Nov 192014

I’m on my quest to try a new craft beer for every Blackhawks game. Reporting will be a six-pack at a time, and will include a new-to-me brew on game day. Have a recommendation? Please share!

How’s going? I may need to take a page out of Coach Q’s playbook and blend my line-ups a little better. I should get to more Chicago beers after I work my way through my road-trip stash and into my Beer Temple run. Never fear.

Alphorn Pale Ale | Pecatonica Pecatonica Alphorn Pale Ale
Game 13: Blackhawks vs. Canadiens (5-0 W)

I picked up a metric ton of bottled on a recent Wisconsin jaunt, and I’m still finding new brews in my refrigerator like this solid, if unremarkable, pale ale from a new-to-me brewer.

I wish my first exposure to the brewery was better because I didn’t get more than a hint of fruity hops before the sweetness of malts took over the drink. A sweet beer is not my friend — I can really only enjoy them when they’re ice cold.

I have one more to try from Pecatonica. Fingers crossed.

Riverwest Stein Beer | Lake Effect Brewing Lake Effect Brewing Riverwest Stein Beer
Game 14: Capitals vs. Blackhawks (3-2 L)

I have a strong like for Lake Effect Brewing, enough to keep coming back to bottles when I spot them in the store. The Riverwest label put me in the mood for fall, brats, and cozy sweaters, and when I popped the lid, that’s exactly where I went in my head.

A pretty amber beer with a nice frothy head, Riverwest some nice floral notes and pleasant, malty flavor that matched the hops. I am still in like with Lake Effect, but that’s not a bad choice for an evening of hockey.

Coastbuster IPA | Upland Brewing Upland Brewing Coast Buster IPA
Game 15: Sharks vs. Blackhawks (2-5 W)

My last encounter with Upland scrubbed my tongue like sandpaper, but in a good way. When I spotted this four-pack at the Beer Temple they didn’t have to work too hard to sell it to me.

Wow. Love. Coast Buster did not disappoint. This brew features a bouquet of tropical hops with prominent pineapple and grapefruit that are well balanced by malts. Wet and juicy with a kiss of pine is how I initially described the flavor. We only drank two bottles because we’re hording the other two for a special occasion or until I can buy more.

Brett Cerise | Lake Effect Brewing Lake Effect Brewing Brett Cerise
Game 16: Lightning vs. Blackhawks (2-3 SO W)

The only reason I have Lake Effect back in the line-up so soon is because I sampled it at a local shop. Fruity beers and I do not get along, generally speaking, because their syrup-y characteristics tend get in the way of what I like about beer: hops.

Brett Cerise was different. The Oregan cherries were almost entirely present in the nose, but completely receded when I sipped it. The body was dry, sparkly, and just a little watery. I actually wanted more fruit in the flavor, and the cherry did settle in after a while. Overall, a refreshing fruit beer.

Lager Town | Half Acre Half Acre Lager Town
Game 17: Blackhawks vs. Red Wings (1-4 L)

I’m a sucker for a label, have I mentioned that? Half Acre put this brew out in at least three different labels that I’ve found. I kept picking it up to see if it was a new offering, and eventually broke down and bought one. Shhhh, don’t tell.

Was it worth it? I’d say so. This lager was a solid choice on a bitter cold night (with a bitter loss on the ice). The toasty malts played nicely with the carbonation, and finished with a bittersweet coating on the tongue. For some reason I craved a pepperoni pizza in the middle of the bottle, so maybe I should pair it with something next time.

Silurian Stout | Door County Brewing Door County Brewing Company Silurian Stout
Game 18: Stars vs. Blackhawks (2-6 W)

I should have paired Silurian Stout with something because it was too much to enjoy on its own. The aroma is a rich mix of chocolate and coffee from the toasted malts, and those are the dominate flavors of beer, too. The body is a little weak and watery, but without any cloying sweetness.

I wish I had eaten something hearty with this beer instead of trying to drink it on its own.

Round 3 Beer Rankings:
1) Coast Buster IPA, Upland Beer
2) Brett Cerise, Lake Effect Brewing
3) Lager Town, Half Acre
4) Silurian Stout, Door County Brewing Company
5) Riverwest Stein Beer, Lake Effect Brewing
6) Alphorn Pale Ale, Pecatonica

Want to follow my beer & hockey choices in real time? I keep the action live on both Instagram & Twitter. See you next puck drop!

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Nov 052014

Coffee & Doughnuts | Endgrain

Depending on what food calendar you go by, it’s National Doughnut Day – a day when all the good boys and girls are rewarded with fried doughy sugar conveyance of their choice. I choose to believe it’s today, and if I’m wrong? I’ll celebrate again in June. There’s no downside really.

Endgrain Doughnuts

My current favorite doughnut spot is Endgrain Restaurant (1851 West Addison). Every morning, except Saturday, they offer a gourmet doughnut and an endless cup of coffee for $5. The deal runs from 7am to 3pm or whenever they run out.

And they do run out. Endgrain won this year’s DonutFest trophy. If you can take your eyes off the doughnut case long enough, you’ll spot it on the top shelf of the bar. I’ve tasted enough of their doughnut offerings to know it’s well-earned.

Coffee & Doughnuts | Endgrain

Choices vary at Endgrain, but I seem to go for an alcohol-glazed concoction or a honey glazed doughscuit more often than not. The salted caramel is always a great option and I may be back for a pumpkin doughnut if my tolerance for seasonal celebrations holds out long enough. The biggest indulgence? A doughnut studded with bacon chunks and butterscotch that was the perfect salty-sweet balance. Plus pork.

Do yourself a favor and pop in to Endgrain today. Or any day that deserves to be celebrated with doughnuts.

Nov 032014

I’m on my quest to try a new craft beer for every Blackhawks game. Reporting will be a six-pack at a time, and will include a new-to-me brew on game day. Have a recommendation? Please share!

How’s going? In truth, I’m happier about the beer than I am the game play. Apparently it’s easier to change up hops than to get four lines rolling, so on to the brew!

Cherry Wheat Ale | Shipwrecked
Game 7: Cherry Wheat AleShipwrecked
Blues vs. Blackhawks (3-2 L)

I brought back a mix-and-match of brews from Shipwrecked in Wisconsin, but I think this is the last one I’m going to write about. Each of them hit a single note and I’m a little bored.

Although this ale had a strong fruity scent that was distinctly and definitely cherry, there was no fruit flavor at all. The ale was very astringent and slightly bitter. I enjoyed it more with food than on its own. I had a few brews after this one and nothing tasted right. I think it scrubbed my tongue in a really bad way.

Three Feet Deep | Furthermore
Three Feet DeepFurthermore
Game 8: Blackhawks vs. Senators (2-1 W)

I had no idea that there were cross-overs between craft beer and Scotch. These are the two drink choices I love most, so I was thrilled out of my mind to find this peat-infused stout from Furthermore.

It would be easy for either the peat characteristics to overpower the hops and malt, or for the peat to disappear. This was a remarkably balanced brew that brought forth the best of both. The stout was dry from start to finish and the peat was present throughout. I think it will pair really well with a chilly night and a bowl of stew. I almost can’t wait for that match-up.

Bitter Woman IPA | Tyranena
Bitter Woman IPATyranena Brewing Company
Game 9: Blackhawks vs. Ducks (0-1 L)

Okay, I’ll come clean. I drank this brew the night before, but I had a good reason — I was at the game! My wonderful BF scored tickets and we were close enough to hear Andrew Shaw yammering throughout. Even though we lost, there’s nothing better than actually being at the UC for hockey.

I love hoppy, piney, resin-filled IPA’s, but seldom find one that strikes a nice balance between hops and malt. I didn’t find Bitter Woman overly bitter or astringent, despite its name. In fact, I would serve this to my non-IPA-lovin’ friends and feel good about it.

White Out | Hinterland
White OutHinterland
Game 10: Senators vs. Blackhawks (5-4 W/SO)

I’m not a huge fan of Imperial Russian Stouts, but this one has grown on me. It’s a smooth drink, lighter than some I’ve had in this style, and certainly not as cloying and sweet.

It’s a full-bodied beer, no doubt. There’s a rich, malty backbone that carries bourbon and vanilla from start to finish. Throw in a dollop of chocolate and caramel and you’re halfway to dessert. Hops keep the brew from being sugary, but the piney notes don’t assert themselves too much. Definitely worth trying.

Vida y Muerte - 5 Rabbit
Vida y Muerte5 Rabbit
Game 11: Maple Leafs vs. Blackhawks (3-2 L)

I went out to dinner before the game and had this brew during a Dia de los Muertos dinner. Which was appropriate since this Oktoberfest-style is brewed with a little dulce de leche and Hoja santa leaves.

There’s something medicinal about the result, but the bitterness is well-balanced by the caramel notes. Despite the fight between life and death, this is an interesting and drinkable beer. I haven’t sought out anything from 5 Rabbit in a while, but they’ve really turned me around with this outing.

Mosaic Promise | Founders Brewing
Mosaic PromiseFounder’s
Game 12: Blackhawks vs. Jets (0-1 L)

I’m a huge fan of Founders, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up a new label from when I spotted it. Brewed with wet, ripe mosaic hops that hit and kept coming, the resin flavors came across a little like…well, cat piss. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant, but I’m not sure I could have finished it without spicy food.

As a side note, the mosaic window on the bottle actually exists and hangs in the tap room in Grand Rapids.

Round 2 Beer Rankings:
1) Three Feet Deep, Furthermore
2) Bitter Woman IPA, Tyranena Brewing Company
3) Vida y Muerte, 5 Rabbit
4) White Out, Hinterland
5) Mosaic Promise, Founder’s
6) Cherry Wheat Ale, Shipwrecked

Want to follow my beer & hockey choices in real time? I keep the action live on both Instagram & Twitter. See you next puck drop!

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