HopCast Episode 49

Episode 49: Tyskie, the Okocim Mocne and Perla

Steve joins Hop Cast hosts Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder for episode 49. In this episode they aren’t just drinking beer, they are drinking Pivo. That’s right its the Polish beer episode of the Hop Cast! Now this might not be the sort of craft beer that Brad and Ken are used to drinking, but every once and awhile they do step down from their high horse. The three of them drink and review three different polish beers. They look at the Tyskie, the Okocim Mocne and the Perla. Who knew Poland had more to offer then just the Okocim? Grab a perogie and a beer and join Brad, Ken and Steve for a Polish taste adventure!

Having issues listening to the video? Try the Quicktime (461.7 MB) or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Ken Visits Vintage Estate


I recently found myself taking a trip to Youngstown, Ohio with my sights set on some beers that are out of the Chicago market.  Having some luck last time around, I planned on stopping at a couple places in Cleveland on the way.  I soon realized, thanks to my gracious hosts, there was no need; because the #1 rated beer store in America (according to www.ratebeer.com) is located right in Youngstown!!  It quickly became a prioritized destination for me and I was not disappointed.

Vintage Estate Wine and Beer is the beer drinker’s playground.  They have a great selection of American craft and also plenty of special imported beers (such as some great Belgian sours!!).  Not only is this a great place to buy coveted beers for your home habits, they have a bar connected right next to the store!!  So grab a pint, and get to shopping!!  The bar was pouring some tasty treats on draft including Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Avery Maharaja IPA, and Saison DuPont.  They even let you buy a bottled beer, open it up, and continue to shop while you drink.

Many may find such a vast and overwhelming selection a bit intimidating.  And oftentimes, in establishments with such critical acclaim the staff can become pretentious or “too cool for school”.  Vintage Estate does not fall into this category.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable and very willing to help with any questions.  So whether you’re an experienced beer drinker, just getting into the game, or shopping or a friend or loved one you can feel right at home.  I talked personally with owner, Phill Reda, who is very passionate about what he does and it shows.

Big shout outs to the folks at Vintage Estate Wine and Beer for some wonderful additions to my cellar!!  I will certainly be back and I encourage any travelers and especially locals to check out this outstanding beer destination.

Vintage Estate Wine and Beer
7317 South Ave
Boardman, OH 44512


Hop Cast – Metropolitan Interview At Alefest 2009 (Mobile Special)

This is the final interview from the 2009 Alefest. Unfortunately the camera Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder were using died in the middle of this interview so the second half is missing. Brad and Ken did have a chance to talk with Doug Hurst from Metropolitan Brewing a little and he explained the two beers they were serving up at the fest. Hopefully in the near future the Hopcast will be able to meet with Doug again, for an episode featuring Metropolitan brews. Metropolitan is brewing some great lagers so if you’re in the Chicago area, keep an eye out.

Download the Podcast (83.6 MB).

Hop Cast – Flossmoor Interview At Alefest 2009 (Mobile Special)

Here is another interview from the 2009 Alefest. This time Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski were able to chat with Bryan Shimkos the brewmaster from Flossmoor Station. Bryan brought three beers with him to Alefest, the Apesession, Killer Kapowski and the Farewell Ale. Flossmoor Station is brewing some wonderful beer and they are just a short ride on the metra from Chicago. If you live in the Chicago area, its highly recommended that you check out Flossmoor Station.

Download the Podcast (149.5 MB).

A Brewing Renaissance In Chicago

This New York Times article was passed on to me the other day and I figured it was worth sharing with the Hop Cast audience. The article talks about the rise of craft beer in Chicago. More and more of the beers you see being served are brewed right in Chicago. Just a few years ago, you wouldn’t of seen this, it would of been PBR, Miller and Bud. Only lately has Chicago experienced a brewing renaissance of its own like you have seen over the years in Portland, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Today, local beer is popping up all over town. Now the tap handles read, Goose Island, Half Acre, Three Floyds, Metropolitan, and Flossmoor. The article is worth a read especially if you live in Chicago or if you have plans to visit. One place that the article didn’t mention was Hamburgers Mary’s new Sports Bar and Brewery, located next to the restaurant. They just started brewing beer and currently feature three home brews. Or even Moonshine who has been brewing beer for about a year now. But read the article and look for a Hop Cast review of Hamburger Mary’s beer and Moonshine in the future.

HopCast Episode 48

Episode 48: Blue Frog Hefeweizen & DogZilla Black IPA

For episode 48 of the Hop Cast, Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder are joined by Nick Campbell. It’s great to finally have Nick on the show, he has been a fan for sometime and Brad and Ken are both fans of his work. In this episode the three of them sample and review a hefeweizen and an IPA. The first they open is the Hefeweizen from Blue Frog out in California. They follow that up with the DogZilla Black IPA from Laughing Dog Brewing in Idaho. This might of been the first time Brad and Ken have featured a beer from Idaho, it’s always great to see what other states have to offer. So grab a beer, press play and enjoy. Thanks for watching the Hop Cast!

Having issues listening to the video? Try the Quicktime (488.2 MB) or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Hop Cast – BrickStone Interview At Alefest 2009 (Mobile Special)

At the 2009 Alefest, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski were able to interview a few of the standouts. First up is BrickStone Brewery, all four beers that they brought to Alefest were great so Ken and Brad needed to find out some more about the delicious brews. They grabbed one of the brewers and asked him a few questions. BrickStone Brewery is only fifty miles south of Chicago and worth checking out if you get a chance

Download the Podcast (88.3 MB).

Hop Cast – Alefest 2009 (Mobile Special)

Ken & Brad At Alefest 2009

This past weekend Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder made it out to soldier field for the 2009 Alefest. The festival featured over 150 craft beers from more then 50 beweries. Brad and Ken both had a blast the previous year and this time they wanted to share it with you. Stay tuned the rest of the week for three interviews with some of the brewers at the event.

Download the Podcast (46.5 MB)

Hop Cast – Taco (Mobile Special)

In this mobile special Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder are joined by Steve. This mobile cast is more about tacos than beer but it wouldn’t be a Hop Cast with out a glass of something. They each sip on their session beer of choice. Ken has a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Steve has a New Glarus Stone Soup and Brad has the Terrapin Rye. But this mobile special isn’t about the beers it is about Steve’s Taco Scale. So grab some tacos from your favorite spot and then grab a beer. Enjoy!

Download the Podcast (65.9 MB).

Our Night At The Publican

This past week I had the opportunity to go to the very hyped up restaurant The Publican. There were six of us who went; Maeve Price, Don Radlund, John Burkett, Shawn Riggins, Ken Hunnemeder and myself. Ken had been to The Publican earlier in the week with his family for brunch and really enjoyed it and couldn’t pass up a night of trying some great beers. Since The Publican has an outstanding Belgian beer selection, I thought the dining experience would be worth sharing with the Hop Cast audience. I went there expecting The Publican to be kind of an upscale Hopleaf. The Publican is not at all like Hop Leaf. Hop Leaf is a beer bar that happens to serve good food; The Publican is all about the food and just happens to have good beer. The Hop Cast is all about the beer so I’m going to try and focus on the beer first and food second.

Finding The Publican can be tricky if you don’t know where you’re going. Its located in the West Loop in the Fulton Market area hidden next to factories and art galleries. I had made a reservation for the six of us last week so we had no problems getting seated. The atmosphere is rustic and noisy, you are seated at large communal tables with strangers sitting right next to you. I didn’t mind the communal seating, it contributes to the whole dining experience. Once seated we began to look over the large beer menu. The menu is one large sheet of paper so much easier to read then the book Hop Leaf gives you. Most of the beers on the menu are belgian beers which can be confusing and difficult to figure out what to pick. As a result of that it makes it easy to go for the things you recognize like the Alpha King or Left Handed Milk Stout. But I was in the mindset of going out of my comfort zone so no matter how much I might of wanted a Goose Island Imperial IPA I wasn’t going to do it. While looking over the menu I just needed to point out that our waitress was amazing and new a great deal about the beers on the menu. Too bad I didn’t have a Hop Cast card to give her that night I think she would of loved what we do here. On the menu I was drawn to the abbey beers. Abbey beers are brewed by commercial brewers, and license their name from abbeys; some defunct, some still operating. Since there were only three beers in this section I picked the first one the Witkap Pater Singel / Stimulo from Brouwerij Slaghmuylder. The Witkap is a Belgian Pale Ale coming in a 11.2 oz bottle and has an ABV of 6.0%. When the beer comes out they pour some out into the glass and leave the rest in the bottle for you to top off. The Witkap pours a light cloudy golden color which seemed spot on for a bottle conditioned Belgian. It pours with a small white head that hangs around till the last sip. A light sour aroma comes out but is backed up with some grains and hops. In the taste, the sour is more tart with a good lemon and orange citrus to clean it up. This was a great beer to start off the night with, refreshing and slightly sour and very drinkable. But if you’re looking for something even more drinkable then you might want to check out the Blanche de Bruxelles from Brasserie Lefebvre SA that John Burkett ordered. This one was recommended by our waitress, it is a Witbier and comes in at 4.5% ABV. Maeve wanted something with more hops so she ordered the Poperings Hommel Bier from Brouwerij Van Eecke N.V. This isn’t your typical IPA but an outstanding Belgian version. Ken ended up with the standby of the Alpha King since they were out of his first choice of beer. With first drinks out of the way the food started to pour in… we ordered a lot. Pork rinds, frites, sardines got us off to a decent start. The sardines were maybe my least favorite thing we ate that night but definitely weren’t terrible. Next came out the duck heart, beef tongue, farm chicken, sea bass, and ribs. Hands down my favorite dish of the night was the duck heart. It is great that The Publican tries to use as many local farmers as they can for their meats and produce.

With all this food coming out it was time for some more beer. Next up for me was the second beer in the abbey beers section, the Triple karmeliet by Brouwerij Bosteels. This was a great and complex beer, again a slight sour nose with orange and grass. A soft floral taste with spice and bitterness. Really it seemed to have something new in every sip. I wasn’t sure what Ken was doing at the other end of the table, he ordered up a Duvel for his second drink. A solid and tasty beer sure but come on…you are at The Publican, try something new buddy! Maeve who is stuck on the IPA’s went with the Ridgeway IPA, which was fun because it came in one of those oddly shaped english bottles. A few more dishes of food came out and we chatted, ate and drank. Looking back I can’t believe we almost didn’t order a third beer but I’m so happy we did. Ken who had been ordering light redeemed himself with his last pick, the Brabant from Avery. I can’t believe I liked this since it was a wild ale and I’m not one to love a sour ale but tonight I was going out of my comfort zone and trying anything and everything. For my last beer Don and I decided to split the Aventinus Vintage 2003. This beer rocked and was maybe my favorite of the night. Over all it was an outstanding night at The Publican and I had a fabulous time eating and drinking some things I might of never tried. I think everyone else at the table would agree.

In the end The Publican is really hyped up and I don’t think it lives up to all the attention it gets. Sure it is great but the best meal I have ever had? I don’t think I could say that. One of the most interesting meals, maybe. I could definitely see myself maybe stopping in for a drink and some pork rinds but I don’t think I need to have a full meal. If you have some money to burn, then drink and eat like royalty for a night. At least you will be able to tell your friends you ate something crazy.