Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pub Pics - M.T. Barrels in West Dundee

M.T. Barrels is in West Dundee, Illinois, and has a rather comical name. It is just steps away from what has turned into one of my favorite breweries (and tavern/restaurant), Emmett's Tavern and Brewing Co. in West Dundee. So if don't live way out northwest from Chicago, and you make the trek out to West Dundee, then you could try both while your out there. Thanks to my girlfriend's family, I am now an official member of Emmett's Beer Club and we have been going pretty regularly for dinner and mug night on Tuesdays.
On Saturday June 14, we attended the Elgin Brewfest 2008, which I haven't yet written about and probably will not write about. I know of it because my friend/fellow beer connoisseur Seth lives in Elgin and tells people about it each year. You can check out a great slideshow of photos that he took of the Elgin Brewfest 2008 on his blog here. After the fest ended, I headed over to West Dundee to have some ale at Emmett's, but they were closing, so we went to M.T. Barrels and enjoyed their American Pale Ale (pictured below) and Amber Ale, both of which I can recommend. I cannot recommend their other beers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

AleFest Chicago - A Celebration of Craft Beer this Saturday!

Sorry, this is kind of late for anyone out there who didn't know about this yet. AleFest Chicago is happening this Saturday July 12 from 1pm-6pm at Soldier Field Staidum Green (just outside Soldier Field). Apparently this is the 2nd annual one, but I don't remember hearing about it last year at all, and I was pretty busy, so obviously I didn't go before. This year, I have seen posters for it up in some beer bars that I have visited recently, so I figured it must be pretty good. Then I found the nice website where it has all the details. Admission is $40, but includes a bunch of stuff such as 20 samples of craft beer, a commemorative tasting glass, a stainless steel bottle opener, and it's also for charity for the The Lupus Foundation of America, Illinois Chapter (LFAI). Then I looked at the list of breweries that will be there (I have them listed below), and I was quite impressed! I'm still not sure if I will definitely go, but I am seriously considering it. Now I have some free time, but not much money, since I'm between jobs right now. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal and a good way to spend this Saturday, though, so I may go for it. Anyone else already planning on going, or wanting to go?

Participating Breweries Include:

Bent River
Black Sheep
Blue Cat
Boston Beer
Charles Wells
Chimay Trappist
Dogfish Head
Flossmoor Station
Flying Dog
Goose Island
Gordon Biersch
Gouden Carolus
Great Lakes

Left Hand
Lost Coast
Mickey Finn’s
MT Barrels
New Holland
North Coast
RAM/Big Horn
Rock Bottom
Samuel Smith
Southern Tier
St. Louis
St. Peters
Three Floyds
Two Brothers

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pub Pics - Poor Phil's in Oak Park

Items that are awesomely contained within this "Pub Pic" from May 2008 at Poor Phil's in Oak Park:
1. Tasty popcorn
2. Delicious soft-shell crab sandwich and creamed spinach
3. Two Brothers' Bare Tree (Barley Wine Style Weiss Beer) (The Glass is Full)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Monthly Beer Review and Rating - June 2008

It was little slow here this past month of June, as far as postings go, but I was still enjoying many great beers. And I was too busy yesterday (last day of the month) to post this. Here we go with the monthly ratings.

At Home:
Weihenstephaner - Hefeweissbier Dunkel
One of my favorite beers from the world's oldest brewery. The regular hefeweissbier is
awesome too. I just like the dunkel (dark) even more. That's why it was the Beer of the Month for June 2008.

My Rating: The glass is full

Harpoon - IPA
This is my second beer to try (first one was their Munich Dark, which was quite good) from this Boston brewery. Their India Pale Ale is pretty good. Nothing all that memorable or special but just a solid IPA. To me, it seemed more like an English-style IPA, than a more hoppy American-style IPA. It works quite well as a refreshing summer ale, and will still help you take the edge off at 6%.
My Rating: The glass is half full

Breckenridge - Summerbright Ale
This beer wasn't all that bad, but I just didn't care for it much. Unfortunately, it was the only beer I had cold when my folks were over, so we drank it anyway, since it was kind of refreshing on a hot day. It was too grassy and skunky for my tastes. Maybe the 6-pack I got wasn't all that fresh. Definitely not worth it, if that's how it's intended to be.
My Rating: The glass is half empty

Two Brothers - Oh Brother! Tripel Ale
Oh Brother! is the May 2008 Artisan Beer release for Two Brothers (one of my favorite breweries), so I was sure to pick it up when I saw it at Binny's in June. I poured it into the distinctive Kwak glass, if you're wondering. I thought it was very good, and a good example of the Tripel Belgian-style from an American brewery. Maybe a little sweeter, a little hoppier, and more oily/viscous than Tripels made in Belgium. Lots of spice and fruit flavors going on. Good amount of alcohol too, at 8.5%, which is hidden by all the flavor, so watch out.
My Rating: The glass is full

Three Floyds - Blackheart
This is a very strong (9%) English-style IPA, so it can actually be called a Double IPA. So, if you feel like having a strong beer, I would highly recommend this excellent ale from an excellent brewery. It's made with English malts, hops, and yeast, and even aged slightly in oak for that "19th century taste". A taste which I very much like. There are interesting and complex fruit and spice flavors, especially as it warms a bit. It's bit pricey ($10 for 22 oz.) but I would say it's worth it, and may be hard to find now. Oh, it also has the most insane label that I've ever seen on a beer bottle. Click on the photos below (as you always can) to view larger versions of the left and right sides of the label.
My Rating: The glass is full

Goose Island - 312 Urban Wheat Ale
I used to not like this beer that much, but now I am a fan. It is, of course, a great summer beer and even tastes very good right out of the bottle (with a bottle cozy to keep it cold), without needing to pour it. A 12-pack is quite affordable at about $12. Although I prefer the flavor of Three Floyds Gumballhead, which uses delicious Amarillo hops but is more expensive, Goose Island's 312 is a good beer on a hot day and a great deal as a 12-pack.
My Rating: The glass is half full

Emmett's - McCarthy Red Ale
Available in growlers from Emmett's Tavern and Brewing Co. (we go to the one in West Dundee). Just an excellent red ale. Actually all the beers made by Emmett's are great.
My Rating: The glass is full

Three Floyds - Alpha King Pale Ale
Still one of my all-time favorite beers, especially regarding pale ales. Awesome.
My Rating: The glass is full

Great Lakes - Burning River Pale Ale
Another fantastic pale ale from an excellent brewery. Less hoppy and more malty than Three Floyds Alpha King, but I like it just as much.
My Rating: The glass is full

Sierra Nevada - Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale
I don't have much time to go into a lot of detail, but I really like fresh/wet-hopped ales.
Usually, fresh-hopped ales are only available by certain American breweries in the Fall, because this is when the hops are harvested in the northern hemisphere and must be used quickly while they are fresh. Sierra Nevada can now offer this fresh-hopped ale in the Spring by getting fresh hops from New Zealand. This is a good offering from Sierra Nevada, but it didn't taste as good to me as other fresh/wet-hopped beers that I have had, such as Two Brothers Heavy Handed or Left Hand Warrior IPA, which had more sweet malts for balance. Unfortunately, these are the only fresh/wet-hopped beers that I have seen available to me in Chicago. I will probably write more about fresh/wet-hopped ales another time.
My Rating: The glass is half full

East African (Kenya) Breweries Ltd - Tusker Lager
I think this is the first lager that I have put on this blog. Well, besides that post about Schlitz. (By the way, the "new"/original recipe of Schlitz is pretty good, but for the price, I would rather drink microbrewed beers.) Anyway, I remember Tusker was a refreshing and good light lager for hot days a couple Summers ago. It's from Kenya, and I think it's a little better than most American macrobrewed lagers. But, there are lots of much better lagers from around the world. My Rating: The glass is half empty

On Tap:
at The Map Room, Chicago, IL
  1. Charles Wells - Bombardier - Great English bitter - My Rating: The glass is full.
  2. Lost Coast - Downtown Brown - This is the first beer I've tried from this brewery from Eureka, California. It was really good! - My Rating: The glass is full.
  3. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale - This Flanders-style sour red ale is brewed by the Van Steenberge Brewery in Belgium for Monk's Cafe/Belgian Beer Bar in Philadelphia. Normally I would not even order a sour ale, but surprisingly I actually liked this one and it's worth a try at least once. Especially during these Summer months. Here's what others think on Beer Advocate. - My Rating: The glass is half full.

About Me

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Chicago, Illinois, United States

"Lines on Ale" by Edgar Allen Poe

Fill with mingled cream and amber

I will drain that glass again.

Such hilarious visions clamber

Through the chamber of my brain -

Quaintest thoughts - queerest fancies

Come to life and fade away;

What care I how time advances?

I am drinking ale today

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