Tag Archives: Brad Chmielewski

7 Year Anniversary Of The Hop Cast

This month marks the 7th year of the Hop Cast. It’s hard to believe that Ken Hunnemeder and I have kept this show going for this long. Although we’ve slowed down with our episodes, mostly due to life just being busier than it was in 2008, we still try to give everyone a couple new episodes a month. Beer brings people together and The Hop Cast has continued to be something we do that allows Ken, Maeve and myself to get together and have fun. All the episodes are unscripted, you never know what could happen or what might be said.

After 7 years, we’ve released 245 episodes and have met a countless number of friends through producing the show. I’ve learned a ton about beer, probably more than I truthfully need to know for someone who doesn’t work in the beer industry. At this point, I think we may be the longest running video beer podcast out there, if not please let me know who has us beat. In the last seven years the craft beer landscape has changed so much in Chicago and in the country. Its been truly incredible to watch this growth and to help promote it in the best way we know how. To turn on a camera, drink and hang out.

Thank you to everyone who’s been watching, listening and supporting what we do. It’s been an amazing ride and I can’t even picture what the craft beer scene is going to look like as we move forward. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher and leave us a review, if you can.

Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot a special episode celebrating the 7 years or put on a killer event. We always talk about how we should throw an anniversary bash but since this is just one of the things we do for fun, we never seem to get it together in time. Maybe we’ll put on a sweet party for our ten year anniversary.

For the 5 year anniversary post, I shared a few of my favorite episodes, which was tough to figure out because there have been so many good ones.

This year I want to go back and watch episode 165 from February 10th, 2012. This was just an informal chat with Pete Crowley about cellaring beer. It wasn’t a typical Hop Cast but it was a pretty interesting conversation to have with a brewer who has likely contributed more to the Chicago beer scene in the last 15 years than anyone else.

Cheers and thanks for watching The Hop Cast!

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.

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.