Between having a Binny’s across the street, Sheffield’s a five minute walk away and Local Option on my walk home from work, I’ve been able to really jump into the Chicago beer scene. The selection of beers is very different from what I was used to in Ann Arbor. It’s a big market, which can make it desirable for many brewers, but there’s a lot of competition.
There have been a handful of breweries that have stood to me since I’ve moved to Chicago. Some of them I just hadn’t seen before and others I’d just passed over for no good reason.
I’ve been constantly picking six packs and bombers of Lagunitas the past couple of months. After finally picking up a bomber of Hop Stoopid, I was hooked. They fit into my stereotype of West Coast brewers: big, citrusy hops and clean flavors.
Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ ale, a hopped up wheat beer, might become my go to summer beer. It has the “summery” notes that I associate with Oberon along with the great orange, grapefruit notes I get from Red’s Rye or Two Hearted. The only thing that could keep it from the top spot is the fact that it’s 7.2% ABV, which could knock me out a bitch more than I really need.
Every beer I’ve had from Lagunitas has been amazing. I’m looking forward to trying some more of their seasonal and limited release beers.
Beers I’ve had: Hop Stoopid, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Maximus, Wilco Tango Foxtrot (Reviewed in a guest post on A Tale of Two Brewers).
I had heard of 3Floyds while living in Michigan, but I don’t remember ever trying any, and I don’t think they distribute to the mitten. They obviously have a reputation that preceded them, and the stories I’d heard from Dark Lord Day seemed pretty epic. Tim stopped there on this epic road trip to Chicago, which made me really jealous.
There may not be a bar and brewery more spiritually linked than Local Option and 3Floyds. They both really exemplify an independent, rock-and-roll, headstrong spirit, which leads to crazy beers and an awesome (if sometimes quite loud) atmosphere.
The latest 3Floyds beer I’ve been raving about is the Zombie Dust. I’ve had it on draft and from a firkin, and it’s an amazingly complex tasting yet simply made beer. It is an American Pale Ale that is hopped exclusively with Citra hops, which the bartender at Local Option described as, “a glass of orange juice with a big bag of weed.” Citra hops have an awesome mix of citrus, earthiness and floral notes. It makes for an awesome beer.
Sir Robert the Bruce is a top 5 scotch ale, and Gumball Head is right up there with Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ in whatever style you slot those beers in. Whenever I see 3Floyds on draft, I’ll usually order it, and I the only time I wasn’t blown away was with their Baltic Porter.
Beers I’ve had: Sir Robert the Bruce, Gumball Head, Alpha King, Arctic Panzer Wolf, Baltic Porter, Zombie Dust.
I had never heard of Two Brothers before I picked up a six pack of Cane and Ebel (review). Since then, I’ve been picking up six packs regularly as they’re very reasonably priced and always very good. Not only does Two Brothers, but they also were instrumental in setting up Windy City Distribution, an independent beer distributor that has played a huge role in getting new and interesting beers into Chicago. Drinking a Two Brothers beer is doing double duty for the craft beer movement!
There isn’t a particular beer that stands out, as they have all been really good. Trying Domaine Dupage was a revelation. I normally avoid beers labeled as Farmhouse Ales. For whatever reason, most beers that are termed Farmhouse don’t have a compelling flavor profile to me. Domaine Dupage certainly does, though. The most similar, popular beer is probably Fat Tire. It has a really nice, complex malt profile, with just enough hops to keep it from being cloying. It is a very nice, sessionable beer, especially good during the autumn.
Beers I’ve had: Cane & Ebel, Ebelsweiss, Northwind Imperial Stout, Bitter End Pale Ale, Domaine Dupage, Long Haul Session.
How About You?
Are there any new breweries that you have been trying? Let me know in the comments!