few transcendent flavor experiences. This one is also ripe with diversions that include Zen gardens, Dairy Queen flagships, screaming lemons, the worst Sunday alibi, Al Borland Cosplay, hateful Hobby Lobby aromas, Dan Cortese’s filmography, and a BuzzBall the size of a baby’s skull. It’s certainly not…..the pits.

Beers Reviewed

Casey Brewing & Blending - Casey Family Preserves: Golden Cherry (Oak-aged Saison)

Sketchbook Brewing Co. - Ripe Now Farmstand Porter w/ Cherries

Transient Artisan Ales - Cherry Anachronism (American Wild Ale)

Hop Butcher for the World - Circumpolar Cherry Cyclone (Milkshake Double IPA w/ lactose, vanilla, and cherry)

Pipeworks Brewing Co. - Barrel-aged Cherry Truffle Abduction (Imperial stout w/ cacao and cherry, aged in bourbon barrels)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_266_Cherry_On_Tap.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

With a secondary price tag higher than our mortgage payments, this show is an embarrassment of riches in flavor and in rarity. But will we be embarrassed by our blind rankings of eight barrel-aged vanilla stouts released in 2018? You bet your sweet tooth we will. We are joined by Ryan Tracy at his Park Ridge establishment, Beer on the Wall, as we fumble through our guesses and evaluate these high gravity beers based only on what’s in the glass. It’s a fun way to hear our beer careers come to an end. If that’s not enough, we talk about confusing road signs, classic Chi-Chi’s commercials, the best doorbells to lick, and waffles. And it’s totally not scripted, we swear.

Beers Tasted Blindly (in order of appearance)

  1. Transient Artisan Ales - Gray Skies Barrel Aged Neckbeard Nectar
  2. Bottle Logic Brewing - Fundamental Observation: Batch 4
  3. Goose Island Beer Co. - Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout (2018)
  4. Angry Chair Brewing - Barrel Aged Ultra Violence
  5. Voodoo Brewing - Big Black Voodoo Daddy (Aged in Bourbon barrels w/ vanilla beans)
  6. More Brewing - Barrel Aged Henna (Vanilla Caviar)
  7. 3 Floyds Brewing Co. - Dark Lord: Marshmallow Handjee
  8. Revolution Brewing - Vanilla Deth
Direct download: ABV_Chicago_265_BA_Vanilla_Blind.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Whether you see it as beer’s #version of Record Store Day or as a viral marketing ploy to drive sales for struggling brands, we here at ABV Chicago embrace these classics with open arms. And our arms are very open on this episode as we sample 12 of the most important beers in American craft beer, all of which either launched or propelled legacy brands. No one in the world really needs our take on these beers, but here you go! Before pronunciation becomes a problem, we share the plagiarised stories of these beers’ varied histories, Craig accidentally ends up in a porn, Ryan forgets about Fat Tire, and we workshop some stuff for Spontaneous September. We also try and sell Jim Koch our palates, Craig yearns for the Days of Malt, and Ryan reviews Baker’s Square from the 90s. Come for the classic beers; stay for the Moist Steven.

Flagships “Reviewed”

Anchor Brewing Company - Anchor Steam Beer

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Pale Ale

Boston Beer Company - Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Bell’s Brewery - Amber Ale

Great Lakes Brewing Company - Dortmunder Gold

Yuengling Brewery - Traditional Lager

Deschutes Brewery - Black Butte Porter

Lagunitas Brewing Company - IPA

Allagash Brewing Company - White

New Glarus Brewing Company - Spotted Cow

Oskar Blues Brewery - Dale’s Pale Ale

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - 60 Minute IPA

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_264_Flagship_February.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Deep in the heart of Wisconsin, there exists a not-so-secret society of like-minded artisans - specializing in beer, liquor, and wine - that have formed a collective to bring more tourists to the area. And for some reason, they thought that giving us a bunch of booze would be a good idea to promote their brand. Well luckily the liquids are all tasty-to-impressive, and we have a hell of a time lining them up on this show. In addition, Craig shares his week of Final Destination-style close calls, Ryan shares his notes on 20WineTeen so far, and then there’s stuff about robot cereal and socially-anxious vampires. We also play the very literal new hit game, Name Ten Badgers, and we try to stay on the good side of Seagram’s Jim. And hey, next time you’re up North, say hi to Gary Koziak for us.

Craft Liquids Reviewed

Sunset Point Winery [Stevens Point, WI] - Northern Lights Blackberry Midnight (Merlot infused with blackberries)

McZ’s Brew Pub [Rosholt, WI] - Campfire Rauchbier

O’so Brewing Company [Plover, WI] - Bruin in a Bramble (Black raspberry sour Oud Bruin)

Whole Hog/Stevens Point Brewery [Stevens Point, WI] - Casper (White stout)

Central Waters Brewing [Amherst, WI] - Black Gold 2018 (Barrel-aged imperial stout)

Great Northern Distilling [Plover, WI] - Herbalist Gin (used in a Ginger Smash cocktail)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_263_Central_WICC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Since our first encounter with James and Sarah Howat’s Black Project back at GABF in 2015, we’ve wanted to dedicate a show to their spontaneously-fermented wild ales. So we’re understandably jazzed about this whole deal, and the lineup of five beers on this show go beyond our expectations. In addition, Craig does the following things: quizzes Ryan on government conspiracies; solves the mysteries of The Shining; invents the worst Slip-n-Slide; and starts his Soundcloud rap career as Must Buoy. We also look into chipmunk storage, face tattoos, horny cats, Prilosec murders, dank basement cheese, and sopping wet corks. That’s what happens when the beer is this good.

Beers Reviewed

FOXBAT (Spontaneous ale w/ with peaches, rosemary, sage and sea salt)

TAGBOARD (Wet-hopped Méthode Traditionnelle ale)

CLOUDMASTER (Spontaneous sour wheat ale)

CYGNUS: Cherry [Blend A] (Méthode Traditionnelle ale w/ cherries)

ROSWELL: GRUDGE (Lambic-inspired ale w/ raspberries)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_262_Black_Project.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Now that bottles of Afterthought beers are starting to leave Lombard to reach more drinkers in the Chicagoland area, we celebrate by popping five elegant saisons from Mike Thorpe’s small-yet-acclaimed brewery. Using mostly Midwestern ingredients, Afterthought’s saisons are about as diverse as they come, while being mistakable for some of the bigger-name farmhouse-made beers from around the country or world. Amidst our appreciation of these top-tier beers, we somehow find time to debate about horse diapers, determine the right application for gummy worms in beer, take our parts in the Chili’s theme song, and - gulp - go into the Mosherverse. Zangy!

Beers Reviewed

Saison Illinois (Saison w/ all Illinois ingredients)

Raspberry (Ale refermented w/ raspberries)

Black Currant (Saison fermented in oak w/ black currants)

Saison Amer: Galaxy (Hoppy saison fermented in a Sauvignon Blanc barrel)

Bière De Pieces #7 (Blend of Saison Meer: Buckwheat, Faible: Passion Fruit, and barrel-aged Faible with paw paw)

Direct download: ABV_Episode_261_Afterthought.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

After the first five Deep Wood releases, Revolution Brewing could’ve taken the rest of the season off and enjoyed a victory lap. Instead, they drop five more barrel-aged beers that might be collectively better than the first half. We taste through this colorful - and strong - array of styles with an early appearance from joyful inebriation. We work through the tingles by proving our age through technology, coming up with secret beer orders, weighing the seriousness of a high fudge tolerance against fudge fatigue, suggesting a legitimate new FoBAB category, and by sipping on that session bourbon. Should’ve asked for a Cherry Coke.

**Correction: The Beer on the Wall event we mentioned, the Deth’s Tar Crawl, has NOT yet happened, so you should go and do it on January 31st. Check the events page on their website for more info!**

Beers Reviewed

Gravedigger Billy (Bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ale)

Ryeway to Heaven (Ryewine aged in rye barrels)

Vanilla Deth (Imperial oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels w/ vanilla)

Straight Jacket (Bourbon barrel-aged barleywine)

Boss Ryeway (Ryewine aged in Armagnac barrels)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_260_Deep_Wood_Deeper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

In almost three years, Cruz Blanca has quietly become one of the city’s best breweries, churning out everything from lagers that pair perfectly with a smokey tlayuda to wild ales that will captivate even the nerdiest bottle share. Now with 6-pack cans of three crowd-pleasing beers out in the market, Cruz is poised to build a bigger fanbase than ever. We sat down with brewers Jacob Sembrano and Todd White to sample a broad array of their beers while exploring why they’re ok with being the sleeping giant that they’ve become. The discussion ranges from brewing technique, craft maltsters, Brut IPAs, and barrel blends to the history of Mexican lager, the surprising origin of Cruz Blanca, and the inspiration behind their distinctive artwork. There’s also some truly unfortunate nicknames, freestyle Tetris, crunchy water, a little P.F. Chang’s inspiration, and just a little yelling about bière de gardes. Don’t tell your friends!

Beers Enjoyed

Corn Grisette (100% corn malt mixed culture grisette)

Blood of the Flamingo (Black raspberry Brett Berliner)

Amigovio (Oak-aged wild ale w/ peaches)

Crushada (Wine barrel-aged Flemish Red Ale)

Brut Suit Riot (Brut IPA)

Three Kings (Hazy DIPA w/ guava and tamarind)

Loco Dinero (Imperial coffee blonde ale w/ lactose, aged in rye whiskey and Barbados rum barrels)

Rey Gordo (Imperial stout aged in Barbados rum barrels)

Senor Incognito - (Imperial stout w/ toasted coconut, pecans and Mexican cinnamon, aged in rye whiskey barrels)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_259_Cruz_Blanca.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

Opinion on Brut IPAs seems to be passionately divided between love and hate. But many brewers are banking on it gaining traction with the hopes that their version of this wildly inconsistent style will come to define the Brut as we know it. On this episode, we attempt to find out exactly what makes a Brut IPA and carve out our own subjective idea of what makes the good ones stand out. Through a blind tasting, we sample six Brut IPAs - three local, and three from afar - with the added challenge of guessing the lineup. We also plot out the next Neil Breen film, discover why tiny bubbles aren’t always good (and it’s not Don Ho’s fault), and indulge in some more bad puns. Hackback!

Beers Tasted Blindly

Stillwater Artisanal - Extra Extra

New Belgium Brewing - Brut IPA

Stone Brewing - Enjoy By 01.01.19 Brüt IPA

Sketchbook Brewing/Illuminated Brew Works - Resistance W.I.T.C.H.

Middle Brow Beer Co. - Trademark Brut

Hopewell Brewing Co. - Clique

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_258_Blind_Bruts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am CDT

We’re truly in Beer Country now as our States Series takes us to the home of the most breweries in the nation: California! We have six beers on from six breweries, split evenly between the halves of the state, and we are shook by the unfaltering quality. Craig makes an impossible sacrifice for 2019, Ryan educates you on the brewing facts you won’t find in textbooks, and we both enter rankings less clear and less sober than we’ve been in a long time. Come to basketball land, you get dunked on.

Beers Reviewed

Fall River Brewing Company (Fall River Mills, CA) - Blood Knot IPA (NE-style IPA w/ blood orange)

Cellador Ales (North Hills, CA) - Berlinerish Blueberry (Barrel-fermented Brett Berliner w/ whole organic blueberries)

New Glory Craft Brewery (Sacramento, CA) - Wakey Wakey (Oatmeal Coffee Porter w/ vanilla beans)

Highland Park Brewery (Los Angeles, CA) - Twiced Pinot (Barrel-Aged Saison with Pinot Noir Pomace)

Moksa Brewing Co. (Rocklin, CA) - Cape of Good Hops (NE-style DIPA)

Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim, CA) - Fundamental Observation: Batch 4 (Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Vanilla Stout)

Direct download: ABV_Chicago_257_The_CA_Show.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am CDT

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