Beer truck spills on the Tri-state. I love the comments.
Entries Tagged as 'Drink'
June 16th, 2009 · Comments Off
March 2nd, 2009 · 2 Comments
Unbeknownst to the readers of this blog (until now), I’ve been reattempting 356 beers. The site which tracked the attempt a few years ago is dormant, so I’ve been using Twitter to document the feat.
As a long time blogger, I’ve been trying to find a reason to use Twitter, and this is as good a reason as any.
For those of you not familiar with what Twitter is – it’s where all your favorite bloggers went off too. Simply put, it’s blogging in 140 characters or less. But more than that, it’s also an aggregator to follow the updates of people you select. Part popularity contest, part important tool for the future, etc, etc, [insert rehash of everything we talked about in 1999 when discussing blogging as an important tool for the future]. Many are using it very effectively, many are just letting us know each and every time their cat does something silly.
It’s a good excersize to describe a beer in 140 characters, as it really hones ones’ writing – as long as u dont strt typng lk ths. Unlike many, I don’t update in real time – usually taking the time to get the beer name and notes right the next day.
But back to the attempt – 365 different beers within a year, mostly on tap, is quite a feat, and I’m on track at this point, but financing a beer a day might be difficult after tax time. Unless my accountant figures out how to write off least year’s drinking.
The on tap angle will be a challenge, although having some great beer bars close to work and home that rotate taps often will make things easier. Twisted Spoke is the best at this for me – they’ve got what seems to be 4-5 different taps each time I go in (once a week at most). Prairie Moon is another closer to home that will help me along, although there’s only one or two taps changing every couple of weeks. Dozens of other good beer bars around town will need visits for the cause.
At a count of 61 already, I’ve hit the most common taps you’ll find around town, with the exception of most of the AB products and some stuff I usually don’t go for (Wit’s, beers that come with fruit, etc).
October 6th, 2007 · 2 Comments
The guys who brought you Volo and Kitsch’n have put together an outstanding beer geek and foodie destination, The Paramount Room on Milwaukee (415 N. Milwaukee Ave) just south of Hubbard and the train viaduct in an old speakeasy. I guess you could define it as a gastropub if that definition is above average pub drinks and food. And they’ve conveniently put it between work and the train for me.
When they first opened, just a few weeks ago, they were serving the Paramount Burger, with a ‘complimentary, optional’ slab of foie gras. It’s no longer on the menu, and I fear I’ll never have such a decadent meat and fat combination for 16 bucks again.
Chef Stephen Dunne’s foie is bourbon cured and now appears as a ‘Brioche French Toast’ with maple walnut syrup, again, the menu stressing that the locally illegal foie is optional and complimentary.
I’ve been in there several times when locals chefs and restaurant people are there, and when I hear them raving about the food, you know it’s got to be good.
This is no ground beef tartare, it’s the perfect size cut, with the traditional capers and onions already mixed in.
I tried the Scotch Egg on another visit, prompted when I heard another group of visiting chefs demanding it.
The Scotch Egg, for the uninitiated, is a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried. The 4 spears of asparagus under it do little to make such a combination look or sound healthy.
The sausage is perfect, towards the pink side.
As for the beer, a worthy selection of 11 taps (NOT counting the bud light) – Goose Island Matilda, Spaten (lager), Delirium Tremens, Left Hand Milk Stout, Great Lakes Holy Moses, Strongbow Cider, Smithwicks, Guinness, Einbecker Pilsner, Arcadia IPA, and Konings Hoeven Quad. Delirium, while more and more popular, is great to find on tap, the Arcadia Hopmouth will satisfy the hop-lover, the Quad (Quadrupel from the former La Trappe Trappists) is a real treat, but the Left hand Milk stout is just plain delicious. Lighter than you’d expect from a beer as black as night, sweet, like a chocolate-coffee milk shake, without the darker, burnt roasted flavors you find in a typical stout.
The bottle list is also well-rounded, but I’m always more impressed by taps. One interesting bottle is Unibroue’s Ephemere a white (”Blanche”) beer with the crisp flavor of green apples.
My main caution is ‘above average’ goes for the price as well. The sandwiches and most entrees are served without sides, so if paying for a 9 dollar hamburger without fries (an extra 6) or paying 7 bucks for 4 fried pickle spears scares you, be forewarned.
PostScript – A review would be incomplete without mentioning that they have the coolest bathroom hand dryers you’ll ever see. Made by Dyson, it’s called an Airblade.
November 4th, 2006 · Comments Off
In more local beer news, Evanston’s Bill’s Blues Bar has Two Brothers’ Heavy Handed IPA on tap. This is an IPA that is hopped with ‘wet hops’ or hops that haven’t been dried, which gives it a serious hop punch.
Bill’s also has Kwak on tap, served in the traditional ‘yard’.
October 26th, 2006 · Comments Off
I’m glad to be the next one to step up to the plate and praise What to Drink with What you Eat, the newest book from Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. A book about beverage pairings is not unique, I’ve seen lots of them, but what makes this book worth its weight is that it’s not just an arbitrary list of what goes with what, it’s the collected and categorized knowledge of many of the greatest beverage experts.
I certainly can’t add more praise than they’re receiving during their virtual book tour. I agree with everybody else who’s said it – this book will become the resource on beverage pairing, for both drinkers and those who serve them. Studded with quotes and an occassional recipe, it’s quite an education.
My only slanted opinion about the book is its concentration on wine. They’ve done a great job on beer and other beverages, and unlike most fine restaurants’ wine lists, they haven’t pushed beer to a half page at the back. Even with poor Karen’s hop allergy, they managed to cover most beer styles in their lists.
But as someone who’s ordered beer in places like Per Se, I would have liked to have seen more specific brews listed. But then I would have wanted the whole book to be about beer.
The last chapter of the book is titled “the Best on the Best”, desert island lists of the 12 bottles some of America’s leading beverage experts wouldn’t want to do without. A few of them threw in a beer among their Lafites and Gruner Vetliners and a couple of them did all-beer lists. I thought I’d add my own beer only list.
Desert island list – beers
1. Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock with venison loin barded with guancale. Celebrator is my favorite beer. And not because each bottle comes with a little plastic goat. If you look it up on the interweb, they’ll tell you the first smell will bring visions of greaves lard, which is kind of a chunky animal fat. While the aroma is complex, foamy and massively malty, I’ll need to try it again to look for a lard smell. Nevertheless, this stuff will blow the socks of anything but a hearty dish. Garrett Oliver, the Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery has it on his Desert Island list with a pork with pipian (pumpkin seed sauce) dish but he’s also quoted in the book “Venison meets its closest [beverage] partner in Dopplebock”.
Karen recommended Garrett Oliver’s book The Brewmaster’s Table, so I’ll have to check it out.
2. Whitbread Mackeson Stout Milkshake. This dark stout has a real milky mouthfeel, and is probably great with anything that goes with milk – oreos, chocolate, brownies etc. Not cloyling sweet. Put a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and half a shot of Bailey’s into a pint of McKeson and you’ve made something very addictive.
3. Goose Island Pere Jacques with a honey braised wild boar. The strong Belgian-style Pere has massive caramel honey over-tones but still has enough of a clean finish (with 9% alcohol) to contrast any amount of fat. Its complexity comes from rare Belgian yeast. This is one of the greatest Belgian style beers made in America and is too often overlooked. Goose Island’s Matilda is a similar Belgian, but in a more Farmhouse style and is mellower and slightly less alcoholic, with banana notes. You can find that at Spring where it’s a good match for Shawn Mclain’s “Hot Pot, with market fish and shellfish, country sourdough and spiced aioli”
4. Guinness Stout, with raw oysters. Classic pairing. Although if you fried them or forced me to use cocktail sauce and horseradish I might move to a porter, like Fuller’s London Porter or Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter.
5. Bell’s Oberon with soft shell crabs. Two things as seasonal as you can get. I haven’t actually tried this pairing, but I’m guessing the wheaty citrusness of the Oberon goes nicely with lightly sauteed, paper cripsy, yet melt-in-your-mouth crabs.
6. Duchesse de Bourgogne – Flemish Red Ale with a grilled cheese sandwich made with toasted sourdough, stilton and cognac infused prunes. This is the aged balsamic vinegar of beers – quite literally, tart yet fruity and complex. It’s a blend of old ales matured even longer in oak casks. Credit for the sandwich goes to Debbie at the Knot.
7. New Belgium’s Fat Tire with fried chicken. Fat Tire is often described as ‘biscuity’ so it’s an obvious choice with fried chicken. This beer has gained a lot of hype as it becomes available across the country, and many feel it’s undeserved. It’s not intensely complex and I could probably come up with 3 or 4 better American ambers, but it is a great drinking beer, and an excellent food beer. There must be something to Fat Tire, since it’s listed by two of the experts in the book.
8. Trappistes Rochefort with crown roast. Serious complexity with raisin and black currant, a huge dark red Bordeuax of beer.
9. New Glarus Belgian Red with Cherried pork loin. The subtle fine points of this unique beer might get lost with a heavy dish, but a light pork dish might work. Almost more champagne than beer, it finishes dry and slightly sour, even though it has a pound of cherries in it.
10. Two Brother’s Domaine DuPage. My first though was with a Provencal roasted chicken, to go with the French country theme (Domaine DuPage is a French country style ale) but the toasty, sweet maltiness goes perfectly with bread and shellfish, coincidentally both found in the shrimp and crawfish po-boy at Prairie Moon
11. Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA or Bell’s Two Hearted Ale or Three Floyds Alpha King with a blisteringly hot Thai red curry. Get one of these serious hop overloaded ales near a spicy sweet curry and the contrast is so intense that they marry.
12. Samichlaus with a dark chocolate molten mousse. Thomas Hardy as an after dinner cognac or maybe Gulden Draak, or Goose Island DunkelWeizenBock or Chimay Grande Reserve or…
I don’t think I have to convince anyone that beers are great with food, and it works the other way around too – we all know that’s it’s pizza, pretzels or brats that turn bland, ricey, Budweiser into the King of beers.
Andrew and Karen’s book, like Culinary Artistry before it, does more than educate, it inspires. One quick read through the lists and I feel confident enough to delve into the farther, previously unknown depths of the wine list, and inspired to try.
But right now I’m inspired to go down to Goose Island and keep trying until I figure out the best pair for their brat on a pretzel roll.
October 18th, 2006 · Comments Off
A few years ago I had the sad duty to report the loss in Illinois of New Glarus beer. Now the sad news is that Bell’s will be leaving us. In a protest move against a distribution rights sale to Chicago Beverage, part of the largest beer distributor in the United States.
I’ll have to see if the Clark St. Ale House still has the Two Hearted Ale on their hand-pull – the absolute best way to get it. If they do, I’m sure I’ll be one of those that will help say goodbye for however long it’s gone. Hopefully they’ll work this out by Oberon season next year.
I was lucky enough to get up to New Glarus a few weeks ago. As soon as I have a few minutes I’ll post about it.
September 17th, 2006 · Comments Off
Myopenbar.com has come to Chicago to quench “the dire need for a centralized and coherent source of worthy open bar listings” I wish I had known about this last week, because then I would have known about the chance to meet the two brothers from Two Brothers.
In other local (to me anyway) beer news, I had mentioned that a local place, Prairie Moon had a great Dogfish Head on tap, I’m saddened that it’s no longer available there, but cheered up because they’ve got Affligem Blond now! Affligem is an abbey ale, 6.8% ABV. Prairie Moon has been building a nice collection of bottled Belgians, but (for a limited time) it’s great that I no longer have to take a train to find a fresh, on-tap Belgium. They’ll be rotating that tap every month or so, and it’ll be fun to see what they’ll put on it next time.
Some good stuff in Modern Drunkard Magazine, including essays on drunk Romans and Sam Peckinpah.
Perhaps you need a Cocktail coach? Learn about shaking, muddling and knowledge like: “Limes will oxidize in 15-20 minutes when cut, so don’t cut them until you’re ready to use them”. Found at Martini Republic, which is a general blog with occasional cocktail news.
Plenty of tasty sips in maltmadness, a site about single malts, though the liquid blog is ‘frozen’ for a few months, with promises of a revamp. An example of some of the important knowledge you’ll find there – Ten Single Malts That Could Save Your Life “A 1992 study investigated an oyster-borne outbreak of hepatitis A and found that only drinks with an alcohol concentration of 10 percent or greater prevented or reduced the severity of the sickness. The effect may have something to do with alcohol’s ability to strongly stimulate gastric acid secretions in the stomach. So, a glass or two of wine will just not do the job!”
March 17th, 2006 · Comments Off
Any real drinker knows enough to stay away from the Irish pubs today, because it’s too hard to get a beer. But if you’re willing to attempt to get a Guinness when it’s five deep at the bar, we certainly have enough places to go in Chicago.
That’s the Merchandise Mart all lit up green. Inside the Mart you’ll find Dunphy’s (near the Franklin and Kinzie corner) but right outside you’ll find the much livelier Shamrock Club (210 Kinzie). From there you can make your way north, only having to hoof it a few blocks between bars like The Pepper Canister, Oleary’s Public House, Fado, The Kerryman, The Brehon, Garrett Ripley’s, Celtic Crossings… well you get the idea.
In honor of the holiday there’s a shot of the corned beef and cabbage I made last weekend, although I probably have relatives rolling over in there graves since the cabbage is bok choy.
If you can get lucky enough to get a seat at The Celtic Knot during their St. Patty’s Hooley, put aside your embarrassment and grade school humor and order the Spotted Dick. Although unfortunately named, it’s truly a thing of beauty.
March 14th, 2006 · Comments Off
Actually I was severely misquoted. I did say “Real Irish bars are about conversation and [are] where you go to make friends,” and “Every other type of bar … is filled with distraction.” And I said establishments posted on my site must meet my requirements, which starts with Irish—not Irish-American—people on either side of the bar. But everything else in the article should be attributed to the reporter.
I have no idea how many Irish Pubs have opened in the last 18 months. But I do know that there are 10 that should be on my map and I haven’t even been to half of them yet. And concerning smoky dark wood interiors, the trend you’ll find in the many of the newer, Irish owned bars in town is slick, sexy design like what you’ll find at Ta’Too with lots more exposed brick, copper and plasma than oak, tin ceilings and nicotine.
March 8th, 2006 · Comments Off
As I work on updating my Irish Pub map mentioned in the last post, I thought I’d share some Chicago drink resources I’ve collected.
The Chicago Bar Project The Granddaddy of all Chicago bar websites.
Chicago Beer Map
Drinktown’s Chicago Bar Specials map
Lumino Mag’s After Hours Chicago
Metromix’s Bar and club section
Metromix also has a Dive Bar Blog
mmmChicago spends plenty of time in bars.
World’s Best Bars – Chicago Terribly incomplete, but some interesting reviews.