Tag Archives: chicago

Rogue Brutal IPA

Rogue Ales need no introduction. They haunt the United States like a spectre, appearing here, there and everywhere, dominating conversations, elbowing out Barbarians, Bards and Wizards with beard yeast, peanut butter beers and Brutal IPAs.

This 6.3% beer, which must be Rogue’s 250th variety of IPA, is a lusciously luminescent mandarin colour with moderate head and carbonation. It reeks of citrus, orange muscling in over pineapple and sweet sugar syrup. It’s smooth, thick and tannic, with a big bitter bite backing up a deliciously warm, gluggy brioche malt cocktail. Hop flavour peeks out here and there but the blanket of malt wins out. Nice.

I bought a pint of this beer at Rossi’s Bar, Chicago, IL. This tiny place had possibly the blandest bartender I’ve ever encountered, tinged with an edge of seething hostility. Quite something. Definitely affected how the beer tasted and the atmosphere as a whole, which I didn’t mind really as I was only stopping in. So much for the friendly Midwest!

Finch’s Beer Co. Fascist Pig Ale

Finch’s Beer Co. is another Chicago native brewery that keeps a humble profile. They’ve been around for five years brewing and packaging out of Elston. Their cans are great to look at – speaking to the founder’s background in visual communication – and I selected the can with the name that spoke the most to me …

The 8% ABV Fascist Pig Ale is a murky amber colour with a frothy uneven head. It has the lemon zesty aroma that I often associate with rye beers and an understated but fresh hop aroma. Think sauerkraut, onions and freshly ground leaves. There’s even a little background generic maltiness in the aroma. Although it’s not a mental cacophony, as so often is the case with a U.S. beer at such high ABV, this beer’s aroma has a lot going on.

Flavourwise the first truck to hit you is caramel, toffee-sweet malt. Then comes the bitterness wagon; again, a fresh, acerbic hop character, with a devastating afterbitterness that lingers on. A slick mouthfeel assists the malt-bomb along and restrains the affect of the alpha acids and spicy rye. This is a beer that I can’t drink quickly, but I sure can drink.

If I had to put it into a BJCP style, I guess it would be either a double IPA, with an unusual aroma, or a thicker example of an American Brown Ale, but without the citrus whack ova’ the ‘ead.

I bought a can of this beer at Sky Liquors, Norwood Park, Chicago, Illinois and drank it in a house nearby, after feasting on the immensely delicious Red Apple Polish buffet. Oh my. Still reeling from the meals I had there; I expanded my stomach to new limits.

Piece Brewery Kick the Tires IPA

The Piece Brewpub has been around for a while and serves up absolutely huge pizzas with small-batch beers. Although small batch, the line-up is pretty regular; but not too heavy on the lagers or IPAs, which is unusual for brewpubs like this in the U.S.A.

The brewpub itself is wide open and comfortable with only thirteen flat screen TVs, truly a paucity. All the fancy fermentors are in a side room and friendly bar staff work hard among the banjo music and baseball.

I ordered the only IPA on the menu and it comes sitting in a chilled tulip glass in colours of robust mahogany and copper. Clarity is entire. The aroma is general citrus, caramel malts, very sweet and dangerous. It’s not a big bold bouquet of hops, rather sweet, steady smells of mango and toffee win out. The mouthfeel is medium, delivering a great big dry finish, but one that keeps a little pancake with it, a little malt overtone. It’s very fizzy on the tongue, right through.

The sparkling finish carries over fresh resin hop flavour and a bitter backbone. It’s not quiet East or West Coast IPA but somewhere in between – fitting for a Chicago brew. Drinking this IPA after walking ten kilometres on a warm, wet, windy autumn day, I couldn’t help but be satisfied. It’s a bog standard IPA with a higher than normal ABV, which is fine by me.

I drank this 7.5% ABV draught beer at the Piece Brewery and Pizzeria in Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois.

Spiteful Brewing Selfies Are For Wieners Double IPA With Honey

This beer comes courtesy of Spiteful Brewing, another outfit that started as the brainchild of two buddy homebrewers. Although it’s a Chicago brewery that started in 2012 I didn’t see them on any taps while I was in the city.

The Double IPA I tried has a really quite ridiculous name. It takes me back to 2006 – officially my “Year of the Selfie”. I took more selfies that year than ever before or ever since.

This beer is golden, quite light for a DIPA, with a seriously thick head. It’s like a growth of mould or something. Permanent.

The smell is very sweet pineapple, layered over warm wet towels, a kind of mildewy note, oddly sour. Weird but not a problem. Upon drinking a real honey punch presents itself first – thoroughly unexpected. Even though the beer says it has honey in it, I can count the number of “honey beers” I have had on one hand that have managed to impart honey character to the actual flavour profile; mostly it just comes through as dryness, or only in the aroma. But this big beer gives slick, almost boiled honey the front row seat somehow. I wonder how they did it.

The malt is hard to diagnose, being mixed in with the honey flavours. For a 9.4% ABV beer it is surprisingly dry; somewhat more expected from a honey beer, but still. 9.4% ABV beers do not tend to be this dry. This is a yum beer, far too easy to drink for its alcohol content. The four-frame comic on the label is also amusing and welcome. Interesting it assumes the drinker is male.

I bought this 9.4% ABV bottled beer from the Liquor Park “neighbourhood brewtique” and drank it at a house in Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois.