Thursday, June 26, 2014

Revolution Eugene Porter

Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL) Eugene Porter, 6.8% ABV.

On a chilly, foggy summer day here in Chicago, I was reminded of London, the birthplace of the porter. Porters unloaded ships, which is thirsty work. These laborers quenched their thirst with a dark, smooth ale that subsequently bore their name. Dark, yet smooth, and without the bitterness or heavier body of a stout, the English porter warms the soul.

Since it is currently perfect porter weather, I opted for a local favorite of mine by Revolution. Not to mention, it's about time that I reviewed a beer by these guys being as they make plenty of good stuff (and Revolution was just picked as Chicago's best brewery by the staff of the Reader). Revolution has diverged from the traditional English porter by adding chocolate malt, giving the style an American twist and an impenetrably black appearance. It has a nice head that dissipates quickly. The nose is subtle, with just a hint of maltiness. This porter is also more hoppy than its Old World counterpart. Initially, Eugene Porter is smooth, followed by a hint of chocolate sweetness, then the flavor of roasted malts. Lastly, the hops kick in and provide a nice tingling sensation on the back of the tongue and throat. Even though the weather here in Chicago is lousy, it does provide the perfect compliment to this great porter. And the porter, in turn, makes living in this soupy weather much more bearable.

There are normally more buildings visible back there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pipeworks Brewing Co. A Foolish Wit

Pipeworks (Chicago, IL) A Foolish Wit (8% ABV).

Storm clouds were gathering, bringing the promise of cooler temperatures. Yet the release failed to materialize. Instead, I sought solace in a bottle of Pipeworks latest Wit, the perfect beer for a hot summer's eve (Note: this beer is not to be confused with a feminine hygiene product) whilst grilling spicy sausage. For a nice change, Pipeworks did not stray far from the style of the Belgian Witbier. This beer had the look, head, aroma, and flavor of a classic Belgian Wit, which was just the thing for sitting on the deck, hoping for rain to break the heat. Belgian Wit yeast gives this style a hazy wheaty appearance and a sweet, biscuity flavor. The addition of citrus and spices adds just the right acidity to balance the fruity sweetness of the yeast. Not a standout, but it's exactly what it's supposed to be and was the perfect refreshment for the moment.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Some of you might be wondering why I keep reviewing Pipework's beers, despite the fact that most of them might not be around by the time you decide you want to pick one up. Rather than brewing a steady line up of beers or creating a couple of flagships that consumers will easily recognize and trust, Pipeworks brews many, many things. Some people probably find this frustrating because they can't know if they will be purchasing one of the "good" beers, or getting something they won't like. Among beer geeks, Pipeworks is well known and generally liked. But I think the average beer drinker has not really heard about them, much less tried any of their beers. I drink a lot of their stuff and usually will pick up anything they make that grabs my attention. Oftentimes, I'll pick up a random bomber of something that is not what I usually like to drink just for fun. So just for the reason that I drink a lot of their stuff, it seems worth it to write something. However, the main reason that I review Pipeworks is that I'm hoping that people will come to see that they are very consistently brewing good beer, no matter the style. I'm suggesting to potential drinkers that they take a chance, grab something off the shelf at the liquor store, and give it a shot. The majority of Pipework beers are excellent, and more consumers should know about them.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Two Brothers Fathom

Fathom by Two Brothers brewery (Warrenville, IL) is an American sour ale two years in the makingand it was worth every second. For those of you who do not enjoy the embroidery of beer geekery, let me cut this thread short: Fathom is delicious. Find some and drink it now.
For those of us remaining, let’s geek out and make something beautiful, which is what this beer deserves.

First, Fathom has made a hypocrite of me—I am not a fan of Two Brothers beer. Never have been. But this beer is fantastic. We have the Brothers’ acquisition of French oak foudres (which brought us recent local favorites such as Resistance IPA and Long Haul) and the new Project Opus series to thank.
I have been drinking Fathom from the tap for about a week now, and have actually experienced craving for it—not the typical, “I-could-go-for-a-beer” that always hits me about 6pm, but full on “I-wonder-what-Fathom-is-doing-right-now” late-morning fantasies. Here’s why:
It pours easily, with a light head and moderate carbonation. The aroma is very light and subtle, but you definitely smell the oak, which gives it a nice California Chardonnay impression. It’s a fresh, leisurely scent, with just a touch of alcohol to it, so you can breathe deep and snuff it a little to maximize your pleasure. . . Close your eyes and pretend you are sitting at the edge of a wooded area, in Sonoma’s dry heat. The taste starts winey, with a bit of over-ripe grape sweetness that is quickly overcome by a perfectly balanced brett/lacto tartness and oak—lots of oak that somehow remains light while dominating the palate. As the grape fades, it’s replaced by an apple-berry cider-ness that tastes wild to me—not the thornless, flavorless blackberries you get at the grocery or Farmer’s Market, but the kind you have to hit a fence row for, and get a little scratched up. Overall, the flavor is complex, refreshing, and carries a nice funk that keeps it interesting glass after glass. This beer will be gone before your taste buds tire of it, so find some patio seating and get to drinkin’.

Reviewed by Charitianne

Since reviewing Fathom from draft, I've had a chance to drink some from the bottle--also delicious. The bottle label contains this little gem, "Aged sour can be enjoyed now or cellared 5-10 years," a lovely reminder missing from other Two Brothers sours, Tangent and Askew. Well, Askew did actually say that the beer could be aged, but without the bravado of the Fathom label: the Brothers are serious about aging their latest Opus. (I have accordingly set back a few bottles). If you never had the chance, Askew was a delicious sour--I am out. I opened a bottle of Tangent, aged 1.5 years, just tonight. Skip it. Aging hasn't improved what was an average beer to begin with. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nøgne Ø Saison

Nøgne Ø (Grimstad, Norway) Saison. 6.5% ABV.
A combination of wheat and lager malt, East Kent Goldings and Crystal hops, and Belgian yeast. This is a highly refreshing saison with a beautiful hazy straw color. It's slightly tart up front, and finishes with a bit of a soapy flavor, that nonetheless grows on you in a good way. By any standard, this is a great saison.

Oh, and for a cool interview with Nøgne Ø's founder, Kjetil Jikiun, check out Good Beer Hunting