The late winter period, from Valentine's Day to Easter, is dominated by chocolate candy treats It’s also a time of transition in the beer world, from heavy stouts to more spring-like beers. Around the Bend Beer Company's Puffing Billy intertwines those two themes into one beer, an American Brown Ale with Cacao Nibs.
Chicago’s very own award winning beer distributor, Louis Glunz Beer (Founded in 1888), who handle many of Chicago’s craft breweries, announced, “Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. begins distribution of the brand-new six-packs this month across Chicagoland retailers. Puffing Billy debuted in October 2015 on draft only, and plans for bottling the beer soon followed as a result of the beer’s overall response in the marketplace.” In other words, it’s a splendid beer and people want to have it in their fridge.
It’s appropriate that the 127-year-old Chicago-based Louis Glunz is handling this beer, because Puffing Billy is named after the legendary steam locomotive, and nothing speaks to Chicago’s history quite like an homage to the nineteenth-century railway. Glunz noted, “Puffing Billy presents a label that fits into the Chicago-based startup brewery’s existing profile with an imaginative steampunk-inspired design.”
Glunz added, “At 6.9% ABV and 35 IBUs, Puffing Billy pours black with a chocolaty aroma. Brewed using 100% Northdown hops and a mix of caramel, chocolate, Munich, oat, and pale malts, Puffing Billy showcases a distinct malt character and balanced, spicy hop bitterness. This robust beer is finished with cacao nibs, the key ingredient, which adds layers of nuanced flavors and a natural subtle sweetness for a complex, sessionable ale.”
“Cacao nibs were always in the plan from the beginning. Northdown hops naturally tend to bring out the subtle chocolaty notes of a beer, which is what we were going for,” explains Dan Schedler, founder at Around the Bend Beer Co. “It took us about a year to get Puffing Billy to where it is today, and what makes us most excited about bottling the beer in six-packs is having the chance to share it. It’s really different than what’s already out there—it’s very approachable for a dark beer and is smooth-drinking.”
Currently, Chicago’s Ale Syndicate has offered their space to Around the Bend -- just as they have for Arcade Brewery for many years. If you follow my writing, you know what I’m about to say -- that’s yet another example of how craft brewing = community. In the future, Around the Bend hopes to have their own brewery, and this writer wishes them well.
Besides Puffing Billy, one can try their Ghost of ‘Lectricity Kolsch and Silk Road American Pale Ale with Galangal, a cousin of Ginger that’s described as “a bit more flowery and intense.”
As the weather does its typical late winter and early spring roller coaster ride, it’s good to have a chocolatey brown ale on hand -- a robust beer offering plenty of comforts.
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