All posts by Brad Chmielewski

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.

Drinking For The Environment

It seems like craft beer in cans are one of those hot topics right now. I’m all for the craft beer can revolution and am happy to support it any way I can. Besides drinking local from the draught at my favorite breweries, can beer is one of my favorite craft beer vessels. It keeps beer fresher, they cool down quicker, are virtually unbreakable, can be recycled, and they are easier to travel with since they are much lighter. But if you’re trying to find a way that your beer drinking can be more environmentally friendly, cans may not the best option.

Even through cans are nearly 50 percent lighter to ship than bottles which reduces their carbon footprint, the environmental impact of can beers comes from the aluminum. Now, aluminum itself is not the problem. Aluminum is the third most common element in the world. There’s no danger of running out of aluminum anytime soon. The problem is in how the aluminum is made and mined. To make aluminum usable it takes a great deal of energy. Using energy means using oil, and oil is a resource that is running out. This process virtually makes using cans kind of a wash when compared to the heavier bottles.

I’m not saying cans are bad and we should only be using bottles. I just wanted to point out that the carbon footprint of making and shipping a can is pretty equal to that of a glass bottle. Where I think the can wins is in how we use it, especially when we are done with it. For years we have been conditioned to recycle soda cans and I don’t think people have a second thought about doing it with a can of beer. Where personally I think most people are more likely to toss a glass bottle in the trash. Aluminum can be infinitely recyclable, and recycled cans can be back on the shelf encasing a new product within a few months. You have places like in Hawaii, where at Maui Brewing Co. using cans makes a lot of sense for the environment & culture. They are trying to keep 120 miles of coastline, 30 miles of beaches, and other public areas free of broken glass.

If you’re really looking for a way to lower your environmental impact when drinking you can start off by drinking local. According to Trehugger,

“Draught beers packaging has lower impacts with an estimated overall environmental load that was 68% lower than bottled beer.”

The further your beer has to travel, the greater the impact it has. The most effective way of reducing the impacts is by drinking local draught beer. Not only are you keeping your eco-impact low but this supports your local economy. You are also letting your local breweries know that you care about what they are doing and are thankful they are there. Walk, bike, or run to your local brewery and feel good you lowered your carbon footprint and supported a local business.

Dark Lord Day 2010

Roughly 8,000 beer drinkers from around the country gathered at the 3 Floyd’s brewery on Saturday for Dark Lord Day 2010. I was one of those craft beer drinkers who headed to Munster, Indiana to buy and consume the once a year release of the Dark Lord, a Russian Imperial Stout. I ended up getting to 3 Floyd’s about 10:30 am and had to park the car at the park on the other side of Calumet Ave; it was a good 5 minute walk from the brewery. I had been seeing the photos all morning on twitter of the chaos that was happening but it didn’t compare to seeing it first hand. When I walked up I saw two lines going both ways in front of the brewery on Indiana parkway. The past two years there had been one line that was the bottle line. Not sure why two lines happened this year, it didn’t make much sense since there was only one place to buy bottles. I was under the impression that if you had golden tickets there was no reason to wait in line for bottles because you were guaranteed beer (before 5 o’clock). So I went towards the sample line to get one of my free samples of Dark Lord that came with my golden ticket. Finding that line proved somewhat difficult because every line seemed to collide with one another. The entire parking lot at 3 Floyd’s seemed to be a huge cluster fuck of a line. Once I finally figured out where the sample line was I was surprised to find that they were only letting you get one beer at a time even if you had two tickets. Which made it really difficult for people getting some for their friends beers that were waiting and saving their spot in the bottle line. You could either get your free Dark Lord sample or pay $5 for the oak aged Dark Lord. You couldn’t get another beer unless you wanted to get back in line. The sample line was taking at least 10 – 15 minutes so I wasn’t in the mood to get back in line right away. Throughout the day I was only able to get one of my free samples that came with the Dark Lord golden ticket. The line was just too long and I was never able to make my way back over there but at least I got to try it once before buying the bottles. I understand that they also had the Vanilla Dark Lord earlier in the day to sample but they only had the Oak Aged Dark Lord when I was in line. The Oak Aged was excellent.

Seeing the chaos that was happening it seemed like it would be a good idea to get in the bottle line with the folks I came with. It would at least give us a place to stand. I ended up walking around a lot talking with people and bringing back guest tap samples to the folks in line. The guest taps were right next to some of the bathrooms and it made it hard to tell what line we were in most of the time. If neighboring businesses are cool with people parking in their lots I would think it would be a geat idea to put the toilets over there next year. Get them away from the beer and reduce the lines from colliding at every turn.

Ken had biked to Dark Lord Day from Chicago and didn’t get there until about 1 pm so we really didn’t get a chance to shoot that much video, just a few quick things. But we were able to talk with a lot of great people that day and share some excellent beer. Once we finally made it through the line to buy our allotment of Dark Lord they had changed the limit from four bottles a golden ticket to three. That didn’t make much sense because you would think 3 Floyd’s would of known how many tickets they sold and would of done the math accordingly. I did hear someone say something about counterfeit tickets floating around, which I don’t know if its true or not. Counterfeiters, really? I’m always surprised at the lengths people will go to get good beer. Hopefully 3 Floyd’s will fix this next year and maybe have some sort of barcode. The golden tickets are great and I’d hate to see that go away. I for one do not want to have to get there at 4 am just to get in line to be sure I am able to buy bottles.

In the end, I was able to get my bottles and I had a lot of fun during the wait. There were some issues with this years event but it had maybe two times the amount of people then last year. I’m not an event planner and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for organizing an event on this scale but there were some major issues that I hope they look into for next year. Add some signs, spread out the lines and make sure people are not cutting in. If you made it out to Dark Lord Day this year, I hope you enjoyed yourself like I did. See you next year!

Hair Of The Dog

Recently my finacee and I were in Portland, Or visiting with family. Portland has so many different breweries and its almost overwhelming. The two of us have visited Portland a number of times and we’ve been able to make it to most of the breweries around town. Including Lucky Lab, Roots, Hopworks, Rogue, Deschutes… the list could go on and on. On our most recent trip we decided to check out a few breweries we hadn’t made it to especially since new ones are opening all the time. This time the spot that was highest on my list to visit was the Hair Of The Dog brewery. We had just missed the 2009 FredFest the weekend before. But that didn’t stop us from setting up a time to visit the brewery. Recently Hair Of The Dog has become my favorite brewery. My love affair with them started about a year ago on my last trip to Portland, Or. Being from Chicago you almost never see a beer from Hair Of The Dog unless you are at an event and some generous person brings a bottle to share. Hair Of The Dog makes powerful, delicious beer. The 2008 Doggie Claws is amazing and one of my favorite beers; I’m having a hard time not drinking the ones I have in my fridge. I also think if Alan the brewmaster ever did any sort of Russian Imperial it would probably blow away the Darklord. So in other words I was extremely excited to be visiting Hair Of The Dog and seeing where the magic happens.

You have to call before you visit Hair Of The Dog and see if Alan, the brewmaster is going to be around to give a tour. He isn’t at the brewery brewing every day like many of the other larger operations, so you have to work around his schedule. We set a time in the late afternoon to stop by the brewery. Finding the brewery is sort of tricky, you either have to know the Portland road system very well or use the directions on the Hair Of The Dog website. Once we finally found the place we pulled up to see the door of the brewery open and ready for us to enter. As you walk in it is sort of like walking into someone’s very large garage. Barrels are piled all around and off in the back you can see all the brewing equipment. The size of the place is less than half of the newly opened Metropolitan Brewery in Chicago. When we walked in further we found Alan stirring the brew kettle, he was on his first batch for the day with three more to go. Alan finished what he was doing and then welcomed us to his brewery. The tour started and ended almost at once, you basically walk around in a small circle and Alan explains what everything is. My favorite part of the “tour” was being able to see all the barrels he had and what was being aged in each one. After Alan showed us around the brewery we stepped up to his bar to try what he had on tap. He gave a little history about the brewery and talked about each of his beers. Alan had five beers for us to sample; Greg, Fred, Blue Dot, Ruth, & the 2008 Doggie Claws. The Greg was the only one I had not had and one of the more unique beers I have had recently. He doesn’t use any hops in the Greg, only squash.

Overall it was great to visit the brewery and I greatly appreciate Alan for taking time out of his day to show me and the finacee around. If you’re in Portland or just visiting and you love beer, be sure to make the time for Hair Of The Dog.

A Look At Dark Lord Day 2009

This years Three Floyds Dark Lord day was much better then last year. I’m not just saying that because Ken & I ended up leaving with some bottles of Dark Lord this year. The line to buy Dark Lord moved so much quicker. We ended up getting there at about 12:00, Don and Mitchell Radlund had gotten there before us and already had a place in line. Ken and I dropped off the beer we brought to trade and share and ran off to get a sample of the Dark Lord 09. The golden ticket allowed a free Dark Lord sample of the 09 version. The line for this took about 30 minutes to make it through and that was around 12:30 pm. At that time they hadn’t tapped any of the guest beers so the choices were Dark Lord or the standard Three Floyds line. So I could understand why everyone was in that line. Once we finally had our Dark Lord we got back in the main line to share the samples. The beer was great! Much more drinkable and more balanced then last years. While drinking the sample we traded a few beers and bought some tamales from a lady selling them. If you didn’t get tamales from this lady you should feel lucky, some of the worst I have ever had. But it was food and I didn’t want to wait in the food line until after I had bottles of Dark Lord in my hands. The line was moving pretty quickly. Maeve and Mitchell said they would hold our spot in line while Ken, Don and myself went to buy some Popskull. Having a separate place to buy the other beers was a great idea. There was no line for this so it was very easy to walk up and get a few other beers you wanted to pick up that day. At this point our spot in line was only about 100 people away from the Dark Lord bottles… I quickly ran back to the car to drop off some of our stuff and then as soon as I got back they were walking in to buy Dark Lord. All of us got out Golden Ticket limit of four bottles. They had a lot more people taking cash and giving out beer this year which I think was helping the line move faster. Dark Lord was now in hand and it was time to drop it off at the car and enjoy some more of the festival.


Download the Quicktime (26.1 MB).

The beer continued to flow all day. Along with the Dark Lord 09 sample we were able to sample the oak-aged and Vanilla Bean 2009 Dark Lord. These were on tap at the same place as the guest beers. The guest beer area was in a terrible location and was just a crowed mess. Some of the guest beers we were able to try were the Vintage Harvest Ale, Canadian Breakfast Stout and Oak-Aged with cherries Behemoth. I didn’t get to try any of the Stone beers which was a bummer, but there was so much other stuff I don’t think I missed it. One of the worst lines we stood in was the line to get into the brewpub but the payoff was huge. Inside the Three Floyds brewpub they had the 2008 Dark Lord and the Vanilla Bean and oak-aged version of that. Unfortunately the Vanilla Bean 2008 was gone by the time we got in. But the oak-aged 2008 was fabulous. They also had a ton of other beers inside to try… I could see why this line was so long and moved so slow. Around 4:00 / 5:00 pm they started selling more Golden Tickets to buy more Dark Lord. I still had some cash so figured I would grab another four to trade and share with people. In the end I walked away with a good amount of Dark Lord. Very happy with this years event. Three Floyds stepped it up big time after the disappointment of last year.

Something Three FloydsThree Floyds should think about is moving the food tent and line away from the brew pub line. All the lines got very confusing at points, something to separate things might of helped. Next year I might hang out and drink and then just grab my beer before I leave. No real need to wait in the line when you have a golden ticket.

Goose Island’s Night Stalker

Ken and I were at the Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub for the release of Night Stalker and the monthly beer swap. The Night Stalker is part of Goose Islands new Fulton Wood Series coming in at an ABV of 11.7% and 60 IBU’s. If you’re a fan of the famous Bourbon County Stout then the Night Stalker is something you’re going to want to check out. Next to the Night Stalker tap they also had Summertime as well, which is a solid beer but nothing amazing. But what was very interesting was they were doing blends of the NNight Stalker and the Summertime. The blend was super interesting and made the already drinkable Night Stalker even more so. Since the Night Stalker was being released, the beer swaps theme was porters and stouts; the idea was that you bring a stout or porter to share. A huge stand out of the night was the Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter someone brought to share. Overall this past Thursday’s beer swap was a blast. Shout outs to all the great people we had a chance to chat with including Jonathan Surratt of Draft Magazine & beermapping.com, P.J. Fisher the event coordinator at Goose Island and Randy Mosher. See everyone at the next event.