Booze Muse

The art and craft of liquid inspiration

The Levee Rises? Vice Is Brewing In The South Loop

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Quinton Cole/Photo: Lilly Carey

Quintin Cole/Photo: Lilly Carey

By Ben Kramer

When the snowmageddon of 2011 hit Chicago, it shut down schools, businesses and even Lake Shore Drive. The storm also managed to form a friendship that would eventually lead to the birth of Vice District Brewing. “We met as neighbors,” co-owner Quintin Cole recalls on meeting fellow co-owner Curtis Tarver II. “He helped dig me out during the snowmageddon, and that’s how we met.”

Three-some years after that historic winter, Vice District Brewing and its taproom are set to debut August 22, with their Black IPA, Extra Special Bitter, Blonde, IPA and Molasses Porter. Opening with unique styles was a conscious decision. “We decided to come out with something that’s a little different,” explains Cole. “Most people are unfamiliar with some of the styles we’re coming out with. Black IPA is not something a lot of people are familiar with…we just felt like we wanted to have a nice mix of beers that represent what we like, but also complementary to people coming in who if they want an IPA we have one.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hop Stop: Can Beermiscuous Be the Coffeehouse of Beer?

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unnamedBy Stefan Castellanos

A young man journeys to a faraway land, its culture sparking a passion deep within, one that would go on to shape the man’s life in ways unimaginable. This familiar story could involve all manner of discoveries—language, the arts, sport, siesta. But as it did many Americans in the early nineties, it was a fascination with beer that took hold of a young Paul Leamon during his travels through Europe. Aged for more than two decades now, during which craft brews have gradually achieved omnipresence in our taverns and liquor marts, Paul’s relationship with beer has deepened in complexity, spilling into new and unforeseen walks of his life. An avid home-brewer, a connoisseur of food-beer pairings, and now an entrepreneur, he seeks to further startup ventures and a greater appreciation for craft beer via his newest project, Beermiscuous. Read the rest of this entry »

#IBelieveThatWeWillWin: A World Cup Omen at Chicago’s Favorite Soccer Pub

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By Stefan Castellanos

On the evening before opening day of the 2014 World Cup, something strange occurred. I was sitting at North Center’s The Globe Pub enjoying my customary Guinness. They were playing highlights from past tournaments all night long—a perfect primer for the match in Sao Paulo the following day—and I wanted all of it in me in time for kickoff. The story of 2002 Korea-Japan was coming to a close, Brazil and Germany lining up for the final in Yokohama, and memories turned visceral.

This was the first World Cup match I’d ever tuned into live, and I recalled thirteen-year-old me creeping down the stairs before sunrise to watch alone. Lord knows why. Even as the Americans dos a cero’d Mexico on their way to the last eight, I was apathetic. But for whatever reason, I risked being given a proper chiding for dozing off in church later that morning and I watched from start to finish. God’s wrath was temporary, I figured, but the wrath of Kahn (legendary German keeper and most outstanding player of 2002 Oliver Kahn, that is) would haunt me forever. He and Ronaldo (Brazil’s superstar striker and top scorer of the tournament) were the only players I’d heard of, and I still knew virtually nothing of them. I watched in puzzled silence as the bucktoothed Brazilian notched the only two goals of the match, and I tried to make sense of this story’s impossibly foreign plot, its faraway setting, and its characters, unlike me in every way. Read the rest of this entry »

The Beers of Summer: Drinking for the Home Team

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By Ben Kramer

Beer brings bliss. Summer is bliss. Pair them and you’ll have a wonderful time. Since we are blessed with such a beer-conscious city, Chicago breweries produce hundreds of ales and lagers, all easily accessible to our taste buds and many now use the hot season to release some cool limited releases. For each beer we’ve highlighted one of, in most cases many, places to taste it.

Rosa Hibiscus Ale (Revolution Brewing)

Available at Revolution’s brewpub, 2323 North Milwaukee, until September

Named after Civil Rights hero Rosa Parks, this beer was a tag-team effort by Revolution owner Josh Deth and head brewer Jim Cibak. Deth suggested brewing with hibiscus flowers (along with coining the beer’s name), and Cibak crafted the recipe. Carrying a floral aroma, with hints of cherry and cranberry, the hibiscus provides a natural tartness, which is subtle in the mix.  A crisp, refreshing beverage, Rosa bears a pinkish hue (achieved by steeping the flowers in the wort before fermentation), which gives it an appearance that’s well, Rosie. Read the rest of this entry »

Above All, Courage: Winter Nights at the Duke of Perth

Tales of Drunken Woe No Comments »

DoP Chicago DoorsBy Stefan Castellanos

A winter bar must have two doors. They can’t be French doors, which swing open to reveal the splendor of summering in the countryside, les enfants Jean-Pierre and Gaston playing petanque in the yard as Papa scans the hills before the partridge hunt. They must instead be one in front of the other—two single doorways several feet apart, forming an enclosed vestibule. This pocket of space deadens the incoming cold. Once inside, the view looking out through the plate-glass doors is bleak by comparison. In the frosty, refracted frame there is a young man playing a futile game of “Can I eat these cheese fries with gloves on?” as he waits a frozen eternity for the Clark bus. And there are no partridges; it’s so damn cold there aren’t even pigeons. No splendor in sight, only tempered struggle.

These doors allow us to keep the elements chained up outside. We’re always aware of their existence, but for the moment we’re unencumbered, even liberate, by it. They allow us to say, “Yes, Winter, I hear/see you knocking, and no, I won’t be out until I damn well please.” And although many places have them, there is no more deliberate set of “Chicago doors” than those protecting the Duke of Perth. Read the rest of this entry »

Far From Gin-eric: Half Acre Trots Out the Gin Pony

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Matt Young/Photo: Lilly Carey

It’s safe to say people are familiar with the pairing of gin and juice, but the pairing of gin and beer? In a bold, tasty experiment, Half Acre lead brewer Matt Young decided to couple Half Acre’s Pony Pilsner with gin barrels from Kentucky-founded micro distillery, Corsair. The concoction: a gin-barrel-aged beer entitled Gin Pony.

What sparked the experimentation?

“The idea for aging a beer in a gin barrel was mostly born from the opportunity to do so,” Young says. “Corsair had the barrels, and my good friend Steve Whitledge at Corsair was really talking them up. I think he even suggested aging a pilsner in the barrel.”

This suggestion became reality, leading Half Acre to age a small batch of their Pony Pilsner in Corsair barrels. Read the rest of this entry »

True Resolution: Five Goals, Five Bars, Five Nights

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Big Joe's turtle arena

Big Joe’s turtle arena

By Stefan Castellanos

During the holidays, a merry malaise sets in. We can float along on ham sandwiches and movie marathons without ever fully achieving in-the-moment consciousness. It’s bliss, and the happy numbness tends to permeate our holiday conversation as well. Some Navidad novocaine turns a frustrating year at work into “a learning experience,” your crazy cousin into “a free spirit trying to find her way” and, most dangerously, your half-hearted plans for future self-improvement into “a great opportunity for personal growth.” Though well-intentioned, these statements are safe and empty, and they set a passive tone for the days to come. There’s nothing like a big pot of black-eyed peas and euphemism to ring in the New Year, right?

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, provided your execution is on point. Check it out. I made five New Year’s resolutions, each as unoriginal and armored in doublespeak as a cowardly breakup text. But to spice things up, I paired each goal with a “corresponding” bar—one for each of the five days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve—in hopes of enhancing my experience and kick-starting 2014. At worst, I have a few drinks, plus add some excitement and structure to this awkward chunk of time. And at best, I take tired clichés and turn them into actual progress toward self-improvement, thus cracking the New Year’s Resolution code. It’s a win-win. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2013: Drinking

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Top 5 Gin & Tonics
Little Market Brasserie
CH Distillery
—Amber Gibson

Top 5 New Cocktails
Pappy Van Winkle barrel-aged Negroni at The Berkshire Room
Cease and Desist at CH Distillery
Tendron & Lime at Embeya
Cat’s Pajamas at Sepia
Rum River Mystic at Three Dots and a Dash
—Amber Gibson

Baderbräu Redux: Chicago’s Original Craft Beer is Back

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What’s old is new again, as Baderbräu, Chicago’s original craft beer, makes its triumphant return to the city. Chicago’s craft beer scene wasn’t always as vibrant as it is today and, in the early 1990s, Baderbräu was one of the only locally produced beers on the market. But just as quickly as it rose in popularity, so too did it deflate, all a matter of growing too big too soon. However, a Baderbräu renaissance is afoot, and it’s all thanks to beer savior Rob Sama.

Baderbräu was founded in 1989 by Ken Pavichevich, a former Chicago police officer with an ardent passion for beer. After falling in love with European-style beers, the burgeoning aficionado started raising money to build his own brewery in Elmhurst and give Chicago the kinds of craft brews he came to love in Europe. At its peak, Baderbräu was responsible for seventy-five-percent of Chicago’s craft beer consumption, wooing beer-lovers such as Sama, a finance student at the University of Chicago, who was getting into craft beers just as Baderbräu was hitting its stride. “If you could walk into a bar and see a Baderbräu handle, it meant you would be drinking good beer that night,” says Sama on the state of Chicago’s beer landscape at Baderbräu’s apex, wherein their beers were sold at more than 200 bars and restaurants throughout the city. Read the rest of this entry »

Barrels of Flavor: Goose Island’s Bourbon County Line Returns and Expands

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Bourbon and beer. They’re awesome, bold and delicious. Put them together, and you get something strong yet flavorful. Case in point, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout. Released November 29, Bourbon County Brand Stout, Coffee Stout and three new additions to the BCS family (Backyard Rye, Proprietor’s and Barleywine) hit Chicago’s liquor stores where they will remain for a limited time only. Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter gave Newcity some insight on the craft and characteristics of the beer.

What’s the flavor profile on Bourbon County?
If you sat down with a sheet of paper and wrote down all the different flavors, you could probably fill a page with it. People taste cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, people taste burnt wood… people taste hot alcohol flavors, a distinct bourbon flavor. Read the rest of this entry »