People often ask me, “Chris, do you remember your first time?” And then I say “Hell yea, I remember. You always remember your first, even if it’s not good and, sheesh, mine was bad. The year was 1999. Zach Huggins’ house. His parents were gone, so naturally it was time to be bad. I had never done it before, and was nervous, of course. When he came back from the kitchen, there it was. A Miller Lite. It was super gross, and I didn’t try another beer for years. Wow, how embarrassing. Can’t believe I told that story.”
Then they nudge me in the side and say, “No, not that. The first time you, ya know, went all the way.” And then I say, “Ohhh. All the waaaay … Like, to the brewery?” At this point they usually take the derby off their head and exaggeratedly bite down on it. “No, wiseguy! The first time you had sexual intercourse! Sex! Have you even had sex?” And then I feel stupid. I assure them that I have but, between you and me? I don’t even know who brews it.
Here are five beers that I do know. I assume all of them are at least as good as sex. Enlighten us about your own cool new beers at [email protected].
Spoiler Alert: The Game of Thrones winner is Brewery Ommegang
Sure, the calendar will soon say it is spring, but we all know winter is finally upon us at long last. To prep for the final battle for Westeros, and Brewery Ommegang will be unveiling its final Game of Thrones-inspired beer, For The Throne. This series of beers has become synonymous with the show during its run, and this last one promises to be the most complex and satisfying yet.
As part of an ongoing partnership, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel and the Chicago Brewseum are joining forces to host the official release party of this limited-edition beer in honor of the show’s final season on Tuesday, April 9 from 7-10 p.m. The event will include
- Game of Thrones Trivia: Hosted by Whaddayaknow? Free Pub Trivia, this themed round of questions puts devout fans to the test.
- Historian’s Corner: Liz Garibay of the Chicago Brewseum and Lucas Livingston of the Art Institute of Chicago invite guests to partake in brief 10-minute history talks that explore Medieval era drinking culture. Explore topics such as Medieval Merry-Making, Drink Like A Dothraki, Grain & Grape and Witchy Woman.
- Themed String Quartet: Chicago-based musicians of Parkwest Strings amplify the evening with a performance of the series’ thematic score.
- Costume Contest: No matter where allegiances lie, festival attire is welcome — nay, encouraged — culminating in a final costume contest with prizes at the end of the evening. Tickets can be purchased at: http://chicagoathleticevents.com/tc-events/for-the-throne/).
Ska Brewing teams with legendary punk band Rancid for new ass-kicking Golden Ale
Rule No. 4 of the Five Beers to Know: Collaborations with metal/punk bands are automatic entries. Set to debut at the Bash Music & Craft Beer Festival in Phoenix this May is Brewstomper Golden Ale, brewed by Ska Brewing and legendary punk band Rancid, which is headlining the festival.
“Rancid and Op Ivy [both founded by Matt Freeman and Tim Armstrong], provided the soundtrack to our lives as we were planning out the brewery in the early ’90s,” said Dave Thibodeau, cofounder of Ska. “Their music, along with a heavy dose of an unnamed American light lager, really are the roots of what has become Ska’s World Headquarters today.
“Both the beer and its can design, taken from Rancid’s second album Let’s Go, evoke a sense of punk rock nostalgia, bringing you back to the days of sweaty, indie garage shows and oodles of easy drinking beers,” said Thibodeau. “This is a beer concept we should have brewed up a long time ago, and we have Rancid to thank for making it happen.”
At 5 percent ABV, Brewstomper is a crisp, refreshing golden ale designed to be enjoyed with music and friends. The type of beer that doesn’t dominate the conversation. It simply enhances it. While the hops and malt work quietly backstage without bravado, the show certainly couldn’t go on without them.
Take your tastebuds on a trip down under with Perrin Brewing’s new DIPA
Michigan’s Perrin Brewing is showcasing hop varietals from New Zealand and Australia in its new Harden The Hop Up DIPA. This is part of a new Side Hustle Series that highlights experimental and unique beer styles. The blend of rare hops elevates Harden The Hop Up to zesty heights of citrus perfection, highlighted with subtle stonefruit characteristics at 8.5 percent ABV. Perrin brewers used juicy, citrusy Galaxy hops in the brew, along with Galaxy’s little sister, Ella, which offers a floral nose and slight spice. Complex Enigma hops heighten the flavors and aromas and add notes of pinot gris. Hop varietals from the Oceania geographic region, to which Australia and New Zealand belong, are highly sought after for their fruitiness and high alpha acid ratings.
A new Side Hustle Series beer will be released every other month on draft and six-pack throughout Michigan. The Side Hustle Series allows Perrin’s brewers to creatively explore new ingredients and techniques and ultimately provide Michigan craft beer lovers with innovative new flavors.
North Coast Brewing has a spontaneous spring celebration
North Coast Brewing Co. is celebrating the first official day of spring with the limited release of its Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse. Tart Cherry is a Berliner Weisse with an ABV of 4.1 percent, brewed in the Berlin White style, made with the juice of Michigan Montmorency cherries, which add a sweet taste and rose blush to soften the sharp, lactic finish of the spontaneously soured beer.
“The balance of acidity and sweetness found in Tart Cherry make it a standout take on a Berliner Weisse,” said North Coast Brewing Co. Brewmaster Patrick Broderick. “Each of our three Berliner Weisse beers are brewed with seasonal fruits such as cranberries, quinces, peaches and passion fruit. The addition of cherries to this beer results in a crisp, sparkly homage to spring.”
The North Coast Brewing Berliner Weisse seasonal series includes Tart Cherry, Passion Fruit-Peach and Cranberry-Quince. Tart Cherry was the first Berliner Weisse North Coast Brewing released in its series.
Oskar Blues blends a barrel-aged Ten FIDY with a double boubon-barrel aged Ten FIDY
For the first time ever, Oskar Blues’ JAHvanilla was made using a blend of bourbon barrel-aged Ten FIDY AND double bourbon-barrel aged Ten FIDY. The burly blend got rolled up in a barrel with Hotbox Roasters’ cold brew coffee and Madagascar vanilla beans, then aged to rich, espresso-flavored perfection at 14.3 percent ABV.
“The blending of double-barrel aged FIDY and barrel-aged FIDY this year is pretty special,” said Oskar Blues Brewery’s Head of Brewing Operations, Tim Matthews. “It adds to the complexity and depth of JAHvanilla. Then we hit it with premium vanilla and cold brew and the beer hulks out with flavor.”
Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee beans were used in the super concentrated cold brew — a premium coffee cultivated on the hillsides of the highest mountains in the Caribbean. The chocolate and fruit undertones of Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee take the flavors of barrel-aged Ten FIDY to new heights. The company added an intense 2 lbs of coffee to 1 bbl of beer ratio to amp up the beer’s espresso tones.
JAHvanilla Barrel-Aged Ten FIDY Imperial Stout is blazin’ into Oskar Blues Brewery taproom locations on 4/20. Nice.