Lagunitas Brewing Company continued its push for the hearts and minds of Chicago homebrewers last Monday by… oh, not quite like that, but they did host a premiere party for one of its limited edition beers, which was formulated in the Chicago area.
Steve Kamp of southern Beecher had won a Lagunitas sponsored homebrewing contest this spring, with a chocolate rye ale made with Sorachi Ace hops. As his prize, Steve was invited to Lagunitas' home town of Petaluma, California to brew his recipe on a commercial scale. He was accompanied by a contest entrant whose name was drawn at random; Adam York of CHAOS Brewing. Steve flew the colors of his club, Brewers of South Suburbia (and if you're reading this, Steve, it was my clumsy way of working in your affiliation).
Steve explained that once they got to Lagunitas, they found that his specialty grains and hops were not available at enough quantity to fill the brewkettle. "Sorachi Ace hops are only available to breweries on a contract basis. Also Rye is in high demand and the chocolate Rye malt I used was in their warehouse as they don't use it for anything.
"While it wasn't the recipe that I won with, head brewer Jeremy Marshall basically gave us the keys to the place to make what ever we wanted. Since my beer was an India Black ale we stuck with that as a base and used what they had available. It really turned out just as I envisioned." The resulting beer gained a big fresh hoppy nose with a dry hop phase using Simcoe, Mosaic, Amarillo and Citra.
- Felicia Gonzalez–manager of DMK Burger Bar, Steve Kamp, Adam York, and Lagunitas spokesperson Karen Hamilton.
The result, one of a series of "Pro-Am" beers from homebrew contests around the country, is officially "Lagunitas Fusion VIII Chicago Nano Thingamajig"… or Thingamabob.
The new beer was released in a small batch, and will be onto only at about 100 Chicago bars, and the first one was tapped Monday night at Murphy's Bleachers in Wrigleyville. The tapping, called the "Lagunitas Mega Nano Homebrew DealyBob," was an invitation event for the trade and for homebrewers. Karen Hamilton, Lagunitas' Chicago beer evangelist, organized the event, putting three of Lagunitas' favorite beers on tap and in bottles. Besides the Fusion VIII, I also enjoyed a 22 oz. bottle of their Lucky 13.alt, an anniversary tribute to West Coast pioneers Rogue Ales and Anchor Brewing in the form of an "Imperial California Common (Steam)" Beer. Munchies were in the form of a "Sonoma County" sandwich spread of turkey bacon, chèvre and pepper jelly on wheat bread—and Chicago style hot dogs.
- Servers at the back bar of Murphy's Bleachers kept busy during the Lagunitas Fusion VIII event.
While introducing Steve and Adam, Karen also updated the crowd on the status of the future Chicago brew-works. They will have a tasting room open by October or November, at the second level of the huge facility at 18th & Rockwell. The room will glass walls so patrons can enjoy beer and food while watching the brewery being built around them. Karen also announced an upcoming drive for ugly chandeliers and lighting fixtures, which will be installed in the new room. The drive is expected to be fully announced later this summer.
Food, beer, and, oh yes, musical entertainment on a hot day. Another event made better by great beer.
Except for the fact that my camera was in the shop that day, so I had to use my old cell phone camera with the cracked lens cover).
Addendum: Karen was kind enough to write in and fill in more details. Thanks!