Basically we showed up at Klas Restaurant in Cicero, drank beer in a blind tasting, took notes, and voted during dinner. I will reveal the winners, but first let me tell you about the beers and food!
The beers were labeled as follows:
- Smoked porter
- Belgian dubbel
- Raspberry ale aged in wine barrels
- Oatmeal stout
- American hoppy stout
- Premium Czech lager
- Hibiscus Belgian golden ale
- Baltic porter
- Double IPA
- American amber ale
- Wee heavy
- Russian imperial stout
- Copper lager
I was focusing more on getting the names down and less on actually taking notes. For example, my favorite beers simply have a smiley face, something that embarrassed me a bit when I showed others my list to refresh their memories about the labels of each beer. Others just say "hoppy" or "very hoppy." Under the Wee Heavy, #12, I simply wrote, "JESUS." I am kind of proud that I thought #7, the premium Czech lager, tasted like fried barley oats. Mmm.
Dave's comments were a little more in-depth and much more impressive. "Distinct oatmeal flavor, slightly spicy." "Complex, smoky, thick, almost a light rye." "Strong, deep finish. 'Off' flavor."
I voted for the following for first through third place: #8, #2, and #14. Dave voted for #14, #13, and #2. He was sure that the copper lager, #14, was the Dynamo Copper Lager from Metropolitan Brewery. I had a hunch that the premium Czech lager might be Budweiser (not that Budweiser, this one). But we had to wait.
Dinner was delicious. We had goulash, tossed salad, roast chicken, smoked polish sausage with sauerkraut, Wiener schnitzel, roasted baby red potatoes with rosemary, green bean almondine, bread dumplings, and kolacky. Kind of a smorgasbord of Central European deliciousness.
We got to talk to a lot of our beer-loving brothers in arms. The event was probably 2/3 guys, 1/3 women. We talked to two guys that had bottled their own home brews this very day, including one raspberry jalapeno beer. Sounds interesting! I had a couple of beer buddies that I'd compare notes with, and one guy even told Dave that I was the "ideal woman" because I'd come to a beer tasting with him (and actually enjoy it). Aww.
The people we sat across from at dinner were on a date and complained about each other to us, separately. The woman said she liked wine - white zinfandel only, bleargh - but said she doesn't like how much the guy drinks. Umm...we're at a beer tasting, lady. Do you think maybe you're preaching to the wrong choir?
After dinner, they revealed not only the identity of each beer, but also the winners of the blind tasting vote.
- Peg Leg Smoked Porter by Haymarket Pub & Brewery (now called Cease and Desist Smoked Porter)
- Nommo Dubbel by Boulevard Brewing Co.
- Lolita Raspberry Ale by Goose Island Beer Co.
- Midway IPA by Goose Island Beer Co.
- Poet Oatmeal Stout by New Holland Brewing Co.
- Rise American Hoppy Stout by Revolution Brewing Co.
- Czechvar Premium Czech Lager by Budweiser Budvar Brewery
- Holiday Ale Hibiscus Belgian Golden by 5 Rabbits Cerveceria
- "Dan" Baltic Porter by Lakefront Brewing Co.
- Hop Slayer Double IPA by Wild Onion Brewing Co.
- Red Seal American Amber Ale by North Coast Brewing Co.
- McFinn's Wee Heavy Scottish Ale by Mickey Finn's Brewery
- Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout by Leinenkugel Brewing Co.
- Dynamo Copper Lager by Metropolitan Brewing Co.
So, Dave and I were both right about our guesses. I was really glad I tried everything, because a lot of them were beers I never would have ordered in a restaurant. All of them rated highly on the beer rating websites, which is not surprising because these people really know beer.
Overall, the first place was tied between Leinie's Big Eddy and Revolution's Rise Stout. Third place was the 5 Rabbits Holiday Ale, which was my favorite. (I didn't link it above because it has not yet been released.) I am going to look out for that one at my local liquor store!