Tag Archives: Surly Brewing

HopCast Episode 170

Hop Cast – Episode 170: Jinx Proof & Surly Smoke

After a couple big beers in the previous episodes Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski decide to dive into a couple lagers for episode 170. First up is Jinx Proof from 3 Floyds. This continental-style pils was brewed in collaboration with Jinx Proof tattoo in Washington D.C. At 5.10% ABV it’s the kind of beer that you can sip on pretty much all day. Next up, Ken and Brad move onto a bit bigger of a beer. The 8.2% ABV Surly Smoke. This beer is Lager-brewed, like any true Baltic Porter. Made with smoked malts from Bamberg, Germany, the home of Rauchbiers, then mellowed by oak-aging. Maybe not a beer to sip on all day but this would be a great beer with some food straight from the grill.

Cheers and thanks for watching the Hop Cast.

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Beer Of The Month – January

There is no sense in not starting off 2012 big. So lets kick off the beer of the month series for 2012 with Surly Brewing’s 9.0 % ABV Double IPA. Sadly we can’t get Surly Brewing cans here in Chicago but that doesn’t stop us from finding them in other people’s refrigerators. Surly Brewing’s Abrasive Ale used to be called 16 Grit, it was renamed and put into those nicely designed cans. You know here at the Hop Cast we love can beers and the Abrasive Ale is fantastic.

If you pour it into a pint glass you’ll be greeted with a hazy amber color liquid and a dense creamy white head. Isn’t that lacing beautiful? That aroma of fresh citrus should hit you as soon as you’ve begun to pour it out. Grapefruit, lemon, tropical fruits all balanced out with a hint of caramel malts. If only all beers smelled this fresh. The flavor is soft, smooth and fresh. Those sweet malts come in to add a nice balance before the bitter finish. This is a fantastic Double IPA and rivals some of those delicious treats we in Chicago usually get from Three Floyds.

Knowing we can’t get fresh cans whenever we want makes you sad when that last can is gone. Get yourself some Abrasive Ale and enjoy it fresh and be glad you were able to have it because many folks out there haven’t had the joy of experiencing Surly Brewing Company.

HopCast Episode 116

Episode 116: Darkness Day 2010

In episode 116 of the Hop Cast, we hit the road and head up to Brooklyn Center, Minnesota for Surly Darkness Day 2010. Just like Brad did last year for Darkness Day, the crew packed up the car and drove over night from Chicago to Minnesota. The Hop Cast crew arrived at Surly Brewery around 5:00 am and quickly grabbed a spot in the line. If you watched episode 62 from last years Darkness Day you know how this works. You are able to purchase six bottles of delicious russian imperial stout when bottles go on sale at noon. While waiting in line for seven hours Brad and Ken walked around with a bottle of 2008 Darkness to share with some friends. They ran into Anthony Stagno, Shawn Horton and Mike VanDelinder from Beer Genome Project and Stephen Johnson from New Brew Thursday. We also were able to grab a quick chat with the owner of Surly Brewing, Omar Ansari before the gates opened and the crowd rushed in to grab their bottles of Darkness.

If you are in the area or willing to drive a few hours, then this a great event to come out to, it’s a bit more calm then Dark Lord and everyone always has a good time.

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Ken & Brad’s Ten Favorite Midwest Craft Breweries

Here are Ken & Brad’s ten favorite midwest craft breweries and the towns they are in.

1. Three FloydsMunster, Indiana
Three Floyds is located just 30 minutes outside of Chicago in Muster, Indiana. These guys love the big beers. Three Floyds knows how to really bring the hops in their beers though they may be most famous for their Russian Imperial Stout, Dark Lord that tops many lists as one of the best beers in the world. Dark Lord bottles are sold only on ‘Dark Lord Day,’ the last Saturday in April where you are sure to find Brad and Ken and several thousand other fellow beer lovers in line and having a good time. Besides being an excellent brewery, they also have a brew pub that is cranking out some seriously tasty food. Don’t think you can come to Chicago and not make a trip out to see these guys

Episodes Featuring Three Floyds – Episode 3, Episode 12, Episode 23, Episode 39, Episode 66, Episode 74, Episode 75

2. Bell’sKallamazoo, Michigan
Bell’s was the first Michigan brewery to serve beer by the glass to the public. With over 20 years of brewing, Larry Bell has built a nationwide reputation with Bell’s Brewery. They played and are still playing a significant role in changing the craft beer landscape of the nation. They continue to produce a large variety of excellent beer and that’s why they are one out our favorites.

Episodes Featuring Bell’s – Episode 3, Episode 37, Episode 65, Episode 71

3. Founders BreweryGrand Rapids, Michigan
Founders Brewing is talked about constantly in the craft beer community for so many great beers and they just keep coming out with more. More flavor, bigger body, huge aromatics and increased complexity is the goal of Founders and they bring it to you. They continue to push the envelope and that’s what makes them great. Both Ken and Brad are excited to see what they have coming out in the years to come.

4. Boulevard BrewingKansas City, Missouri
Boulevard Brewing is one of the few breweries that Ken and Brad haven’t visited in the midwest. They are a fairly large brewery and also have a rather large distribution area but unfortunately you can’t find their beers in Chicago. Outside of the quality year-round brews they offer, its what they’ve been doing with their Smokestack Series releases that has really made us drink up and take notice.

Episodes Featuring Boulevard Brewing – Episode 15, Episode 56

5. New Glarus Brewing CompanyNew Glarus, Wisconsin
Just on the outskirts of the small “Swisstown” New Glarus, Wisconsin is where you will find the New Glarus Brewing Company. They are perhaps the biggest of the Wisconsin craft breweries and it’s hard to find a bar in Wisconsin that doesn’t have New Glarus beer on tap. They don’t distribute outside of Wisconsin so if you live outside of the state then a road trip is in order! Luckily Ken drives to Wisconsin often enough and brings back beers to share with fellow beer lovers in Chicagoland. As well as excellent year-round offerings, what these guys are doing with fruit is incredible! It will make the ladies and the gents in your life extra happy. Just.. wow!

Episode Featuring New Glarus Brewing Company – Episode 56

6. Jolly Pumpkin Dexter, Michigan
Jolly Pumpkin has a little something different going on there and their beers are not for everyone. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers they use open fermentation, oak barrel aging, and bottle conditioning. Many of you know that Brad isn’t a huge fan of the sour beers but Jolly Pumpkin is slowly helping him to learn to appreciate that style and the Hop Cast really respects the quality product that Jolly Pumpkin creates.

Episodes Featuring Jolly Pumpkin – Episode 4, Episode 57, Episode 70

7. Surly BrewingBrooklyn Center, Minnesota
If you’re visiting Minnesota and love beer it’s likely you have heard of what Surly Brewing is producing. You’ll find most of their beers in 16 oz cans at local liquor stores throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. If you are willing to brave the weather in Minnesota in October and stand in line early then you get a rare, magnificent taste of their much lauded once a year release, Russian Imperial Stout; they call Darkness.

Episodes Featuring Surly Brewing – Episode 20, Episode 62, Episode 69

8. Goose IslandChicago, Illinois
Goose Island and Chicago sort of go hand and hand. They are widely distributed throughout the majority of states and many people know about their bottled beers including the much loved and praised, Bourbon County Stout. But a trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without seeing what else Goose Island has to offer. At the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub you’ll find about 10 beers that are not in bottles and exclusively only available there. They are constantly rotating in new offerings so make sure you stop on by and see what they have on tap.

Episodes Featuring Goose Island – Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 47, Episode 65, Episode 77

9. Two BrothersWarrenville, Illinois
Head directly west of Chicago to Warrenville and check out Two Brothers and their brew pub. Since Warrenville is Brad’s birthplace, Two Brothers holds a special spot in his heart. Two Brothers beers are solid and although with the exception of Hop Juice, many of their beers may not completely blow away the craft beer lover. They are go-to beers; the kind of beers that you can also give to your average beer friends (if you have any) and they are still going to enjoy them. When you need a good, solid beer that isn’t too experimental then a Two Brothers is a dependable choice.

Episode Featuring Two Brothers – Episode 11

10. KuhnhennWarren, Michigan
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company is your typical hardware store turned microbrewery story… ok there’s nothing typical about Kuhnhenn. Run by brothers Bret and Eric Kuhnhenn in the small town of Warren, Michigan these brothers have the craft beer community talking. You can find their beers in 12 oz and 22 oz bottles. And if you see them, pick them up because they are pretty amazing. A couple favorites are the Simcoe Silly, Creme Brulee Java Stout & the Solar Eclipse.

Honorable Mention
With so many great top notch breweries in the midwest it was hard to just pick 10. There were a few that almost made the list and we just wanted to give them props for what they are doing.
Half AcreChicago, IL
Metropolitan BrewingChicago, IL
Dark Horse BrewingMarshall, Michigan
Futhermoore BeerSpring Green, Wisconsin

Hop Cast – Episode 69

In episode 69 of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski reach for a morning beer rather than their typical morning coffee. The first beer they crack open is the Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing in Minnesota. The Coffee Bender is an American Brown Ale and has an ABV of 5.10%. Both Ken and Brad need at least two cups of coffee in the morning so they follow up the Coffee Bender with the Java Head Stout from Pennsylvania brewery, Tröegs. The Java Head is an Oatmeal Stout and has an ABV of 7.50%. Both of these beers are great coffee beers but the Coffee Bender packed more of a coffee flavor then the Java Head Stout. Don’t expect to get your caffeine from beer, the level of caffeine is rather low in just about all the coffee beers.

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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).

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.

Night of the Living Ales

Saturday March 7th marked the annual Night of the Living Ales festival at the Goose Island Wrigleyville location in conjunction with the Chicago Beer Society .  The festival involves cask/real ales from many local breweries as well as others from around the country.  This is one of my favorite events of the year.  There were quite a few standouts this year including last years’ winner, Surly Tea-Bagged Furious.

Much hype surrounded the premier of Popskull , a collaboration between Three Floyds and Dogfish Head.  This brown ale was aged on the famous Palo Santo Wood and will also be available at Dark Lord Day according to rumors.  Goose Island also had quite a showing with their Madam Rose(Kriek), Bourbon Sherry Beer, and Saison Le Chance. 

There were some great IPA’s tapped that night and the Hop Cast wouldn’t have it any other way!  Rock Bottom Chicago impressed with their Neil Diamond IPA and Flossmoor Station’s Ore Gone IPA was wonderful as well.

Rock Bottom Orland Park brought their experimental ShamRock Stout.  Looking at the name, I was hoping it was a take on the delicious Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s.  They didn’t disappoint!!  This mint stout was delicious and would probably make a damn fine beer float.

Overall this was a fantastic event, especially since this was the first year that they split into two sessions.  I would certainly say this was a success because the crowd was much more maneuverable than years past.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience so many great craft beers.  Don’t miss it next year!!

Hop Cast – Episode 20

In episode 20 Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski welcome special guest Darcy Laughlin to the Hop Cast. Darcy comes along on yet another Hop Cast IPA episode. The three of them enjoy and review Surly Brewing’s Furious and Russian River’s Blind Pig. This episode wouldn’t of been possible without sister in-law and Hop Cast fan Maggie Thurman, so a big thanks to her for the Blind Pig.

Download the Podcast (270.8 MB).