The HoneyMOON In Evanston.

Evanston has much to offer.
Big trees lake front art fairs world music, red brick garden walks climbing roses, well heeled picture book, soccer mom station wagon proud parents, shopping chain parking meter caffeine, international big brain tax base movie books, young and old high and low schooled and street, spice beat retiree hideaway blue and white everyday.

Evanston proffers two worlds on the bias, being a touch more suburb than city—a City Lite, so to speak.
The joint is rife with chardonnay and martinis, salmon dill, steaks and Za, mildly ethnic, zagat, yelp and hungry hound fast food fusion foodie favorites.
And as I wander it’s familiar streets, formerly of Wilmette and now all Chi-town, I thirst. Succor, succor the cry, and I look for a cold one.

But where oh where are the brewskis in this town? The Aiming Fluid? Swing Oil, Barley Sandwich, Wobbly Pop, the Ol’ Brown Bottle?

Bottle Shops What’s Tops.
• Davis Street Founding Father— Evanston #1 Liquors. The usual suspects and a solid selection of American craft beers and foreign favs. Both on shelves and cold to go. $$ so bring a little extra cake.
Evanston 1st Liquors: 1019 Davis St. (847) 328-9651.

• Chicago Ave. x2—Whole Foods for a reliable selection of craft four and sixers, overseas offerings and a handful of bombers—plus all the pallet pleasing foods possible, to pair with your purchase.
Whole Foods Markets: a. 1640 Chicago Ave. (847) 733-1600 and
b. 1111 Chicago Ave. (847) 475-9492

But where to go for a proper pint—a true son of the brew-volution?

This Moon Is a Harvest Moon.
There is a place in Evanston where you can reap the best of barley and hops, and that place is Prairie Moon. Surrounded by Pilates and power lifting, here’s the place to do some power lifting of your own. The Moon is the best place for the good stuff in all of Evanston.

The Moon’s 15 taps have much to offer.
Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow, Zombie Dust, Artic Panzer Wolf, Dogfish Head 60, 90 and Chateau Jiahu, Perennial Aria, Surly Furious, Great Lakes Nosferatu, Lagunitas Fusion 16 and Sumpin’ Wild. Straffe Hendrik, Clownshoes, Beer City, Brash Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin, Sixpoint, Revolution, Half Acre, Northcoast, St. Bernardus, Delerium, Fransiskaner, Flossmoor, Oscar Blues, Allagash, BOM Triporteur, Lunar Brewing, Gigantic, Urthel, Stone, Solemn Oath, Firestone, L’Amathee, Chouffe, Duvel, and Ale Syndicate, to name a few. And if you’ve heard of them all, you most likely haven’t tasted them all.

The Moon always has 1 or 2 comforting taps that are on special, and often feature a brewery for ‘flight night’ or ‘cask night’ once a month. PM also offers an excellent selection of bottles, cans, bombers—grouped by size: Cork finished 750s, 22 oz., and 12 oz. Why just this week, a selection of double deuce big bottles where 50% off.

In addition, breweries like Tyrennina, Summit, Half Acre, Solemn Oath, 3Fs, Dogfish Head, Two Brothers, Revolution, Mad Hatter—execute a tap take over, or are invited to come in and share a word, as well as a pint or two of some lunar delight.
Speaking of brew-lunacy, Prairie Moon also plays host to the Evanston Home Brew Club on the third Thursday of each month. Crazy.

Prairie Moon features solid and satisfying grub. Handsome burgers, po-boys, steak and stew and soup, calamari, fish tacos, mac n’ cheese, Cajun blackened treats, chips and guacamole, bread pudding—comestibles to help soak-up the first-rate reason you’re at the Moon.

Celestial Suds.
This satellite is decidedly the place beer devotees should go should they escape Chicago’s gravity—the best joint north of Hopleaf and Acre. And PM is three blocks from two different El stops for easy accessibility.

This is one Orb of Night that makes for a great day—lunch, dinner or nightcap.

Prairie Moon All American Dining…and Drinking: 1502 Sherman Ave. (847) 864-8328 or visit them at

Cheers. BL.

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More Flights Take You Farther.

As the glaciers recede and mammoth brands dwindle, new means of meeting our tribe’s needs must be found.
So pack up your clovis points and head for Andersonville’s flourishing plains, where you’ll hit upon Jerry’s Sandwich Shop—who has created a freewheeling ‘flight format’ for finding the finest of ‘Ol Foamy’—which both favors and simplifies the arduous and perilous life of the dedicated beer ‘Hunter Gatherer’.

At many a ‘Barley Pop’ stand, if beer ‘flights’* are an option, that option offers no option. Often the flight consists of a fixed list of four beers—and of the four, one is usually the hideously noticeable runt of that litter.
* Like a wine tasting, ‘Beer Flights’ offer the adventuresome soul 4 to 5 ‘samples’ of beer. Served in 3.5-6 oz glasses, the beer is most often composed and sampled in progression from lightest to heaviest (light to dark). Some joints offer 1 oz nibbles for a buck.

Pour More the Merrier.
Jerry’s regularly minted beer broadsheet features 46 taps and 2 cask engines, constituting a fabulously, far ranging, constantly changing set of beers worthy of pursuit.

The hunt has been made easier, as every offering has flight status. Both short pour (6 oz) and long pour (12 oz-16 oz) prices are posted alongside all 48 offerings, making ‘tastings’ a true buffet experience.

Recent Flights of Fancy.
With so many destinations, Hop Kaiser and I have taken many flights to Jerry’s.
For example:
• Perennial Artisan Ales—‘Heart of Gold’ wheatwine. ‘Abraxas’ Imperial Mesoamerican Stout, “Black Walnut Dunkel” Dunkelweizen, and “Fantastic Voyage’ Milk Stout. Lovely, lovely, with a ‘Return ticket’ to ‘Heart’.
• Brash Brewing Company—“Item Nine” American IPA. 9% tropical hand grenade. Return Ticket.
• Aleman/Oso collaboration—“The Hammer” imperial blonde. Aged on cedar. Return Ticket.
• Flossmoor Station Brewery—‘Mycetes’ Belgium dubbel made with Hedgehog mushrooms (ain’t no Grateful Dead agriculture), and ‘Delasser’ Belgian Pale Ale at the hands of FS rep Shawna Carter. Going to get me a ‘Return Ticket’ to FS Brewery to see what the new brew master is…well…brewing.
Solemn Oath/Sun King collaboration—‘Mythological Wonder’ Double Red Rye Aleger (Lager yeast at ale temps) with tasty maple bread orange zest resin buried pepper goodness. This Flight landed a big pour. Worth a Return Ticket.

Ups and Downs of Manned Beer Flights.
Benefits? Firstly, there are lots of beers and they’re making more every second.
Secondly, you can sample a brewery’s whole line-up without having to lie down.
Thirdly, if you don’t care for that beer, you leave only a little.
And lastly, if you like the short version, then go for the unabridged version.

Bummers? First class ‘flights’ are a pricey way to travel—but the number of introductions, of stops and discoveries, of new brew-romance, more than makes up for the additional doe-ray-me.
And as Jerry’s regularly hosts tastings for breweries, and fields new beers almost everyday, the chances of ‘bagging’ a new favorite are greatly increased.

Jerry’s also offers a bay full of bombers that deliver the mega-tonnage.
By the by, though the beer wags this sandwich shop, they cook and construct some mighty tasty comida. Thier refined BLT is now my BFF.

At two locations, Jerry’s Sandwich Shop makes wild exploration and capturing tons of taste—ridiculously easy.

Jerry’s – Andersonville, 5419 N. Clark St., Chicago (773) 796-3777 and
Jerry’s – Wicker Park,
1938 W. Division, Chicago 60622
(773) 235-1006
or visit them on line at

Cheers. BL.

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Full Tilt at Half Acre.

Their beer tastes of frontier.
The newsboys proclaim, “Gold has been discovered at Hopleaf”, and this news sweeps the city like O’Leary’s bovine fire brigade.
Seven Half Acre barrels cracked. The pioneers pour in, forming a storming snake of a queue. The volume of anticipation pounds the floorboards as the faithful stand poised to harvest the fruits of this fertile Half Acre.

On tap? Double Daisy Cutter, Guajillo Baume, Shewolf IPA (3 Floyds Collaboration), Freedom of ’78 (Short’s Brewing Collaboration), Bairn Farmhouse, Longthai Rainbow Rye and StickyFat American Dark Ale.
Consistent with frontier forts, HA’s offerings reflect both sophisticated islands and rough hewn hideouts.

Within an hour and half, the vein taps out and the claim runs dry.
Summer is over.
A Pause to Refresh: Consider for a moment, the spectrum represented in those seven Half Acre offerings. It gives me the goose bumps.

Ain’t no cure for the Summertime Brews.
It’s hot out. I park on a side street and am greeted by a waft of malty breeze. With an eagerness of step that telegraphs my purpose, I take a short turn of a block and a half to arrive at the modest door of Half Acre brewery & Craft Beer Emporium.
Inside, young people with easy smiles and relaxed posture sample beer at their leisure. Upon my entrance they turn as one to bid me welcome, and ask with a casual air that belies the serious and masterful current that runs deep in this generation of brewers, “Would I care for a beer?”

I’m at Half Acre, and I am home.

Fearless young men in their brewing machines.
If you don’t know Half Acre, let’s take a stroll together.
Situated on Lincoln Avenue, mid-block, east side, two blocks south of Montrose.
Half Acre’s narthex features a glowing reception and a tasting room populated by a team of spigots promising an outpouring of good beer.

Mad mountain men inhabit the world of Half Acre. Wild and wooly wizards of Ol’ Foamy, fearless and bold adventurers all. They brew the way others skateboard or surf or drive on the Kennedy—at will, what ever they will, with a prodigious output of the weird and wonderful for our consumption.
The press of offerings is relentless, one interesting offering after another being proffered. I’m buying a tent and camping by the door.

Half Acre @ Hopleaf—September 29, 2010.

A Evening Full of Surprises.
Before we begin, how did these guys get so dang lucky? They breathe rarified air.
(Lest ye worry, every pour was a half pint.)

Freedom of ‘78: in conjunction with Joe Short (Short’s Brewing) and Jonathan Cutler (Piece). No pikers them.
If you fashioned a hop cone from a rambutan or mango, you’d nail it. Made with 1000 lbs. of Ecuadorian guava, this brew walks a tightrope that is dry yet fruity, wheat yet full—that unique tropical tang tangos with hops bitterness. Curious, intriguing and very drinkable. Weird and worthy of a try—if there was any left.

Double Daisy Cutter:
A touch of ‘Freedom’ without the fruit. Substantial hoppiness with clouds and dust not found in the aforementioned. A touch confused, the big and bitter, alcohol laden DDC is a double hop knee drop on your tongue. Here’s a limb to climb: Does ‘Freedom’ and ‘Double Daisy’ represent the HA signature hop profile? More research is needed. Worthy of a try—if there was any left.

Sticky Fat American Dark Ale:
First, an aside: I’ve partaken of  numerous American darks, dark IPAs and even black IPAs–and though customary beer labeling has gone by the board—these beers have proven to be little more than hoppy porters. Not bad in itself, but when the brew’s malt fist leads to the kisser, it ain’t no PA, Rocky.

Sticky Fat ADA: Now ‘The Dark Side’ is a thing of joy and delicate balance. Malt increases, yet hops increase further still. A close run race, with hops clearing the finish first. Malty bittersweet marries Mr. Whole Leaf Wet Hops—a little rough around the edges like homespun—it serves up dry, bright and bubbly by the magician’s art. Worthy of a try—if there was any left.

Longthai Rainbow Rye: (from an earlier adventure).
A liquid travel log. Full figured yet a light, bright farmhouse saison brewed with long Thai peppercorns. Belgium-esque shenanigans meet genteel pepper pillow fight. A whisper of sweet and sour, a touch of tundra, a dash of malt, and a smidgen of eastern spice. Interesting lighter fare and probably worth a try—oh, and there may be some left on tap at Bad Apple.

Guajillo Baume: Chocolate Rye American Stout
Take a frying pan. Dry roast Oaxacan cocoa pods, pine nuts, a few coffee beans, and a handful of Guajillo chile peppers. Grind and drink. Deep, rich, effervescent, textured like peasant’s bread, a burning bitter molé negro in a glass. Yi Chiwawa. Yummy and worthy of a try—if there was any left.

Shewolf IPA (3 Floyds Collaboration): (anecdotal tasting)
Darn. Reported to be exactly what you’d expect from yet another deliciously big, hoppy brew. Will it never end?

Give Half Acre your FULL attention.
Find out for yourself why your glass is never “Half Empty” at Half Acre. Visit these hearty frontiersmen and score a bomber or growler of their wares at Half Acre Beer Co. 4257 N. Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60618 or visit them online at

Cheers. BL.

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Berry Good Brews News.

To most Johns and Joans, Juniper berries say gin.

But long before those crazy 17th century Niederlanders cooked up gin, Egyptians, Greeks, Eastern Indians, Romans, even Native Americans used juniper for anything and everything. Everything! Female contraception, ‘the Cure for the ‘Rheumatiz’, spice for wild game and kraut, even as a ‘dieting aid’ to suppress appetite during famine. Juniper adorned the ancient’s rustic beauty as jewelry beads and made the scene in the good old days for ‘juicing’ by classic Olympians—though Theogenes of Thasos denies all allegations.

Since hops weren’t cultivated until the 8th century, Fins fashioning a rye-and-juniper beer known as sahti–flavored with both juniper berries and branches–centuries before they skied rings around the Ruski.
By the way, as juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of juniper conifers, it’s no big leap for brew dogs to jump from seed cone—to hops.

Ol’ Foamy fast-forward.
Given the craft beer revolution’s insatiable appetite for new brewing ideas, there’s small surprise that juniper is jumping.
e.g. Dogfish Head’s Sah’tea and Vintage brewery’s Sahti (out of Madison) both feature that revived female voice.

Out last night with that intrepid beer-hunter Hopkaiser. The Map Room offered one of Rouge’s collaborative, barrel aged ‘John John’ specialty beers.
Rouge John John Juniper Pale Ale (Concocted from a myriad of malts, Styrian, Golding, Amarillo & Rogue Hopyard Willamette hops, Juniper berries, and then aged in spruce gin barrels). Dry, peppery and sour—this baby sees Belgium lambic covering first base. Interesting collection of doorknobs—piney, spicy, bitter medicine pill for what ales you. Weird, yet worth trying.

Kitchen sinks and swim.
Juniper. Rosemary. Smoked Bacon. Agave. Peppercorns. Chili. Rose hips. Oysters. Mustard seed. Toasted hemp. Pizza (figures that it follows hemp). Even Caphe Cut Chon coffee beens (found in the droppings of the Civet-jungle cat) are all possible fixings on the beer ingredient buffet.
No one has been more surprised than I by the inventiveness and prolific growth resulting from the craft beer phenom. Exploration and daring (cat) do seem part and parcel of the new breed of brewer’s DNA.
True, not every offering is spot on, but risk-filled and dynamically creative brewing continually creates the cure for the common 12oz. beer curl.

So we exhort ye. Keep searching young ladies and sirs—for the mystical ‘Britney’ to fill our grails. With you bold brewers on watch, much wild adventure awaits us beer enthusiasts in the years to come.

Cheers. BL

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Munster Monster.

Welcome to the Floyd.
Which one is pink? Think again. These boys are RED hot at making cram-packed brews. Every square milliliter is chocked full of flavor and brimming with their unique take.
I’ve been hitting Three Floyds since I was middle aged (sigh*), trudging barefoot through miles of snow, traffic and Chicago Bear’s games to let the Floyd flow.
Peering back through the mists of time: I was lending a hand at a Slow Foods event in the gallery district of Chicago. I think Harding was president then. T’was there that I bumped headlong into the three caballeros. Begging a taste, I knew then and there that everything was different—a world transformed. And though I knew better, I intoned with the Bard, “I’ll stop the world and melt with you.”

Floyd Flash-backwash.
Here’s a tale to make grown men weep.
When first a fan, I came across ‘Three Fs’ finery in Dekalb, Illinois. My son was in school for fine art. I maintained that siren’s pipedream of finding a cherry vintage Porsche in a barn for a couple of large. This worked out better.
In one particular ‘beverage’ store, I came upon a case of Dreadnaught. I offered to take the whole fleet off their hands.
Price per bomber? $3.95. Weep yes, but tears of joy.

HK and I made the journey last night, to celebrate life with a good Joe named George. There was a 20 minute line—one line worth waiting for—and one well earned as result of a remarkable flow-tilla of great beers over the years.
Want to impress friends, family and foreigners with what’s going on on the beer front? Go Floyd. Ohhhh, Andy.

Let the love Floyd.
How do you mend a broken heart? The Sox may have taken a bath, but we made out pretty well.
• Gorsch Fock Helles Lager: Big for the style, yet light, bright, clean, with a light touch ‘o’ the hops.
• Lord Admiral Nelson ESB: By British Bitter we mean American Revolution. At most joints this is a PA and possibly an IPA. Big, rich, yummy bitter butter. Fabulous.
• ‘Sand Pebbles’ American Brown: Roasty, toasty, malty tasty, yet quiet and clean as a bosun’s whistle.
• Dreadnaught IIPA: The best big, clean liquid Christmas tree in a bottle.

Need I say it? All are Worth Trying.

Our choice brews where paired with comidas a la Floyd. Ladies and Germs, they have a good kitchen—slinging tasty snacks and noshes (Scottish Eggs and Pommes Frites), bodacious burgers (mit pretzel roll, gorgonzola and thick-cut bacon, baby), sandwiches, Za (they’re Piece Pals), and other munchy-wunches.

No air guitar with these heavy-up boys, as every beer comes with extra.
Some accuse the Floyds of breaking the rules, of busting a big move on every style until there is no style. When hoisting a beautifully big and balanced brewski—who gives a flying Floyd.

“I’ll show you style. Floyd style.”Liberty V.
Just do the math, and know that almost all offerings come plus, plus, plus—to sharpen you up for a little ultra tasting.

Cheers. BL.

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Repeat That Northern Beer Beat.

Sadly, summer is drawing to a close with frightening rapidity.
So Hopkaiser and I joined forces with the spirit of Richard Crenna, and striking out from Chicago, made one last savage thrust into the heart of Wisconsin.
Madison that is. Movie stars. Swimming pools. And fried cheese curds.

First. Is there no end of great new beers?
Secondly, Wisconsin once again proves a pioneer’s paradise.

For them that like adventure, know that we hit some of the best of the bold—Vintage, Great Dane, Ale Asylum and Tyranena.
The Wisconsin Summer Solstice Beer Lovers Festival in June was our initiation. T’was there on a perfect summer’s day, that HK and I met and toasted Wisconsin’s new breed of brewers. And tasted many a fine brew.
The breweries that follow make suds that rise again and again to the top of the list.

Four Fermenting Feathers in Madison’s Cap.

Sir Vintage leads the charge.
From a Chi-eye view, we worked Madison from left to right, stopping at Vintage Brewing Company first.
Scott Manning, ‘V’s rock-star brew master is the second reason we came to call. The beer was the first.
Derby Girl ESB: A refreshing, all evening beer with a nice hop presence, this ‘Bitter’ is bigger and better than Britain’s name same. Worth Trying.
Palindrome Pale Ale: An APA of remarkable balance. Bright and full. Hoppy and malty paired to perfection, 44 IPUs are plenty when applied artfully. Tasty coming and going. Worth Trying.
Alpentraum Weizenbock:(Sampled) Amazing strong dark wheat made with smoked malt—light, bright, effervescing, dark, sweet, and smoky. Fabulous. And dang sad that we were reduced to only a taster. Worth Trying and perhaps worth moving to Madison for.
Rosemary:(Sampled) A Rosemary infused, cask conditioned experimental brew that suggests that Rosemary is kissing cousin to Mr. Hoppy. Going green never tasted so good. Worth Trying—if it isn’t already gone.

Scott Free.
Scott came out to talk beer and make generous with his brew-offspring. HK and I drank in his scrumptious offerings and infectious enthusiasm for all things brewed.
We also chatted up ‘V’s sous-chef A.J., a man with vision for vittles cooked and paired with beer. These guys are going places. Check them out at and then go get a beer.

Great Dane stands tall.
Next stop, downtown, within the shadow of the capital building. Great Dane’s groovy digs speak of today and days gone by. The barkeep was good enough to turn us on to a brew that reflected GD’s philosophy sketched in ol’ foamy.
Black Watch Scotch Ale: A peat smoked, cask conditioned Scottish style ale, with those room tempature, low effervescent characteristics you expect from hand-pulled pleasure. Deep, complex, resonant bass notes complimented by an ambient malty sweet aria. Sipping stuff. Worth Trying.
• Tri-Pepper Pils:(Sampled)
Hot pepper light with a dash of Jalapeño green. Hot. Dry. Bitter. Peppers. Get out your dowsing rod.

Bark as good as it’s bite.
Our tight schedule recommended that we move on—before we became tight. One tasting did no service to Great Dane’s line-up, and HK and I look forward to a longer stay.
See what we’re baying about at

Lock me in the Ale Asylum.
And throw away the key.
My long-standing nickname has been ‘Hop Whore’, which makes Ale Asylum all comfort zone. For Chicagoans, think ‘brewed in the manner’ of Three Floyds (Munster, Indiana) where every beer delivers big, bad, bold bang for the brew buck. Asylum offers taste and IPAsters galore.
Ambergeddon amber ale: As west-coast style, each aspect is big as California’s debt. When ample hops and malt collide in proper proportion, the results are full, clean and eminently drinkable. Think Reese’s. You got malt in my hops—you got hops in my malt. Worth Trying.
Hopalicious APA via Ballistic IPA: I drew the short straw. Now don’t get me wrong, Hopalisious delivers everything you want in a solid, hoppier than usual pale ale. But HK ordered the Ballistic IPA and it’s the bomb. Hops in profusion, 105mm malt support, this is a clean, full flavored, beautifully colored citrus explosion. Worth Trying? Yeah, baby, yeah.
Satisfaction Jackson:(Sampled) “Is his name. Is his fame.” Talkin’ ‘bout the three hundred pound hop in the room. Nuff said. Worth Trying.

Crazy about beer.
Happily, one of the Asylum’s knowledgeable wardens came over to chat, and prescribe some medication. Thanks to Otto Dilba, we learned more—both aurally and orally—about the mad, mad, mad, mad world of the Asylum, craft brewing, marketing, competition, beer travel, style platforms, art of packaging, etc. This is a must place for beer-nutters.
Knock yourself out at

Tyranena no longer a mystery.
Our fantastic voyage researching the ‘Brewing’ straits, upon the intrepid USS Brewmobile, landed us at last on the friendly shores of Lake Miles, home of Tyranena Brewery.
“Oh bury me, by Tyranena Brewery.” Comfortable, familiar space, friendly denizens, beer garden, eclectic and far-reaching selection of ‘Liquid Courage’—how else you going to run the ratlines in dirty weather.
Gemuetlichkeit Oktoberfest: One reason why Oktoberfest is celebrated in September—there’s no waiting for such a full flavored, handsomely balanced hop and malt hornpipe. Worth Trying.
Scurvy IPA: The other side of IPAs. While some sport denser, stormier hearts, this IPA unfurls those sparkling grapefruit and orange citrus notes that compliment a perfect summer evening’s sunset, sitting on the Ty’s quarterdeck. Worth Trying.

The Brew-oceanographical Society.
All the adventure in the world, with all the comforts of home. This is the easiest, friendliest way to sign on—and travel the high seas of brewskis. Visit them at

Madison is home to giants.
They might be? They are.
Touring the beers and breweries of Madison has been both a treat and an eye opener—and a trip worth making if you’re interested in that loveliest of libations.
Make it a day. Or two and stay over night. I’m telling you folks; Madison joins the ranks of them which offer the best that beer-dom has to offer.

Should you venture forth, drink WATER while you drive. Then make room for food, room for convivial conversation, room for pacing and room for sleeping bags.
TIP: We find that progressing from lighter to fuller styles, and maltier to hoppier formulas (robust porters, stouts can pile up, yet that bitter bud punches through) work best when tasting and taking notes—allowing each voice to be heard over it’s neighbor.
TIP: Half pints, shorts ‘n’ samples. Make sure you get the bear, and not the other way ‘round.
TIP: Order plenty of water while working, to keep the palate refreshed and the ol’ bod hydrated. Critical.
TIP: Hotel, motel, Easy Boy, Bag.

Check out the Wisconsin Brewers Guild member’s page at for more worthwhile destinations.

Bon Voyage.
Cheers. BL

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Beer Strike.

HK and I went bowling last night. Settin’ ‘em up, knockin’ ‘em down.
This particular game involves splitting and thoughtfully considering four ‘Beer Pins’ in four frames.

The head pin consisted of Dogfish Head’s version of the mucho delicioso Saison du Buff (Stone, Victory and DfH collaboration), succeeded by Goose Island’s Belgiums in a Box—featuring Sofie, Matilda and Pere Jacques.

Frame #1: Saison du Buff.
Refresher Course: Saison du Buff is brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and has been brewed thrice, once at each brewery using the same recipe.
Suggestion: collect the whole set and have a ‘Blind-man’s Buff” tasting for your brew buds.

SDB is crisp, effervescent and green as all outdoors. If memory serves (unlikely at this age), this version of SDB serves those quintessentially Belgium citrus (lightly sweet) yeast notes up front—which rise from the bottom like bubbles to support and showcases that marvelous herbaceous giant, lying comfortably on the hop bed of bitterness.
How strange if ones subjective view could color a beer—but I’m pretty dang positive I can detect that signature Dogfishy something (Their alcohol tang?). Worth trying (all versions of  ‘du Buff).

Frame #2: Goose Island Matilda.
Matilda offers a ‘classic’ American take on a Belgium pale ale. Which is to say “more of everything”—like two, two, two yeasts in one. ‘Mattie’ is fermented and re-fermented to add depth of character—she’s a yeasty fruity spicy sweetie-pie. Lots of flavors, decent hop presence, all overshadowed by prune-whip. A sip, not a chug. Worth trying.

Frame #3: Goose Island Pere Jacques.
Carmel, dried fruit, banana, and a pinch of alcohol. Beautiful in the glass, ‘Father’ tastes bigger than a dubbel—more of a strong dark ale.
To my lights, this baby is sweet, fruity and fizz free enough to be dessert.
Truth is, ‘Dad Jack’ is such a Belgium Belgium—that if I’m going to walk this line of country, I’m thinking Rochefort, Westvleteren or St. Bernardus. Worth trying. Right up your alley if you like Fig Newtons.

Frame #4: Goose Island Sofie.
Golden seltzer of love. Sofie puts me in mind of Duvel’s younger sister. A farmhouse that is bustling with activity—sparkling scharf dry citrusy goodness abounds—finishing up with a vanilla cream cookie treat. Wine-barrel aged with orange rind, this beer is great for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Worth trying all day long.

Goose Island Aside: We enjoyed these proofs that GI makes remarkably solid Belgium beers. As the aside, the brewer suggests that all three offerings develop in the bottle over 5 years. So dust off a shelf in your cellar.

On A Roll.
Wings. Beef Grinders. Mosquitoes. A roaring fire (to keep ravenous mosquitoes at bay). Lively conversation. Even a dollop of Wes Anderson.

Rolling and controlling. Four-bagger on a soft Thursday evening.
Life is good.


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