Recap: My Kind of Town Beer Tasting
On Saturday, May 14th, we partnered with The Hop Review on a tasting specifically focused on the craft beer scenes popping up around the city of Chicago. Right now, breweries in this city are like dandelions in a field, a swift wind and suddenly an assistant brewer in the west loop is now opening up his or her own brewery in North Center. The Hop Review's Brewery Map currently lists 67 breweries in the city and 91 throughout the burbs & beyond. You can't help but wonder, how in the world is this kind of growth sustainable? The simple answer: Chicagoans love to drink -- to get us through winter or add even more enjoyment to our limited summer -- and we define ourselves by our loyalty to the communities and businesses within our neighborhoods.
Here's what we tasted:
Moody Tongue Steeped Emperor's Lemon Saison | 6.30% ABV
Located in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, Moody Tongue considers themselves a "culinary brewery," grounding itself on three main principles: sourcing the highest quality ingredients, understanding how to best handle those ingredients to showcase flavors and aromatics and knowing when in the brewing process to incorporate these ingredients. "Making waves last year with their first offering, a $120 shaved black truffle Pilsner, each Moody Tongue brew since offers a simple, ingredient-centric twist on tried and true styles," The Hop Review.
While not seasonal, the Steeped Emperor's Lemon Saison is a perfect summer beer. Tom White of The Hop Review says, "This is what Summer Shandy was meant to taste like." Before tasting the beer, your nose is flooded with the aroma of fresh lemon zest, which then carries through into the flavor of Moody Tongue's tart and refreshing take on a saison.
Check out The Hop Review's profile on Moody Tongue here.
Illuminated Brew Works Kallisti Golden Ale | 7.40% ABV
On every bottle of Illuminated beer, you'll find the tagline "Enjoy with people you trust." Whether intentional or not, there is a certain level of secrecy and mystery tied to Illuminated. You'd be lucky to spot their brewery from the street, with only a small Eye of Providence (the Illuminati symbol) painted on the side of a cement wall signifying where they're at. Is it a tactic they use in their marketing, maybe, but it seems they enjoy spontaneous nature of people just not knowing what you're doing.
Kallisti is a golden ale the brewery claims is made only for the most beautiful. Upon first sip, you'll get no ques of this being a 7.40% ABV beer. It's light-bodied, mellow and in no way abrasive. You might think you're sipping on a new summer shandy rather than a beer with as much alcohol as most IPAs.
Read The Hop Review's interview with Illuminated's Founder Brian Buckman and Brewer Jason Monk here.
Spiteful Brewing Alley Time Pale Ale | 6.00% ABV
"When people buy our cans, odds are the beer they're getting is probably two weeks old or less. That's frickin' awesome!" says Calvin Fredrickson of Spiteful Brewing.
Freshness is no joke with these guys, and when you're drinking pale ales like Alley Time, you can't ask for anything more. At 6%, it is as flavorful as it is crushable... a perfect six-pack to share with friends this summer. Despite being one of the city's smallest breweries, both in barrels released and physical space, these guys are brewing some of Chicago's best beer.
Hear more from Calvin Fredrickson in his interview with The Hop Review here.
Ale Syndicate Barrel Aged Richie Porter | 8.00% ABV
Over here at Few Brews, we tend to geek out about branding just about as much as we do beer. Ale Syndicate does an amazing job at both, which is why they have quickly risen to be one of our favorite breweries in the city. It also helps that they are local to Logan Square, located just east of 90/94 on Diversey Ave.
During our tasting of Barrel Aged Richie, Brady Knippenberg of Logan Brewlevard Society, a local homebrew club, talked about Ale Syndicate's invest in young brewers, professional and hobbyists. Logan Brewlevard Society actually hosts their monthly meetups at Ale Syndicate and has used their space to store barrels of beer they are aging. The brewery also has other smaller breweries, like Arcade Brewery, utilizing their space for production.
If you're interested in joining a homebrew club, learn more about Logan Brewlevard Society here.
The Barrel Aged Richie was definitely a highlight of the night. Aged in three different barrels -- Woodford Reserve, KOVAL Distillery Rye and Nicaraguan Rum -- Ale Syndicate did an amazing job balancing the flavor and booziness of the barrels with it's already excellent base Richie Porter. If you're a fan of barrel aged beer and see one of these in your local beer store (let us know if you need tips), don't hesitate to grab it.
The Hop Review released on awesome branding overview of Ale Syndicate on their website. Check it out here.
We hope everyone who came to this event had as much fun as we did! As we continue to grow over here at Few Brews, expect more collaborations with Chicago's beer community like this one with The Hop Review. Huge thanks to those dudes! If you have any feedback on the event or the beers we tasted, future event themes you'd like to see or organizations to partner with, comment on this post or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Here are some other awesome resources from The Hop Review. We definitely recommend checking out their two maps. It's pretty amazing to see how much beer is taking over the city of Chicago!