Tag Archives: illinois

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!

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.

Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

Famous for Dale’s Pale Ale, the Oskar Blues brewery has a bunch of other beers that I had never heard of in Australia. While browsing the range in a nice little brewshop on North Avenue (and in between Big Lebowski banter with the staff, who are very switched into the Chicago beer scene) I came across this pilsner. The Mama’s Little Yella looks great in the can and pulled me in quickly with its designation as a “Rocky Mountain Pilsner”. Yeah! South Park beer!

After cracking I see a very clear, very pale lager with the typical capacious head I am coming to associate with all the beers I’ve had in Chicago but a bready, unexpected aroma. There are also hints of herbs and veg, a kind of light oregano bite with lingering zucchini. The flavour is a big punch of malt, very sweet, deep doughy punches almost going into coffee territory – in a pils! At the very end there is also something fusel going on. It’s a weird combination of familiar flavours in an unfamiliar combination, quite syruppy.

The mouthfeel is dead centre, edging towards full. I’m not sure what to make of this beer, I don’t really dig it. It’s sweeter than most pilsners, bohemian or otherwise, with the darndest malt profile and an eeky, burny aftertaste.

I bought this 5.3% ABV canned beer from the Liquor Park “neighbourhood brewtique” and drank it at a house in Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois.

Goose Island Blue Line Pils

I wasn’t planning to but thought I should try another Goose Island beer given I was visiting Chicago, the erstwhile (provenance 1988/1995) brewery’s home.

Goose Island of course was one of the first U.S. big craft offerings to get bought up and go macro, but I didn’t see any resistance across the city – except in the quite boutique bottle shops. These were frustrating to shop in thanks to Illinois’ liquor laws – you can’t split four and six-packs of most beers, meaning there’s no mixed sixers as are so common in Australia and elsewhere.

I wandered into a pub with prominent real estate on a warm 28 degree day and chose the pilsner.

To sum up before detailing, this is a very decent lager. It had “limited release” last year, playing the scarcity drawcard, but seems to be everywhere in autumn 2016. The aroma is lemony spice, all hops. It looks a clear straw with ruffling waves of tight bubbles, not too fizzy but ongoing retention. A medium-thin texture presents lovely, smooth but subdued grainy flavour puckering into a dry zesty finish.

The yeast is keeping everything under control here. It’s a restrained, tight beer; drinkable lemon/lime scone flavour with a sour juice chaser.

I drank this 4.8% ABV draught beer at the Wicker Park Tavern, Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois. It’s a fairly staid sports bar on a busy corner. I counted ten televisions, each at least about a metre wide, all showing sport. So. Much. Sport. The music was horrible. Somehow though, perhaps because of the warm weather and quiet time of day, it still had a good vibe.