Tag Archives: Maeve Price

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!

Great Taste of the Midwest

The Great Taste of the Midwest

Great Taste of the Midwest

I hope at this point everyone has recovered from the Great Taste of the Midwest last weekend. After hearing about GTMW for years this was the first year I was able to go and I finally scored tickets and made my way up. Getting tickets for the most part was pretty easy. The Chicago Beer Society each year gets a block of tickets that they sell to members. It costs $25 for individuals or $40 for couples a year to join the Chicago Beer Society and you get access to a number of great events including GTMW. The tickets for GTMW cost $60 through the Chicago Beer Society because this includes the price of the shuttle bus there and back. The tickets they get for GTMW do go fast so you have to respond quickly with your money.

Now, everyone will tell you that you need to go up to Madison on Friday before the festival and go to all the bars. Most of the breweries sponsor a different bar and put their beers on tap with special tappings, brewer meet-n-greets and other fun events. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, Maeve and I couldn’t go up early. When you get tickets from the Chicago Beer Society you need to ride the bus to Madison with them and they give you your ticket once you get up there. I’d say its a pretty good deal, you don’t have to try to figure out how you’re getting to Madison and since the bus takes you back to Chicago that night you don’t have to worry about booking a hotel, driving or bumming a ride back that night. A pretty good deal over all so if you live in Chicago or in the suburbs and you aren’t a Chicago Beer Society member, fix that right now.

Our bus left from Goose Island Clybourn around 9:30 (there’s a separate bus that leaves from the west suburbs) and we ended up at the festival at about 12:30. Doors / gates don’t open till 1:00 PM so you spend a little while waiting in line thumbing through the fest booklet they hand out that lists all the beers and brewery locations. This was the first time I had even seen the list for the day. The only thing I had heard about beforehand was what Ken mentioned that Goose Island had planned. Ken has been to GTMW for the last several years working the event and went up earlier in the week to help set up for the booth this year. These days I’m not one to plan much when I go to a beer festival. Planning might allow you to try some of those rare, hard to get beers but by not planning you may get to stumble on a new beer or brewery you’ve never heard of. And that’s how Maeve and I handled the festival. With over 1000 beers you’re going to find something new you’ve never heard of or tried before.

Great Taste of the Midwest

This wandering and lack of planning can often backfire which it did for us when we first walked in. We grabbed a couple of beers from a brewery we don’t often drink and instantly had to pour them out. First beers and they all got dumped, not a good start to the day. We quickly grabbed another beer we were familiar with and moved on. Making a quick stop at Goose Island to say hi to Ken and all the folks over there. Goose Island and Revolution Brewing both had some of the biggest and most elaborate set ups at the festival. Goose Island with their barrels all lined up helping guide people in a line and then Revolution Brewing with a halfpipe, skateboarders and a DJ out. Extremes for sure but pretty awesome to see how both these big names make a splash at the festival.

Great Taste of the Midwest

As Maeve and I wandered around we ran into a ton of great people like Gary Gulley of Panic Brewing, Mike Rybinski of ZwanzigZ Brewing (can someone do a video so we all know how to say this) Deb & Wil Turner of Revolution Brewing, Justin Maynard from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, The crew from Haymarket, Tom Korder from Penrose Brewing, Jess from Revolution Brewing, Nik White of the Chicago Beer Geeks, Mike of Beer Genome Project and many of the Chicago brewers we’ve gotten to know over the years.

Walking around this park is crazy, in the 5 hours we were only able to do one big drunken circle. The thing is massive and overwhelming. If you did make a plan I don’t know how you kept it all straight, especially after a dozen beers. I would say I wish we had a couple other friends with us throughout the day so we could have tasted and shared more beers; it’s difficult with just the two of us. Walking around I noticed a ton of people with chairs and blankets laid out, they were just enjoying the day. Which to me seems like a waste, I mean come on people there is beer to drink, get moving. Ha!

Great Taste of the Midwest

Overall the day was fantastic and the Great Taste of the Midwest is a lot of fun. I know I had more than my fair share of great beer that day but that didn’t stop Maeve and I from stopping in at Goose Island Clybourn for some food and more beer after the Chicago Beer Society bus dropped us off. For all the hype of the Great Taste, it’s a lot of fun and it’s great to see so many people out supporting craft beer. The special tappings are good if you want to wait in line and the set ups Goose Island and Revolution Brewing do are cool to see. There’s a ton of great breweries at this fest but in the end its really just a big beer fest. Mostly it’s nothing you haven’t seen before if you’ve been to another beer festival. Be sure to go if you have the opportunity to but don’t beat yourself up about not being able to make it. It was a ton of fun but there’s a festival almost every weekend in the summer. I for one missed the Oak Park Micro Brew Review and I hear that’s good too.

Hop Cast – Episode 62

SurlyLarge

In episode 62 of the Hop Cast, Brad Chmielewski road trips it up to Brooklyn Center, Minnesota for Surly Darkness Day 09. Friday night Brad packed up the car and drove over night from Chicago with friends of the show Mitchell and Don Radlund, as well as Maeve Price and Andy Farley. The five of them arrived at the Surly Brewery around 5:00 am and staked out a spot in the line. While waiting in line for seven hours to purchase six bottles of the 2009 Darkness, Brad was able to chat with fellow beer podcasters Shawn Horton and Mike VanDelinder from Beer Genome Project. The three of them were also able to snag a quick interview with Omar Ansari, the owner of Surly Brewing. I’m sure you’ve all been wondering how the beer tastes. Well, the episode ends with Brad and Ken sharing a bottle of this fine Russian Imperial Stout and loving every delicious sip.

Download the Podcast (196.3 MB).

Our Night At The Publican

This past week I had the opportunity to go to the very hyped up restaurant The Publican. There were six of us who went; Maeve Price, Don Radlund, John Burkett, Shawn Riggins, Ken Hunnemeder and myself. Ken had been to The Publican earlier in the week with his family for brunch and really enjoyed it and couldn’t pass up a night of trying some great beers. Since The Publican has an outstanding Belgian beer selection, I thought the dining experience would be worth sharing with the Hop Cast audience. I went there expecting The Publican to be kind of an upscale Hopleaf. The Publican is not at all like Hop Leaf. Hop Leaf is a beer bar that happens to serve good food; The Publican is all about the food and just happens to have good beer. The Hop Cast is all about the beer so I’m going to try and focus on the beer first and food second.

Finding The Publican can be tricky if you don’t know where you’re going. Its located in the West Loop in the Fulton Market area hidden next to factories and art galleries. I had made a reservation for the six of us last week so we had no problems getting seated. The atmosphere is rustic and noisy, you are seated at large communal tables with strangers sitting right next to you. I didn’t mind the communal seating, it contributes to the whole dining experience. Once seated we began to look over the large beer menu. The menu is one large sheet of paper so much easier to read then the book Hop Leaf gives you. Most of the beers on the menu are belgian beers which can be confusing and difficult to figure out what to pick. As a result of that it makes it easy to go for the things you recognize like the Alpha King or Left Handed Milk Stout. But I was in the mindset of going out of my comfort zone so no matter how much I might of wanted a Goose Island Imperial IPA I wasn’t going to do it. While looking over the menu I just needed to point out that our waitress was amazing and new a great deal about the beers on the menu. Too bad I didn’t have a Hop Cast card to give her that night I think she would of loved what we do here. On the menu I was drawn to the abbey beers. Abbey beers are brewed by commercial brewers, and license their name from abbeys; some defunct, some still operating. Since there were only three beers in this section I picked the first one the Witkap Pater Singel / Stimulo from Brouwerij Slaghmuylder. The Witkap is a Belgian Pale Ale coming in a 11.2 oz bottle and has an ABV of 6.0%. When the beer comes out they pour some out into the glass and leave the rest in the bottle for you to top off. The Witkap pours a light cloudy golden color which seemed spot on for a bottle conditioned Belgian. It pours with a small white head that hangs around till the last sip. A light sour aroma comes out but is backed up with some grains and hops. In the taste, the sour is more tart with a good lemon and orange citrus to clean it up. This was a great beer to start off the night with, refreshing and slightly sour and very drinkable. But if you’re looking for something even more drinkable then you might want to check out the Blanche de Bruxelles from Brasserie Lefebvre SA that John Burkett ordered. This one was recommended by our waitress, it is a Witbier and comes in at 4.5% ABV. Maeve wanted something with more hops so she ordered the Poperings Hommel Bier from Brouwerij Van Eecke N.V. This isn’t your typical IPA but an outstanding Belgian version. Ken ended up with the standby of the Alpha King since they were out of his first choice of beer. With first drinks out of the way the food started to pour in… we ordered a lot. Pork rinds, frites, sardines got us off to a decent start. The sardines were maybe my least favorite thing we ate that night but definitely weren’t terrible. Next came out the duck heart, beef tongue, farm chicken, sea bass, and ribs. Hands down my favorite dish of the night was the duck heart. It is great that The Publican tries to use as many local farmers as they can for their meats and produce.

With all this food coming out it was time for some more beer. Next up for me was the second beer in the abbey beers section, the Triple karmeliet by Brouwerij Bosteels. This was a great and complex beer, again a slight sour nose with orange and grass. A soft floral taste with spice and bitterness. Really it seemed to have something new in every sip. I wasn’t sure what Ken was doing at the other end of the table, he ordered up a Duvel for his second drink. A solid and tasty beer sure but come on…you are at The Publican, try something new buddy! Maeve who is stuck on the IPA’s went with the Ridgeway IPA, which was fun because it came in one of those oddly shaped english bottles. A few more dishes of food came out and we chatted, ate and drank. Looking back I can’t believe we almost didn’t order a third beer but I’m so happy we did. Ken who had been ordering light redeemed himself with his last pick, the Brabant from Avery. I can’t believe I liked this since it was a wild ale and I’m not one to love a sour ale but tonight I was going out of my comfort zone and trying anything and everything. For my last beer Don and I decided to split the Aventinus Vintage 2003. This beer rocked and was maybe my favorite of the night. Over all it was an outstanding night at The Publican and I had a fabulous time eating and drinking some things I might of never tried. I think everyone else at the table would agree.

In the end The Publican is really hyped up and I don’t think it lives up to all the attention it gets. Sure it is great but the best meal I have ever had? I don’t think I could say that. One of the most interesting meals, maybe. I could definitely see myself maybe stopping in for a drink and some pork rinds but I don’t think I need to have a full meal. If you have some money to burn, then drink and eat like royalty for a night. At least you will be able to tell your friends you ate something crazy.

For The Love Of Hops 2009

For The Love Of Hops Ticket

Being a Two Brothers Brewing fan and a lover of the Hops, I was really excited to go to the For The Love Of The Hops festival. Before going I somehow built up the festival in my head. I think it was due to the fact that Two Brothers was posting facebook and twitter updates for weeks before the thing kicked off. They posted every new guest keg that they were getting and with each post I was getting more and more excited. Also since Three Floyds Dark Lord Day was an incredible event a few months ago I thought For The Love Of The Hops might be just as good.

On Saturday afternoon I drove out to Warrenville with Maeve Price in the front seat, and Ken Hunnemeder and Charlie Drews riding in the back. The Two Brothers brewery isn’t too far from Chicago and its right off the expressway, so it makes for an easy trip. The parking at the brewery wasn’t as bad as Three Floyds but we did end up having to park about two blocks away. When we first walked in we had our IDs checked and were given wrist bands. Then we had to wait in the line to buy tickets for the beer and food. This was one of the slowest lines we had to wait in all day. The tickets seemed like a good idea, it keeps the people pouring the beer from having to deal with cash and should speed up the pouring lines. Each ticket cost $6 and got you one beer. Some of those beers came in 9 oz glasses and some came in 20 oz glasses. Overall $6 for a beer felt a bit expensive, especially when all of the beers I wanted to try came in a 9 oz glass. On any other day you visit the Two Brothers Brew Pub, most of the beers are only $4 and the other ones like the Northwind are $5. Charging two extra dollars for a beer brewed on site is ridiculous, if anything all the Two Brothers beers besides the Hop Juice should of been on special for like $3 for the event, not marked up in price.

So we got our tickets and then went to get a glass of beer, the four of us ended up getting a Hop Juice right away since that was what this festival was for. The Hop Juice was good and a damn fine DIPA. It is smooth and thick at the same time with a the booze burn bringing up the rear. Being 10 % ABV this guy packs a huge punch. The four of us ended up finding a table inside and basically planted ourself there. About 45 minutes after we showed up and one Hop Juice into the festival Stephen, Selina, and Brad Stark showed up and joined us at the table. From then on every 45 minutes a few of us would go wait in the guest tap line for the next beer to be released and then bring 9 oz glasses back. Just about every guest beer would run out 10 minutes after the keg was tapped. So we made sure to get there extra early especially for the Avery Voltron and Surly Darkness. To be honest I’m not a sour beer fan so the greatness of the Voltron was lost on me. But Ken, Stephen and Brad Stark loved it and declared it best in show. My personal two favorites were the Surly Darkness, and the almond cream soda from Two Brothers. I know, a cream soda. But is was really good and both Maeve and Selina agreed it rocked.

We ended up leaving just after the Surly Darkness was tapped since the last couple guest beers didn’t interest us as much as the Avery Voltron  and the Surly Darkness. For this being the Hop Juice release party I was kind of shocked I only had one 9 oz glass of Hop Juice. Unfortunately Ken and I didn’t get any video at the For The Love Of The Hops festival, so you will just have to enjoy the photos. Maybe we will review a bottle of the 2009 Hop Juice on an upcoming episode. Overall the festival was fun, good beer – even if it was a tad expensive, tasty food, live music and not too crowded. If Two Brothers has the event next year I might check it out but I won’t be expecting as much next time. Finally, if you’re in the area be sure to check out the brewery they have tours every saturday at 1:00 and 2:30.

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.

Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits

Sorry this isn’t a new episode. Brad and Ken wanted to start to give more beer finds and information between episodes. There just isn’t enough time in each episode to go over everything. At the moment Brad and Ken are on a road trip with Kyle Ogawa and Maeve Price heading to Ocean City, Maryland to visit friend and Hop Cast fan Shawn Riggins. While on the road the four of them stopped at an awesome liquor store in Washington D.C. and they wanted to share this find with all the Hop Cast fans. We wouldn’t of even been able to find this liquor store if it wasn’t for the beerfly guide on beeradvocate.com. Alright, I know you just want the name of the store… The liquor store is called Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits. Located at 5544 Connecticut Avenue. They have a great selection of Belguim beers along with a ton of American craft beers. Just a few of the breweries included some of Brad and Ken’s favorites like; Stone, Weyerbacher, Bell’s, Rogue, Clipper City, and North Coast… the list really goes on and on. What made this store stand out wasn’t just the great selection to choose from or the friendly staff but it was that they offered the option to buy single 12 oz bottle. This is a great option since sometimes you really only want one or two of a beer since it might not be any good. It also gives you the opportunity to get as many beers from different places without spending a ton of money. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area Chevy Chase liquors is a must visit! Stay tuned and I’m sure you will be seeing some of the beers Brad and Ken picked up here on an upcoming Hop Cast.