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Beer Fri Oct 10 2014

Your Perfect, Beer-Filled Weekend

Beer Hoptacular at Aragon BallroomVery rarely do the stars align to offer not one, but two amazing beer festivals in one weekend. But thankfully, there's no need to choose between them-- here's how to do both:

Friday

Head down to the Beer Hoptacular after work and sample more than 150 small-batch beers from 70 breweries from around the country to get a birds eye view of the craft beer movement. While you're taking a break from sampling all 150 beers you can get tips on home brewing, check out the epic facial hair in the BeardHoptacular, and vote on your favorite brew for the 2014 Beer Of The Year.

Friday 6:30pm - 10pm and Saturday 1pm - 4:30pm or 6:30pm - 10pm at the Aragon Ballroom. Regular tickets $45, VIP $85 and Designated Driver $20.

microbrewerycrawl4_ad.jpgSaturday:

Drag yourself out of bed and get some bacon to recover from the many, many beers you tasted last night in the name of thoroughness. Then make it to Lagunitas Brewery by 11 am to start the Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl. This boozy meander across the city will take you on a deeper dive into the Chicago beer scene, including tours of Goose Island's new barrel house, BreakRoom Brewery and Begyle Brewing. GB even tops it off with a beer-friendly dinner from ManBQue.

Saturday, 11am - 7pm. Tickets $60. Starts at Lagunitas, 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave .

Annie Conway / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Sep 22 2014

Announcing the Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl Oct. 11

Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl Oct. 11 2014In the last couple of years, Chicago's craft brewing scene has exploded. To help acquaint you with the breadth of the industry, we at Gapers Block put together a "microbrewery crawl" showcasing some of the great beers being produced in the city.

The Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl on Saturday, Oct. 11 kicks off at the new Lagunitas Brewery and travels by bus to Goose Island's brewery and new barrel house on Fulton Street. From there we'll head to the brand new BreakRoom Brewery and finish up at the Begyle Brewing, where we'll learn what "community supported beer" is -- and also enjoy freshly grilled food from Manbque.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Openings Fri Aug 29 2014

Vice District Brewing Opens in the South Loop

Today at 4pm, Vice District Brewing opens to the public for the first time. Located at 1454 S. Michigan Ave., just south of Roosevelt Road, the taproom's initial draft lineup will feature Vice District's black IPA, extra special bitter, IPA, blonde and molasses porter, as well as a collaboration with Finch's Brewing. Eventually there will be 14 beers on tap at all times.

Like many involved in the craft beer renaissance in Chicago, Vice District cofounders Quintin Cole and Curtis Tarver II started out as home brewers.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Fri Jul 18 2014

Celebrate Belgian Independence with Belgian Beers

rsz_1rsz_450px-belgian_beer_glass.jpg As Belgium, home of the Red Devils, luscious chocolates, and saison-style beer, observes its independence from the Netherlands on Monday, July 21, Maria's Package Goods & Community Bar (960 W. 31st St.) will celebrate by featuring beers from Belgian-style brewer Brewery Ommegang.

From 7 to 9pm, Maria's will serve the one-time, limited-release 2014 Belgian IPA along with other selections from the Cooperstown, NY-based brewer, such as Fleur de Houblon and Rare Vos, for $1 off the usual price. Other Belgian-style beers will be on special while Belgian-inspired savory pies from Pleasant House Bakery will be available for noshing.

Photo via wikimedia

Christina Brandon / Comments (0)

Beer Thu Jun 05 2014

Assorted Beer News & Events

oldchicagobeer.jpgThis Friday, Half Acre will be tapping a firkin of Strawberry Rhubarb Kölsch in the Tap Room. Bang Bang Pie will be on hand selling mini ham biscuits with rhubarb mustard and vanillla bean cheesecake topped with rhubarb compote. Sounds delicious.

Go on a tour of Metropolitan Brewing this Saturday, June 7, with the Windy City Rollers. Tickets are just $10.

Local band the Jordan Years collaborated with Gary's 18th Street Brewing to create Homemade Hustler, a session IPA named after the band's 2013 album. Each bottle has a download code for a free copy of the album, and they're celebrating with a release party at the brewery and a concert at Tonic Room on June 14.

Beermiscuous, a new "craft beer cafe" with a coffeeshop vibe and retail component, is aiming to open in Lakeview at 2812 N. Lincoln Ave. on June 28. They're currently hiring "beeristas."

Two homebrewing couples are joining forces to launch Rude Hippo Brewing Company, focusing on Belgian-style ales and sours. They're crowd-funding to buy equipment.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Mon May 19 2014

New Brew in Town: Lagunitas Comes to Chi

lagunitas.jpgThis past weekend saw Chicago roll out the welcoming committee (i.e., a bunch of beer-guzzling revelers) for Laguintas Brewing Co.'s new Pilsen brewery. Lagunitas' annual Beer Circus, usually held in the Lagunitas home base of Petaluma, California, made its way to Chicago for a weekend-long celebration featuring burlesque acts, carnival rides, live music, and-- of course-- beer.

Those who were able to snag tickets to the sold-out event were among the first to get a glimpse at the new brewing facility, located in an immense warehouse on Washtenaw that was previously used as set space for a few Chicago-based television shows. Now, with the title of Chicago's largest brewery under their belt, Lagunitas is set to open a taproom sometime over the next few months. In the meantime, check out their website and Facebook for news and upcoming events.

Danielle Snow / Comments (0)

Beer Mon May 12 2014

Chicago Craft Beer Week Kicks Off May 15

rsz_1rsz_ccbwlogo.pngChicago Craft Beer Week starts Thursday and continues on through May 25 with as many as 300 bars and bottle shops in the city and suburbs celebrating Chicagoland's massive selection of creative, awesome beer. Events range from the Beerfly Alleyfight, which fuses art and beer, to pub crawls to $4 beer specials.

See the full schedule and the map of events, dinners, tastings, and beer releases. For Chicago pride and beer inspiration, see the We are Illinois Craft Beer video below.

Christina Brandon / Comments (1)

Beer Mon Apr 28 2014

Craft Beer, Community and Creativity: An Interview with Locally Brewed Author Anna Blessing

rsz_locallybrewed.jpgIn the introduction to Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America's Heartland, author and photographer Anna Blessing writes that she wants "to tell the story of the people behind the beer." She provides glimpses of 20 Midwestern craft breweries and their oft-tattooed brewers, their music, their humble beginnings and cult-like followings. These breweries make anything from lagers to sours, from beers inspired by Latin America to beers inspired by candy bars.

They represent a sliver of an industry that has continued to grow while the overall U.S. beer industry has declined. This is an exciting time for craft beer, especially in the Chicago-area where there is no shortage of something new and creative to try. Even the neighborhood grocery stores and Targets stock some of the beers noted in Locally Brewed. I spoke with Anna Blessing on the phone about what she discovered while writing and interviewing for Locally Brewed and of course, about what she likes to drink.

Continue reading this entry »

Christina Brandon / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Mar 25 2014

When Brewers and Chefs Meet: A Love Story

Jesse Valenciana knew what he wanted his mole-inspired stout to taste like, but he was a cook and home brewer, not a professional brewmaster. The co-founder of ManBQue, the local men's grilling and social club, and recent author needed a brewer with the same depth of skills for manipulating flavors in beer as he could in the kitchen. To create his first craft beer collaboration, Valenciana called upon Clint Bautz, co-founder of the Northwest side Lake Effect Brewing Company.

Lake Effect Unholy Mole Beer Collage.jpg

An avid fan of Bautz's work, Valenciana was unsatisfied with the mole stouts on the market, as they were not "authentic enough." Bautz, equally as passionate about food and someone familiar with working with chefs in beer making, jumped on board to create the Unholy Mole, a seasonal milk stout inspired by one of ManBQue's recipes, and infused with various roasted chilies. The beer made its debut at Dimo's Pizza in Bucktown and select taps around the city late last year and was so popular that the two men recently met again in the brewery to revive the recipe and bottle it for distribution.

Little did Valenciana know, however, that he and Bautz were contributing to the vanguard of one of the curious partnerships coming out of Chicago's exploding craft beer scene - the intersection where chefs and brewers meet. This time, however, it's more than just beer and food pairings.

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Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Mar 24 2014

Chicago Beer Festival: A Craft Beer Dream

dsc_0825.jpg Oh Midwesterners and their beer--no relationship is more fierce, loyal, and impervious to destruction. Which is why the Chicago Beer Festival was utterly packed this year, filled with attendees toting mini pints and pretzel necklaces. Wandering through the enormous frat house that was Union Station, I was overwhelmed by the 60+ domestic and international breweries offering samplings of their delicious beer. Interesting sips included:

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Judy Wu / Comments (1)

Beer Wed Mar 12 2014

Goose Island Declares Today "312 Day"

Goose Island 3/12 dayToday is March 12, aka 3/12, and Goose Island has decided it's the perfect day to launch its latest beer. The new 312 Urban Pale Ale is described as having a balance of malt and citrusy hops, and comes in a green variation on the recently redesigned 312 Urban Wheat Ale labeling. The beer is 5.4% ABV and 30 IBUs, available nationally on tap and in bottles and cans, and will be brewed in parent company AB Inbev's Baldwinville, NY brewery.

This new Urban Pale Ale takes the Goose Island's popular 312 Urban Wheat Ale and turns it into a brand family, which may raise some issues for the brewery. It's a risky move to take a popular brand and dilute it like this, especially when the full name of the original is mostly ignored by consumers. Now when someone walks up to the bar and asks for a "312," the bartender is going to have to ask which kind -- requiring customers to remember that the original is an "urban wheat ale" and recognize the difference between that and "urban pale ale." And are the two similar enough to be considered part of a family?

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Feb 17 2014

Craft Beer Comes to Kendall College

Earlier this month, beer educator Siebel Institute of Technology opened their new teaching hall at Kendall College (900 N. North Branch St.), a move that verified what many of us Chicagoans knew already: this city loves beer.

redbeer.jpgThe craft brew scene has exploded in recent years, and it's not all about just drinking. You don't order "a beer" anymore. Even at a party, you're asked, "what kind?"

Chicago is crafting pretty much every kind of beer under the sun, from the German-style lagers of Metropolitan Brewing to the Belgian-inspired ales of Haymarket, and this city has the brewpubs, restaurants, tap rooms, and bars to serve them. With shops like Brew Camp hosting beer-making classes, it's easier than ever for beer lovers to experiment making their own home brews.

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Christina Brandon / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Feb 04 2014

Beer Specials: Metal & the Dude

Two local microbreweries have fun new projects this week.

First, DryHop Brewers launches Metal Beers & Burgers, its collaboration with Kuma's and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, this Wednesday, Feb. 5 with the release of Reverse Thunder, an 8.0% ABV imperial red, named for a song by the metal band Red Fang. The beer will be tapped at DryHop at 6pm, and will be available at DryHop, Kuma's Corner and Kuma's Too for the next month.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Wed Jan 22 2014

Brew News: Ale Syndicate, Forbidden Root & Begyle

Ale Syndicate's new brewhouse equipment arrived at on Monday, following the brewery's successful fundraising campaign.

This Thursday, Jan. 23, at 6pm, Forbidden Root is hosting a community meeting to discuss its plans for a brewery and tap room in the former Hub Theater space at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. Forbidden Root's niche will be "fine botanic beers" brewed with herbs, spices and other natural ingredients. It's incorporating as a benefit corporation, intending to donate all profits from non-consumable merchandise to nonprofit causes, such as the Green City Market. Opening the brewery in East Village will require a zoning change and moratorium exemption, so neighborhood support is going to be necessary for them to proceed.

begyle brewing growler fillerBegyle Brewing, best known for its "beer CSA" concept and bold dark beers, leaped over its final hurdle and will open to fill growlers and sell bombers at 11am this Saturday, Jan. 25. The brewery is located at 1800 W. Cuyler Ave., just west of Ravenswood on the west side of the Metra tracks.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Event Thu Jan 09 2014

Imbibery and Artwork for a Wintry Afternoon

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Looking for a way to combine your two loves -- beer and art -- this Saturday? Look no further! 4 Hands Brewing Co. presents Artists N' Ales: A Winter Brew Event, an exploration of artwork inspired by the aesthetics of craft beer and how it intersects with food, culture, and society. All attendees will receive a copy of the Mash Tun Journal, the world's only journal about craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, as well as pours of the ales that inspired the work and some tasty culinary delights.

Enjoy beer and art by: 4 Hands, Half Acre, Pipeworks, Solemn Oath and others. Artists exhibiting work include: Dan Grzeca (3 Floyd's, Surly, Black Keys, Alabama Shakes), Michael Kiser (Good Beer Hunting), Jim Zimmer (3 Floyd's, Une Annee), BJ Olson (Pipeworks), Josh Rowan (4 Hands Brewing), Danielle Spradley (4 Hands Brewing), Peat Eyez Wollaeger (graffiti artist from St. Louis), Kelly Pelka (graffiti artist from Chicago), Phineas X. Jones (Half Acre) and more.

Artists N' Ales is on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 3 to 7pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S. Morgan St. in Chicago. Tickets are $25.

Jeanne Newman / Comments (0)

Beer Wed Nov 13 2013

Highlights From The Beer Hoptacular

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Judging by the crush of beer lovers in Pilsen last weekend, the third annual Beer Hoptacular was a rousing success. The Hoptacular is a must for in-the-know beer nerds trying to get their hands on unreleased beers and meet the people behind their favorite craft brews, and this year did not disappoint.

Continue reading this entry »

Annie Conway / Comments (0)

Beer Thu Oct 17 2013

Une Année Makes Belgian Beer Local, Seasonal

Une Année beer samplesUne Année Brewery sounds fancy, and its beers are indeed sophisticated. But the brewer of French and Belgian-inspired ales is based in the gritty Kinzie Industrial Corridor near Grand and Ashland, and its founders are committed to connecting with Chicago's seasons, releasing new beers annually, seasonally and quarterly.

Une Année, founded in 2012, recently announced a distribution deal with Wirtz that will bring them to more restaurants and bars, and celebrated the partnership with a tapping at Jerry's Sandwiches in Wicker Park Tuesday night. I had the opportunity to sample three of the brewery's current roster of beers.

Less Is More Session Saison is a farmhouse beer with a relatively low (for craft brews) 4.6% ABV. It's brewed with 20% wheat and a little caramel sugar, with orange zest and juice added later in the process. It features plenty of the grazzy, pollen-y flavor of your typical saison, along with a hint of citrus and sort of a sweet, funky yeast. The finish is bitter from the Ahtanum hops comes through at the end. It's light and very bubbly, and would pair nicely with food.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Event Thu Aug 08 2013

Taste of Andersonville: A Culinary Scavenger Hunt

2013_DinnerCrawl_Banner_horizontal.jpgIf I could move to any neighborhood in Chicago, it'd be Andersonville. It's a little microcosm of diversity, with its Swedish roots, fabulous LGBT community, 2-kid-n'-dog families, and thriving Middle Eastern population. Where else can I finish a Turkish pide dinner with a few Toska tarts and glögg? Andersonville. Where else can I experience Lakeview without actually having to live there? Andersonville. Where else can I hit up Edgewater elotes and Argyle pho without having to drive more than five minutes? That's fucking right--Andersonville.

So when I got invited to the Taste of Andersonville, I wept in glorious happiness because not only did it give me an excuse to dine in one of my favorite neighborhoods, but also because the event is an interactive experience. You see, it's like a culinary scavenger hunt, where participants meander up and down North Clark Street for restaurants mapped on their "passports." Diners chose between three "routes": the Salt Route (vegetarian-friendly), the Pepper Route, and the Enchilada Route (a combination of the salt and pepper routes):

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Judy Wu / Comments (1)

Beer Thu Aug 08 2013

Moody No More at Moody Tongue Brewing Co.

moodytongue.jpg"Culinary beer?" Sounds like two of my favorite words wedded together, and if you feel the same, you're in for a treat this upcoming winter.

Pilsen's upcoming Moody Tongue Brewing Company, the brainchild of former cook Jared Rouben, specializes in applying culinary techniques to the brewing process: think steeping, macerating, infusing, baking, extracting. This hybrid method-- honed through Rouben's collaborations and experiments with over 50 different chefs-- promises traditional-style beers with amplified, unexpected flavors.

Seasonality and top-of-the-line (most often local) ingredients are the guiding forces behind Moody Tongue's unique approach. For example, a recent collaboration with Chicago chef Rick Bayless produced the Marisol, a Belgian golden ale accentuated with green tea, grapefruit and lime peel. Rouben also makes good use of his local resources, citing the Green City Market as an inspiration and sourcing ground for fresh, unusual ingredients such as bubblegum plums and green strawberries.

Rouben earned his brewing chops as the previous pub brewmaster at Goose Island and creator of two of its experimental brewing programs, Chef Collaboration Series and Farmers' Market Series. He opens Moody Tongue's doors in winter 2013, located at 2136 S. Peoria Street.

Danielle Snow / Comments (0)

Store Thu Aug 01 2013

Independent Spirits Opens in Edgewater

20130727_154509_1.jpgIt's pained me that the closest thing to a wine shop walking distance from my apartment in Edgewater is the liquor section in Dominick's. There, you'll find the usual suspects you can find most anywhere: Columbia Crest, Lindeman's, Cupcake. I'm not knocking those wines because I can, and frequently do, grab a bottle while grocery shopping. But seeing the same labels all the time is boring and makes the huge and varied world of wine and spirits seem like it's owned by a handful of megabrands.

The drink gods heard my prayers. Earlier this summer, Independent Spirits, Inc. (5947-49 N. Broadway) opened. And it wasn't only me who wanted a neighborhood booze shop. I first stopped in two days after opening and already a bunch of wine had been sold, leaving only a scattering of bottles here and there, mostly of French and German wines, plus a mishmash of others, including Greece and Argentina. Proprietor Scott Crestodina assured that the shelves would be stocked next week.

And boy, were they, plus a new table of wine at the front of the store. Eyeballing all the wines I wanted to buy, prices were incredibly reasonable, with a significant portion under $20. And there wasn't one bottle of Cupcake amongst that red, white, and pink.

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Christina Brandon / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Jul 23 2013

Summer Drinking Series: 5 Rabbit Paletas

5 Rabbit PaletaI first caught sight of a 5 Rabbit six-pack in the cooler case at my local minimart last year and have been following their always inventive releases ever since. Despite some legal growing pains that culminated earlier this year in the departure of co-founder Isaac Showaki, the nation's first Latin-themed brewery has continued to crank out interesting brews with an Aztec inflection from their newly built Bedford Park headquarters.

This summer (May through September), they're offering a series of draft-only options called Paletas, name-checking the Mexican popsicles that have long been one of our city's favorite summer street foods. The low-alcohol wheat beers are to feature different fruit and spice pairings, though the only one I've been able to track down (thanks to the Bad Apple) was the guava with pink peppercorn and tarragon. With the cloudy, pinkish color of a melted popsicle, you would be forgiven for thinking this beer might be another questionable "with flavor added" shandy knock-off, but the brew is actually light and sour, much more bitter than sweet, despite a heady, tropical fruit nose. On a mild summer day, like the ones we've been having this week, it's quenching but not cloying. I'm curious to try other flavors, which might include watermelon and tamarind--which I guess means I'll just be hanging around the bar until they change the keg out. There are worse ways to spend a summer vacation.

BONUS: The 5 Rabbit Collective section of the website features a recipe for pairing the brewery's 5 Rabbit brew (a golden ale with no ties to popsicles, oh ye of little faith) with fish tacos from Chef Grayson "Jam Out With Your Clam Out" Schmitz! Final Score: +1,000 food nerd points.

Andie Cavedo / Comments (0)

Bar Tue Jun 25 2013

Summer Drinking Series Returns!

Sofie Paradisi @ HopleafThis past Friday was the first official day of summer, as you could probably tell from the stickiness of the air since then. And I'm happy to announce that along with the humidity and heat, the summer drinking series has returned to Gapers Block! We kicked things off on Friday with a few beers at the Hopleaf, that venerable Chicago drinking establishment, which is benefiting from its 2012 expansion to include a second dining room. A less packed bar makes grabbing a beer and frites much more bearable in the heat, especially since the air-conditioned rear dining rooms escape the wet gasp of air every the door opens--which at Hopleaf, is often.

For my inaugural summer quaff, I ordered a Sofie Paradisi, one of over 60 possible drafts, and a spin on my very favorite Goose Island offering. For this special summer beer, the usual saison-style Sofie is aged in its requisite wine barrels with grapefruit peel and juice, rather than the more traditional orange peel. Grapefruity beer is a trend I first noticed last summer, with Steigel's Grapefruit Radler, and which I heartily endorse. The bitterness of the grapefruit esters seem perfectly suited for a lightly sour saison, and with Sofie Paradisi, the resulting brew is a lovely addition to the beer drinker's ever-expanding fruity summer palate. It paired nicely with Hopleaf's sweet crab and smoky endive salad (with grapefruit segments! it was meant to be) as well as the giant pile of fries I lovingly dunked into aioli all night. Aaaaahhhh, summer. Welcome back.

Andie Cavedo / Comments (2)

Beer Wed May 15 2013

Ready for Beer Bingo?

What with Chicago Craft Beer Week kicking off tomorrow and what looks to be our first string of three 70+ degree days, we didn't think you needed more excuses to find an adult beverage on the patio of your choice, until this popped up in our inbox.

Yep, you read that title correctly, a game of beer bingo is popping up in Lincoln Square starting today. All you need do is stop into one of the establishments listed below, pick up a card and play on.

• The Bad Apple, 4300 N. Lincoln Ave.
• The Grafton, 4530 N. Lincoln Ave.
• DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave.
• Fountainhead, 1970 W. Montrose Ave.
• Brew Camp, 4639 N. Damen Ave.
• Bottles and Cans, 4109 N. Lincoln Ave.

Five in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally will win you a custom pint glass with original artwork by Sarah Morton, and bragging rights that you sloshed your way through all of 60625.

Bonus: they have a handful of other prizes should someone fill out the entire card -- a "blackout" as it were. As always, first come, first served.

Check out the bingo card and more details online and support one of Chicago's best beer-friendly neighborhoods.

Joanna Kanakis / Comments (0)

Interview Mon Apr 22 2013

Bad Apple's Got Good Ketchup

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North Center's Bad Apple, like so many restaurants, has jumped on the all-natural bandwagon. The restaurant is free of chemicals, pesticides and preservatives, and has been since it opened almost four years ago. Everything has been all natural and as-local-as-possible since the day the restaurant opened its doors. Well, everything except for the ketchup.

Chef and owner Craig Fass opened Bad Apple with a mass-produced ketchup but quickly converted to making their ketchup in-house.

This housemade ketchup is made two to three times a week, 15 gallons at a time, producing over 120 gallons a month. The pot, larger than most toddlers, sits on the stove for six hours. If you're a cook at Bad Apple, here's your routine: put a burger on the stove, stir the ketchup, flip the burger, stir the ketchup, put the burger on a bun, stir the ketchup, add toppings to the burger, stir the ketchup. Get the idea? It's a time-consuming process.

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Elisha Marshall / Comments (9)

Event Thu Mar 28 2013

Gapers Block's Microbrewery Crawl is Back April 6

Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl - April 6, 2013Back in November, Gapers Block put together a "microbrewery crawl" to celebrate the great beers being produced in the area, taking advantage of the close proximity of so many breweries and distilleries to showcase how Chicago has become one of the centers of the craft brewing and distilling scene. It was a big hit with attendees, who clamored for another go. So next Saturday, April 6, we're doing it again.

The Gapers Block Microbrewery (& Distillery!) Crawl kicks off at noon at Andersonville's great Metropolitan Brewery and travels by foot and bus to three more stops. After learning about Metropolitan's beer and process, we'll head next door to Koval Distillery where we'll get a look at how their liqueurs and whiskey are made. We'll find out what "community supported brewing" is at Begyle Brewing and how a brewery can operate in under 500 square feet from Spiteful Brewing (whose space is so tiny that they're talking to us over at Begyle), then finish up at Atlas Brewing Company in Lincoln Park.

For $45, participants will get multiple samples at each stop, and get tours of and info about some very unique and different breweries. Capacity is limited to 60 people, and last year it sold out well ahead of time. Be a part of this unique experience -- get your tickets now!

Questions? Requests? Email events@gapersblock.com or comment below.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Wed Mar 13 2013

Coming Soon: the American Beer Classic

americanbeerclassic.jpgThe American Beer Classic is coming to Chicago -- specifically, Soldier Field -- on May 11, giving beer lovers access to more than 50 breweries -- as well as a couple of cider-makers and a meadery or two. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample hundreds of beers and ciders, learn more about the brewing process in seminars and demos, and enjoy live music.

Early bird tickets just went on sale for $40; the price will go up in $10 increments as more tickets are sold, until they're $70 at the door. VIP tickets are $110 and include a tour of the stadium. Designated driver tickets are just $30.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Sat Jan 19 2013

Cask Ale: First Impressions

Being a cask ale virgin, I wasn't sure what to expect from Thursday's Cask Night at Smallbar. All I knew was that cask ale was a very old, traditional method of making beer, which is why it is referred to as "real ale." For me, that meant an association with medieval England and bearded men in dark, cave-like taverns.

So naturally, I half expected to walk into a scene from the Canterbury Tales, complete with corrupt clergy, vernerial diseases, and drunken knife fights. While none of these were immediately obvious when I arrived, I took the number of bearded men as a sign that at least I was in the right place.

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Annie Conway / Comments (0)

Beer Thu Jan 10 2013

More Beer to Go with Dinner

In addition to Cask Night at Small Bar Division next Thursday, there are a couple more beer events you should know about.

On Monday, Jan. 14, DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave.) and Oskar Blues Brewery are teaming up for a four-course dinner benefiting the Chicago Recycling Coalition. Guests will have a spicy beet soup paired with Ten Fidy Stout; a caraway-scented pork burger, Granny Smith apple sauerkraut and potato pierogi paired with Dale's Pale Ale; an "unstuffed cabbage" burger and fries paired with Mama's Little Yella Pils; and a caramel caraway beer float made with Old Chub Scotch Ale. The dinner is $40 per person; there's an encore on Jan. 28. Reserve a spot by emailing ewinter@dmkrestaurants.com.

Then on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Deschutes Brewery will host beer and food pairings at Bangers & Lace (1670 W. Division St.) and Sheffield's (3258 N. Sheffield Ave.) as part of its series of Chicago launch events. At Sheffield's, you'll be able to meet Deschutes founder Gary Fish while nibbling barbecue.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Jan 08 2013

Cask Night @ SmallBar Divison

We've been telling you about how Chicago's beer scene has made serious headway, but it may be time for you to get out there and get a good smattering of local options yourself next Thursday, January 17. Head over to SmallBar Divison, 2049 W. Division St., at 7pm to taste a pretty stellar looking sample size, replete with newly distributed beers and new breweries on their cask pulls.

CASK LIST:
Three Floyds: Zombie Dust
Solemn Oath: Kidnapped by Vikings
Jolly Pumpkin: Maracaibo
Half Acre: Daisy Cutter
Oskar Blues: Double Dry-Hopped G'knight

SmallBar Division is also making available 30 VIP tickets whereby the tastings will come with food pairings and a chance to mingle with the brewers from Three Floyds, Half Acre and Solemn Oath. That portion will run from 5 to 7pm and you can get those tickets here.

Joanna Kanakis / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Dec 31 2012

Half Acre's Champagne of Beers

champagne_daisycutter.jpgIf you're a beer snob and for some reason you don't have New Year's Eve plans yet, Half Acre Beer Co. has a serious proposition for you.

Ring in the new year at the Half Acre Tap Room, 4255 N. Lincoln Ave., and enjoy some of the brewery's favorite short-run beers of the year on tap. At midnight, they'll be popping the tops off 48 bottles of Daisy Cutter bottle-conditioned with Champagne yeast -- the only chance you'll get to taste this extreme rarity.

The only price of admission is a donation of a non-perishable food item to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Photo courtesy of Half Acre.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Dec 24 2012

Preview: DryHop Brewers coming to Lakeview

DryHop Brewers has been making its way into the Lakeview neighborhood. Before the gastro-brewpub doors are open, the gents behind DryHop are churning out quietly complex, I-can-make-new-friends-over-this beer. Last Wednesday night, Northdown Cafe and Taproom was packed with beards and brewers all there to celebrate the tapping of DryHop's newest collaboration beer. But before we get ahead of ourselves, an introduction is in order.

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Joanna Kanakis / Comments (0)

Beer Thu Dec 13 2012

Ceci n'est pas un Cidre Brut

Lapinette.jpgVirtue Cider's latest release, Lapinette, could not come at a more perfect time. Despite our lack of snow, winter is coming, and this cidre brut, aged in French oak barrels, is a perfect companion to the rich dishes of the season.

The debut party at Lula Cafe featured pairings with all things creamy: cheeses such as comte, brie, and of course blue (perfect with a chunky fruit jam); meats prepared in the form of rilettes, pâté (chicken liver and cherries?!), and mousse; seasonal puréed vegetables on toasts; and hazelnut-cream-filled puffs. The dryness and low carbonation of Lapinette provided a wonderful balance to these rich bites.

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Jen Bacher / Comments (1)

Beer Wed Nov 28 2012

Not Just Another New Brewery

Fans of Goose Island's legendary Bourbon County Stout will simultaneously weep and rejoice. The company's barrel-aging brewing expert is starting a new brewery with a former Two Brothers brewer. Look for Off-Color Brewing to open sometime in early 2013 (but don't expect much from their blog).

Sunny McDaniel / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Nov 13 2012

Stop The Presses: Beer Nerds On The Rise In Chicago

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There are those who enjoy drinking beer on weekends, and then there are those who enjoy sniffing, tasting, and waxing poetic about the provenance of hops in their beer on weekends. If last weekend's Beer Hoptacular is any indication, the scale of drinkers in Chicago is tipping towards the latter.

The Beer Hoptacular was every beer nerd's dream--over sixty breweries in one tent, pouring more beers than even the most determined connoisseur could taste in a night. The breweries represented a large part of the growing Midwest craft brewing industry and many local favorites, as well as some of the more interesting small breweries on the East and West coasts.

Although there was no shortage of aficionados typing tasting notes into beer apps, the Hoptacular was also a great place for newbies to learn about a variety of craft beers in one place. The main tent offered an interesting mix of standard-bearers, cult favorites, and brand-new breweries.

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Annie Conway / Comments (3)

Beer Fri Nov 09 2012

Your Stein Runneth Over

November's a particularly great month for craft beer lovers.

Sunny McDaniel / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Oct 16 2012

Local Brewers Bring Home Medals at Great American Beer Festival

gabf2012.jpgSeven Chicago-area breweries and brewpubs brought home medals in the 2012 Great American Beer Festival this year, Brewers Association's annual award competition. More than 600 breweries entered a total of 4,300 entries in 84 categories; local breweries and brewpubs won nine medals in eight categories.

Revolution Brewing brought home a gold medal in the English-Style Summer Ale category for its Cross of Gold, and a bronze in the American-Belgo-Style Ale category for A Little Crazy.

Piece took home silver in the American-Style Pale Ale category for its customer favorite, The Weight, while Three Floyds won bronze for its Zombie Dust.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Oct 15 2012

Barley's Angels Wants You, Ladies, To Drink More Beer

When Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts were creating Charlie's Angels, the infamous television series showcasing women in roles traditionally reserved for men, little did they know they would be inspiring a future club of beer lovers called Barley's Angels to do the same -- toss out their cosmopolitan's and pina colada's and say "We want beer!" Self-defined as "a growing collection of individual chapters around the world that work with craft beer focused breweries, brewpubs, restaurants, alehouses and other public beer establishments to advance the female consumer craft beer enthusiast," it's obvious that Barley's Angels is adding to a growing trend in the Chicago consumer beverage scene. Given that Chicago is no stranger to craft beer and breweries, it's fitting that Chicago would have its own chapter that will be kicking off their first meeting this Wednesday at Local Option (1102 W. Webster Ave.) where beer is pronounced bier and skulls and the color pink combine in a beautifully strange collaboration that just may give Kuma's Korner a run for its money.

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Attendees will taste five stylistically unique beers focused primarily on wheat-based styles paired with artisanal cheeses from Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine. For all you hop-loving, barley sipping ladies, if you like it you better go buy a ticket; a limited number ($25 each) are available and can be reserved at Local Option's webshop.

Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (0)

Event Thu Oct 11 2012

Get Tickets Now for Gapers Block's Microbrewery Crawl Nov. 3

microbrewery_crawl_450.jpgIn the last couple of years, Andersonville, Ravenswood and North Center have become one of the centers of Chicago's craft brewing scene. We at Gapers Block thought it would be fun to put together a "microbrewery crawl" to showcase the great beers being produced in the area, taking advantage of the close proximity of so many breweries and beer-oriented venues.

The Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl on Saturday, Nov. 3 kicks off at 1pm at Andersonville's Metropolitan Brewery and travels by bus to Half Acre Beer Co. Along the way, we'll peek in at Koval Distillery to find out what a microdistillery looks like, stop at City Provisions to try their unique collaborations with area brewers, and find out what "community supported beer" is at Begyle Brewing. After Half Acre, we'll head across the street for an afterparty at Gannon's Pub.

For $60, participants will get samples of at least one beer at each stop, and get a tour of three very different breweries. This is the first tour Metropolitan has offered since May, and we'll get one of the first tours ever at Begyle. Be a part of this unique experience -- get your tickets now!

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Beer Wed Oct 10 2012

Bring on the Beer

BeerFest.jpgLast Saturday Union Station was transformed into Brew Station for Chicago Beer Festival.

Roughly 4,000 beer enthusiasts united in the Grand Hall for three hours of taste-tasting fall seasonal brews from all across the country and around the world. In total, there were 54 breweries, offering around 200 different brews.

There were two sessions scheduled for attendants to get their drink on. The first round was from 1 to 4pm and the second round was from 6 to 9pm. Some brave, beer-loving folks opted to do both.

Tickets were $40 and had to be purchased ahead of time. There was also an option for designated drivers to attend Chicago Beer Festival for $10. I volunteered with Eventbrite, scanning tickets, and was lucky enough to be able to enjoy all of the hoppy glory -- and silly drunken people -- all day long.

There was plenty of activity to entertain the attendees in between swigs of beer, including a DJ and a free photo booth. There was a lot of tasty bar food available for purchase, through Stefani Catering. I had a very yummy Italian sausage with peppers and onions on top.

It was easy to tell who was experienced with beer tastings by their level of preparedness. Many people wore pretzel necklaces to munch on in between different brews to cleanse their palate. One lady even adorned hers with jewels to make it fashionable as well as functional.

Though all of the brews were tasty in my opinion, there were a few that really stood out.

Destihl's Pumpkin Porter was exceptional! It was full of in your face fall flavor. Destihl is a gastro-brewpub with two locations in Illinois, pairing craft beer and artisan food.

The Widmer Brothers' SXNW (South by Northwest) brew also made for a very unique kick to my taste buds. It is an interesting combination of pecans, cocoa nibs, spice, and green chilies. It was as dark as black coffee and tasted like a spicy chocolate beverage.

There were a few different ciders to wet your whistle. I tried out Virtue Cider's Redstreak, which tasted extremely sour after drinking so many dark, rich beers.

Many familiar breweries, such as Goose Island, Bell's, Summit, Shock Top and Anchor Steam, were also on site.

Despite the cold, all in all, it was a fabulous day at Union Station -- especially after I got a few beers in me!

Brianna Kelly / Comments (0)

Beer Wed Aug 22 2012

Oskar Blues Beer Hits Chicago

Thumbnail image for blues 004.jpgLast night Fountainhead hosted a Colorado tap takeover benefit for Colorado shooting victims and folks who were displaced by the wildfires that have been ravaging the state this summer. Taps flowed with only Colorado beers; piled near the door were bags and bags of clothing, to be shipped back to Colorado in empty casks; and the back room was filled with beer-centric silent auction items. Sneaking in amongst the din of drinkers who were doing good by drinking, a new beer hit the Chicago market.

Oskar Blues, the self-proclaimed first canner of crafted suds made it's debut in a city that knows beer. "As craft beer, as a craft bar, and as a great craft city, we had to be here." said brand representative Chad Melis last night. "We started in a town of 1400 people, are now distributing to 27 states and took a four year break to build up infrastructure in order to satisfy Chicago." We must be thirsty y'all.

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Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

Beer Mon Aug 13 2012

Bipartisan-sip

Red state, blue state, drunken state: the folks at Two Brothers are ready for election season.

Sunny McDaniel / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Jul 30 2012

Two Brothers Celebrates its 15th with a Tap Takeover

When two passionate, talented establishments come together to throw a party, and you find yourself interested in the same subject matter, you had best represent.

Two Brothers Brewing Company has been celebrating their 15-year anniversary all summer by releasing 15 artisan beers to represent each year they have been successfully brewing. Warrenville's crowning jewel has made a name for itself with its ubiquitous Domaine Dupage but there are a quite a few other sweet suds that are worth sampling.

Fountainhead, Ravenswood/North Center/Lincoln Square's epicenter for difficult to find craft brews and one of the city's finest rooftop bar, is hosting a tap takeover on said rooftop starting at 1pm on Saturday, Aug. 4. Two Brothers will tap six of their brews, many of which were limited edition releases over the past 15 years and have been brewed again to celebrate the occasion: Pahoehoe, Anni beers, Hop Juice, Weiss, Cottonwood IPA, Testudo, and Diversey & Lill(e).

See you all there.

Fountainhead
1970 W. Montrose Ave.
773-697-8204

Joanna Kanakis / Comments (0)

Event Thu Jul 26 2012

Haute Cuisine Avec Bière pas Cher: Vie Holds "Shitty Beer" Dinner

On the website of chef Paul Virant's Vie, the event is called the "Old Standby Beer Dinner II," but the restaurant's newsletter puts it more bluntly. Vie is holding its second annual "Shitty Beer Dinner" next Tuesday, July 31.

The $85-per-person dinner brings five Chicagoland chefs -- Johnny Anderes of Telegraph, Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, Leonard Hollander of Marion Street Cheese Market, Tara Lane of the Hull House Kitchen (formerly pastry chef at Blackbird), Justin Large of Big Star and Jared Wentworth of Longman & Eagle -- out to Western Springs to create one course that is paired with the chef's favorite crappy beer.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Tue May 29 2012

This Brewery Map is not Normal

Pop Chart Labs, Brooklyn-based makers of awesome maps, diagrams and other cool things to hang on your wall, just released their latest: Breweries of the United States.

The map marks the locations of more than 1,000 breweries big and small, including Chicago's own Argus, Finch's, Goose Island, Half Acre and Metropolitan. There are more in Chicago, of course -- I'd have included 5 Rabbit and Revolution, at least, and perhaps northwest suburban Wild Onion -- but that's relatively good coverage. Not comprehensive, but good.

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However, there are two prominent nearby breweries that somehow got left out. Three Floyd's and Founders are missing, despite taking first and second place, respectively, on RateBeer.com's 2012 Best Brewers list. Their beers are coveted by beer geeks across the land, and it's impossible for a conversation about craft beer to not reference one or both of these great breweries. It makes you wonder what other important breweries were missed. UPDATE: I can't believe I didn't notice earlier: Two Brothers is also missing, and Flossmoor Station arguably belongs on the map as well.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

Beer Fri May 18 2012

Chicago Craft Beer Week Has Begun

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Last night the Garfield Park Conservatory hosted Chicago Craft Beer Week's kickoff event, Beer Under Glass. Dozens of local breweries poured tastes both inside the greenhouses and outside in the crisp evening air, and a handful of local restaurants provided snacks. At the end of the evening, food trucks were lined up outside at the end of the event to top off stomachs.

Our favorite sips, in no particular order:
Virtue Cider's Red Streak - Greg Hall's new venture, it's a perfectly crisp and dry cider
Half Acre's Chocolate Camaro milk stout - like the Left Hand favorite, but local and chocolatey
Flossmoor Station's Wallonian Saison - we're a sucker for "brewed with ginger"
5 Rabbit's 5 Lizard - a witbier brewed with spices and passion fruit
Goose Island's Scarlett - a tart n'n sassy saison/farmhouse ale made with my favorite fruit, raspberries
Uncommon Brewers' Siamese Twin - a Belgian-style double seasoned with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves

A brief photo essay on the evening by David R Munson, after the jump.

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Jen Bacher / Comments (0)

Event Fri May 11 2012

Half Acre is Partying on the Beach & Opening a Taproom

halfacre_thesands.jpgHalf Acre Beer Co. is celebrating Chicago Craft Beer Week with "The Sands," a beach party from 6pm to 10pm on Friday, May 18 at The Dock at Montrose Beach, 200 W. Montrose Harbor Dr. There will be plenty of beer of course, but also food from Big Star and Belly Shack, and unspecified musical entertainment. And, hopefully, lots of heat lamps.

Tickets are $45 each, and will go on sale at 11am this Sunday, May 13, at the Half Acre brewery store, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. Only 350 tickets will be sold, two per person. Expect a long line.

Also this week, Half Acre announced plans to open a taproom at the south end of its brewery in North Center. There will be 10 beers on tap, including taproom-only experimental stuff, guest-brewed beers and a rotating cask beer. The taproom is expected to open sometime in August.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Event Mon Jul 21 2014

A Garden Party at Rick Bayless' House

By Judy Wu

I was using Rick Bayless' restroom, I mused, staring up at the ceiling window that was projecting a heavenly beacon of light upon my less-than-angelic duties. I could barely distinguish Rick's faint murmurs through the orange walls, something about how...
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Events

Wed Oct 22 2014
She's Crafty: Women in Craft Beer @ Chop Shop

Thu Oct 23 2014
Lafite Wine Tasting @ Sofitel

Sun Oct 26 2014
9th Annual Andersonville Dessert Crawl


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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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