Tag Archives: Microbrewery

Good Beer in Chicago

15 May

While visiting Chicago, I was usually getting dinner with other people who are into craft beer, making it easy to try a wide variety. It was a busy few evenings so I don’t remember all the details, but I jotted down a few notes of my favorites that I’m going to keep an eye out for in the future:

  • Vichtenaar, a slightly sour Flemish Red
  • Avery Maharajah, a very distinctively-flavored IPA (and one of a small number of IPAs I’m excited about these days– I’d had it before)
  • Half Acre Over Ale (a brown ale, a bit nutty, a bit like toast, quite good — sadly I don’t think they distribute outside of Chicago)
  • Half Acre Sanguis brewed with oranges and beets, and really excellent with strong food (smoked eel)
  • Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (Sorachi Ace is a particular unusual hop that I think smells a bit like dill– I only knew it from the Mikkeller Single Hop series tasting I did with some friends last year)
  • Revolution Coup d’Etat (from a local brewery, in the slightly funky belgian farmhouse/blonde/yeasty style)
As a side note– I liked the design of the Half Acre Sanguis label quite a bit– my photo of it is a bit blurry but I found a blog post from the designer with the image:
Other good beers:
  • Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
  • Ivanhoe from Ridgeway Brewing in the UK (light caramel and malt flavors, round, smooth)
  • Vitus (unfortunately I don’t remember details about it, but I jotted down that I liked it)
  • Weihenstephaner (their Lagerbier? Or perhaps it was their wheat beer– I just tasted a friend’s)
  • Belhaven (pretty good in general)
I was less interested in:
  • Biere de Garde from Brasserie Castellion (though friends I was with liked it)
  • Goose Island Green Line (a pale ale, and I believe only sold on tap and only sold within Chicago– mild and reasonable but nothing special)
  • Three Floyds Zombie Dust (a pale ale, a distinctive hop flavor, good and something I’d drink again but not something I’d go out of my way for)
  • Two Brothers Cane and Ebel (rye and palm sugar– sort of fruity/sweet– complex, but I didn’t like it– fortunately I was just tasting a friend’s)

Half Acre has a nice little tasting room at their brewery (which was near where I was staying with a friend). I sneaked a peek in back at their small canning operation as well– ever since friends started The Can Van, I’ve been especially curious which craft beers come in cans and at what scale that happens. From chatting with people at the brewery, one of the barriers to canning more beers is the printed cans themselves– they have to get huge pallets/stacks of cans printed at any given time, making it unreasonable to can their smaller-run beers even after making the investment in a canning line.

Level 33 Brewpub, Singapore

23 Jan

Asking a local where in Singapore to get a drink led us to Level 33, a brewpub on the 33rd floor of an office building, and by far my favorite place to have a drink all trip, even if it was expensive ($13-$17 Singapore dollars for a pint, or about $8-$12 US). Highly recommended.

Just check out this view… (click through for a larger panorama)

The brewing vessels, also on the 33rd floor:

Most importantly, the beer: Their English-style Stout was my favorite– a lightly nutty roasted malt flavor, but the Blond Lager was also excellent. Welcome changes during a trip when Tiger, Kirin, and Heineken were the only other beers I’d seen.

The view, later in the evening:

Portland Beer Bars

20 Sep

This is the final writeup from a weekend trip to Portland, focusing on our favorite beer places (Part 1: Portland Food, Part 2: Oregeon Brewers Festival). I half-wrote this right after the trip but hadn’t got around to posting it.

Bailey’s Taproom (SW Broadway and Pine, downtown)

A great place to taste beer– an informal space with plenty of seating and a rotating selection of about twenty beers on tap, including a lot of Oregon beer. For just $7.50 you can get a sampler of any five of your choice. I liked the Avatar Jasmine IPA (very faint hints of jasmine), but can’t remember what else we had (a scotch ale and one of the Upright beers, but I don’t seem to have notes).

Upright Brewing (on N Broadway, in a tricky-to-find location near freeway offramps and overpasses, in the basement of the Leftbank building)

We tried all nine beers they had on tap. My favorite by far (and one of my favorites of the trip– I brought some home) was the unusual Flora Rustica— it had some slightly vegetive flavors and an interesting faintly-bitter herbal taste (they said “spring yarrow” is one ingredient), as well as a bit of hot-pepper-like spiciness. It’s hard to describe but very worth trying [edit: the bottle I brought home didn’t have the same spiciness and wasn’t as strongly flavored]. Also exceptionally good was the Alphaphylactic Hop, not your typical hoppy beer. It had a slightly savory-vegetable-saute flavor, a light sweetness, a bit of hoppiness… and a taste that went on for a while and kept evolving (either as I got used to it, or as it warmed up).  The Four was a very well-done saison-style ale with a slight orange flavor and a floral/honey smell. I also wrote down that I liked the Five but can’t remember the details. The Six, Seven (more of a cream-style ale), Weisse, and Engel Pils were also all good. I didn’t like the hoppy Leafer Madness as much.

Horse Brass Pub (SE Belmont & 46th)

A great English-style pub, with cozy dark wood, plenty of tables, many cask beers (hand-pumped, light carbonation, served closer to room temperature) and a wide selection of non-local beers as well. We had a few beers, including a good cask-conditioned version of Racer 5 IPA, but the highlight was the truly amazing Hogs Back Stout (cask): hard to describe, but slightly “chewy”, slightly coffee/oatmeal flavored, rich, not especially sweet or dry… “balanced”? The best stout I’ve ever had and one of my favorite beers of the trip.

Ignore the excessive foam in the photo below– we got a second round of the Hogs Back, but the cask ran out while pouring them, so we got these heady half-beers for free.

Amnesia Brewing Company (N Beech and Mississippi)

A pleasant brewpub for a beer at on a sunny day, with a big outdoor patio and indoor warehouse seating near the brewing apparatus, with a slight smell of grain in the air. We all liked the Plum Founded, a mild pale ale aged with… plums. The ESB and Cream of the Crop (a beer made with flaked corn and a hint of creaminess) were also both good, and refreshing on a sunny summer day. None of these were our favorites of the trip, but all of them were better than most beers we had at the OBF.