March 10, 2014

1st Annual Illinois Suburban Brewers Summit Open Forum Audio

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February 17, 2014

A Letter To Small Breweries

by blahblahbeer
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When it comes to breweries, it is true, “If you build it, they will come,” but for how long?

Small breweries- I love you, but in a few years there will be tons of stainless steel sitting in scrap yards if you don’t get your shit together.  The American consumer is captivated by the newest thing. We are a nation that bought 1.5 million Pet Rocks. We run to buy the latest thing, looking for the rush that something innovative provides us. Everyone loves a new car, but what happens when the new car smell has faded? What keeps consumers coming back again and again?

Many years ago, a company could count on their customers to continue to buy their product due to “brand loyalty”. My father will only buy Ford vehicles. The first Ford he bought lasted more than twenty years and he continues to reward them for the quality of that vehicle by purchasing solely Ford products. My father is part of a dying breed. Today, only 25% of Americans make purchases based on “brand loyalty” (Forbes). The two biggest factors driving purchases in this day and age: price and quality.

A packaging trend has emerged in craft beer. Often, the 22 ounce bottle (bomber) is the vessel of choice for small breweries. While this in and of itself is not a problem, the purchase price of these bottles is often on the higher end of the scale. Established breweries often use bombers to package limited release beers and a higher price should be expected. When a smaller brewery is charging ten dollars or more for a bomber, one has to question themselves before making the purchase. The same ten dollars can buy a six-pack of beer from another brewery and the consumer walks away with fifty additional ounces. While a brewery is reaping the benefits of their “introductory” stage, high-priced bombers might work out to their advantage, but is this truly a viable long-term option?

Consistent taste from the same beer shouldn’t be an unreasonable expectation; however, this has become a reoccurring complaint from craft beer consumers. Color variations, gravity differences, and varying taste from batch to batch are common problems for some of America’s breweries. Don’t use the argument, “Higher quality demands a higher price,” if consumers can’t expect the same product, beer after beer. Craft beer drinkers are very understanding when brewers get experimental, but you should be able to duplicate your “flagship” beers.

Go beyond a logo when you create your brand. Be more than, “Hi, I’m Bob and I make Belgian style beers”. Give people a reason to associate with your brewery. If you want to be niche, that is fine. Make beers for people who hate shoes, but own it! Put footprints on your bottle and have shoeless Sundays at your taproom. Whatever you do, have an identity. Ask people to describe 3 Floyds or Lagunitas and I’m sure their brands come out quickly. How do people respond when asked to describe your brewery? You may not have imprinted the identity on people’s minds that you think.

Small brewers- you have an enormous amount of courage. You are doing what most people are unable to do. You have taken a leap of faith and become small business owners. You are following your dream and I respect you. You must become an accountant, a marketing director, a logistics manager, an assets manager, etcetera, and etcetera.  Some people believe there will be a craft beer bubble. I believe that America can sustain thousands of breweries producing an affordable, high quality product. Not everyone will become rich, but an honest living can be made by all.  I have only talked about “low hanging fruit” that you can harvest to increase your chances. America wants you to succeed.

 

 


February 9, 2014

Illinois Suburban Brewers Summit

Summit photo

The Chicago suburbs, home to a growing number of popular and successful craft beer breweries, bars and bottle shops, will soon add a groundbreaking event to its census. Ale to the Burbs, an alliance of suburban craft beer bloggers and event coordinators, is hosting the 1st Annual Illinois Suburban Brewers Summit (ISBS) to be held March 8, 2014, at Nevin’s Brewing Company. Located at 12337 South Route 59 in Plainfield, this public event will run from 6:30-9:30pm. The goal of the ISBS is to give suburban breweries the opportunity to come together and discuss the state of the market, share ideas and experiences, and collaborate on endeavors to spur increased exposure and recognition of the suburban craft beer scene. Approximately 20 breweries are expected to attend the event with representatives from each business to sit on a moderated panel for an open forum. “There’s no better time than now for this event to take place,” said Jeremy Teel of Ale to the Burbs. “With the rapid growth we’re seeing in the industry and a wide geographic area to serve, suburban brewers encounter unique challenges every day and need to establish and share best practices in order to thrive.”

The ISBS also will feature two hours of public beer tasting with aprox. 25-30 beers being poured by attending breweries. The $25 ticket will get each attendee 15 4-ounce pours, appetizers, a commemorative glass and admission to Nevin’s live music performance after the event (artist TBD). Attendees also will be able to sit in on the open forum and ask brewers their burning questions.

Tickets are available online only through Brown Paper Tickets at: http://ISBS.brownpapertickets.com

Sponsors include: The Beer Cellar, Chicago Brew Werks, Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, Lou Dog Events, Spent Grain Society, World of Beer – Naperville, & Midwest Brewers Fest.

About Ale to the Burbs
Ale to the Burbs is a dedicated group of beer lovers that coordinates events to bring people together in celebration of craft beer in the Chicago suburbs – whether it’s in a brewery, bar or your neighbor’s backyard.

About Nevin’s Brewing Company:
Nevin’s Brewing Company opened its doors in December of 2012. Between the time we opened and the time we brewed our first beer, we were expectant parents setting up the nursery, ensuring that everything was perfect for our baby, our beer. On February 21, 2013, our brew kettle fired up for the first time with our inaugural beer, Contentious, an IPA fermented with Belgian yeast. Since that christening moment, our brewmaster has worked diligently to provide a wide range of brews for all to enjoy. At Nevin’s, we brew because we are infatuated with
what happens when malted barley meets water, when hops dance in the boiling wort, and when wort marries yeast. No style is off our radar. We turn our noses up at nothing because we see opportunity in everything.

350aleman

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November 12, 2013

2013 Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer- preview

by blahblahbeer
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The 11th Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer (FOBAB) featuring The National Wood Aged Beer Competition takes place Saturday, November 16th, 2013, at the Skyline Loft in the Bridgeport Art Center. This festival is the nation’s largest celebration of wood and barrel aged beer.

 

 

fobab

I am going to assume that if you have found your way to this website, you don’t need an education in barrel aged beer. It would also be safe to guess that you are somewhat familiar with FOBAB. With that being said, I will skip the history lessons and move on to what’s new for 2013.

 

  • For 2013, cider/perry/mead has been added to the competition categories
  • Food trucks will be setting up in the main parking lot outside of the event
  • A shuttle will be provided from FOBAB to the Red Line & Ogilvie Station. Times for the shuttle will be posted during the event
  • It took less than four minutes for both sessions of FOBAB to be sold out
  • Justin Maynard (Executive Director ICBG) will be wearing some ultra-hip headphones

 

Participating breweries:

3 Floyds     5 Rabbit      Adams County Brew Crew     Against the Grain     Ale Syndicate

Allagash     Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.      Apple Knocker Hard Cider

Atlas Brewing Company     Avery Brewing Company     Bear Rupublic     Begyle Brewing

Bell’s Brewery     Blacklist Brewing     Boston Beer Co.     Boulevard Brewing Company

Breakside Brewery     Brewery Vivant     Central Waters     Crispina     Dark Horse Brewing Company

Denali Brewing     Deschutes Brewery     DESTIHL     Eden Ice Cider     Finch’s Beer Company

Firestone Walker Brewing Co.     Fitger’s Brewhouse     Flat 12 Bierwerks     Flossmoor Station

Gigantic Brewing     Goose Island – Clybourn     Goose Island – Wrigleyville

Goose Island     Grand Teton Brewing company     Great Divide     Half Acre     Halfmoon Bay Brewing

Haymarket Pub & Brewery     Iowa brewers union     Lagunitas     Lake Effect Brewing

Lakefront Brewery     Local Option     Lost Abbey     Lunar Brewing     Metropolitan Brewing

Milwaukee Brewing Company     Morgan Street Brewery     Moylans Brewery     Mystery Brewing

Nebraska Brewing Company     Nevin’s Pub     New Belgium Brewing     New Holland Brewing Co

Oakshire     Off Color Brewing     Oskar Blues     Perennial Artisan Ales     Perrin Brewing

Pig Minds Brewing     Pipeworks Brewing     Revolution Brewing     Rock Bottom – Chicago

Rock Bottom – Denver     Rock Bottom – Des Moines     Rock Bottom – Minneapolis

Rock Bottom – Warrenville     Saugatuck Brewing     Shoreline Brewery     Side Project Brewing

Sietsma Orchards     Slapshot Brewing     Solemn Oath Brewery     Spiteful     Stone Brewing Co.

sun king brewing     Surly Brewing     Ten Ninety     Tighthead Brewing Company

Triptych Brewing     Two Brothers Brewing     Uinta Brewing     Upland Brewing     Vandermill Cider

Vintage Brewing     Virtue Cider     Wheelhouse     Widmer Brothers Brewing     Wild Onion

ZwanzigZ Brewing


August 12, 2013

Have Fun and Save Money With Beer Dogging

by blahblahbeer
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One of my #AleToTheBurbs partners has something that might interest you & I thought I would share part of an email they sent out today to their Beer Dogging members:What is Beer Dogging?

Beer Dogging is the Chicago area’s fastest growing craft beer organization.  For some of us, Beer Dogging is a way of life.  It’s what we do. For years we have been chasing down the best beers.  Now the time has come to lead others on that journey.  Our mission is to keep you on the trail of craft beer and hopefully save you a few pennies along the way.  Now that you are a member, you are eligible to receive beer related deals, participate in Beer Dogging projects and events, and win prizes. Make sure to visit us on the web atwww.BeerDogging.com and download the iPhone or Droid app.  We can be found on Twitter @BeerDogging and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BeerDogging . If you have any questions about anything beer related, please contact us anytime.

 

 

ALPHA DOG MEMBERSHIP
The Alpha Dog Membership is an upgraded membership for $25 per year.  This upgraded membership is for the person who is really looking to stretch their beer dollars.  Alpha Dog members will receive a membership card that must be presented to claim any deals they will be eligible for.  With this program you enjoy deals year round from our sponsors.  Each time you walk in the door there will be a deal waiting for you.  There is the potential to save hundreds of dollars per year.  The membership is good through December 2014 so act now and you will be getting a few months FREE.

 

 

UPCOMING BEER DOGGING MEMBER EVENTS
WHAT: SUBURBAN BEER BUS TOUR
We are very excited about this one.  Jump aboard the Chicago Brew Bus and visit some of the most elite beer bars in the western suburbs.  Among these will be Standard Market, Wild Monk, Brixies, and Cigars and Stripes.  Lunch and appetizers will be provided as well as guided tastings and pairings.  The bottle sharing on the bus can be pretty extensive so make sure your taste buds are ready.
WHEN: SATURDAY AUG 17TH 12:30PM – 6:30PM

 

 

WHERE: STARTS AND FINISHES AT STANDARD MARKET IN WESTMONT

 

 

PRICE: $45 (Inludes bus ride, lunch, appetizers, giveaways and prizes, $10 Standard Market gift card, and guided tour by Cicerones and/or Cicerone Certified Beer Servers.

 

TICKETS:  Click Here

July 17, 2013

Heaven On Seven Presented By Ale To The ‘Burbs

Ale to the ‘Burbs is a monthly collaborative beer blog series. Five Chicagoland beer blogs- five communities- five suburban beer destinations- all on one day. From the hidden neighborhood gems to the well-known pillars of suburban craft beer, we’ve got the Chicago ‘burbs covered. Links to the other four articles are listed at the bottom of this post. Check back next month for another set of articles.

HO7BarView

I’m a big fan of downtown Naperville and near the corner of Jackson and Main sits a restaurant serving fare that’s a little different from the other eateries in the area. I stopped by Heaven On Seven for lunch on Sunday and waddled out with a smile across my face. The first question I was asked after being seated, “Would you like a beermosa?” Ummm- YES, please!

HO7BeermosaAs a beer enthusiast, this really got my attention, but I was worried it would be the single high note of my visit. The décor provided a visual stimulation and was a welcome distraction as I perused the menu. There were so many southern dishes that sounded amazing and I was having a hard time making up my mind. When I was asked if I was ready to order, I quickly chose the Voodoo Enchiladas. My curiosity got the best of me. I had to sample a Cajun interpretation of a Mexican staple. After I ordered, I was asked if I would like to see the beer list and with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, I shook my head in an affirmative nod. While there were only eight beers on draught, Heaven On Seven has an entire page of bottles and cans available.

It appears that Jimmy Bannos understands the marriage between beer and food. Craft beer can complement food in a way that no other beverage can. Not only does Heaven On Seven have a decent beer selection, the restaurant also hosts “beer dinners” on a regular basis. In further evidence that Heaven On Seven understands the beer and food relationship, Heaven On Seven will be a food vendor at Naperville Ale Fest serving gumbo and Andouille Corn Dogs. Trust me; you will want to grab some while you are at the fest.

Eating at Heaven On Seven makes you feel comfortable. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting. The dining area is small, but it feels cozy. There is a “social” vibe about Ho7 and conversations were HO7Dininglively and abundant. The Heaven On Seven staff meshes well with the ambiance by catering to the needs of their guests in an unobtrusive manner, but are able to make meaningful contributions to conversation.

You might be wondering about the Voodoo Enchiladas- like Ho7 they have a hex on me and they are calling me back for more.

HO7VoodooEnchiladas

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find the rest of the Ale to the ‘Burb articles here:

Brixie’s by Beerdogging

Warrens Ale House by Subburban Brew

Tuscan Market by Subberbia

Bigby’s by Pour Man

 

 


June 17, 2013

Crosstown Pub and Grill Presented by Ale to the ‘Burbs

by blahblahbeer
Categories: Ale to the 'Burbs
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Ale to the ‘Burbs is a monthly collaborative beer blog series. Five Chicagoland beer blogs- five communities- five suburban beer destinations- all on one day. From the hidden neighborhood gems to the well-known pillars of suburban craft beer, we’ve got the Chicago ‘burbs covered. Links to the other four articles are listed at the bottom of this post. Check back next month for another set of articles.

Xtownsign

 

Crosstown Pub and Grill- sounds like a place you would expect to find in Chicago full of Cubs and Sox fans. You might find Cubs and Sox fanatics having a great time at Crosstown, but it is not in Chicago. Crosstown can be found on the North side of Naperville along Ogden Avenue.

Most of us identify with either the North or South side of the city when it comes to baseball and the name Crosstown embodies the spirit of Chicago sports. Crosstown provides plenty of televisions to ensure each seat in the house has a great view of every sporting event.  The atmosphere is animated, colorful, sometimes loud, but never dull.

While the owner/chief Jim Nichols’ love of sports is evident, so is his quest to provide quality food. xtownburgerMention Crosstown Pub and Grill and the first response you get, “I love their wings.” The wings have been seen on multiple TV shows and are the feature in a food challenge-    Devil’s Sweat Challenge!

Crosstown doesn’t stop with killer wings. They have a great pub menu containing burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, Panini’s, and much more. What you find on the menu is made from scratch and will likely entertain your taste buds.

What goes well with great pub food?- BEER! Crosstown has an amazing line-up of great beer available to wash down their famous wings. On beermenus.com Crosstown currently lists 18 draughts, 48 bottles, and 30 cans. The numbers alone are enough to grab your attention. At Crosstown, they attempt to provide beers that you might not find at other locations. After a few minutes of looking at their drink menu, I would say they are making strides. xtownpatioIf you are the type of person that prefers to enjoy your beer outside, you are in luck. Crosstown’s patio is complete with TVs and a full bar with 24 beers on tap.

Crosstown Pub and Grill will be part of Naperville Ale Fest. They will be serving grilled wings and pulled pork sliders to go along with the over 180 festival beers.

In celebration of Naperville’s first Ale Fest, Crosstown would like to make two tickets to Naperville Ale Fest available. These tickets will be awarded to the first person to print this article and present it to the staff at Crosstown Pub and Grill.xtownbottles&cans

In further Ale Fest celebration, anyone that brings in a copy of this article will receive $5 off a purchase of $25 or more (This offer cannot be combined with other specials/offers and is for dine-in only). This offer expires the day of Naperville Ale Fest (July 20th, 2013).

 

xtownpatiotapsCraft beer, good food, and a lively atmosphere equal a superb location to enjoy the game or just hang with friends. Come grab a beer and join the good times happening at Crosstown Pub and Grill.

 

 

 

 

Additional Ale to the ‘Burbs Articles:

BeerDogging – Urban Legend Brewing 

SubBeerbia- Niche

PourMan- Church Street Brewing

 

 

 


 


May 30, 2013

Lake Bluff Brewing Company Doesn’t Like To Label

by blahblahbeer
Categories: Blog
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A fast-growing segment of craft beer brewing called “nanobrewing” is allowing lots of new, tiny breweries to sprout up almost overnight.  One such brewery is nestled in the quiet Chicago North Shore suburb of Lake Bluff, and is appropriately called “Lake Bluff Brewing Company” or LBBC.  Owners Rodd Specketer and Dave Burns don’t like to label themselves a “nanobrewery” or anything else, for that matter.

LBBCOpened in 2010, LBBC occupies a small storefront property in the heart of Lake Bluff’s downtown area.  The front door opens immediately into the taproom, which embodies a dark décor with built-in stained wood benches lining both outside walls, accompanied by matching tables and chairs.  The open center of the floor leads to the bar. Shelving behind the bar contains LBBC merchandise, glassware and dozens of vintage vinyl LP’s.  Exposed duct-work on the ceilings, small hanging lamps and framed prints of iconic theater signs complete the casual atmosphere.

I met Rodd and Dave on a busy Tuesday evening at LBBC and they immediately offered me a beer.  They suggested their Velvet Hammer Vanilla Porter, which I happily accepted – delicious!  We moved to the basement, which held their “office” desk area littered with papers, boxes of more LP’s, and their entire brewing operation consisting of a four-kettle system producing about 85 barrels a month. This production is enough for their taproom business and “about 8 account customers,” according to Rodd. All of this, plus their ingredient inventory, fits in a space roughly the size of a one car garage.

Dave, from Green Bay, WI, and Rodd, a Lake Bluff native, are friends that have homebrewed together for years. It was during these years of homebrewing that their passion for craft beer grew.  After starting the Lake Bluff Home Brewing Club and winning a few competitions (once with Velvet Hammer), news of their tasty beer grew and people kept asking them how they could get more.  The more Rodd and Dave talked about it, they realized it could be a business they could have fun doing. This business would fit a niche they perceived – a small bar in their community.

Neither Dave nor Rodd are formally educated in brewing, but knew enough to put much of their business together themselves.  They decided to keep their regular jobs on top of starting the brewery not realizing how big their business would be (Rodd is a Banker at J.P. Morgan and Dave is an IT Project Manager at Abbott Laboratories).  Business went so well, that less than two weeks after opening their doors, they nearly ran out of beer.  “It was packed in here every night,” says Rodd.

Since both Rodd and Dave still have their “day” jobs, they rely heavily on their employees to manage the day-to-day, including Bar Manager Lauren Davidson, and their knowledgeable bartenders, two of whom, Pato and Kristin, I was pleased to meet.  Soon after opening, Rodd and Dave decided to hire Brewmaster Mike Dornicker. After hiring Mike, Dave says, “The business really took off.”  Mike has brewing education and is working to be Cicerone certified.  Rodd credits Mike for providing the keen flavor knowledge required for maintaining quality in their beer.

The quality shines through in LBBC’s beer – from their popular Honey Badger Golden Ale, to the Black Squirrel Bourbon Stout (excellent!) and the Tis the Saison.  The tap handles pour eight regular brews plus a couple of rotators, one of which is on nitro every day – a great variety!  For the indecisive, flights of four samplers are available to help you make up your mind. Rodd and Dave also hold tours of their operation every other Sunday to a small number of customers who must reserve a spot in advance.  The $10 fee also includes a sampler flight.photo 2

Interestingly, a few of LBBC’s beers have come about by “accident”. Their favorite such story is of their Skull and Bones Double Pale Ale. They were attempting to brew a pale ale recipe using a new system and the beer came out with a higher alcohol content than they wanted.  Though it wasn’t what they planned, Rodd and Dave decided to offer the beer anyway as a limited release.  They were amazed at the response and their customers convinced them to bring it back.  Skull and Bones has since become a year-round release and remains one of its most popular beers.

Food is not a specialty of LBBC, but the modest number of menu items is anything but ordinary. Pre-made by local purveyors, the pizza and sandwiches will satisfy (I recommend the Grilled Turkey Panini!).  There’s even organic hot dogs and chocolate milk for the kids.  Several wines are also served.

LBBC customers have proved to be diverse. Many business people and middle-aged adults can be found after dinner and a younger crowd coming in later in the evening.  On the weekends, families make their way to the taproom along with customers from further outside of town. Many of those from out-of-town arrive via the nearby North Shore Bike Path.  Many customers are curious and some knowledgeable about craft beer.  The entire LBBC staff is well versed in their beer and happily answers any questions from customers.

Because they opened their brewery in their hometown, Rodd and Dave are making sure LBBC maintains a strong community presence.  The brewery sponsors over a dozen local organizations in appreciation for the support they’ve received from their neighbors.  Their “block parties”, are held outside the taproom on the blocked off street. These parties have proved to be extremely popular.  LBBC occasionally hosts performances of acoustic music groups and other events and specials.

Rodd and Dave say they have no immediate plans to expand, but they are keeping their options open.  They feel their small size gives them the opportunity to afford the best ingredients for brewing.  LBBC has done beer collaborations in the past (their first was Honey Badger with Marriott Lincolnshire) and they are pondering an “across the lake” effort with a Michigan brewery or a suburban venture with another nearby brewer. LBBC is in no rush to change anything. “We want to brew beers that are malty and complex, a little higher in alcohol, but drinkable,” says Dave, “We chart our own course.  That’s why we put a compass in our logo.”

 

Post by Dave Ahlman

Dave Ahlman is a mostly normal Notre Dame alum and lifelong Chicagoan. Several years ago Dave became a craft beer drinker, thinker and enthusiast after deciding he’d had enough of “beer commercial” beer. Besides drinking good beer, Dave likes following Chicago and Notre Dame sports, working on Mac computers, petting animals and watching TV.  He is a loving husband and hopes one day he and his wife will be living in a log home in the woods- perhaps brewing his own beer.


May 20, 2013

Chicago Brew Werks presented by Ale to the ‘Burbs

by blahblahbeer
Categories: Ale to the 'Burbs
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Welcome to the Chicago Craft Beer Week edition of Ale to the ‘Burbs, a monthly collaborative beer blog series. Five Chicagoland beer blogs…five communities…five suburban beer destinations…all on one day. From the hidden neighborhood gems to the well-known pillars of suburban craft beer, we’ve got the Chicago ‘burbs covered. Links to the other four articles are listed at the end of this article. Check back next month for our next set of articles.

 

CoverWebCBW

 

When the image of a homebrew shop comes to mind, most people think of a little space with a limited choice of equipment and ingredients. Chicago Brew Werks in Plainfield, Illinois, has just moved to a new place and they are painting a different picture!

Brandon&AmandaBrandon Wright and his wife Amanda own and operate Chicago Brew Werks (CBW). Before Brandon was 21, he found a liquor store at college that also sold homebrewing supplies.  He was able to buy brewing ingredients and thus began brewing his own beer. Using cases of returnable Old Style bottles purchased by friends, he would bottle his homebrew. Fast forward ten years and although Brandon is now legally able to purchase beer, he still has a passion for brewing. It was this passion that lead him to leave a job in the corporate world and go “all-in” with Chicago Brew Werks.  A few months into business, CBW ran into issues with Will County.  It had come to the County’s attention that his small storefront was not properly zoned in the unincorporated area to have customers walk-in and purchase brewing supplies. After meeting with Will County, it was determined that CBW customers would have to use a computer placed at the front of the store to access the CBW website. From the website customers would make an on-line purchase of the products they wanted. Once the on-line purchase was completed, CBW staff could pull the items from an “employee only” area and hand it to the customer so that it was a website based transaction versus a point-of-sale purchase.  Operating in this manner immediately began to hinder business since customers were no longer able to browse ingredients at the shop.

Faced with the edict that CBW must move to a new site, Brandon started planning for the future. Like others before him (Two Brothers, Bells etc.), Brandon has decided to take the next progression from homebrew shop and open a brewery. With this new direction in mind, Brandon and his wife began scouting for a new location for Chicago Brew Werks.  After looking at a number of properties, they met with the Village of Plainfield to discuss moving to a location within the village limits.  Plainfield welcomed them and their business and worked to create a new liquor license to allow Chicago Brew Werks to include not only a brewery with the brewing supply shop, but a tasting bar as well.  In my opinion, what happened to CBW at their old location was a blessing in disguise. shop

The new site was built to accommodate brewing operations and includes a temperature controlled fermentation room along with the tasting area. CBW has received their liquor license and is pouring craft beer, but federal licensing provides the last hurdle before brewing can begin. Brandon hopes brewing begins before the end of summer and being classified as a “nano” brewery will allow CBW to self-distribute. Brandon has a vision for tying the brewery in with the homebrew shop. There will be batches of beer using slightly different ingredients allowing homebrew enthusiasts to see how each ingredient affects the flavor of beer.

With brewing in the future for Chicago Brew Werks, homebrewing will not be an afterthought. CBW takes pride in being a supplier of hard to find ingredients and constantly works to bring even more options to their customers. Recently CBW met with a group of German hops farmers introduced by their friends at Hop Heads Farm. The German farmers have been working on new experimental aroma strains of hops cultivated after years of research. Later this year once they are harvested, CBW will be able to offer this line of hops to their customers and use them for brewing. On top of CBW openingoffering classes for all levels of homebrewing, Brandon takes calls from people in need of advice during all stages of brewing.

At Chicago Brew Werks the environment plays a role in decision-making. While building the interior of their new place, an attempt was made to use repurposed wood when possible. Look around and you will find wood stripped from their old site and from used shipping pallets. Do you throw away your plastic shopping bags? You can keep them out of landfills by bringing them to CBW and they will be given a second life. Once brewing begins at CBW, the spent grain from the brewing process will be given to farmers where it will provide nutrients for animals.

If you are curious about homebrewing, need help improving your homebrew, or are a homebrewing pro, Chicago Brew Werks is a must see! No matter where you are in Chicagoland, I recommend making the trip to CBW- stop in, grab a beer and get to know the Wrights. If you print this article and bring it to CBW you can receive 10% off the purchase of a starter brewing equipment kit (see CBW for more details). I will be sure to update everyone when the first batch begins to brew at Chicago Brew Werks!

CBWlogo

 

You can find the rest of this months Ale to the ‘Burbs series at the following links:

Tribes Alehouse by Pourman
Standard Market by Beerdogging
Chalk by Suburban Brew
EvenFlow Music & Spirits by SubBeerBia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


May 5, 2013

The day that was- Beer 1UP

Beer 1UP

 

About a month before Dark Lord Day, I was meeting with Jeremy Teel from Subbeerbia.net to discuss the creation of a monthly collaboration about craft beer in the Chicago suburbs. During this meeting I mentioned that I thought an alternative for people who didn’t have tickets to Dark Lord Day would be a good idea. BAM! – The seed was planted. I didn’t realize at the time that it would grow so quickly. Soon Natasha Godard from MetaCookbook.com joined the event collaboration & the three of us set off on a race to create a meaningful Chicagoland craft beer event in less than a month.

In the beginning I think we all would have been happy if we could get one participating brewery and twenty to thirty guests in attendance. After all, only crazy people would try to put on something more than that with so little time to prepare. Well, the view from this padded cell isn’t so bad!

In the course of three weeks, we had a partner venue (Emporium Arcade Bar), four breweries that could make themselves available on tap & to meet attendees, five breweries that would be special guests and available to discuss their brand, & a homebrew demonstration by the guys from Brew Camp. As the event date approached, “Beer 1UP” started showing up in different media outlets & we received 96 RSVP’s by the morning of the event. So much for 20-30 people as we had originally thought. IMG_0208

Before the doors opened for “Beer 1UP” it looked as if Emporium was holding a speed dating event.

Chris Tourre from Arcade Brewery & Will O'Brien from Flesk Brewing
Chris Tourre from Arcade Brewery & Will O’Brien from Flesk Brewing

Everyone involved was racing around getting to know one another as quickly as possible. The friendly nature of the craft beer community was clear as I watched the brewers mingle and exchange information. As soon as the Emporium crew was ready, everyone quickly ordered their first round & with beer in hand we went about placing swag from the participants in various locations. Once complete, the door was unlocked and it was “game on”.

swag
Photo by Serge Lubomudrov

 

 

At first, people trickled in like a leaky faucet. I must have been busy mingling because I have no idea when the mass of people made their way into the event. At one point I attempted to count the number of people in attendance, but gave up at 68 with several people left uncounted. The majority of people could be found at the back of Emporium where the bulk of their video games are located. It was in this area you could hear games of “Guess that Hops” being played by the brewers.  In this game, brewers were enjoying a beer from a participating brewery and trying to guess the hops that were used in the brewing process.

An hour or so into the event Brew Camp put on a homebrew demonstration. This demonstration drew some attention & created an opportunity for people to ask questions about homebrewing.

Brew Camp demo
Brew Camp demo

I am constantly asked questions about homebrewing & I was ecstatic to have Brew Camp take part in “Beer 1UP”. I heard more than one person comment about how they thought homebrewing would stink and they were surprised at how good it smelled (Score one for the homebrew movement!).

One of the activities during Beer 1UP was a brewers -vs- bloggers pinball tournament. There was a lot of “smack talk” leading up to this event that helped build anticipation. Each brewer and blogger was to play rounds of pinball and post their top score on twitter with the hashtag #pinbrawl. The top scores would then represent their group in the final round. Will O’Brien from Flesk Brewing was the representative for the brewers and I represented the bloggers. With all the crap that Will and I had talked throughout the day, this couldn’t have been set up any better! pre-match

To add to the drama, I made sure to give Will the token to play his final round. This would give either one of us bragging rights. He could brag that I gave him the token that lead to my demise or I could say that I provided the token that lead to his doom. As Will played his round of pinball, I was wishing I hadn’t given him the token. His score was quickly climbing and after the first ball, I was feeling a little over matched. Once his game was complete, calmness came over me. I was just glad that it was going to be Will that had been the one to beat me. As I fed my token into the pinball machine, people in the crowd started to say inspirational things to me and I felt as if I had to do my best.  Now I am sure everyone is thinking, “This is riveting! They should make this into a movie!” I know, RIGHT! When my first ball was over, I heard someone whisper to Will, “His first ball was better than yours”. I had no clue, because I was refusing to look at the score. I was locked into those damn flippers and nothing else! By the end of my second ball I had already surpassed Will’s score- BLOGGERS TAKE PINBRAWL!

Beer shirt & grand prize winner
Beer shirt & grand prize winner

We also held contest for best game & beer t-shirts. The winners were given bottles of Dayman courtesy of the guys from Aleman.  Each of these winners went head to head in a people’s choice competition for the grand prize of a brew day with Flesk Brewing & two tickets to the Naperville Ale Fest. The voting was open for one week and the grand prize went to the beer t-shirt.

Game shirt winner
Game shirt winner

 

People have asked if I think Beer 1UP was a success. I’m not sure how to answer that question. We were successful in putting together an event. It was a huge success for what we were able to do in about three weeks. As an advocate for Chicagoland craft beer, I don’t know if the event was a success. I think that would best be answered by Emporium Arcade Bar, and the breweries that participated. They could best answer if this event helped their brands. When I think about Beer 1UP, I think about beer makers & beer drinkers getting to know one another in a really cool venue. If Beer 1UP was a success, the people who attended know more about their craft beer options than they did beforehand.

Beer1upcrowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to thank the following:

Subbeerbia.net

MetaCookbook.com

Emporium Arcade Bar

Ale Syndicate

Flesk Brewing

Begyle Brewing

Lake Effect Brewing

Arcade Brewing

Atlas Brewing Company

4 Paws Brewing

Aleman

Urban Legend Brewing Company

6th Floor Brewing

Brew Camp

Naperville Ale Fest

 

Oh, Will- let me know if you get around to naming that beer after me!

 

 

 

 



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Today is Friday
April 18, 2014