Thoughts on the Wicked Weed Acquisition


This morning, I opened Twitter and at the same time as everyone else I learned that Wicked Weed Brewing had been acquired by Anheuser-Busch. My social media feed was flooded with posts about Wicked Weed and ABInBev. My first thought was “wow, my social media is going to be a shit show today”. And it still is.

I wish Wicked Weed all the best.

However, if anyone brings Wicked Weed to a bottle share I attend from this moment forward I will have to say something. Probably something hilarious like “we better drink this before it turns into Bud Light” or “didn’t Anheuser Busch already make sour stouts in 2015” a very funny zing referring to the infected bottles of Bourbon County Stout.

Anheuser Busch wants to destroy craft beer. When they bought Goose Island in 2012 you couldn’t buy craft beer in Chicago any more. I’ve switched to spiked seltzers.

I wish everyone at Wicked Weed the best and I know they will continue to make great beers. It’s too bad they made beer so good that a lot of people want to drink it.

Jim Plachy

The Best Pork Shoulder I’ve Smoked (So Far)

Last Sunday even with the threat of rain I decided to crank out another pork shoulder. This time I rubbed it with mustard and managed to find time to brine it for about 16 hours. This is how it looked after it came out of the brine. I love seeing the molasses adhere itself to the fat cap.

At 4:45am the shoulder was on the smoker and this time I changed the way I handled the wood. I hid hickory and apple chips throughout the charcoal while setting up the bowl for the minion method. Then when I put the shoulder on I added a large chunk of hickory. I then alternated apple and hickory chunks every hour until the shoulder hit 160 degrees. I was planning on wrapping the shoulder but I was getting such good heat out of the smoker that I skipped it.

This is what the shoulder looked like towards the end of the cook. The bark was super dark and crunchy which is how I like it but I am very interested in doing a wrap one of these days. I was going to do a shoulder this weekend but my schedule didn’t allow for it.

After 12 hours the shoulder came off the smoker and after a 45 minute rest I pulled it. I mixed it up with additional rub and the spice and moisture level was perfect. Doling out the smoke every hour worked great. The meat had a perfect smokey aroma and it didn’t dominate the flavor of the pork. I also think the brining is a must. It adds so much moisture to the finished product. After finishing this shoulder I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to finally doing that brisket. Maybe Memorial Day weekend? Stay tuned!


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7:45am (Water pan refill)
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10:45am (changed coal, water pan refill)
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12:45pm (water pan refill)
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Cooking a Huge Pork Shoulder Slowly and a Tri-Tip Quickly

Last weekend it looked like the weather was going to hold out for a good long smoke, so for the first time ever I went to the butcher to get a pork shoulder and decided to get a tri-tip for good measure. I’ve always bought my pork shoulders at a big grocery store. I find that Meijer actually has real good butchered in house pork shoulders. The other guys have cryovac packed Hormel shoulders which are fine because lets face it the original point of barbecue was to take the cheapest cuts of meat and smoke them until they are tender and delicious. That’s been one of the great things about this hobby and what can make it so “relaxing”. Even if you screw up you still have great food at the end of the cook. It might not be what you wanted but it’s edible. The butcher sold me a whole bone-in shoulder that came fresh out of the shrink wrap. He trimmed it up a bit but unlike the stuff I buy at the grocery store I had to do further trimming once I got home. This is what it looked like when I unpacked it.

I trimmed off some of that raised fat. I did an ok job but what I didn’t know is that I would be doing even more fat trimming later in the day. Even with the trimming this shoulder was over 10lbs the biggest shoulder I’ve ever tried to cook. My goal was to get it done as close to 5:00pm as possible so I started the fire at 3:45am. I knew it was going to be a cold morning and that the temp wouldn’t start to rise until almost 9:00am so I had to get things going early. While the fire got going I rubbed the pork. I used olive oil instead of my usual mustard because I had done it two weeks prior and I thought it helped with moisture. I don’t think it did so I’ll be going back to the mustard. For a rub I used this recipe from the Virtual Weber Bullet website.

By 4:30am I had the shoulder on the cooker. I used a 75/25 mix of Apple and Hickory wood. I usually brine my shoulders two days before I cook them. Unfortunately I didn’t have the shoulder in time for this cook so I decided I was going to spray the shoulder with a 75/25 mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar. I did this every hour for 3 hours starting at 10:30am. This is what the shoulder looked like when I lifted the lid for the first time at the 6 hour mark.

At this point things started getting hectic for me. The fuel in the cooker was starting to run out, the water pan was empty, and I decided it was time to get the tri-tip ready for lunch. When I took the tri-tip out of the fridge and unwrapped it I found out that the butcher had left the fat cap on one side. I definitely didn’t want or need that much fat so I had some trimming to do. It took me a few minutes but I can’t believe what a great job I did.

I didn’t have any made for beef rubs so I found my original tri-tip recipe someone sent me when I started smoking last year. That recipe had a rub in it and something didn’t feel right when I was making it but I was pressed for time and I threw it together and rubbed it on.

I decided to run my Mini Smokey Mountain for the tri-tip since I had the pork shoulder on the bottom rack of the full size smoker and I wanted this guy to come up to temp quickly.  Here’s a picture of me running both my smokers simultaneously for the first time ever.

After 45 minutes on the smoker I was getting 118 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. So I took it off and placed it on my smoking hot Weber Q. I did 3 minutes on each side and after letting it rest a few minutes it looked fantastic.

But what happened when I cut into it I can’t even describe. I’ve been trying to make beef that looks like this my entire adult life.

So, how did it taste? Well, that’s the problem. The rub I applied to the beef was heavy on salt and cayenne so it was a bit salty and a lot spicy. I wrapped up the leftovers for people to try later and it had mellowed out a little bit but I’m currently searching for a better tri-tip rub.

The pork shoulder cooked on the smoker for about 12 hours total. At the bottom of this post I’ll put the hourly temps so you can see how it progressed. I was pretty happy with how the smoker held temp. I only had to change the coals completely once probably due to the very low temps in the morning.

When I went to go take the shoulder out of the cooker it was so tender that the whole thing fell apart while transferring it to the pan. Here’s a pic, sorry its so bad. I’ll work on my camera techniques.

And then about 45 minutes later I pulled it all by hand….well, hand and shredders. This is the finished product.

A couple of quick notes about the finished shoulder. I forgot to sprinkle additional rub into the meat as I pulled and mixed it and I DID NOT use enough wood for a 10lbs pork shoulder. As with all barbecue it tasted fine and everyone was happy to eat it but I can definitely say this was one of my worst shoulders. I went out and bought a Hormel for this weekend. I’ll definitely have time to brine it and its a little smaller at 8.7lbs. I’m also going to work on smoke management a bit more. Making sure there’s wood smoke until the shoulder hits about 160.  I’ll be sure to do my best to document the cook. Thanks for taking the time to read all this!


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temperature dropped to 30 degrees, wind held steady
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Temperature up to 39 degrees but wind picked up
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Pulled off smoker

I Hope You Like Barbecue

To say that craft beer is my hobby would be a massive understatement. Craft beer is in every fiber of my being. I think about it constantly. I drink it often. I’m always buying beer or wishing I was somewhere buying a beer. My social media accounts are dominated by craft beer. I’ve made friends……on Untappd.

Over the course of the last 18 months I’ve been very slowly dipping my toe into the world of barbecue. Lets get this straight. Barbecue as in slow smoked meat. I don’t mean grilling, I don’t mean sauces, I mean slowly cooking meat over wood and charcoal. After spending all of last year barbecuing on a Weber smokey joe that used a tamale pot as a chamber(seriously, its a thing)I decided to buy a real Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. Luckily, the weekend I bought it we had amazing weather(it was February in Chicago….there should have been snow, it was 65 degrees). I’ve already cooked two pork shoulders, and 3 whole chickens on it. My goal is to spend the whole season cooking a wide variety of things all leading up to the mother of all barbecue…brisket. That’s right, I want to do a brisket. I bought the 14.5″ WSM so I’ll probably have to stick to either doing the flat or separating the point from the flat. I think I’m going to start by just doing a 5-6lbs flat.

What I’m getting at is that barbecue has become my hobby and its a fun one to document. So prepare for me to start writing posts about my barbecue cooks. The first one is coming by the end of this weekend. I hope that you enjoy these posts. I would love feedback. And hopefully writing about cooking will get me writing some more stuff about beer and music. I’d love to be more active on this blog.

2016: A Beer In Review

2016 was certainly a beer to remember. If you’ve been reading my ramblings for a while now you’re probably wondering where the Jim Plachy Beer Awards are. Well, for some reason no brewery ever came to pick up their award and quite frankly while they were a fun idea I felt like a lot of the beers I really enjoyed got left out because it didn’t win an award. I thought about doing honorable mentions in each category but instead I came up with this brilliant idea. A list. What if I made a list of my favorite beers I drank? So here we are. I’ve made a list of my top 50 beers, my top 10 ciders, and some other assorted things I wanted to highlight. So, what are waiting for? Grab a beer, or a cider, or you know whatever you were already drinking because odds are you didn’t set aside time to read this, you’ll just skim and shrug.

A NOTE ABOUT NE-STYLE IPAs: If there was one hot trend in beer this past year it was the New England style IPA. And while I didn’t drink nearly all of them the ones I did drink I very much enjoyed. Some people have turned their nose up at the style because it removes the bitter element from the India Pale Ale but I have to be honest with you guys. After years of drinking and enjoying very bitter IPAs I found these to be refreshing in more ways than one. So, you’ll see a bunch of them in the top 50. Are they a fad? Who knows? But it’s my list and there are quite a few on there. It’ll be interesting to see how many stick around next year.

Best Place to Drink Beer: Link’s Taproom

For the third year in a row Link’s Taproom in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago is my favorite place to drink beer. The comfortable atmosphere, never ending parade of delicious beers, good food, and friendly staff make this a place that I honestly never want to leave once I’m inside.

Best Brewery: Hoof Hearted Brewing

In my short time drinking craft beer I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brewery with as much momentum as Hoof Hearted. I started to read about them on BeerAdvocate earlier this year and the next thing I knew I kept hearing about Konkey Dong. Every where I went, dong this and dong that. After doing some trading we were able to acquire about 15 of their beers. Each one was excellent. The NE style stuff tasted true to the style, the stouts were great, and the off kilter stuff never disappointed. They even opened a brewpub this year that is high on my list of must visit places in 2017. I hope to see them soon.

Top 10 Ciders of 2016

You’ve heard this from me a hundred times by now but if it wasn’t for hard cider I wouldn’t be drinking craft beer. It was embarrassing how many great ciders I had this year. I actually went up to Michigan this past Spring to visit Vander Mill and Virtue, had almost every cider at this year’s FoBAB, and even made it to the years in the making Chicago cider bar The Northman. Not to mention I held my second annual cider bottle share which was a ton of fun. So without further ado here are the ten best ciders I had this year.

10. The Northman House Cider
9. Virtue Cider Cherry Mitten
8. Prima Most
7. Angry Orchard Understood in Motion #1
6. Vander Mill Barrel-Aged Totally Roasted
5. Virtue Cider Michigan Brut
4. E.Z. Orchards Semi-Dry Cidre
3. Domaine Dupont Cidre Reserve

We saved this to be the grand finale of our second annual cider bottle share and it did not disappoint. You get some great funk in the aroma and the taste is  calvados barrel and sweet apple. I was very sad when this bottle was empty. Because it meant our bottle share was over and I couldn’t have any more of this magnificent cider.

2. Seattle Cider Co. Wild Fermented Heirloom

No picture of this cider really exists so here’s the Seattle Cider Co. team showing off their medal at this year’s FoBAB which is exactly where I had this funky, dry cider. It was the best cider I drank at the event and also one of the stand outs of the whole session. Seattle Cider Co. impresses me more and more as time goes on and this wild barrel aged version of their Heirloom limited release cider is the best thing I’ve had from them.

Photo courtesy of

1. Vander Mill Barrel-Aged Mango with Citra

Another cider that has no photo taken of it. I had this at the tap room and I’m not sure it made it very far out of the tap room. I see lots of people check in to a Vander Mill Mango Citra cider but this was a barrel aged version. Is this cider traditional? Not even close. It tasted like mango puree but somehow even more citrusy. Then there was a little bit of flavor from the barrel but honestly not much. Not that I cared because I could drink this cider just for the intense mango flavor for the rest of my life. Vander Mill expanded big time this year and I hope we get to see more unique stuff like this make its way out of the tap room and into stores and then into my mouth.

Top 50 Beers of 2016

Here it is my first ever top beers list. I won’t be providing descriptions for every beer just the top 10.  Mostly because 11-50 is not what I would call an exact order. You could interchange spots between a few of these beers. My top 10 though is definitely my 10 favorite beers in order.  So, I’d love for you to read this, give me some feedback, let me know what you think. Beers to a great 2017!

50. Revolution Fistmas Holiday Ale
49. Great Lakes Alberta Clipper Porter
48. New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
47. Half Acre Maple Orin
46. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
45. Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts
44. Central State Table
43. Surly Todd the Axe Man
42. Solemn Oath Ravaged by Vikings
41. Pipeworks The Lizard King
40. Bell’s Hopslam
39. Trillium Double Dry Hopped Congress Street
38. Founder’s Backwoods Bastard
37. Modern Times Aztec Mummy with Guava and Mango
36. Goose Island Bourbon County Koval Cuvee
35. Ballast Point Single Malt Whiskey Victory at Sea
34. Pipeworks The Jones Dog
33. The Bruery Ride That Goat
32. Perennial Sump
31. Perennial 17
30. Half Acre Galactic Double Daisy Cutter
29. Central State Polyjuice Potion
28. Perennial Maman
27. Ram Schaumburg Side Note S’more Luv
26. Trinity Brewing President’s Club
25. Half Acre Deep Space
24. Central Waters Seventeen
23. Almanac Grand Cru
22. Perrin No Rules
21. Three Floyds Red Death
20. Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout
19. Jester King Nocturn Chrysalis Blend 4
18. Toppling Goliath Golden Nugget with Mosaic
17. Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb!
16. Alesmith Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout
15. Lagunitas Born Yesterday Unfiltered
14. Hoof Hearted Konkey Dong
13. Perennial Abraxas
12. Destihl Dosvidanya Vanilla Rye
11. Central Waters Cassian Sunset
10. Cantillon Kriek

After years of Cantillon alluding me I finally got to try some of their beer. A couple of friends spent some time in Belgium and brought back Rose de Gambrinus, Gueuze, and Kriek. While all 3 beers were delicious, delicate, and some other word that starts with “d” it was the Kriek that impressed me the most. I’m going to come off real dumb saying this but I finally understood why New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red is named what it is. I’ve always loved that beer but after drinking the real thing I now fully appreciate it.

9. Tree House Brewing Julius

All that really needs to be said about Julius at this point is that it lives up to the hype. A beer that is supposed to look and taste like orange juice. And that’s exactly what it tastes like.

8. Prairie Artisan Ales Birthday Bomb!

There’s no reason to mess with the near perfection that is Bomb! but Prairie feels they have to do it anyway and I’m so glad they do. The addition of sweet caramel to the spicy, roasty flavors of Bomb! elevates the beer to a whole other level. It was great having something cut the heat just a bit. Adding caramel didn’t make much sense to me but after I drank it I knew it was perfect.

7. Off Color Barrel-Aged Dino’Smores

When John Laffler says he’s going to release a barrel-aged stout you show up and go get that barrel-aged stout. After spending 18 months in rye whiskey barrels Dino’Smores transformed into a spicy, whiskey soaked chocolate covered marshmallow. It was the perfect dessert beer.

6. Hoof Hearted Everybody Wants Some Citra

As mentioned above I was fortunate to not have to live in Ohio but also drink a lot of Hoof Hearted. This was the best of them. EWS: Citra was a pillowy soft tropical fruit salad hop bomb. This was my first foray into the NE-Style IPA and I sat there for a while just staring out the window wondering if I’d ever be able to go back to bitter IPAs. This beer tilted my whole perspective on things and was the best IPA I had in 2016.

5. Odd Side Ales Hazel’s Nuts

There’s something about getting a pour at FoBAB late in the show when your palate is at its most fatigued and the beer cuts through all the bullshit and makes you take notice. At FoBAB 2016 that beer was Hazel’s Nuts. Barrel-Aged Nutella is a lazy way to describe it but I can’t think of a better one. I’m a sucker for hazelnut flavored beers and I fell hard for this one.

4. Goose Island Bourbon County Rare (2015)

While this beer has been mired in controversy lately there’s no denying how much I love it. That chocolate covered butterscotch flavor from last year has faded giving way to tons of oaky goodness. No other barrel-aged beer truly shows off the magic of the barrel like Bourbon County Rare.

3. Goose Island Netflix & Chill

At the Goose Island 25th anniversary party in 2012 a beer called Bourbon County Napa was poured. It was BCBS aged in red wine barrels and I believe I said it was my favorite beer of 2012. The red wine mingled so well with the Bourbon County. The first time I went to the barrel warehouse I saw wine barrels marked “BCS NAPA”. I got very excited. However, the beer never materialized. Or did it? Back in January at Goose’s new taproom they poured Netflix & Chill. It was a red wine barrel-aged imperial stout. And some friends and I agreed that it was most likely BCS Napa. It just tasted too close to that beer we had four years ago.

2. The Bruery Rum Barrel-Aged Black Tuesday

Black Tuesday is a beer that ends parties. A 20% ABV barrel-aged stout that is so strong and so potent some people just leave. This one off Rum barrel-aged version smooths the edges a bit. The Rum gives the beer a more approachable profile lending that familiar Rum sweetness. This version of Black Tuesday went down almost too easy but I savored every sip of this rare beverage.

1. Prairie Artisan Ales Apple Brandy Barrel Noir

I don’t know how else to say it so I’ll just say it. This beer tasted like apple pie a la mode. That’s it. I loved it. I had no idea what apple brandy would do to a stout and I was blown away. It was perfect. It messed with my mind so hard that I never forgot about it all year. It was my beer of the year from the moment I took my first sip.