Chicago Beer Travelers

10 Beers For When You're Snowed In 2011

Well, here we are again, almost a year after the most successful post in Beer Travelers history, once more discussing the best beers to drink in the wake of a baleful storm.  This years Snowpocalypse/Snowgasm/Blizzmageddon beats last years surprise early February storm in both advance hype and eventual delivery.  Anyway, this is a list of beers to fortify and stimulate you during the doldrums of your winter internment.  Like last year, I had the foresight to already have many of the beers, but once more I assure that these are worth venturing out past the wreckage of Wrigley field for.

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Historical Perspectives on the Barley Wine/Old Ale Question

How often have you found yourself wondering what the difference between a barley wine and an old ale is? To my mind, I haven't been able to find a distinction between the two styles, so it irritates me when people correct my description of a certain beer as a barley wine by saying "oh no, it's actually an old ale", or vice versa.

As a matter of fact, if one accepts that both designations date back to some traditional English styles, then calling either style "ales" seems incorrect. In a post that I linked to earlier, Martyn Cornell details how the term "ale" was originally used to describe less hoppy beers while the designation "beer" was given to their hoppier cousins. Given the hopped-up nature of most American barley wines, calling them an ale of any sort would seem historically inaccurate. However, I am not wholly averse to linguistic drift: while I can respect the etymology of the word ale, I am more than happy to call warm-fermenting beers ales today.

All that having been said, let's return to the original question: what is the difference between a barley wine and an old ale? In a more recent post, Martyn Cornell confirms my suspicions by informing us that barley wines aren't strictly speaking a distinct style! Traditionally, one had the beers and the ales in Britain (as detailed above, beers being the hoppier of the two). "Mild" designated an ale that was fresh, while "old" was used to describe an ale that had been stored for a while, and thus wasn't fresh. As a result, one could have had a mild ale that eventually became an old ale; whoda think it?! Here's Cornell:
If ale was young, freshly brewed, then regardless of its strength it was sold as "mild". Once it had matured, and gained the characteristics of an aged beer, it was sold as "old". Generally only the stronger ale survived to be sold and drunk as "old ale", as because the weaker ale would go too sour before it had aged properly. This is why today we think of "old ale" as a strong drink. So if the same cask of beer can be "mild ale" when it's young and "old ale" when it's aged a bit, we're twisting the meaning of the word "style" if we try to assert that at some point in its life, the contents of that cask changed from one style to another, I suggest.
As far as barley wines go, Cornell presents a wealth of evidence to suggest that "barley wine" may have simply been a designation adopted by the Burton brewers for their stronger ales. Logically then, these barley wines would have been sold as "mild ale" when they were young/fresh and sold as "old ale" when they were older. Indeed, there is no real category "barley wine"; if Cornell is right (and he makes a pretty compelling argument), then even the old ale classification is misused today, as is the mild ale one.

The original post is a little long, but well worth your time. In particular, Cornell brings a ton of evidence to bear on his argument, including some great beer adverts from the 19th century. I would suggest cracking open your old ale/barley wine of choice and reading it at a leisurely pace. Although I am not big on the style (by which I mean beers classified under these categories today), my recommendation would be either the North Coast Old Stock Ale, or Bells' Third Coast Old Ale

What's A Beer Rating Worth Anyway?

I often get questions on beer rating websites: are they good sources of information, do the ratings mean anything, how much do I use them, etc. The two most popular websites seem to be Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, but I expect there are a few others as well. While I myself use these websites on numerous occasions, I rarely rate beers and find myself largely ambivalent on the entire culture engendered by beer ratings.

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Rauchbier: Realest of Autumn Seasonals

For my first post I wanted to cover autumn seasonal ales. In my hunt for beers to review, I realized that most breweries' autumn seasonals have so little in common that they're impossible to compare. Anything goes this time of  year. Some brew doppelbocks like Capital Brewery's Autumnal Fire, maybe because they're a good middle ground between the Oktoberfest style and heavier winter warmers. Others brew brown ales, maybe because fall leaves turn brown. And there are tens of pumpkin ales, some like pumpkin pie (Southern Tier's Pumking) and others like the spices people put in pumpkin pie (Dogfish Head Punkin Ale). Both approaches can turn out tasty beers, but I've never found pumpkin ales consistent enough to be a true style worthy of seasonal status (more after the jump...)

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Mikkeller and More at Local Option

  It's not as if you need an excuse to visit Local Option but they're pulling out some big guns for a true "Royal Flush of Tap Line-ups" starting at 5 PM this Thursday. 
  Among the offerings are a scant handful of beers that we've discussed before, including Struise's excellent Black Albert, Three Floyd's fresh-hopped Broo Doo, and Ska's Euphoria Pale Ale.  In addition to those beers which might be familiar to our readers, some of the taps will be making their first appearance in Chicago.  Bluegrass Brewing Company/Brewpub will be serving up a slew of interesting beers, including a bourbon barrel helles and Kentucky's answer to Russian River.  Last time I stopped in Local Option I had the privilege of sampling BBC's delicious Bourbon Barrel Coffee Stout from a secret sample bottle and I was impressed by their ability to balance the bourbon barrel flavor with an 8% stout, so I'm very curious to see what they've done with the Helles.  Click through the slideshow for a few more highlights and be sure to check out the full tap list after the jump.

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Smuttynose Comes To Chicago

Smuttynose, another well-regarded brewery has finally made its way into Chicago, though this one arrived with far less fanfare than Stone did in April.  The beer made its way onto Binny's shelves with a nary an announcement and it will see no release party until November 3rd.  Smuttynose may not have the same flashy branding as Stone, but it certainly deserves its share of the spotlight.  For the time being, Chicago will only be seeing the regular offerings from this Portsmouth, New Hampshire brewery, but one would imagine that good sales would attract their other offerings, especially the excellent Big Beers series.
Anyway, I've been lucky enough to encounter a number of the Smuttynose offerings that will be available here in Chicago, so here's a quick rundown.

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A Weekend of Wild Wet Hops

Or maybe a wet wild weekend of hops!  I guess it doesn't matter because I'll be in Minneapolis.  Apropos of last week's post on wet hopped ales, some Chicago beer bars will be hosting Wet hopped ale events where you can sample some of the beers I describe without shelling out for the packaged products.
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Tap List (10/18/2010)

As part of Chicago Beer Travelers 2.0, I'm going to regularly post a set of links that I found interesting and that other beer aficionados might consider checking out. While the idea is used by many bloggers, the short summary format is something that I am shamelessly plagiarizing from Ezra Klein's Wonkbook. This week we have:

1. The Mad Fermentationist does a Leipziger Gose.

"Gose is another example of a beer style that is largely ignored brewers.  It is one of those grand historic beers that was popular in its day (~1900), but these days doesn't receive as much attention as its close cousins.  A tart, salt and coriander laced wheat beer is something you'd expect to taste from Belgium, not Germany (which I suspect is part of the reason it hasn't benefited from the same boost other sour beers have gotten).  As the Gose style stands today it falls roughly between Berliner Weisse and Belgian Wit, but with a salinity that adds to its unique character and quaffability on a warm day.
Gose production ceased for a couple decades after the end of WWII, but has since been revived in its adopted hometown of Leipzig, as well as more recently in the USA..."

Incidentally, that blog should be required reading for all aspiring homebrewers. He tries anything and everything, from sorgum beer to a Veritas clone.

2. Martyn Cornell on the evolving usage of the term "ale".

"So with "ale", a word derived from the Old English alu, which once meant "unhopped malt liquor", in contrast to the continental hopped bere that arrived in Britain in the 15th century. By the 18th century, brewers were adding at least some hops to everything, so that "ale" now meant "malt liquor that is hopped, but not as much as beer is". Thus the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1773 defined the word "ale" as "a fermented liquor obtained from an infusion of malt and differing only from beer in having a less proportion of hops.""

While I don't agree with Cornell's linguistic absolutism (after all, semantic drift gets accepted for a reason), the history is pretty fascinating.

3. Since none of us could make it to the Great American Beer Festival, we didn't cover it. Probably an oversight on our part. Anyway, here's Andy Crouch with a quick summary from the perspective of an attendee.

"Beer education at the Great American Beer Festival needs to be about more than just token displays of beer education. And I certainly understand that there may be some reluctance to require brewers to attend all four sessions. And I also appreciate that hard-working brewers view the festival as a camaraderic opportunity to relax and enjoy beers with their brewer friends from around the country. Despite these concerns, the Brewers Association can still encourage brewers to spend more time during the sessions at their booths interacting with the attendees. The association can also ask the attending brewers to educate the volunteers working their booths or at least provide them with some information and promotional literature about the beers. Each brewer (or the association itself) should also be required to provide a laminated sheet identifying and describing the beers on offer for attendees. The brewers who presently provide these services are rewarded by more engaged volunteers and better informed attendees, many of whom tend to linger a little longer at the booth and thus develop some connection to the brewery and its beers."

4. Apropos of Matt T's post on harvest ales last week, here's Draft Magazine's list of the top 10 Harvest Beers (note, these aren't harvest ales, but beers for the harvest season). Some interesting picks there.

5. While we're on the subject of Draft Magazine, how about this lip-smacking recipe for "Beery, Oregon-style braised ribs"? Hair of the Dog's Adam is available just across the border in Indiana (why not club it with a visit to Three Floyds' brewpub?) but one could substitute in other tasty alternatives as well. I imagine Great Divide's Hibernation Ale would slot in rather nicely for this recipe, and it's available at most Binny's outlets in the city.

I'm off to a Founders Brewing event in New York on Wednesday, a little reminder of how much I miss one of my favorite breweries.   

Wet Hopped Ales

   Fall is my favorite season and fall beers play a large part of that.  Fall usually brings a slew of warm, malty flavors in the form of nutty brown ales or spiced pumpkin beers.  However, one variety of fall beer really stands out from this trend, looking back to spring and capturing bright, intense, and even green flavors.  This fresh-hopped, wet-hopped or, occasionally, harvest ale is brewed with hops within days of their harvest.
    These freshly picked hops are at the height of their aroma, which is infused into the beer at the end of the boil when the warm wort is run through a chamber known as a hopback on its way to the fermenter.  The flavors of a fresh-hopped ale are familiar, like an IPA or pale ale, but the fresh hops add a new dimension.  Citrus  and tropical fruit flavors will come across as juice-like while grassy and piney flavors will be downright resinous.
    Like the hops themselves, fresh-hopped ales fade quickly, so I'd recommend acting quickly to seek out some of the gems listed below.

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Stone Brewing Total Tap Takeover

This is a quick announcement concerning an exciting beer event TONIGHT in Chicago. Tonight only, Stone Brewing Company is taking over all three Small Bar locations with a total of 40 Stone brews on draft.  There are lots of choices, and the list is very impressive. Expect vintages, barrel-aged rarities, and additional special treatments of the normal Stone portfolio; Event begins at 7:00, and, as an added bonus, features complimentary trolley service between the three locations! Oh yeah, beer list!

Welcome New Bloggers: Matt Horn and Matt Young

As some of you may know, the original three Chicago Beer Travelers (Jeff, Matt Tunnell and myself) no longer live in Chicago, although we maintain close ties to the city. While we have continued with the Chicago Beer Travelers blog, we obviously realize the need for a more local presence to keep abreast of beer news in the city.

In fulfilling that need, we are proud to introduce the two newest members of our blogging team: Matthew Horn and Matthew Young (making it three "Matts" on the Beer Travelers). Horn is a friend of ours from college and also a fellow beer lover. I came to know Matt Y a couple of years back and since then, we have explored beer together on a number of occasions. Fine gents, them. They are both based in Chicago and will begin posting on the blog starting this week.

As always, keep checking in and send us feedback on what you like, what you don't and how we can keep improving the blog for our readers.

6 Solid, Widely-Available Beers

"Best Beer" lists invariably contain a few beers that are only available at specialty liquor stores and/or very good beer bars. Quite often, beers on such lists may be seasonal, or limited to specific geographic areas.

So what does one do when in a generic liquor store, faced with the choice of one mass-market brew over another? Something without the suffix "Lite/Light" would be nice. Well, here's a list of 6 widely available beers (in no particular order) that will satisfy most beer drinkers. This is a mix of mass-market products from some of the larger producers and flagship brews from the larger craft brewers. Fine beers all, so onwards to the slideshow...

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Interview with Charles Bamforth (Part III): Beer Cultures, Globalization and "Real Guys"


Photo Credit: UC Davis

In this, the third and final installment of my interview with Professor Charles Bamforth, we discuss "beer cultures" and the globalization of beer. The interview was conducted as part of my review of the Professor's latest book, "Beer is Proof God Loves Us". Part I, on the relationship between big brewers and small brewers, and the role played by the "big guys" in developing beer, was posted on Tuesday. Part II, covering responsible drinking, as well as Maggie Thatcher's infamous anti-monopoly beer laws, was posted on Wednesday.

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Interview with Charles Bamforth (Part II): The Iron Lady (and separately) Responsible Drinking


Photo Credit: UC Davis

In this, the second part of my interview with Professor Charles Bamforth, we discuss responsible drinking, as well as Maggie Thatcher's infamous anti-monopoly beer laws. The interview was conducted as part of my review of the Professor's latest book, "Beer is Proof God Loves Us". Part I, covering the relationship between big brewers and small brewers, and the role played by the "big guys" in developing beer, was posted on Tuesday. The third and final part, discussing "beer cultures" and the globalization of beer, will be posted on Thursday.
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Interview with Charles Bamforth (Part I): The "Big Guys"


Photo credit: UC Davis

In this, the first part of my interview with Professor Charles Bamforth, we cover the Professor's views on the relationship between big brewers and small brewers, and the role played by the "big guys" in developing beer. The interview was conducted as part of my review of the Professor's latest book, "Beer is Proof God Loves Us". Part II, covering Margaret Thatcher's infamous anti-monopoly beer laws, and responsible drinking, will be posted on Wednesday. The third and final installment, discussing "beer cultures" and the globalization of beer, will be posted on Thursday.
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A Book With Heart and "Spirit(s)": Beer is Proof God Loves Us

In the next few days, you will be getting plenty of thoughts from Charles Bamforth, author of Beer is Proof God Loves Us. The book comes out on the 10th of October and is equal parts autobiography and ruminations on the beer industry. I had a very informative interview with Professor Bamforth this past Thursday: the transcript will be put up in two or three parts this week.

Professor Bamforth begins the book by noting that it was born out of a manuscript that was fundamentally autobiographical; part beer, part spirituality. He says "it is indeed a book about beer, albeit perhaps one that comes to the subject from a somewhat unusual, even obtuse angle. And yet, egotistically perhaps, it is also a somewhat personal perspective." (more after the fold)

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Reviewing The Summit Unchained 04 Belgian-Style Golden Ale

One of my best friends from college is huge fan of Duvel. He has often asked me for beer recommendations based on this preference; Summit Brewing Company out of St. Paul, MN may have made my task a little easier.

Summit recently sent me some samplers of their Unchained 04 Belgian-Style Golden Ale, a strong Belgian Blonde Ale that is very much in the brewing tradition of beers like Duvel. From the brewery's official description:
Light golden in color, pours effervescent with a thick, rocky head.  The aromas of fruity esters produced by our Belgian yeast strain dominate, while a subtle spiciness from the Czech Saaz and Styrian Golding hops linger in the background.  Brewed with 100% Belgian Malt and tons (literally) of Belgian Candi Sugar, the body was lightened, and the alcohol increased.  The end result is a sublime drinking experience!
I think that sums the beer up rather nicely, without too much embellishment while highlighting the brew's strong points. It is perhaps a little less effervescent than Duvel, but one would be well advised to pour it into a Duvel glass, or any other tulip with embossed writing on the inside that would amplify the effervescence of the beer. The esters hit you right up front and dominate the aroma (pears seem to be the dominant fruit), along with a heavy yeastiness. The alcohol is definitely there as well- as with Duvel ("Devil"), the devil is in the drink and designated drivers would be advised to take this one slowly. The flavor holds an almost sour yeastiness; bready and heady. The use of Candi Sugar complements the grainy malt-character rather well, lending the beer a decided "chewiness" in the mouth.

All-in-all, a beer that hits all the notes the brewer's were aiming for and can hold it's head up high in any conversation about the style. Duvel lovers can rejoice at a local option that affords them many of the same delights.

I'll be posting my review of Charles Bamforth's book next week, as well as a two or three-part interview with him. He had plenty of interesting stuff to say, so you'll want to check that out. The newest addition to our blog, Matthew Horn, will also be putting up his first post at some point next week. But more on that then. For now, see if you can have someone from Minnesota get you a six-pack of the Summit Golden Ale to toast the last few days of summer (I refuse to accept that summer is over). Have a good weekend; prost! 

Professor Charles Bamforth at Google

As mentioned earlier, I will be interviewing Professor Charles Bamforth today: I will be posting a review of his book Beer is Proof God Loves Us. In the process of doing a little research on Professor Bamforth, I discovered the delightful talk (posted below) that he delivered at Google last year. As it turns out, the Professor is a wonderful speaker and he does a pretty good job of conveying the central themes contained in his earlier book Grape vs. Grain: A Historical, Technological and Social Comparison of Wine and Beer. Now, I think it should be clear as to where my allegiances lie w.r.t. the beer vs. wine debate. However, rather than stake out a position, I think it is worth pointing out that the video underlines a couple of important points that often go missing in these debates. To wit:

1. Beer is a great beverage to pair with food; in fact, like Professor Bamforth, I would argue that it is one of the most versatile things that one could pair food with.
2. Beer is an incredibly complex beverage, with various aromas, flavors, colors, mouthfeels, serving temperatures, etc. It truly boggles the mind that such a diverse beverage can be clumped under a single category.
3. What this complexity means is that there is truly a beer for everyone. More importantly, to say that one doesn't like beer, or the taste of beer, is really a pretty facetious statement. There is a great line in Beer is Proof where Professor Bamforth muses:
I am always baffled when people say to me, "I don't like beer," for they might just as easily say "I don't like food." For the reality is that there is a seemingly endless range of beer flavors and styles.
There are a number of other points that could be discussed here- the lack of excuses that brewers are allowed, the idea that beer should not be drunk from a bottle, et al.- but I plan on doing a series of posts on that. In the meantime, do enjoy the video below; it's a little on the long side, but well worth your time and the engaging style of the speaker ensures that it never gets dull! Expect my own interview to go up early next week.

Capital Supper Club Lager: "Not Bad" Indeed

"But I don't like the taste of beer." It's a phrase that one often hears; in the course of my proselytizing mission to convince one and all of the divine qualities of beer, I hear it more often than most. Said offensive phrase ranks right up there with "But I don't like the taste of curry" as a sentiment that is, at the simplest level, faulty on a logical basis. Much as curry is the broad cateogry encapsulating most gravy-based dishes from the Indian subcontinent ("curry" refers to the gravy or sauce), beer is more a crude categorization of a diverse range of beverages that are produced through the fermentation of malted grains, hops, yeast, water and more often than not, a wide range of interesting additive ingredients. It is very difficult to pin down a single flavor that can be classified as "beer" (more after the fold).
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And We're Back!

If you're reading this and thinking, "Back from what? I never knew they had been away" it either means that you never read the blog in the first place, or are being exceedingly nice. Yes, the Chicago Beer Travelers have been AWOL for an extended period and there really isn't much of an excuse.

Well, there sort of is. Maybe. Not really. As things turned out, we took the "travelers" element of our name a little too seriously and with one thing having led to another, none of us live in Chicago anymore. I fared the worst, beer-wise, ending up in Connecticut. Yes, all the horror stories are true: the beer scene in North-East is not a patch on the glorious city of Chicago. Jeff has moved on to the fair state of Oregon while Matt, perhaps the most fortunate of us all in terms of beer, has made the short move up to Milwaukee. We still are, however, the Chicago Beer Travelers. In order to lend that title a little more legitimacy now, there are plans in the works to bring in a couple of Chicago-based people to keep the local flavor of the blog going. And simply because the great city of Chicago needs a local presence on the blog. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that one of the folks that we're bringing on actually works at a Chicagoland brewery. One of our favorites as a matter of fact, so trust me, you're going to want to hear what he has to say.

Having been away this long, we're going to be getting right back into blogging with a vengeance. I'm going to start us off easy this coming week with a couple of beer reviews that I've been planning to put up. We might also try to supplement our Beer Glossary and Appreciating Beer series'. However, the big thing is coming up at the end of the week: an interview with Charles Bamforth, the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at UC-Davis and author of Beer is Proof God Loves Us: Reaching for the Soul of Beer and Brewing. I had the great pleasure of reading an advance copy of this book, which is equal parts autobiography and ruminations on the beer industry. Prof. Bamforth is a real expert in the field and the book is immensely readable as well. I will be posting a two or three part series of posts, reviewing the book and detailing my interview with Prof. Bamforth.

So if all that sounds good, please keep checking in. We're back and we're not going anywhere for a while. There will be plenty more posts, some stuff from our travels in our new homes and plenty more talk on our favorite subject: beer. Salut! 

3 Great Beers To Beat The Heat

We've been experiencing a prolonged heat wave out here on the east coast. Which makes the Senate's inability to come up with even an energy bill, much less a climate bill, especially perplexing (insert stronger, cruder and more (in)appropriate word in there). Of course, one would expect our elected representatives to work through the August recess to come up with a vital piece of legislation...but that would be expecting too much, so I won't.

Anyway, this is not a political blog, so I will move on from the rant to more beer-related stuff. Specifically: five great beers to beat the heat! As always, these beers are available in the Chicagoland area, or very close by. Just compiling this list makes me miss Chicago even more. Onwards to the list (in no particular order- these are fine beers all)...

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Ray Daniels in the Tribune


Photo credit: Draft Magazine

Out here in New Haven, I am constantly reminded of things I miss about Chicago and its beer scene. In many ways, we take it for granted that Chicago is a beer nexus of sorts, from the well-respected Chicago Beer Society to the many, many fine brewing establishments.

If you are into craft beer and the beer scene in Chicago, you have no doubt heard of Ray Daniels. A beer veteran and author of the fantastic Designing Great Beers, Ray Daniels is a beer institution in and of himself. My own interaction with him has consisted of two very hurried conversations during CBC week, but her was extremely courteous on both occasions and very unassuming for a man of his fame. Over the past three years, Mr. Daniels has been administering the Cicerone exams, a heirarchy of certifications for serious beer folk. Patrons of the Map Room will remember seeing that Jay Jankowski is a Certified Cicerone. Check out the website for more details.

Tomorrow's edition of the Chicago Tribune carries a great interview with Ray Daniels and his story (online version here): how he got into the beer industry (by way of biochemistry at Texas A&M and Harvard Business School), what motivated the Cicerone program and how beer should be served. Give it a dekko this weekend. If you are interested in knowing more, here is an older article from Draft Magazine that details the Cicerone program in a little more detail as well. We are all lucky to have folks like Ray Daniels on the beer scene 

Prohibition and Women's Suffrage

Apologies for the inexcusably long gap in posting everyone- I was in the process of moving and things have been in a state of limbo recently.

I just wanted to post a quick link to a fascinating podcast that Russ Roberts (host of EconTalk) did with Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Okrent's book makes for a great read and the podcast is fascinating as well, summarizing much of what is in the book. I expect that we will be posting a more in-depth review of the book at some point, but its worth highlighting one aspect of Okrent's story: the relationship between the pro and anti-prohibition camps to the women's suffrage movement.

It isn't too hard to see why women would have been mildly pro-prohibition in the late-19th, early-20th century. Most drinking was conducted in predominantly-male saloons back then, with the working man choosing to end a hard day's labor with a few pints. As Okrent documents, the saloon would thus become a fecund place for the spread of political ideas, adding electoral incentives aplenty to the debate over Prohibition. But that is a story for another post: in addition to being watering holes, saloons also maintained a few beds for men to cavort with prostitutes. As if the infidelity was not bad enough, the men would then bring STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases, not subscriber trunk dialing, to the Indians amongst you) back home to their wives...all this at a time when women had very few legal rights to speak of.

With women increasingly becoming opposed to the drinking ways of men (and the men that drank, drank plenty- 90 fifths of 80 proof liquor every year per capita...and thats before we account for all the people that did not drink), the big brewers realized that women's suffrage could pose a serious threat to them: having been granted the power to vote, women would significantly buttress the ranks of the anti-prohibition movement. From the link above:
As a result, the brewers, the most powerful forces on the anti-Prohibition side, vowed in the resolution passed in 1871 by the U.S. Brewers' Association, to opposed women's suffrage anywhere and everywhere because they saw the vote for women would be their downfall. The more they opposed women's suffrage, the more it did turn women against them.
The brewers would resort to dirty tactics, fabricating stories and paying off editors; all that was missing in the slew of false journalism was a blackboard and crocodile tears really. With the brewers resorting to every means of manipulation possible, and their opposition to extending the right to vote to women, prohibition became an even more popular idea, particularly amongst women. It is no coincidence that Prohibition and universal suffrage were both enacted in 1920 (the latter being formally ratified).

I recommend listening to the podcast, or reading the rough transcript, even if you don't have the time to go through Okrent's book- it chronicles a fascinating period in the history of beer. We'll have more on Prohibition in the near future, so watch this space.

Chicago Beer Bars Map


While I continue to delay my series of beer maps, I wanted to give some attention to another cartographic offering.  The illustrated map of "Chicago Beer Bars" was revealed at last month's beer Hoptacular.  The map's author, Phil Thompson, is a Chicago beer enthusiast with an interest in antique maps and illustration.

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Stone Brewing Menu at C-House

      Rohit and I recently had the good fortune to meet Executive Chef Nicole Pederson of C-house and to taste her June beer menu, which featured pairings from Stone brewing.  By talking to her during the meal I was impressed by both her knowledge of beer and her efforts to incorporate it into the C-House menu.  These beer menus have gone up every month since November, featuring a different brewery each month including, in the past, Three Floyds and Founders which is impressive given the lack of an available draft system for the pairing beers (everything has to be available in bottles).  The move to a brewery farther afield for June was prompted by the restaurants new wine manager who used to work for Stone.  As for the future, she teased us with the possibility of a Michigan beer menu showcasing three different Michigan breweries, which would allow her to feature one of her (and our!) favorite breweries, Jolly Pumpkin.

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Another Beer Event

And this one is free!  The West Town branch of Lush Wine and Spirits will be unveiling Ineeka's Organic Green Tea Bier and they'll be celebrating in style.  In addition to samples of the beer there will also be Ineeka infused cocktails made with spirits form Chicago's own Koval Distillery and tasty treats from Swim Cafe and Nice Cream.
Read about the Beer after the jump.
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Awesome Beer Event Heads Up

   Goose Island will be "invading" the Hopleaf tonight and they're bringing an awesome selection of taps, including a lot of limited and rare beers. I'll be there, so swing by and say hello.  Check out the list here: /event.php?eid=128822937134830&index=1
The Hopleaf opens at 3 PM.

Book Review: The Beer Trials

   We recently received an email from Fearless Critic offering to send us review copies of their new book "The Beer Trials."  Since fame hasn't yet gotten to my head, I decided to go ahead and review it.  The Beer Trials and its companion book, The Wine Trials, are based on the premise of blind tasting, which is what really sets them apart from other rating systems.  
   The editors selected 250 beers for evaluation based on availability (they tried to find beers distributed in at least 12 states) and on their origin with half from microbreweries and half from macrobreweries and of those one third are imports.  These 250 beers are broken up by some artifice into so-called families of styles in order to facilitate the blind tasting process. An index of the beers and their ratings, organized by style, is available at the beginning of the rating section of the book for quick comparisons.  I have some qualms with the selections that this resulted in.  Do we really need ratings for 5 different versions of Budweiser?  Moreover, many of the craft beers in The Beer Trials, including Deschutes, Kona, and Oscar Blues are unavailable here in Chicago and it seems like Midwestern craft brew gets underrepresented here.  I don't know if Bell's and Great Lakes meet the distribution requirements, but, in my mind they're likely choices for inclusion.
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25 Must-try Chicago Beers

Chicago has some of the most celebrated breweries and brewpubs anywhere in the nation, and with several more on the way, I thought now would be a good time to take an inventory of the best beers currently out there.  Limiting ourselves to beers that are widely, or at least regularly, available in the city, here is our list of the Chicago area's 25 must-try beers.

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Why I Love New Glarus Brewing Company

New Glarus Brewing Co. might just be one of my favorite breweries. They make a number of excellent beers including, but not limited to, the Raspberry Tart, Belgian Red, Dancing Man Wheat, Yokel and pretty much every beer in the Unplugged series. Although their beers aren't available in Chicago, it is but a short drive up to New Glarus-rich Wisconsin. Indeed, the town of New Glarus is a mere three hours' drive from Chicago, so the lady friend and I decided to make a long overdue trip up there this past Saturday (more after the slideshow).

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