Monday, January 09, 2012

Weekend of beer

For Dave's 30th birthday, I set up a beer tour of Chicagoland.

Our first stop was Three Floyds, which is one of the most famed breweries (and brew pubs) in the Chicago area.  Technically it's in Indiana, but I love Dave, so we went anyway.

The line was huge and we didn't get in to the brew pub before our tour.  The tour was interesting, but we didn't get any samples to taste, so ultimately I would have rather not done the tour and spent some time in the pub instead, but what are you gonna do.

It was interesting to hear about brewing after we'd brewed and fermented our own beer.  Dave and Tom, who tagged along with us to all of the breweries, bought some beers from the shop, so we will have our own tasting later (when Dave has any desire to drink beer again).

Next stop was Flossmoor Station, probably the most pleasantly surprising stop of the day.  We met up with a bunch of college friends, one of whom ordered a sampling of every beer on the menu.  Dave drank his favorite of the entire day here:  barrel-aged brown ale.  My favorite was also here, the blueberry wheat.  We bought a growler of the blueberry wheat and Julie brought Dave a growler of a double IPA she found.  Woot, woot!

Next was Revolution Brewing in Logan Square.  I got into a bit of an altercation over our parking spot, but Dave was proud of how I stood my ground.  At Revolution, I was unimpressed with their Witbier, but Dave liked the hoppy beers he tried.  I ordered some pizzas for the table and we really started to amass a large following of people at this point.  There had been probably 8 of us at Flossmoor, but by this point there were probably about 18 or 20 (mostly law friends and Dave's coworkers).

The last stop was Haymarket Brewing in the West Loop.  At this point I had no more desire for beer, but I was really hoping to get a glass of their Bananahammock hefeweizen.  Unfortunately, they stopped brewing it, and I wasn't a fan of the wheat beer I tried (or maybe I had just drank too much beer already that day).  We met up with about 25 people, and it was really good to see everybody.  Some people said that Haymarket was their favorite pub over Revolution, and others said the opposite.  I'd probably do Haymarket for more of a happy hour event, and I'd do Revolution for a small dinner, I think.

After all that, the poor guy had to bottle our home brew the next day as he battled a hangover.  And although the home brew hefeweizen smelled good, it looked like this:


That is the half-fermented beer.  Basically you cook the pre-beer mixture, which includes malt extract, water, and hops.  Then you cool it and add the yeast, which eats the sugars over a period of about a week.  Then you bottle with some more sugar and the yeast carbonates the beer in the bottle for about a month.

Burt stayed the night and helped us bottle the beer.  Here he is, holding a siphon and sporting an incredible handlebar mustache.

We got about a case and a half of beer out of it, although I think some of that was wasted because we just weren't very efficient at bottling.  Next time I think we could get more out of it if we used a strainer.  After we do one more kit, we'll probably start using recipes from a beer brewing book we bought.

So that was our weekend - pretty much a beer bonanza.  My dad is still in the hospital and we visited him both days, and I look forward to sharing our home brew with him when he gets out of the hospital.  (He will be home long before the beer is ready, though!)

Happy 30th, Dave, from your 20-something wife!


Unknown said...

Sounds like a great time, and we're sorry to have missed it, but you skipped the best brewery in Chicago - Half Acre! Maybe we can meet you there this weekend.

Valerie said...

We didn't skip it - they don't have a brew pub! You can buy cans or fill growlers, but that's about it. We need to do the tour though.

Joe T said...

Half Acre's tour books up stupid early. It may be booked indefinitely, or they might have started charging. They'll let you sample what they have on tap any time though. (I don't know why I'm showing up as "Unknown" still, but this is Joe--hi Val!)