Original Gravity says:
“Amber Ale brewed with German smoked malt to give a pronounced, but well balanced smoke profile. Fresh Jalapenos added during several stages of the brewing process gives this beer the bold Jalapeno flavor and aroma that marries perfectly with the smoke flavor from the malt.”
Original Gravity 440 Pepper Smoker
Chile Beer, 5.6% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: After a long Saturday of Easter egg hunts with my nieces and nephews I found myself in a van headed north from Monroe to Milan, Michigan. Me, my father-in-law, brother-in-law and his father-in-law were headed to Original Gravity Brewing. We’d been itching to hit this brewery for weeks and finally got the chance to sneak away on the night before East Sunday.
Original Gravity is located about 20 minutes south of the southeast Michigan craft beer hub of Ann Arbor. The brewpub and brewing facility are both located in a non-descript brick building off of U-S 23. It’s so non-descript that, if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll drive right past it.
find your way inside, though, and you’ll encounter an entertaining mix of new construction that also has an almost dive bar feel. A long, metal bar with a bank of taps and rows of empty growlers behind it greet you when you walk in. Shiny, new brewkettles fill the back third of the bar. Exposed duct work adds a a lofty feel. It’s the decor, though, that keeps it from looking too pretentious. Christmas lights hang from the ceiling. A mishmash of well-worn round, square and rectangle tables are littered about the space. The chairs look like they’re right out of Cheers with black leather backs and worn out gold studs. Lining the wall are three different paintings of dogs playing poker. In the corner is an old school arcade and next to it is the full sized leg lamp synonymous with the cult classic A Christmas Story. This is my kind of bar.
And they have my kind of beer. Continue reading
Friday marks the deadline for Senate bills that have passed that chamber to be approved by an Illinois House committee. As it stands today SB754 remains in the Rules Committee, which is the starting point for every piece of legislation that goes through the House. The committee is made up of five members. Four of those five members support the legislation including the chief sponsor, State Representative Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley).
The Rules Committee doesn’t conduct meetings like other legislative committees. There are no reporters there. And no one is there to speak on behalf of or against a bill. The Rules Committee meets in a small room off of the House chamber. Sometimes they meet before the House goes in to session and sometimes they meet during session.
Ultimately, House Speaker Michael Madigan has control over the Rules Committee. And this wouldn’t be the first time a bill has languished in the Rules Committee or has never made it out. Continue reading
New Glarus says:
“A provocative 85 IBUs reverberates cleanly through this Double IPA. True hop saturation from kettle boil to dry hop cellaring dominates this elegant and lustful sensory enchantment. You hold a deceptively seductive Original Gravity of 19.2 Plato, now 9%ABV following the always 100% natural bottle fermentation. Luscious English Maris Otter malt is the essential heart of this voluptuous double IPA. Surrender is inevitable so enjoy now.”
New Glarus Thumbprint Double IPA
Double IPA, 9% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: This is the first release in a new series of beers New Glarus is calling Thumbprint. Think of it as another version of their unplugged beers; one time, limited availability beers that are creatively brewed. According to the breweries website the series is in response to other brewers stealing their jam, as the kids say, or putting out copycat beers.
“It is always flattering when less imaginative competitors copy our beers, packaging, and/or marketing. I usually accept this as a personal challenge to do something more. When our trademarked Solstice name was infringed on, I regrouped with Dancing Man. When lots of deconstructed 4 and 6 packs showed up I knew I was doing a good job. When another Midwestern brewer released a “Un*******” series. I thought I can do better.”
Frequent Commenter Ben was nice enough to snag an extra bottle in a recent trip to Wisconsin and included it a recent trade. The wife and I split it after a long week of packing, moving and unpacking. Continue reading
“Brewed with local cider. Sweet apple aromas and spicy esters of clove, nutmeg, and allspice entice the nose. A pleasant crimson amber tone and slight haze give this beer an appearance similar to the cider it was made with, while malty hints of raisin and molasses balance the complex spiciness found throughout the profile. The finish is surprisingly clean with no particular flavor component resonating on the palette.”
Short’s The Good Samaritan
Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 7% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: This was a surprisingly solid offering from Short’s. I say surprising because, in the past, some of their beers we have sampled have been somewhat hit or miss. For instance, Strawberry Short’s Cake was a HIT but the Key Lime Pie was a pretty big miss. Other beers have been just fine, like the oddly perplexing Autumn Ale. I assumed going in that an amber ale brewed with apple cider would wind up in the miss column. And, as is the case more often than not, I assumed wrong.
The Good Samaritan poured a somewhat translucent, bright ruby in color with little head but some nice purple hues near the edge of the glass. This is a rather vibrant looking beer that gives off a nose reminiscent of a warm mug of apple cider with a cinnamon stick for garnish. You also get some nice, warming brown sugar and definite apple crispness. Continue reading
(Editors Note: So trying to cover this, essentially, in real time didn’t go as well as we had planned. Initially, as you likely saw, lawmakers that had distributors in their districts or had received decent to significant amounts of money from the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois had signed on in support of SB754. That led us to one conclusion and we reported as such. Then, more lawmakers signed on board – some with distributing interests and some without. THEN the flood gates opened and by the end of the day 30+ lawmakers signed on in support of this bill. We’re going to attempt to clean this original post up as best we can to give a better snapshot of who is now behind SB754.)
SB754, which passed the Illinois Senate on Tuesday with nearly 50 “yes” votes, is now in the Rules Committee in the Illinois House. If you recall from our early writing on this process, the members of the Rules Committee decide what committee a bill is assigned to or if a bill will ever be assigned to a committee.
Dogfish Head & Three Floyds say:
“Poppa Skull is the reciprocation-collaboration between Dogfish Head and 3 Floyds Brewing Co. Our brothers from another out in Indiana. The first beer we did together at 3F, Popskull, was a high-gravity dark lager aged on chunks of our palo santo wood. Poppaskull is similar in abv, a sipper that will age well, also aged on wood, but very, very different in flavor and aroma.”
Dogfish Head/Three Floyds Poppaskull
Belgian Strong Pale Ale, 9.5% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Karl: I’m not sure how and when this particular review will post, but allow me to say right at the front that we had the Poppaskull after a long, hard night of imperial stouts, porters and bourbon barrel aged EVERYTHING. So you know where my palate was coming from when I say that this was a veritable breath of fresh beer air at the finish of a long night. Thankfully, this wasn’t just a relief of a beer, it was a good one, too.
I wrote down a lot of words to describe this beer (surprising that I wrote so much – at the end of an evening often my notes just read “MEH” or “BOOZE” or “AAAAAAAAA”) but if I were to sum it up in one, it would be thus: “Friendly.” Yes, despite the creepy skull on the bottle, this is a friendly beer. A happy one. Light. Playful. It’s a ball pit playland of a beer. Continue reading
After clearing the Illinois Senate with overwhelming support, the bill that will shape the future of craft beer in Illinois is now in the hands of lawmakers in the Illinois House. The first order of business is to find a sponsor for the legislation. State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) carried the load in the Senate. In the House those duties will fall to State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley). Mautino is a 20 year veteran of the legislature and sits on a number of high profile committees including the infamous Rules Committee. His family also owns a distributorship. Continue reading
The IL Senate just voted 48-1-3 to pass Senate Bill 754, which helps define a craft brewer and a brewpub as well as retaining self distribution rights for microbrewers across Illinois. The bill still has to pass the House as well as get the governor’s signature, but the overwhelming support for this bill certainly indicates that it’s well on its way to becoming law.
In the short term, this bill will mean that breweries like Big Muddy and Argus can continue to self distribute, that future microbrewers have the option of bringing their crafts to market themselves up to a 7500 barrel limit, and that Anheuser-Busch won’t get the majority stake in City Beverage that they wanted in the first place. It’s not a perfect bill by a longshot, but we consider this a “win” for the craft beer community in Illinois. Continue reading
A little over two weeks ago the future of craft beer in Illinois rested in the hands of the Illinois Senate. Senate Bill 754 was positioned for a vote in the “upper chamber” but was never called for third reading before senators ducked out for a two week spring break. Lawmakers are due back in Springfield today with a looming May 31st deadline to pass legislation continuing the self-distribution rights of craft brewers in the state. With that in mind we thought we should give you a refresher course on where things stand and what new developments, if any, have transpired over the last few weeks. Continue reading
“A high gravity American brown ale fermented with Northern Michigan maple syrup and toasted pecans. This dark brown, full bodied ale is rich with sweet malt and syrup flavors which are complimented by the presence of hop aromas and a faint nuttiness. The palate delights with toasted qualities of caramelized malt and an earthy pecan laced finish.”
American Brown Ale, 9.5% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: I first sampled this beer about two months ago at Crunchy’s in East Lansing, MI. They had a Short’s night recently and there were still a half-dozen or so beers on tap. I wound up getting a flight of four Short’s beers including Woodmaster. And as I sipped away on my 4 oz of brown ale made with pecans and maple syrup all I could think was, “where in the F are the pecans?” For the life of me I couldn’t pick up a trace of nuttiness and the beer seemed much thinner than I anticipated. Color me disappointed. But, I wanted to give this beer another shot so I picked up a single bottle to bring home and try and a later date. That later date is now and that beer is far different than the sample I had on tap. Continue reading