The GABF Winners “Fantasy Draft” — Who’d We Pick?

The fine folks over at Draft Magazine have put together this little contest here, where you can pick who you think is going to come away winners at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. There’s some prize involved, we guess, but we’re less interested in that than we are arguing with each other about who’s going to win, who’s not and why the hell Andrew picked the Miller Brewing Company to medal.

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So, who’d we pick? Continue reading

***UPDATED*** Breaking Down the Government Shutdown: What Does it Mean for Craft Brewers?

Updated at 11:25 A.M. to reflect the Illinois Liquor Control Commission rules and regulations regarding labeling.

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We’ve read a lot lately about the government shutdown and what agencies it does and does not impact. We’ve also read quite a bit about the shutdown’s impact on craft brewers; particularly with the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau and U.S. Small Business Administration shutting down the majority of their operations. Today, we hope to cut through some of the generalities and look at exactly how this shutdown impacts craft brewers.

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Random Autumn Beer Snapshots

Now that the yoke of Fall Beer Freedom Day has been lifted from my shoulders and the date is receding into the distance, I find myself doing exactly what I suggested everyone else do (which should come as some solace, in that I can take the advice that I dish out). I’ve been going a little nuts on all different kinds of seasonal beers, Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers in specific.

Rather than dive headfirst into three paragraphs each in some vain attempt to bolster our hit count, I thought I’d dump a few hundred words about all of them so perhaps, you may enjoy the things we have and avoid the stuff that we didn’t.

Here we go: Continue reading

Church Street Brewing Company: Helping You Drink Your Way Out of Beer Purgatory Since 2012

If you have been to any event where Church Street Brewing Company is pouring you’ve likely seen Brand Manager Chet Brett. Maybe you haven’t talked to him, but you’ve certainly seen him. You see Chet’s tall. Like, really tall. And he’s kind of hard to miss, whether he’s behind a row of tape handles or weaving through a crowd.

Chet's the tall one. Photo courtesy Church Street's Facebook page.

Chet’s the tall one. Photo courtesy Church Street’s Facebook page.

His height, however, is matched by his personality and his devotion to all things Church Street. The man loves Church Street’s beer and once you take a sip or two you’ll see why. The brewery is churning out approachable, true-to-style European beers that will appease a longtime craft beer drinker without frightening someone looking to expand their palate.

After meeting Chet and working our way through Church Street’s offerings at Beer Under Glass a few months ago we had to know more about the Itasca brewery and its ever-expanding footprint in the Chicago area. So slide on down the pew and take in a homily on Church Street Brewing Company.

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Review: Stella Artois Cidre (Yes, spelled just like that)

When companies pivot away from where their strengths lie, things can go poorly. Chevy makes trucks, but you wouldn’t expect them to immediately make a great plane, or tractor. Levi Strauss makes jeans, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to drop everything and make great couture wedding gowns.

And just because a brewery makes a beer, doesn’t mean they can turn and immediately make a cider, does it?

So when Stella Artois sent us a big ol’ bottle of their “cidre” with the lah-dee-dah style spelling (because it’s European!) we weren’t immediately overwhelmed with anticipation. It was too easy to imagine that sharp Stella pilsner taste with some apple esters jammed on top of it; too easy to envision the Redd’s Apple Ale of the East.

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In case you’re curious: toaster, cider, roma tomatoes, minced garlic, “Upper Peninsula” magnet

But, in that we enjoy trying new and interesting things and occasionally having our expectations confounded, we tried it nevertheless. (Obviously from the photos, we were cooking at the same time.)

And guess what: It’s actually pretty good. Continue reading