Hop Cast At Let’s Create Chicago

Chicago is home to a ton of amazing creative people that are creating great podcasts, video series, films, and more! The Hop Cast was invited to the February Let’s Create event at Blue Frog in Chicago to share their new media experience and spread the craft beer love. Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski enjoy a couple great lagers from Metropolitan while they record a live segment with Elise Jaffe. Ken and Brad share their knowledge of the brewing process, ingredients, and tasting with the audience to show that there is more to beer then the average person would think.

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Ken & Brad’s Ten Favorite Midwest Craft Breweries

Here are Ken & Brad’s ten favorite midwest craft breweries and the towns they are in.

1. Three FloydsMunster, Indiana
Three Floyds is located just 30 minutes outside of Chicago in Muster, Indiana. These guys love the big beers. Three Floyds knows how to really bring the hops in their beers though they may be most famous for their Russian Imperial Stout, Dark Lord that tops many lists as one of the best beers in the world. Dark Lord bottles are sold only on ‘Dark Lord Day,’ the last Saturday in April where you are sure to find Brad and Ken and several thousand other fellow beer lovers in line and having a good time. Besides being an excellent brewery, they also have a brew pub that is cranking out some seriously tasty food. Don’t think you can come to Chicago and not make a trip out to see these guys

Episodes Featuring Three Floyds – Episode 3, Episode 12, Episode 23, Episode 39, Episode 66, Episode 74, Episode 75

2. Bell’sKallamazoo, Michigan
Bell’s was the first Michigan brewery to serve beer by the glass to the public. With over 20 years of brewing, Larry Bell has built a nationwide reputation with Bell’s Brewery. They played and are still playing a significant role in changing the craft beer landscape of the nation. They continue to produce a large variety of excellent beer and that’s why they are one out our favorites.

Episodes Featuring Bell’s – Episode 3, Episode 37, Episode 65, Episode 71

3. Founders BreweryGrand Rapids, Michigan
Founders Brewing is talked about constantly in the craft beer community for so many great beers and they just keep coming out with more. More flavor, bigger body, huge aromatics and increased complexity is the goal of Founders and they bring it to you. They continue to push the envelope and that’s what makes them great. Both Ken and Brad are excited to see what they have coming out in the years to come.

4. Boulevard BrewingKansas City, Missouri
Boulevard Brewing is one of the few breweries that Ken and Brad haven’t visited in the midwest. They are a fairly large brewery and also have a rather large distribution area but unfortunately you can’t find their beers in Chicago. Outside of the quality year-round brews they offer, its what they’ve been doing with their Smokestack Series releases that has really made us drink up and take notice.

Episodes Featuring Boulevard Brewing – Episode 15, Episode 56

5. New Glarus Brewing CompanyNew Glarus, Wisconsin
Just on the outskirts of the small “Swisstown” New Glarus, Wisconsin is where you will find the New Glarus Brewing Company. They are perhaps the biggest of the Wisconsin craft breweries and it’s hard to find a bar in Wisconsin that doesn’t have New Glarus beer on tap. They don’t distribute outside of Wisconsin so if you live outside of the state then a road trip is in order! Luckily Ken drives to Wisconsin often enough and brings back beers to share with fellow beer lovers in Chicagoland. As well as excellent year-round offerings, what these guys are doing with fruit is incredible! It will make the ladies and the gents in your life extra happy. Just.. wow!

Episode Featuring New Glarus Brewing Company – Episode 56

6. Jolly Pumpkin Dexter, Michigan
Jolly Pumpkin has a little something different going on there and their beers are not for everyone. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers they use open fermentation, oak barrel aging, and bottle conditioning. Many of you know that Brad isn’t a huge fan of the sour beers but Jolly Pumpkin is slowly helping him to learn to appreciate that style and the Hop Cast really respects the quality product that Jolly Pumpkin creates.

Episodes Featuring Jolly Pumpkin – Episode 4, Episode 57, Episode 70

7. Surly BrewingBrooklyn Center, Minnesota
If you’re visiting Minnesota and love beer it’s likely you have heard of what Surly Brewing is producing. You’ll find most of their beers in 16 oz cans at local liquor stores throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. If you are willing to brave the weather in Minnesota in October and stand in line early then you get a rare, magnificent taste of their much lauded once a year release, Russian Imperial Stout; they call Darkness.

Episodes Featuring Surly Brewing – Episode 20, Episode 62, Episode 69

8. Goose IslandChicago, Illinois
Goose Island and Chicago sort of go hand and hand. They are widely distributed throughout the majority of states and many people know about their bottled beers including the much loved and praised, Bourbon County Stout. But a trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without seeing what else Goose Island has to offer. At the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub you’ll find about 10 beers that are not in bottles and exclusively only available there. They are constantly rotating in new offerings so make sure you stop on by and see what they have on tap.

Episodes Featuring Goose Island – Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 47, Episode 65, Episode 77

9. Two BrothersWarrenville, Illinois
Head directly west of Chicago to Warrenville and check out Two Brothers and their brew pub. Since Warrenville is Brad’s birthplace, Two Brothers holds a special spot in his heart. Two Brothers beers are solid and although with the exception of Hop Juice, many of their beers may not completely blow away the craft beer lover. They are go-to beers; the kind of beers that you can also give to your average beer friends (if you have any) and they are still going to enjoy them. When you need a good, solid beer that isn’t too experimental then a Two Brothers is a dependable choice.

Episode Featuring Two Brothers – Episode 11

10. KuhnhennWarren, Michigan
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company is your typical hardware store turned microbrewery story… ok there’s nothing typical about Kuhnhenn. Run by brothers Bret and Eric Kuhnhenn in the small town of Warren, Michigan these brothers have the craft beer community talking. You can find their beers in 12 oz and 22 oz bottles. And if you see them, pick them up because they are pretty amazing. A couple favorites are the Simcoe Silly, Creme Brulee Java Stout & the Solar Eclipse.

Honorable Mention
With so many great top notch breweries in the midwest it was hard to just pick 10. There were a few that almost made the list and we just wanted to give them props for what they are doing.
Half AcreChicago, IL
Metropolitan BrewingChicago, IL
Dark Horse BrewingMarshall, Michigan
Futhermoore BeerSpring Green, Wisconsin

Hop Cast – Episode 78

In episode 78 of the Hop Cast, Brad Chmielewski & Ken Hunnemeder are joined by a couple of true gentlemen, Brian McCauley and Scott Pellman. The four of them open up a couple beers that you can’t find in the Chicago area. The first one they crack open is the Stumptown Tart from Bridgeport Brewing. With an ABV of 8% this is a hefty beer that carries a pink hue and packs a bit of a tart kick. Next, they follow that up with Troegs Flying Mouflan. This beer is part of Troegs seasonal releases and you can usually find it on the shelves in March. Troegs classify this beer as pushing Nugget Nectar off the side of a cliff, and at 9.3% this guy is not to be messed around with.

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Hop Cast – Episode 77

In episode 77 of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski are at Goose Island Clybourn to talk with head brewer Wil Turner. Each of them are drinking a different beer brewed by Wil and currently available on tap at the brewpub. They have the Queen B, the single hop variety Midway IPA and the Extra Pale Ale. Wil shares with Brad and Ken a little bit about the brewing process that goes into some of the beers at the Clybourn brewpub. Wil also talks about how he is changing positions at Goose Island and that Jared will be taking over as head brewer at Clybourn. Don’t worry folks, you are still going to be able to find delicious beers on tap at the Clybourn location. Jared has some great things planned and the Hop Cast hopes to showcase them as they become available. The Goose Island Clybourn Brewery is a great location to visit if you are in Chicago and they have a great selection of brews on tap. Check them out and see what they have to offer, we’re sure you’ll find something you’ll like.

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Hop Cast – Episode 76

The Hop Cast has gone wild for episode 76. Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder open up the caged and corked Weyerbacher Riserva. As soon as Charlie Drews heard the Hop Cast was opening a bottle of Weyerbacher on the show he jumped at the chance to be on… it may be his favorite brewery. The Riserva is aged in oak barrels with red raspberry puree and Brettanomyces yeast. Coming in with an ABV of 11.40% this ale isn’t messing around. Wild ales aren’t something that is featured that often on the Hop Cast so Ken takes the time to explain what makes a wild ale different from a sour ale and how the process has changed over the years. After the Weyerbacher they move onto the Jack D’Or from Pretty Things. Pretty Things is new on the craft beer scene so it was great to try one of their beers on the show. The Jack D’Or is a saison with an ABV of 6.4%. Currently they offer about four beers with Jack D’Or being their flagship beer.

Grab yourself a beer and get wild with the Hop Cast.

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Hop Cast In 2010

I wanted to take a moment and share with you some things that are planned for the Hop Cast in 2010. But first off let me say that the last year and half has been amazing for the Hop Cast and it couldn’t of been down without everyone who has been watching.

In a few weeks Ken and I are going to hit the road and head down south for the Sexual Chocolate Release. On the trip we’re going to be visiting Sweetwater Brewery, Terrapin, Brickstone Pub, Brusin’ Ales, Pisgah Brewing, and Foothills Brewery. At some of these stops we will be recording interviews that will be available on the Hop Cast site and on Facebook. Ken and I will also be posting photos and videos from the road onto Facebook so be sure to join the Hop Cast group and become our friends. (Ken Hunnemeder & Brad Chmielewski).

Coming up in April is the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago. Even though this conference is for professional brewers, Ken and I are in talks with some of the folks here in Chicago to get us into the conference. Whatever it takes! Around CBC there are a ton of great events happening at all the breweries; including limited edition beers going of tap. It’s going to be an amazing week and Ken and I hope to be a part of it. Depending on what happens, perhaps we’ll be doing a daily recap on ustream for everyone.

Outside of those two big events you can also count on us being at Three Floyds Dark Lord Day and the Surly Darkness release again. We also have plans to visit more midwest breweries; including Barley Island Brewing, Bell’s Brewery, New Glarus Brewing and Jolly Pumpkin. And of course we will keep bringing you great craft beer reviews. I also hope to work on a new graphics package for the show this year and give it bit of an updated look.

Let us know if there is anything you would like to see us focus on this year, we would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment on the site, send us an email or message Ken or me on twitter. We love hearing from everyone!

Hop Cast – Episode 75

For episode 75 of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski are at Three Floyds once again but this time with Lincoln Anderson the Minister of Propaganda for Three Floyds. Lincoln shares a little background about Three Floyds and what they have going on. He also shares some info about the much anticipated 2010 Dark Lord Day. What came as a surprise to Ken and Brad was the length of time before the event that they brew Dark Lord. If you are in the area, make sure you make it out to Munster, Indiana to check out what Three Floyds and Three Floyds Pub has to offer.

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Upcoming Sexual Chocolate Release Road Trip

Next month the Hop Cast will be hitting the road. We’ll be visiting Lexington (KY), Atlanta (GA), Athens (GA), Asheville (NC), and Winston-Salem (NC). All times are subject to change based on traffic and if we end up making any other stops. We’ll try and update this list if we add any new places in the next few weeks. Let us know if you would like to meet up for a drink at any of these places or someplace nearby.

Wednesday, February 3rd 2009
SweetWater Brewery – 6:00 P.M.
Hop City – 8:00 P.M.
5 Seasons Brewing – 8:30 P.M.
Taco Mac Bar – 10:30 P.M.

Thursday, February 4th 2009
Brick Store Pub – 11:00 A.M.
Terrapin Brewing Company – 2:00 P.M.
Brusin’ Ales – 6:00 PM

Friday, February 5th 2009
Pisgah Brewing Company – 1:00 P.M.
Sweet Potatoes – 6:00 PM

Saturday, February 6th 2009
Sexual Chocolate Release at To Foothills Brewery – 10:00 A.M.
Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers – 2:00 P.M.

Sunday, February 7th 2009

5 Favorite Craft Beers Of 2009

2009 was a great year for us at the Hop Cast and for the craft beer world. There were so many great beers that were released and some really excellent new breweries that appeared on the scene. With 2010 already in full swing the Hop Cast wanted to take a look at the previous year and pick five of our favorite beers that came out last year.

Big Hugs from Half Acre
Sah’tea from Dogfish Head
Torpedo Extra IPA from Sierra Nevada
Monk’s Blood from 21st Admendment
Duck Duck Gooze from Lost Abbey

Also check out and vote for your favorite craft beer of 2009 over at The Full Pint.

Beer Of The Month – January

Just thinking about all the great beers that are going to be poured into craft beer lovers glasses this year makes it hard to pick our first beer to start off 2010. With the holiday season behind us and the future looking delicious we figured we’d start things off with something that represented all the great beers to come throughout the year. That is why for the January beer of the month the Hop Cast has picked Shipyards Prelude. This winter warmer is available from November – December so you better get to the store quick to see if they have any left. But don’t let the winter warmer description fool you since its sometimes listed as a “british style dark pale ale.” It comes in with an ABV of 6.8% which makes it good for a winter day or evening of drinking with friends. It pours out a darker amber / light brown color with a tan creamy head. The aroma is sweet with butterscotch, caramel and molasses, hitting you up front with some winter spices. The taste is much milder and malty then you expect. There is a nice hint of alcohol to complement the spices and the hops come through in the finish with some bitterness to balance it all out. This is a hearty beer in your mouth and could work excellent with some food. Its also very session-able, it goes down easy and isn’t overly spiced. Shipyard did a great job with this winter warmer. If this is the prelude to all the great beers to come this year, then bring it on!