Glassvember 2017 – Brewery Ommegang Game of Thrones Goblet

I have never seen a full episode of Game of Thrones. However, I did buy a bottle of one of Brewery Ommegang’s Game of Thrones beers. At checkout I was given this glass. It has served me well. I like to drink stouts out of it. It makes me feel like Winter is Coming or Hold the Door or I drink and I know things or something from Game of Thrones. Thanks for the free glass.

Glassvember 2017 – Goose Island 25th Anniversary Nonic Pint

This glass arrived at my house one day. I did not order it. No one told me it was shipped to me it just showed up. I believe it is haunted. I do not use it. I have tried to break it. It will not break. I have moved twice while in possession of this glass. Twice I have not packed it. Twice it has ended up in my cabinet. Please, please someone at Goose Island explain this glass to me. Are they all like that? Or is it just mine?

Pretty nice glass, even if I didn’t ask for it. Bet an ESB would taste delicious in it. But as mentioned previously I refuse to use it.

Glassvember 2017 – Half Acre The Big North 2016 Taster Glass

This is the “taster glass” from the first annual Half Acre The Big North party. My assumption is that every thing before the “bowl” is the taster portion. However, at this party every pour was to the top. From Daisy Cutter to every 13% ABV barrel-aged beer my glass and everyone else’s was filled nearly to the brim. I did not last long at this party and left after I believe less than two hours.

What would drag me away from a Half Acre party? 3 things. 1. My brain was screaming at me to leave this place before I inflicted alcohol poisoning on myself. 2. The Frank Ocean album came out and there was a pop-up shop for his magazine three miles away. 3. When a Half Acre party start a Half Acre party don’t stop.

Glassvember 2017 – Little Goat Diner Tulip Glass

Pardon the bad pics I’m working on it as you can tell by my makeshift studio. A few years ago we had some beers over at Little Goat Diner and then walked across the street to “Big Goat” to have a dinner in honor of the anniversary of my birth. At dinner my wife handed me a brown paper bag that had this glass in it. I use it a lot for drinking Saisons and Double IPAs. Anything that I know needs to express its aroma.

I have a lot of great memories of trying beers at Little Goat and eating incredible meals at Girl and the Goat. This glass is the perfect reminder of all those times.

Glassvember 2017 – Wheaton Ale Fest 2012 Shaker Pint

Here’s the first pint glass I ever got from my first ever beer festival. Me and a couple of friends went out to the Wheaton Ale Fest in 2012 and I decided to try every IPA I could. They all pretty much tasted the same until I saw a booth with a raised fist. I wandered over and for the first time I had Revolution Anti-Hero IPA. It had such a unique hop bite that was different from the west-coast IPAs I had been drinking all day.

For some reason I’ve never gone back to the Wheaton Ale Fest but this glass reminds me of what a good time I had at my first beer festival trying so many beers from so many breweries I would go on to love.

The 15 Bands You Must See At Riot Fest 2017

After taking last year off from Riot Fest I’m back at it this year! And that means I’m back at writing this post. Well it was posts but I’ve been busy so here’s one big post. These are the 15 bands you need to see at Riot Fest 2017!

At the Drive-In 7:40pm Saturday Riot Stage

I had tickets to see At the Drive-In but they cancelled on me. Then they broke up. Then they got back together and did a bunch of festivals that were very poorly received. Then they recorded a new album and played some shows that were more warmly received. So, take your chances but some of us are finally getting to see At the Drive-In.

Beach Slang 12:40pm Sunday Riot Stage

I saw Beach Slang at last year’s Goose Island block party and they were fantastic. Now they are back to rock another Chicago festival crowd. Beach Slang’s brand of fuzzy rock should be exactly what we’re going to need first thing Sunday morning.

Cap’n Jazz 4:25pm Sunday Riot Stage

Speaking of Goose Island they partly sponsored a free show with Cap’N Jazz a couple of months ago and it may have been the best concert I’ve ever been to. Cap’N Jazz did some reunion shows in 2010 that were fun and it was great to finally see them but in 2017 they’ve found a renewed vigor. If there’s a band that could legitimately start a riot at this year’s Riot Fest it’s Cap’N Jazz. Trust me you don’t want to miss this.

Culture Abuse 2:00pm Sunday The Heather Owen Stage

Not long after Beach Slang wraps up on Sunday another fuzzy punk rock band will take the stage. California’s Culture Abuse keeps building up their fan base since the release of last year’s “Peach”. It’ll be fun to see them play their catchy songs for a festival audience.

Dead Cross 3:25pm Saturday Roots Stage

Mike Patton leads a band that contains Justin Pearson, Dave Lombardo, and Michael Crain and it sounds exactly how you want it to sound. This super group was made for festivals. Will you get another chance to see them play together? Who knows! Don’t take the chance this is another must see band!

Dessa 2:00pm Sunday Rise Stage

Well. This is unfortunate. Dessa and Culture Abuse play at the same time. And for the exact same amount of time. So, we all have a tough choice to make and I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to let this play out. We saw Dessa at Riot Fest in 2012 and she was great. It would be hard to walk away from her set definitely the most frustrating conflict of the weekend.

The Hotelier 4:00pm Friday The Heather Owen Stage

I’ve yet to see The Hotelier since they released their sprawling third album “Goodness”. I’m very excited to see how it plays out in front of a big crowd. I’m also interested to see which older songs they sprinkle into their 40 minute set.

Hot Water Music 1:25pm Sunday Roots Stage

Hot Water Music release a new album on the Friday of Riot Fest. On Sunday they play a quick set early in the day. The new songs sound like the Hot Water Music we’ve come to know and love and I haven’t seen them since Riot Fest 2012. I wish their set was longer so they could play some deep cuts and introduce some new songs but Hot Water Music has been around long enough that I’m sure they’ll play a satisfying set.

INVSN 1:25pm Friday Roots Stage

INVSN is the “poppier” side of Refused front man Dennis Lyxzen. The music has an airy atmospheric quality I like but I’m very interested to see how something so sugary sweet goes over early in the day at Riot Fest.

Jawbreaker 8:45pm Sunday Riot Stage

Jawbreaker is playing at 8:45pm on Sunday. Jawbreaker is playing at 8:45pm on Sunday. Jawbreaker. Sunday.

The Lawrence Arms 5:30pm Saturday Rise Stage

The court jesters of punk rock The Lawrence Arms are always a must see but especially in front of a giant hometown crowd. Expect 30 minutes of exceptional punk rock and probably 30 minutes of stage banter.

Ministry 6:05pm Friday Riot Stage

I mean you’re going to see Nine Inch Nails on Friday night, right? So, might as well warm up for that set by seeing Chicago’s own Ministry. It has been a long time since I’ve seen them live but they were very loud. I mean don’t get me wrong these are classic industrial rock songs but they are also very very loud.

Nine Inch Nails 8:30pm Friday Riot Stage

After you get your ear drums blown out my Ministry it’ll be time for Nine Inch Nails. NIN was the first concert I ever went to TWENTY THREE years ago. And I haven’t seen them since. So this is definitely going to be a big deal for me. This is easily one of the biggest bands to ever play Riot Fest. You probably already know if you’re staying for Nine Inch Nails.

Radar State 3:00pm Friday The Heather Owen Stage

Radar State is another super group. This time we’ve got Jim and Matt of The Get Up Kids and Josh from The Anniversary doing sloppy rock and roll. So far 2 of the 3 songs sounds like “Ten Minutes” by The Get Up Kids. So, yeah you should probably go see Radar State.

The Smith Street Band 1:15pm Saturday Rise Stage

Much like Beach Slang on Sunday The Smith Street Band is Saturday’s “HEY WAKE UP AND SHAKE IT OFF” band. Show up early and be rewarded with 45 minutes of loud songs about love, hope, depression, and “lads” which I think is Australian for friend. You could sleep in on Sunday but I mean come on these guys came all the way from Australia.

How To Not Get Embarrassingly Drunk At Dark Lord Day

Last year was my first time attending the craft beer wonderland known as Dark Lord Day. I had zero idea what to expect. I wasn’t ready for bottle sharing in line, the guest taps, or the tents full of 3 Floyd’s beer. But I had heard the stories. The stories of people getting blackout drunk by noon. The people who were so hungover they couldn’t leave their hotel rooms the next day. I knew I didn’t want to suffer the same fate so I came up with a plan. And the plan worked. I wasn’t hungover the next day and I never felt out of control drunk. Maybe that’s what you want to do and you don’t need a guidebook to tell you how to get so drunk you trip over your shoes and smash your face into a barricade. But if you want to stay coherent and enjoy the rest of your weekend follow this guide.

  1. You should be hydrating now. There are only a few days left and you should already be avoiding alcohol and caffeine. You should also be increasing your water intake by at least double. I have a 20oz reusable water bottle that I fill every couple of hours at work. Soon you are going to be drinking more beer than you could possibly imagine. You can go a few days without beer.

2. Don’t get sick. I bought a box of Emergen-C and I’ve been drinking a packet every day this week. You DO NOT want to be sick for Dark Lord Day. I know someone who was sick last year and it did not end well.

3. Don’t go HAM at the Friday night bottle share. Do you really want to wake up hungover on Dark Lord Day? Have a couple of small pours and make some new friends but do not over do it. Yeah, I know…there’s a bottle of barrel aged Hunahpu just sitting there waiting for you to try it but trust me there are going to be plenty of whalez for you to tick come sunrise.

4. Buy a camelbak bladder and put it in your backpack. Last year the best thing I did was bring a 2.5 liter camelbak filled with water. Ran the hose up the top and through the loop on the backpack. BOOM! I had water whenever I needed it. For every oz of beer I drank I sipped an equal amount of water. You will pee….a lot. But it will all be worth it. Trust me.

5. Don’t bring a tasting glass larger than 5oz. I know. It sounds crazy, right? But you will be drinking high octane beers for upwards of 12 hours. Take a 3oz taste, move on to the next thing. By the time you hit beer number 15 your taste buds are going to be shot anyways. You aren’t going to remember half of what you drank so why take giant pours that will only end up with you being very sad the next day.

6. Take an hour break. Seriously at some point just stop. I know…someone just popped a Bourbon County Vanilla Rye and it’s tasting SO GOOD but I need you to get up and stretch your legs. Go watch a band, go eat some food(you definitely need to do this), take in all the majesty that is Dark Lord Day. You made it. Soak it up. When you’re done you’ll be ready for round 2.

7. Stop drinking. I know it’s hard but when you feel like things are wrapping up and it’s time to call the Uber back to the hotel, stop drinking. You are done. You will have had dozens of beers at that point. What more do you think you can taste? What more could you possibly need? Seriously around 5pm its time to wrap it up. You did good. I’m proud of you. You survived Dark Lord Day and tomorrow you’ll even be able to remember enough of it to tell your friends what happened.

 

The Fourth Annual Jim Plachy Beer Awards

Here we are the fourth annual Jim Plachy Beer Awards. I did a small amount of traveling this year to try some beers and even started doing some beer trading for West Coast beers. In the past the beers leaned heavily towards what I can get in Chicago. So it’s nice to see some winners from across the country. This year I drank an endless parade of world class beers. I can’t believe some of the beers I had this year that didn’t win an award. I think I said “this is the best beer I’ve had this year” numerous times.

As in previous years a beer can only win one award. This keeps the beer of the year winners a secret until the end of the list. I don’t get to drink every single thing that comes out so consider “best” to mean my favorites. And I’ve once again tweaked the categories. I got rid of Best Spring Beer because that was always a meaningless award anyway. There’s not many Spring beers. I added a best Pale Ale award which I feel was long overdue. I had enough Barleywines this year to give an award to one. There’s a bunch of other new awards in there. I can’t wait for you to see them. Enough with this intro lets get to the awards!

Best Beer Thing That Isn’t A Beer: Untappd

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Once again my favorite beer thing that isn’t beer is Untappd. This website and app lets you check in to the beers you are drinking. The data you can mine from this is invaluable to me. The JPBAs exist only because I can go back and relive the beers I’ve drank on Untappd. The service took a beating this year as more and more people decided it wasn’t cool to check in to beers but fuck that I love it. The ratings may be meaningless and inaccurate but I love having a beer diary I can scroll through.

Best Place To Drink Beer: Links Taproom

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For the second year in a row my favorite place to have a beer is Links Taproom in Chicago. The decor is fantastic, food is great, and of course the beer lineup is super strong. Even if you just stop in on a Tuesday night there are at least 2 or 3 beers you’re going to want to drink. On the weekend or during special events forget it. The first day of Chicago Craft Beer week this year I could have chosen any of the beers on tap and been satisfied. Links definitely has some competition as of late but in 2015 they were still the best.

Best Summer Beer: 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale

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After years of waiting 21st Amendment finally started distributing to Chicago and they brought with them one of my most wanted beers Hell or High Watermelon. This beer lived up to the hype for me. A tasty wheat beer mixed with natural watermelon flavor. It’s everything I wanted it to be. I think most people expected this to be sticky sweet and taste like a jolly rancher but instead its a lightly flavored beer meant to be drank outside from the can. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Best Fall/Harvest/Wet Hop/Fresh Hop Beer: Lagunitas Born Yesterday Pale Ale

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For the second year in a row Lagunitas takes this category with Born Yesterday. This beer is a punch in the face of juicy hops. Many harvest ales use fresh hops but let the malts take the lead on flavor. This beer just makes sense to me. If you’re going to use the freshest hops the beer should taste like them.

Best Winter/Holiday Beer: Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb Stout 

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Prairie’s Bomb stout is an incredible imperial stout flavored with just about every adjunct you can think of. Somehow it comes out perfectly balanced. You can taste every flavor with nothing overpowering anything else. Even the peppers are subdued. Christmas Bomb adds a touch of mint and it really ties everything together. I like it better than regular Bomb. Easily the best holiday beer I had this year.

Best Double/Imperial IPA: 5 Rabbit Lulo Galactico Telefantastico 

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5 Rabbit really stepped up their game in 2015 and this beer is a shining example. It tastes like 8% ABV orange juice which I’m very ok with. There are a lot of beers coming out lately that have a juicy quality that we can’t get here in Chicago. 5 Rabbit managed to make a beer in that style with their own unique spin.

Best IPA: Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

GrapefruitSculpin - SellSheet

Grapefruit Sculpin is a world class IPA. Not only that but thanks to Ballast Point’s aggressive expansion I can buy it anytime I want. From malt to grapefruit every component of this beer is spectacular. A lot of IPAs have a grapefruit quality but this beer ups that to a whole other level. Just a solid beer through and through.

Best Stout (non-barrel aged): Alesmith Speedway Stout Vietnamese Coffee

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We now go from a beer that you can get anywhere to a beer that’s very hard to get your hands on. I was fortunate enough to have it twice this year, once at Dark Lord Day and once out in the wild. I’m not sure how the Vietnamese coffee does its job but this beer is like drinking a chocolate covered marshmallow. I had a lot of stouts this year but not many came close to how incredible this beer tasted.

Best Barleywine: Pipeworks Cherry Murderous: The Lookout

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What we have here is a very traditional tasting barleywine. I got lots of caramel and dark fruits. It was a beast to drink at 9.5% ABV and thick with chewy malts. But what kept me taking sips over the course of an hour and a half was the hit of cherry. The cherries calmed things down just enough to make it almost refreshing. A barleywine has to do a lot to impress me and this was hands down the best in 2015.

Best Brown Ale: Prairie Artisan Ales Okie

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This is a fantastic beer but it is aged in oak whiskey barrels which gives it an unfair advantage. Okie is an imperial brown ale which does not reveal its 12% ABV at all. You get slight oaky characteristics from the barrel but it’s mostly just a great brown ale.

Best Pilsner: Goose Island Blue Line

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I’m not a huge fan of Pilsners but I can appreciate the style. I had this beer on a hot Summer day while eating my weight in sausages. Blue Line Pilsner was the perfect compliment. It was only available in Chicago over the Summer but it is apparently being resurrected as the nationally available Four Star Pils. I recommend you check it out when it pops up.

Best Red Ale: 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry

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This beer was meant to taste like a pop-tart. It does not. However it is a fantastic India style red ale. I popped this open at a Labor Day weekend gathering and it was the perfect beer for a last day of Summer party. The red ale backbone and high ABV was a precursor to the impending cooler days while the fruity hop flavors reminded me of the Summer that was about to pass.

Best Wit: Greenbush Looner Eclipse

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Lets be honest most Wits taste the same. I drank this at the end of a beer trip around Michigan and not only was it one of the more memorable beers it was an above average Wit. The addition of cumin is inspired. I kept going back for that hint of smokiness. I’m not sure if they’ll ever get around to bottling this but if they do I would definitely bring it to my next barbecue.

Best Porter: Moody Tongue Caramelized Chocolate Churro

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Words cannot do this beer justice. The first time I had it was at a “dark beer tap takeover”. We were waiting for them to tap an older variant of Bourbon County Stout and I ordered this to start with. It was so incredibly good I went back the next day because this was still on. So was the regular Bourbon County and I went back for this. It tastes like the most chocolatey porter you’ve ever had with a subtle hint of cinnamon. Incredible.

Best Saison/Farmhouse Ale: Goose Island Sophia Tequila Saison

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There is no image for this one off brew from Goose Island. Poured at this year’s Goose Island Sunday Funday event Sophia is Sofie aged in tequila barrels with brett brux added. It was the last thing they poured and it was insanely refreshing. The fact that it never made it outside of this event is one of the biggest disappointments of 2015. This would have been a great compliment to Blue Line Pilsner.

Best Sour: Almanac Farmer’s Reserve Blueberry

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Over the Summer I hosted a barbecue that became a giant bottle share. Someone brought a couple of these Farmer’s Reserve sours and I was blown away. The fruit flavor shines brightly through the fantastically sour base beer. Less than two months later Almanac showed up on shelves here in Chicago. I bought a few and enjoyed every one. I had the blueberry variety at FoBAB and it was head and shoulders above all the other sours I had that night. And in the end it was my favorite sour of the year.

Best Wild Ale: New Glarus R&D Wild Bitter Double IPA 

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When this beer was announced a lot of people turned up their noses at the idea. New Glarus was going to make a wild double IPA? People were so skeptical that when I went to New Glarus almost a month after the release they still had bottles. I picked up my limit of 2 and went home wondering when I was going to pop one of these open. The answer came on a late night when I had some friends come over unplanned and wanted to open something special. Needless to say I wish I had bought more than 2 bottles. Its like a funky version of New Glarus’ Scream. Which honestly is probably exactly what it is. Funky IPAs are sort of becoming a thing and I bet we see more next year.

Best Session Ale: Ballast Point Even Keel

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At the previously mentioned barbecue I drank a lot of world class beers. But one of the biggest surprises of the day was Even Keel. I had become pretty bored with session ales in 2015 but decided we needed something we could drink in the morning. So at under 4% ABV Even Keel seemed like a good choice. Was I ever right. This beer bursts with tropical fruit aromas and goes down as easy as you would ever want a session ale to go down. Even the malts are interesting giving some lightly toasted notes to the beer. There simply is not a better session ale around.

Best Belgian Style Beer: Ale Asylum Bedlam! Belgian IPA

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Once again Bedlam crushes the Belgian IPA game and quite frankly all other Belgian style beers I had in 2015. Huge citra hop aromas on the nose and that deliciously funky Belgian yeast on the finish. Just an incredibly well made beer through and through. If there is one caveat to this beer it is that it must be drank fresh. Look for a best buy date AT LEAST 2 months out.

Best Barrel Aged Beer: Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Rye

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Yeah I know. I’m sorry but I had this beer a few times this year and it was incredible. It tasted like barrel aged pancake batter. I don’t know what happened in these bottles in the last six months but it was nothing short of magic. Those of us who had this fresh couldn’t believe what this beer had become. Fresh it was all vanilla up in your palate. With some age it became a marshmallowy, chocolate syrup bomb but in the best way imaginable. If you see this drink it!

Best Fruit Beer: New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

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Will New Glarus ever not win this award? Not until someone makes something better than this. Fruit beers are typically a base beer with some fruit added. New Glarus knows how to make the fruit be the star of the beer. Belgian Red is semi-sweet with an oaky finish that gives it a slight wine like quality. Nothing else even comes close.

Best Pale Ale: Hill Farmstead Citra

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This was the first beer that was handed to me after I walked through the gates of this year’s Dark Lord Day. I had been wanting to try any Hill Farmstead beer but mostly Citra. And here I was holding a cup of it. The first thing I noticed was just how cloudy it was. Then the smell, like a double Zombie Dust. I couldn’t believe that there was still some tricks for the old dog that is the Citra hop. I drank some fantastic Pale Ales this year and it was a close fight but this is the one I wish I had a constant supply of.

Best Gose: Modern Times Fruitlands

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Modern Times’ Fruitlands sour cherry Gose is the Gose I’ve been waiting for. The additional tartness from the cherries cut a bit from the saltiness. Definitely the most refreshing Gose I had this year.

Best Cider: Angry Orchard The Muse

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Angry Orchard is set to debut a line of ciders made from actual cider apples next year but in the meantime they sell these 750ml bottles of cider made from bittersweet apples. This one is aged briefly on French Oak and did a great job to further dry out the finished product. This would be a great cider to pour during dessert as it would pair well with sweet things. Hopefully this is just a harbinger for more great cider from Angry Orchard in 2016.

Best New Cider: Woodchuck Gumption

gumption

Woodchuck decided that it was time to start stepping up their game a bit so this year they introduced Gumption. A cider that’s made with half American eating apples and half bittersweet cider apples. It makes for a great semi-sweet easy to drink cider and probably the best thing they are making right now. Their line extensions have been full of artificial tasting flavors. This is just a great new core cider in their lineup. I recommend it over Amber.

Best New Beer: Pipeworks The Lizard King Pale Ale

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The first time I had this beer was in its beta form last year. I thought it was a great pale ale and couldn’t wait for it to hit cans. All year I heard rumblings that the subsequent batches were getting better and better. Then I was told it was basically Mosaic hopped Zombie Dust. I ordered it at a bar shortly after its general release and as the waitress walked towards me with it I could already smell it. Sure enough the malt body and drinkability are comparable to Zombie Dust but with that great tropical fruit salad Mosaic hop flavor. I go through 4 packs of this beer like crazy. As a bonus my daughter loves the artwork.

Best New Brewery: Marz Community Brewing

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Ok, so I had to fudge this one a little bit because they technically opened in the middle of 2014. Marz Community Brewing allows people to bring recipes into the brewery and the best ones get produced and released. There really hasn’t been a dud in the bunch that I’ve had. They release wacky things like Nasal Cavity a stout brewed with vanilla and wasabi but also more traditional beers like Citra Citra Citra a double IPA brewed with you guessed it, Citra hops. The artwork for each beer is unique but with an aesthetic that reminds you this is a Marz beer. I think this brewery is doing some very forward thinking things and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for next year.

Best Brewery: Ballast Point

ballastpoint

Ballast Point really upped their game this year. A couple of years ago when they entered the Chicago market it was hard to find their beers. But after a production increase in 2015 their beer was everywhere. I saw it in more places more frequently all year long. The fact that I could walk into a store and buy Grapefruit Sculpin whenever I wanted felt like a magic trick to me. And to end the year Ballast Point sold to Constellation for ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Hopefully this pushes the brewery into new heights and they can continue to make some of the best beers in the world.

Best Beer of the Year (2nd Runner-Up): Marz Community Brewing Jungle Boogie/Double Jungle Boogie Pale Wheat Ale

doublejungleboogie

I’m not sure what is going on with this beer. It has rooibos tea in it but can that really be what gives this beer its juicy taste and aroma? It tastes like a mango iced tea which when I was younger I used to drink like crazy. It has a dry tea like aftertaste but seriously tastes like a sweetened mango iced tea. The double version is just a good with a bit more punch from the additional ingredients. I’ll take either one as they are tied in my mind. I wouldn’t mind if this came in cans and I could have an endless supply in my fridge when the weather gets warmer.

Best Beer of the Year (1st Runner-Up): Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

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This is a beer that people told me for years I would never get to drink. It was made once and then supposedly it was never going to be made again. This time last year the rumors started. There were whispers that a new batch had been made and was being bottled. That ended up being true but the bottles were given to employees as a holiday gift. All seemed lost again until people in Michigan started reporting that it was on tap in certain places. There was once again hope. Would it make it to Chicago? Sure enough it did. At one of the most hectic beer releases I ever went to I got to enjoy CBS. This beer lived up to years of hype. The taste is that of a malted milk ball. I was expecting straight up maple syrup overload and I got something very well balanced. A delicious beer that I hope we don’t have to wait years for to try again.

Best Beer of the Year: Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout/Goose Island Bourbon County Stout/Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout

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Yes. Its a 3-way tie for best beer of the year in 2015. Lets start with the whale. Bourbon County Rare is back after a five year hiatus. While Bourbon County regular is about the interplay between the base stout and the bourbon flavors Rare is all about the barrel. Huge oaky flavors combine with the bourbon that was left deep in the wood to create flavors of chocolate and butterscotch. Every time I’ve had this beer it has been an event and no one ever wants to take that last sip. Bourbon County Rare is the double IPA of bourbon barrel aged stouts. Incredible.

Bourbon County Coffee hasn’t been this good in forever. After spending a few years playing with brighter fruitier coffees Goose Island has gone back to roastier flavors that work better with the roasted malts in the beer. I definitely would not sit on this beer because the aromas are worth the price of admission. There is no better coffee stout this year. Its like a barrel aged iced coffee. Incredible.

Finally there is this year’s regular Bourbon County Stout. It is the Return of the King of this trilogy. This year’s release takes me back to everything that made me fall in love with Bourbon County in the first place. Its a swirling cacophony of flavors that makes each sip taste different. One sip has a cinnamon taste, then chocolate, then coffee, then back to chocolate. This beer is an adventure that was worth waiting in line for, trading for, or however else you had to acquire it. You can try and be cynical and say there are better beers or that it isn’t as good as it used to be but you would be wrong, very wrong.