Tag Archives: Craft Brewers Conference

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Chicago Craft Beer Week Kicked Off With Beer Under Glass

Last night Chicago Craft Beer Week kicked off with one of the best events of the week, or rather 10 days. The event was Beer Under Glass at the Garfield Park Conservatory. I love beer events when they are in locations that you aren’t typically allowed to drink. Its what makes the opening ceremony of the Craft Brewers Conference great every year and its another thing that makes Chicago Craft Beer Week so much fun.

This years event was even bigger and more spread out than last years. Which made it less crowded feeling but harder to get around to all the beers. Although it did cut down on lines, it took awhile to walk from one end to the other. The entire night I was only able to walk around the place twice. But no complaints here about that because the Conservatory is a beautiful place to wander around, especially when you have a beer in your hand.

With around 50 breweries pouring beer, you never had an empty glass, or if you did it was your own fault.

As you walked around from one area to the next it became hard not to run into someone you knew; either a brewer, a blogger or a craft beer enthusiast. Every area you wandered into, you were greeted with a new set of breweries that were pouring two or three different beers. If you looked to one side you’d find something delicious to eat that likely paired wonderfully with one of the beers.

One of the most serendipitous moments of the night was right outside where Perennial was pouring their beers. They were pouring their Black Walnut Dunkel and growing right by them was a Black Walnut tree. Not sure if that was planned or not but either way, pretty awesome.

Once again, Beer Under Glass was a fun night and I hope they continue to put it on as Chicago Craft Beer Week continues to grow every year.

HopCast Episode 207

Episode 207: ChurchKey

In episode 207 of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski are in Washington D.C. for the Craft Brewers Conference. Washington D.C. is a great beer town. One of the spots everyone recommends going to is ChurchKey. So, of course you have to listen to the locals… and it was fantastic! The team even found themselves there a couple nights in a row.

One of those times, Ken and Brad were able to meet up with Greg Engert to chat about what their doing at ChurchKey, not just during the Craft Brewers Conference but also year round.

If you are visiting Washington D.C., ChurchKey should definitely be a stop on your beer adventure. They are doing some great things and have some fantastic food.

Having issues watching this video? Try the Quicktime (343.6 MB).

HopCast Episode 206

Episode 206: Meridian Pint

In episode 206 of the Hop Cast, Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder are in Washington D.C. for the Craft Brewers Conference. The city was hopping every night with some awesome events. One place that was busy every night with a number of events was Meridian Pint. Brad and Ken were able to meet up with Tim Prendergast to chat about what their doing at Meridian Pint, not just during the Craft Brewers Conference but also year round.

If you’re in Washington D.C., Meridian Pint should definitely be a stop on your beer adventure. They are doing some great things and have an amazing cellar of beers downstairs to check out.

Thanks for watching The Hop Cast!

Having issues watching this video? Try the Quicktime (364 MB).

2013 Craft Brewers Conference

2013 Craft Brewers Conference

This past week some 6,000 brewing industry professionals descended on Washington D.C. for the 30th Annual Craft Brewers Conference. When I first heard that the Craft Brewers Conference was going to be in Washington D.C., I truthfully wasn’t that excited. Sorry D.C. I didn’t know much about D.C. (besides the monuments) or really thought of it as a place with a thriving beer scene. I’m a bit spoiled living here in Chicago and I often make trips out west to Portland, Oregon. So, D.C. really hasn’t been on my radar that much. That’s changed after these last few days hanging out in the city, it’s time me and everyone started to pay attention because the scene is blowing up there now. One person described it as being where Chicago was 5 or so years ago. I can see that, it’s small right now with a few key players but it’s changing fast. Over the three days we were there, I was able to check out a number of fantastic bars all around the city.

On the first day, Maeve and I stopped in at Capitol City Brewing Company. In 1992, Capitol City Brewing Company became the first brewpub to open in the city since Prohibition. Capitol City Brewing Company isn’t a bad stop if you’re wandering around downtown and looking for a quick beer and a bite. If you’ve been to a Rock Bottom, it has a similar vibe. A big food menu, plenty of TVs with a game playing on them and a handful of beers on draft. We ordered a flight of their beers and particularly liked their Amber. From there we went over to the opening ceremony which was held at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. This is probably one of the most fun events at any of the Craft Brewers Conference. The opening ceremony is usually held at a museum, zoo or just landmark location in the host city. It’s held after hours and there is a ton of beer and food to sample. It’s pretty amazing to be walking around a museum with a beer and checking out all the great displays and interactive exhibits. At the opening ceremony you’ll run into any and every brewer you’ve seen or heard about. Since we’ve interviewed a good amount of brewers and hung out with so many people in the industry over the years, its almost like going to a reunion of sorts; so many familiar faces and people to catch up with. At one point I found myself waiting in line for the bathroom with Jim Koch. We spent several hours chatting with people, wandering in and out of cool plane and space exhibits and tasting many solid beers from D.C. and the surrounding area. From there Maeve and I ran into Eric Hobbs and Tom Korder of Penrose Brewing and went with them to enjoy a couple more beers in the great city of D.C. Right here was the moment I realized D.C. was going to be a lot more fun than the previous year in San Diego. Listen, we had a great time in San Diego but being Chicagoans, we’re used to being able to walk or jump on a train to our next beer destination and San Diego is a sprawling city where a car is needed. In D.C., we had the ability to walk to another great beer bar or easily grab a cab and go across town. In San Diego, it was hard to travel around and because of that most people just stayed where the convention was held, The Town & Country and hung out. But in D.C. everyone was on the move going to and from a number of different places.

Day two was all about checking out more of D.C. as well as shooting a couple great Hop Cast episodes that we’ll be putting out in the next few weeks. We made it over to Meridian Pint, a great local bar and chatted with Tim Prendergast, their beer director. From there Ken, Maeve and I jumped in the cab and went to ChurchKey to interview Greg Engert. Just to clear up any confusion, the ChurchKey in D.C. isn’t the one with the canned beer that you need a “ChurchKey” to open. The D.C. ChurchKey is a killer beer bar and the folks involved are working on opening their own brewery soon, named BlueJacket. You can already try some of the beers BlueJacket has collaborated on with other breweries, so keep an eye out. The night we were at ChurchKey there was also a Chicago event going on so we stuck around to try a couple of those limited Chicago releases as well as making sure we said hello to all our home town beer friends. It was crazy in there, the line to get in wrapped around the building. Its pretty great to see people in D.C. loving Chicago beer as much as we do. From there we moved onto Smoke & Barrel. Bar hopping is really easy in D.C., most cab trips only cost $10 – $15 each way for us. Smoke & Barrel is a great beer, bourbon and bbq bar. We also had a chance to visit a couple other places that night like The Pug on the NE side. The Pug is a bit of a dive bar and that night they were pouring some excellent beers from our buddy Kevin Blodgers Baltimore brewery, Union Craft Brewing. Since the Craft Brewers Conference was going on, the draft lists at all these bars were insane and every bar we went to had a great atmosphere and were filled with craft beer lovers. These bars not only featured beers from the growing number of local breweries but also breweries from all over the United States. Since D.C. has some relaxed or different distribution rules than other places they are able to get beers from all corners of the US.

Thursday morning we took it easy. We hit up the conference for a bit in the afternoon and wandered around town. Giving beer a break for the moment, Maeve and I met up with Taylor AKA TheArtOfBeer for some cocktails at the speakeasy style bar, The Gibson. I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for a great craft cocktail. After a few drinks and a bite to eat, Maeve and I walked down the street to the 9:30 Club for the Festival De Cans. This was a ticketed event and was a blast! They showed off a dozen films from different breweries that can their beers. You could tell that everyone took some time to make something that they were proud of but there were a few that stood out. After the films, the music kicked in and the dancing started. Maeve and I had an early flight back to Chicago the next day so we took off but I saw on Twitter a number of folks ran into Ken and danced the night away.

Those couple of days we were in D.C. went by fast and were a lot of fun. In fact, events are still going on and Ken is still there representing for the Hop Cast. For anyone who lives nearby the city that is hosting the conference, it’s worth just hitting up some of the tap takeovers and beer dinners that happen. They are great and give you a chance to meet the brewers as well as enjoy some amazing beer. Next year the Craft Brewers Conference is off to Denver and hopefully we have the time to make it out.

White Labs

Hop Cast At White Labs

During the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski had the opportunity to visit White Labs for a private event they were hosting. White Labs makes and sells yeast for homebrewers as well as breweries offering a ton of different yeast strains for you to brew with. At the laboratory they have beers on tap highlighting different yeast strains available so you can see how each one effects the beer differently.

Having issues watching this video? Try the Quicktime (56.7 MB).

HopCast Episode 133

Episode 133: 21st Amendment Brewery

While in San Francisco for the Craft Brewers Conference, Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder had a chance to sit down with brewer / owner Shaun O’Sullivan at 21st Amendment. Over a year ago Shaun O’Sullivan was in Chicago and was on episode 67 of the Hop Cast talking about the new release of Monk’s Blood. This time Brad and Ken got to hang out in Shaun’s town and taste the awesome beers 21st Amendment has on tap. During the episode Shaun O’Sullivan shares some stories about the brewery and talks about the latest beer release from the brewery, Bitter American. 21st Amendment isn’t available in Illinois but it is available in many other states. So if you live in or are visiting one of those states, grab a can for us.

Thanks for watching the Hop Cast.

Having issues watching this video? Try the Quicktime (229.3MB).

Hop Cast – Episode 130: New Brew Thursday

In this episode of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski are in California at The Bruery. Joined with them at The Bruery are John Holzer and Stephen Johnson from New Brew Thursday. This episode was filmed a few days before the Craft Brewers Conference so most of the staff of The Bruery were busy getting ready for that. So Ken and Brad weren’t able talk to anyone there. Lucky for them John and Stephen know a thing or two about The Bruery and are huge fans and advocates of the California beer community. Which made them the perfect people to share a beer with and talk about what The Bruery has going on. We also talked to them about other great things happening in their state.

Going to The Bruery tasting room was a treat, they are offering up some great beers that you aren’t likely to see in bottles. If you’re lucky enough to be there when a food truck rolls up you can eat some great food and drink some excellent beer right next to a barrel of Black Tuesday.

Having issues watching this video? Try the Quicktime (207.5 MB).

Two Brothers Brewing & The Publican Beer Dinner

To kick off the week of the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference two powerhouses have joined forces to create a beer dinner that will undoubtedly be special. Two Brothers Brewing Co. and The Publican are known for their excellence in beer and food respectively, but they’ve taken this event one step further. They have collaborated on a one-off beer that will debut with one of the courses.

Michael McAvena, beer director at The Publican, has a background in homebrewing so it seemed to be a no-brainer that he go out to Warrenville and make a beer with Jason Ebel, founder/owner of Two Brothers Brewing Co. The style is said to be a sour mash triple that will be available as is and also in two different blends. One of the blends is with the Two Brothers Bitter End Pale Ale, and the other is with an especially rare Two Brothers Brett beer that was the second beer brewed when they opened their current brewery in 2007.

Executive chef Paul Kahan is passionate about his food and his beer, which shines through every night at The Publican. It has quickly become a destination spot for beer drinkers looking for a flawlessly executed menu and a fantastic beer selection to boot.

A glimpse at the menu should say everything.

• Jamon Iberico with fried morels and pickled fiddlehead fern
paired with Prairie Path
• Guinea hen, foie gras galantine with ramps orange mustard greens and cashew paired with Ebel’s Wiess
• Crawford Farm corned lamb mix grill with spring, rye, panzanella
paired with Longhaul Oak Aged Session Ale
• BBQ salmon
paired with the collaboration beer
• Brown butter, orange, honey, coffee and almonds
paired with Domaine DuPage

Keep an eye out for the upcoming Hop Cast episode featuring the brewing process and highlighting the dinner at The Publican. Hop Cast will be there Monday, April 5th and you should be too!

The price of food is $55, beer will be $20.
Reservations are encouraged. 
For more info please contact The Publican 837 West Fulton Mkt. Chicago 60607
(312) 733.9555

Hope to see you there!

Making Of The Symposium Ale

The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has come together to make the 2010 Symposium Ale for the Craft Brewers Conference that is happening this April in Chicago. This Symposium Ale is a blend of four different beers, a Russian Imperial Stout, a Scotch Ale, a Barleywine and an Imperial IPA. All four beers were aged in Woodford Reserve barrels before blending together and then bottled. The Hop Cast was invited along to document each step of the brewing process. For those lucky enough to be attending the CBC this year, they will get to try this very limited collaboration beer.

Having issues watching this video? Try the Quicktime (197.4 MB).