News on brews in time for American Craft Beer Week
By Mike Danahey email@example.com May 15, 2012 9:12PM
A pint of Stockholm's Aegir's Ale, their signature craft beer. Michael R. Schmidt~Herald-News
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:12AM
It’s American Craft Beer Week, and to celebrate I headed to Rosemont Monday afternoon for the Louis Glunz Global Beer Expo with some folks who actually had work to do.
Bob and Steve Boyer closed their winery in Carpentersville in December and in a couple weeks will be opening the Village Vintner Winery & Brewery at 2380 Esplanade Drive near Algonquin Commons.
While the Boyers will be offering their own made-on-site wines and beers, they also will be selling a variety of other beers. So they headed to the expo to sample and shop, while I meandered around to see what was new in brews.
Glunz is a 124-year-old family business, and its portfolio now consists of 827 craft, specialty and import beers from 67 suppliers representing 172 breweries worldwide.
If you drank one different label every day along with your vitamins, it would take you more two years and three months to repeat yourself. But an editor wouldn’t want me to take that long to write a story, so I stuck to trying some of Glunz’s more recent holdings.
From Austria’s Stiegl Brewery, I tried the Grapefruit Radler, a combination of soda juice and beer that could be a shandy substitute for a mimosa at Sunday brunch. Radler also means cyclist in German, which explains a lot.
I learned that another Austrian beer, Hirter Morchl, was a Platinum Medal Winner in the Amber Lager category at the World Beer Championships and is brewed with dark malts, hops and caramel malt. Platinum beer in America is Bud Light with a higher alcohol level than regular light beer served in a sleek, blue aluminum bottle. Amber Lager — I think a friend of mine dated her.
Unibroue from Quebec offered Blonde de Chambly, which is named after a Cirque du Soleil performer. OK, I made up the backstory.
According to the Glunz catalogue, “It contains 5 percent alcohol and is produced from an interesting blend of unmalted Quebec wheat and pale barley malt, to which spices and natural aromatics are added, along with a light hopping. The Blanche is only partially filtered so that it retains the full benefits of its natural ingredients. This gives it the cloudy appearance that was characteristic of pale beers in the Middle Ages. While it is naturally of a champagne color, it appears white because of the fresh yeast in suspension. Available in draft.”
I couldn’t have put it any better.
Strada San Felice from Northern Italy is brewed with locally grown chestnuts. It made me hungry for Christmas or steak. Probably steak. And it made me want to visit Italy even more, as apparently the beer thing has caught on there, too, and with Italy now home to more than 500 craft breweries.
Taking my tastebuds closer to home, 5 Rabbit Brewery from Chicago had 5 Grass, which contains sage, pepperberry and rosemary, so perhaps it was inspired by a Simon & Garfunkel song. The catalogue says it’s “a perfect marriage of malts, hops and spices,” which thanks to Gov. Quinn is legal in this state.
Tattoos, piercings, plaid shirts and beards abounded at the beer expo, mingling with us suburban types in a way that showed that if only we could all sit down for a drink, maybe — just maybe — we wouldn’t have anything to worry about regarding the hype surrounding this weekend’s NATO nonsense in the big city.
One of the breweries typifying this scruffy, inked lifestyle choice is Chicago’s Revolution. One of its beers, Eugene Porter, is named in honor of Eugene Debs, the union leader and activist who led the Pullman Railroad strike in 1894. Another is called Coup D’Etat Saison.
And the tap handle of Revolution’s Double Fist Pale Ale is a green fist. When you see it, don’t ask for the Hulk beer, though. They don’t like that. Marvel Comics might not, either.
Three Floyds Brewing from Munster, Ind., has taken on cult-like status in craft brew circles. It holds a Dark Lord Day every April, a festival celebrating the very limited release of its Russian Imperial Stout. The highly touted beer has such a reputation that the Three Floyds website warns, “If you find Dark Lord for sale on a day other than Dark Lord Day and other than at the brewery, please understand that without exception, the sale is not legitimate. It is on all of us as a community to try to prevent black market sales.”
Always the contrarian city and apparently one that has a loose definition of what constitutes a week, if you want to celebrate beer week here, the Chicago area actually does its partying May 17-27. A list of fun can be found at chibeerweek.com.
To that end, Elgin Public House, 219 E. Chicago St., will hold a tasting Thursday night, a beer fest Saturday from noon until 4 p.m. and a Lakefront Brewery Beer Pairing Dinner Monday evening. Call 847- 468-8810 for details.
Sláinte. That’s Irish for cheers.