HopCast Episode 219

Episode 219: Upright Fantasia & Goose Island 25th Anniversary Flanders Red

Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder are joined by Sergio Salgado in episode 219 of the Hop Cast. In this episode the three guys open a couple funky beers. Not funky bad, but funky good. First up is the Fantasia from Upright Brewing in Portland Oregon. This 5.7% ABV America Wile Ale is in the vein of a Lambic style of wild beer. What makes it really unique is that it was fermented entirely in oak barrels that are filled with fresh peaches from Baird Family Orchards. Yum! It’s one that should be shared with friends because everyone should have a chance to try this one. Next up is a special release from Goose Island Clybourn for their 25th Anniversary. This one is a 7% ABV Flanders Red ale that was fermented with lacto and Brett and aged in wine barrels to give a distinct tartness to this very deep red, malty beer. If you didn’t get your hands on a bottle when they were released, you might be out of luck. But if you know a friend who has one make sure you’re around when they open it up.

Cheers & Thanks for watching the Hop Cast!

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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

HopCast Episode 218

Episode 218: Bell’s Lager Of The Lakes & Midwestern Pale Ale

You better get your beer goggles on for this Hop Cast. In episode 218, Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder open two fantastic beers from one of the staple midwest breweries, Bell’s. Bell’s Brewery has been around for 28 years and they continue to make new and fantastic beers every year. You’d be hard to find a craft beer lover that hasn’t fallen in love with Two Hearted. Over the years we’ve done a number of Bell’s beers on the Hop Cast; Christmas Ale, Kalamazoo Stout, Cherry Stout, Best Brown and 25th Anniversary Ale. Today Brad and Ken open a couple of their “newer” beers, Lager Of The Lakes & Midwestern Pale Ale. First up is Lager Of The Lakes, a 5% ABV American Pale Lager that will quench your thirst any day. Following up the Lager Of The Lakes is the 5.2% ABV Midwestern Pale Ale. This American Pale Ale is made almost exclusively from pale malt.

Truthfully, it’s hard to go wrong with a Bell’s beer and just because they aren’t the rarest or the newest kids on the block, doesn’t mean you should forget about them. They are making some fantastic beverages! Cheers, and thanks for watching the Hop Cast.

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HopCast Episode 217

Episode 217: 18th Street Chloe & 5 Rabbit Huitzi Midwinter Ale

Local beers with hibiscus? Yep! In episode 217 of the Hop Cast, Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder crack open two great local beers. First up is the Chloe from one of the newest breweries to find themselves in the Chicago craft beer scene, 18th Street Brewery. This 7% ABV beer has subtle tartness and citrus notes of hibiscus that balance this French Saison in the sweet caress of the blood orange. The Chloe was packaged and distributed by Pipeworks Brewing Company and it’s nice to see the local breweries help each other out as they are getting started. Following up the Chloe is a beer from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. 5 Rabbit continues to improve and make some interesting beers and the Huitzi Midwinter Ale is no exception. This is a 8.7 % Belgian Strong Golden Ale, brewed with hibiscus flowers, ginger, thai palm sugar and local Chicago honey. Local brewery and local ingredients, that’s something you love to see.

The Chicago beer scene continues to grow and we’re seeing some interesting beers on the shelves. Do yourself a favor and spend a couple bucks on one of these new beers and let us know what you think. Cheers and thanks for watching the Hop Cast. P.S. Sorry about the windy audio.

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