Category Archives: News

HopCast Episode 247

Episode 247: Grapefruit Sculpin & Habanero Sculpin

In episode 247 of the Hop CastBrad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder dive into a couple variations of Ballast Point Brewing Company’s Sculpin IPA. These both look like the Sculpin IPA you know and love but with a little twist that might turn some folks away or make them love Ballast Point even more. First up, Brad and Ken open the Grapefruit Sculpin, an IPA with grapefruit rind. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer. Next up they destroy their pallets with the Habanero Sculpin, an IPA with Habanero peppers added. Sculpin are known to sting, but this one’s got a kick. Both these beers were really fun to taste side by side and see how a slight variations can give you something so unique.

Thanks for watching the Hop Cast. Cheers!

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Festiv-Ale 2013

Festiv-Ale – “Cure What Ales Ya!”


Looking for a good reason to drink some great local Chicago beer? You probably don’t need one… but when you can drink for a good cause it makes it a little more meaningful.

This past weekend was the 7th Annual Festiv-Ale held at Carmichael’s Steakhouse. This festival supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and features a number of items up for silent auction.

The number of breweries at the event was rather impressive, some of your old favorites like; Haymarket Pub, Half Acre, Goose Island, Solemn Oath Brewery and 5 Rabbit. I say old only because the amount of newer breweries at the event was crazy. So even through many of these breweries have only been around for a couple years they’ve become the old standby’s. Some of the newcomers at the fest were; Ale Syndicate, 18th Street Brewery, Temperance Beer Company, SlapShot Brewing, Off Color Brewing, Begyle Brewing, and Forbidden Root. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few but as you can see it was an impressive line-up. That beer list would of been worth the ticket price alone but the folks at Festiv-Ale also had restaurant sponsors too giving out food and helping to make sure no one went hungry. You had; Ta-ki-to, Small Bar, Three Aces, Fountainhead, Frontier and more that I didn’t even get to try. Oh! And how can I forget the White Castle that showed up just as the event was ending, handing out sliders to the somewhat drunk guests. Really, the best time to eat White Castle in my opion.

Half Acre At Festiv-Ale

Back to the beer for the moment. I was glad to sample some beer from these new breweries especially since I haven’t been able to make it to the awesome launch parties so many of them have been having around the city. If you’ve been paying close attention to the beer scene in Chicago I’m sure you’ve heard of all of these new breweries but a surprise for me was Forbidden Root. They are a new brewery working with Randy Mosher and they’re brewing heritage-style “beer botanicals” made with roots and other special ingredients. Forbidden Root was pouring two offerings; their Forbidden Root, a root beer or sarsaparilla flavor, but with the quality of a brewed beer. Their second one was the Sublime, a ginger root, key-lime and honey bush brew. Both fantastic! Another surprise was Temperance Beer Company, the first Evantson brewery in 100 years. Claudia Jenron is the brewster there now. Claudia recently left GooseIsland and is already doing some good stuff at Temperance. Both the Pale Ale and Porter they poured on Friday were rather tasty and I went back for seconds. I could tell you more about all the beer I drank that night but really you should have been at Carmichael’s Steakhouse on Friday!

If this event isn’t on your radar, it should be. Tickets were $65 for regular entry and $100 for the VIP reception. Maeve Price and I grabbed a couple VIP tickets which included an extra hour of drinking and eating before the regular entry showed up. The event ran from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM; 5 hours of food and beer and all for a good cause. Yes please! The event on Friday was a perfect balance of good people, food, and beer. I never found myself waiting in line for a beer or food; it always helps that I know a lot of brewers who don’t like to see my glass empty but I never saw anyone else waiting either. Although I did see a few familiar faces like Nik White of Chicago Beer Geeks & Steve Mastny of Beer Download, the event brought in a ton of new people into the scene, which is fantastic to see. Seeing all the awesome breweries represented there in one room all pouring for a good cause, being enjoyed by some fine folks; it was a great night for Chicago beer.

Beer Tower

DryHop Brewers Coming Soon

DryHop Brewers Brewery Warming Party

DryHop Brewers

I know many friends in the area have been waiting patiently for DryHop Brewers to finally open; they’ve been teasing everyone for a long time with the coming soon sign. Ken and I talked with them back in September 2012 and from what they said then, they still had a good ways to go before they would be pouring their own beer at their own brewery. They seemed up to the challenge and all that work has really paid off, they’re now only months away from opening the doors. Greg Shuff told me that their goal is May.

Last night the brewery debuted with a brewery warming party for industry folks. It seemed like everyone made it out and wanted to see how the place was doing and sample a few beers. Even though the 10 barrel brew house has been installed, fermenters and serving tanks are in, Brant isn’t brewing at the brewpub yet. There is still a lot to hook up and of course final permits and inspections from the city.

It’s going to be tight in the space but DryHop Brewers is taking full advantage of the space they have.  With just over 3000 square feet and seating for 70, it’s going to be cozy. Greg said the windows that are currently boarded up would be able to fully open and there will be some patio seating in the summer as well. Which should make the space feel more open. But my favorite feature is the bar, or what will be the bar. You’ll be able to sit facing the serving tanks and the brewhouse will be to your back. Making for a great experience when sipping on one of DryHop’s tasty beers.

For the event they were pouring three beers; a Chicago Common called “Shark vs. Hipster”, a Belgo IPA called “Shot A Man In Simcoe” and finally a Black IPA called “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts“.  Yes that is a Less Than Jake reference if you were wondering.  If you’re familiar with the Chicago beer scene and have bellied up to the bar a few times, some of those beers might sound familiar. “Shot A Man In Simcoe” is a collaboration with Lake Effect and “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” is a collaboration beer with Begyle Brewing. This was my first time getting to sample these beers so it was a treat. The “Shot A Man In Simcoe” had some great flavor, it was pretty cloudy and looked like it was poured straight from the fermenter.  “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” pours a black-brown color, that had a nice, rich malt character with the hops giving it a nice, bright flavor.

The only non-collaboration beer was the “Shark vs. Hipster”, this beer was a test batch done by Brant Dubovick. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one evolves and changes once it’s moved from the home system to the larger commercial system at the brewpub. It’s a nice, easy drinking beer that if you’re in the area you’ll have no problem knocking back a few with friends.

My favorite beer of the night was the  “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” and not just for the awesome name. The beer poured perfectly and tasted great. Both Begyle Brewing and DryHop should be proud of this beer and if you’re in Chicago you might want to get a taste of both the collaborations because once they are gone that might be it…

We’ve got a good number of production breweries opening in Chicago this year but DryHop will be a brewpub, which is really going to make it a destination not only for the people in Lakeview but also everyone in the city. I’m looking forward to seeing what Brant, Greg and the chef Pete create. I’m sure you’ll see me there in May once they finally remove the wood from the windows and open the doors.

furthermore beer

Furthermore Beer In Chicago

I’ve been a fan of Furthermore Beer since I first tasted the Oscura at the 2008 Great Lakes Brewfest in Racine.

For the last four years the only way I could get my hands on their beer was by jumping in the car and making a beer run to Wisconsin. Well those days are finally behind me. Starting this week, Furthermore Beer will be available in draft-only at around 25 bars here in Chicago. Joe Collins, Director of Sales at Furthermore Beer told me that Chicago had always been a market they wanted to expand into since the start of the brewery, but had reached a ceiling in production.

Chicago is a large market and we’ve seen breweries have trouble keeping up with the demand in the past so making sure that they’re able to keep up is an important step. Furthermore Beer now has a new contract partnership with Milwaukee Brewing Co. and right now only Fatty Boombalatty is produced there. So hopefully this increase in production will make sure we’ll all be able to have a pint of Fatty Boombalatty whenever we want.

Fatty Boombalatty is the flagship beer at Furthermore Beer and although I do love Oscura, that won’t be available on draft yet… Right now Joe told me that it will be Fatty Boombalatty, Knot Stock and a limited amount of Makeweight that will available just for the launch. But keep an eye out at the stores because come May you’ll likely be seeing a full lineup of bottles.

Furthermore Beer has new beer in the works too like Full Thicket, a Double IPA that’s made with local Wisconsin grown hops.

For now, grab yourself a pint of Fatty Boombalatty or Knot Stock and let’s welcome another Midwestern brewery to Chicago.

HopCast and Monthlys

As you might have seen, Monthlys has discontinued selling all products and services on their website. If you were signed up for the Beer Of The Month clubs that the HopCast was involved with we want to thank you for giving it a try and we hope you enjoyed some of the beers you received. If you are still signed up for Beer Of The Month club, all orders that were placed with Monthlys will be directly fulfilled by Clubs of AmericaClubs of America was previously handling all our beer shipments, and Monthlys and the HopCast were helping to promote and assist in the choosing of the beers.

Right now, moving forward we will not be involved with Clubs of America and have no say in the beers getting shipped to the subscribers nor will we be reviewing the beers shipped out to members. We had a good experience working with Monthlys and hope they were able to introduce some new beers to everyone as well as introduce a handful of new people to craft beer.


Celebrate Life With Hand Selected Craft Beer From The Hop Cast

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You know you need some more beer in your life and why not have it delivered. We’ve put together a killer beer club for both novice and expert craft beer enthusiasts. Get 12 Bottles of artisan craft beer through Monthlys. Some featured brews will be from Alaskan Brewing, Arcadia Brewing Company, Blue Frog Grog, Brickstone Brewery, BuckEye Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Flossmoor Station, Great Lakes Brewing, Hair Of The Dog, Harviestoun Brewery, Kentucky Ale, Surly Brewing, Three Floyds, Two Brothers Brewing, and many more


Beer Of The Month – January

There is no sense in not starting off 2012 big. So lets kick off the beer of the month series for 2012 with Surly Brewing’s 9.0 % ABV Double IPA. Sadly we can’t get Surly Brewing cans here in Chicago but that doesn’t stop us from finding them in other people’s refrigerators. Surly Brewing’s Abrasive Ale used to be called 16 Grit, it was renamed and put into those nicely designed cans. You know here at the Hop Cast we love can beers and the Abrasive Ale is fantastic.

If you pour it into a pint glass you’ll be greeted with a hazy amber color liquid and a dense creamy white head. Isn’t that lacing beautiful? That aroma of fresh citrus should hit you as soon as you’ve begun to pour it out. Grapefruit, lemon, tropical fruits all balanced out with a hint of caramel malts. If only all beers smelled this fresh. The flavor is soft, smooth and fresh. Those sweet malts come in to add a nice balance before the bitter finish. This is a fantastic Double IPA and rivals some of those delicious treats we in Chicago usually get from Three Floyds.

Knowing we can’t get fresh cans whenever we want makes you sad when that last can is gone. Get yourself some Abrasive Ale and enjoy it fresh and be glad you were able to have it because many folks out there haven’t had the joy of experiencing Surly Brewing Company.

Bike The Breweries 2

Join Brad and Ken as they bike 20 miles and try and stop at 12 of the Chicago brewpubs and breweries. All locations are not yet confirmed and depending on operation hours, stops may not be made. Either way it should be a fun ride. At each stop we are allowing 30 – 45 minutes for beer, water or snacks Be sure to bring extra bike tubes and tools in case you run into any flats on the way.

Due to the overwhelming response for last years Bike The Breweries we had to limit the amount of people who can attend. We really appreciate the positive response from everyone on this event but we need to limit this event. There are a few reason we had to limit the amount of people, first and foremost it was a safety concern, with such a large group of people biking together we wanted to make sure no one gets hurt. Second there is no way we can show up to a bar or brewery with 100 people or find enough places for everyone to lock up their bikes at each location. Finally due to the tight schedule we are on if we have to wait for 100 people to get a beer then we don’t think the event will be very fun for everyone or would we be able to stick to a schedule. Be sure to RSVP on the twtvite page, spaces are limited so if you don’t think you’ll make it please do not confirm. Also Brad is working on getting some shirt printed and we will have them for sale for $10.00 each. What better way to remember the ride then with a great shirt.

Hop Cast Store Now Open!

Just in time for the holidays the Hop Cast store is now open! We know a lot of you have been asking for shirts for awhile and we finally decided to put down our beer and do something about it. The shirts are being printed and sold on the Spreadshirt site, so head on over to our store there and order yourself something nice. We will be adding more products as we can, and if there is something you want that you don’t see, let us know.