Former Goose Island brewmaster and craft beer pioneer Greg Hall stops by to discuss Virtue Cider- his latest venture to produce heirloom apple ciders with modern craft fermentation and aging techniques. We talk about similarities with the craft cider movement to craft beer in the early 90′s, the development of Virtue’s first offering dubbed “RedStreak”, the way cider is viewed in the US and Europe, Big Beer dollars getting into craft cider, and much more. A great conversation with one of the most important and knowledgeable beer and cider makers in the world…
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*Picture a titanium-sheathed punching bag roughly 87 miles tall being assaulted by a handful of asthmatic ants. That’s a fairly accurate representation of how much damage our slings and arrows do to AB InBev. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Craft Beer Week! Last night, Herr Direktor and I hit up the 2nd Annual Columbus (Ohio) Beer Fest. At 210 beers, it’s a microcosm of its bigger cousins. And there were plenty of breweries notably missing, some because they don’t distribute to Ohio, others for no apparent reason (DFH WTF?).
The atmosphere was… very Ohio. It was in a small ballroom at the convention center. The music was terrible. It was a 4-1/2 hour long beer festival, yet the band took at least an hour long break in the middle–giving way to a crappy radio station. Also, the band sucked. It was like Smashing Pumpkins but with no talent. The food was overpriced and downright bad. And why was the ceiling covered in red and blue neon lights? I don’t know.
The craft beer community recoiled in horror this week from ex- Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall following a piece in the Chicago Tribune that revealed the Bourbon County Stout pioneer had urinated into two pint glasses at the end of a night of heavy beer drinking at trendy beer-and-brat hotspot Bangers and Lace. I learned of the incident Monday when our Johnny-On-The-Spot Kid Carboy recounted the episode in his usual humorous but measured tone. As one who has made some questionable (OK, awful) decisions involving all manner of bodily fluids after nights on the town with Alehead buddies, I winced in sympathy at Mr. Hall’s position- the recent announcement that Anheuser Busch is acquiring Goose Island, along with his decision to step down after 23 years with the company meant that the embarrassing non-story might have legs. Yet I was unprepared for the waves of virulence his unfortunate pit stop generated, especially considering the quick and sincere acknowledgement and apology offered up by the former brewmaster:
“I feel awful,” he said. “I wouldn’t stand it if someone did it at my place or if one of my people did something like that… I did what I did and I take responsibility for it.” Read the rest of this entry »
These are the facts, as reported by the Chicago Tribune: On Friday night, when I was coincidentally in Chicago as well, former Goose Island brewmaster who just stepped down, Greg Hall, was enjoying a few frosty beverages at one of Chicago’s new beer hotspots, Bangers and Lace.
Everything was fine. At least, everything was fine until Hall pulled out his wang and started pissing into empty beer glasses. One may presume that Hall had drunk quite a bit this evening–he reportedly filled two 8 oz glasses, which he then placed on the bar. Read the rest of this entry »
Still can’t get enough self-righteous rambling about the Goose Island/Anheuser-Busch brewhaha? Then crack open a bottle, hit the play button and listen to a slightly tipsy Brother Barley, flat-out drunk Slouch Sixpack, and utterly meth-addled Herr Hordeum continue to beat this dead horse a week or two after its demise. We also touch on the wholly unsurprising cancellation of Brew Masters, Michigan’s latest PR disaster, and speaking of dead horses…an Australian man brings a horse back from the dead with beer! Good on ya, mate!
A couple days late on getting this one up, but ol’ Slouchie was in Tampa and I was in NYC which meant no one was back at the ranch to edit and post this steaming pile of Podshit.
Did you hear that? That sound? Like a can of watery, tasteless swill smashing through the window of your local craft brewery?
That was the warning shot. The shot across the bow of craft beer. That was the sound of Anheuser Busch taking it up a notch. The sound of them kicking the tires on this whole “good beer” thing everyone has been talking about. It was the sound of them offering $38 million to purchase Goose Island…and Goose Island accepting. It was the sound we’ve been dreading. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, it happened. Some of the people living in and around Chicago would have told you that it was only a matter of time until Goose Island allowed itself to be bought out, but now Anheuser Busch has gone and done it, for around $38 million dollars. Not too shabby for the shareholders.
Thus ends the long stretch of independence for Chicago’s oldest “microbrewery.” Founded in 1988 by CEO and owner John Hall, the two Goose Island brewpubs have been Chicago staples for a long, long time as far as craft beer is concerned. Personally, I’ve never been to one, as the Goose always came off to me as the big boy in town, and not a place one actually had to visit. Still, this is a sign of the times. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been into craft beer since I started drinking. But until recently, I just walked into a store, bought something I liked or sounded good, and that was about it. Since I began reading and then joined Aleheads, I’ve been putting a lot more thought into beer. Why do I like what I like? What are my favorite hop varieties? What new beers do I need to search out and try?
All of this takes me down the slippery slope towards obtaining the best beers in the world. The trouble is, with the explosion of craft beer, these coveted prizes can be difficult to obtain. Limited distribution, limited supply, huge demand. So this winter, I have tried to get a number of interesting and limited edition brews, most of which I have to drive an hour to Missouri to get. I failed to get Hopslam, Hoptimum, KBS, etc. Most of these beers didn’t even hit shelves here. They were bought up by distributors and liquor store owners and employees, or kept in the back for friends. Now I don’t have a problem with this practice, all jobs have their perks and this is pretty much the only one in the retail booze business. But the disappointment remained. Read the rest of this entry »
Five years ago, if you asked your average Alehead to name the ale factories of Chicago, they would have paused for a moment, said “Goose Island,” and then drifted off into silence, scratching their heads and looking perplexed. It’s one of the country’s largest, most populous, most famed cities: How could it have so little craft beer being produced within its limits?
And yet, this was the case. Small breweries and brewpubs had occasionally flared up in the Second City during the first phase of the “microbrew revolution,” as it was then called, in the 1980s and 1990s. None of these, save the honored Goose, made much of an impact. In 2005, excepting an entry in the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, there was only one other place brewing craft beer in town. Read the rest of this entry »
NOSE: Perfect. Roasted malt, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, molasses, toffee, espresso beans, and aged bourbon. Everything you want in an Imperial Stout is present and accounted for. For all that complexity, the nose is actually fairly subdued for the style. That’s not necessarily a bad thing…just makes you work a little harder to truly appreciate it.
TASTE: The nose may be subdued, but the taste certainly isn’t. The espresso dominates the flavor, but there are huge, sweet notes of vanilla, molasses and caramel throughout. The finish has a big, barrel-aged bourbon burn which scours away the massive sweet flavors and cleanses the palate just in time for another sip. It’s simply spectacular.
MOUTHFEEL: Silky-smooth and incredibly full-bodied. This is a sipping and savoring beverage if ever there was one.
DRINKABILITY: 13% ABV Imperial Stout? Not exactly a drinkable brew. But I still wish I had another bottle as soon as my last one was finished.
RATING: 4 Hops. No question. As I said to Doc after finishing the bomber, “Do you know why Imperial Stouts are rated higher than other styles of beer? Because they’re BETTER!”
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Beer. I’ll admit, I was just going to post my favorite Christmas song of all time, Bob & Doug McKenzie’s 12 Beers of Christmas, but I got all wrapped up in the giving spirit and felt compelled to create my own list of brews. Some of them make sense, some of them don’t, but who cares? It’s Christmas! Get crazy with your bad self. Read the rest of this entry »
The recent explosion in the craft brewing industry has led to some interesting experimentation. Some of this has resulted in legitimate new beer styles (e.g. the amorphously named Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale/Imperial Black Ale style), as well as traditional styles being amped up to almost insane levels (note the ubiquitous, ever-stronger and -hoppier Imperial IPAs). One particularly interesting pattern that has begun to gain traction in recent years is the so-called “mash-up”, “mixed” or “hybrid” beer style. This is essentially when brewers combine the attributes of multiple (and sometimes quite diverse) beer styles into a single brew. An excellent example of this is the Terrapin brewery’s Pumpkinfest (half Oktoberfest or Marzen Lager and half spiced Pumpkin Ale) that Brother Barley recently reviewed. Such an interesting trend in the brewer’s craft certainly cannot remain unaddressed by the Aleheads, and so I give you this week’s Conundrum: Tell us what two beer styles you think would make the best ‘mash-up’. Read the rest of this entry »
I love the fall. The leaves are just begining to think about turning in New England, the weather in the Northwest is as perfect as it gets, the pears and apples are ripening in the orchards, blah blah blah, who am I kidding? The fall means two things to Aleheads: football and beer. The fall seasonals are some of my favorite brews (mmm, pumpkin beer), Oktoberfest gatherings everywhere celebrate the fermented wonders of the world, and to top it off what better excuse is there to knock back a few brews than a football game? Not that we’ve ever needed an excuse…
Football and beer. Whether in a bar or in your own living room, watching 22 giant guys guys rumble over the fate of a bladder of air wrapped in a pigskin* just doesn’t feel right without a beer in hand. Read the rest of this entry »
"I'll see your pomp and raise you some circumstance."
Sorry about the title, we don’t mean to raise any alarms. We simply don’t understand politics so the only logical explanation of the British PM clinking bottles with the US President is to arrange pistols at dawn. No? OK, maybe they’re celebrating the end of global warming and the rise of the machines? Still wrong, I suppose. How about exchanging local beers after the rare instance of a 1-1 England-US draw at the World Cup? No, that can’t be it either and the G-20 is certainly no place to exchange such pleasantries. What? Seriously? That’s what this photo is from? The respective leaders exchanged beers in a friendly “mine’s better than yours” competition? And President Obama remarked that unlike the Brits, he only drinks cold beer? Let’s all pray to St. Arnold that these two gentlemen picked the best that their respective countries have to offer so we’re not all embarrassed in the end. After all, this is England and the US, two of the greatest beer producing countries in the world. How could this possibly go wrong? For the pleasure of our viewing audience, Aleheads.com would like to present a point-counterpoint brought to you by Sir Magnus Skullsplitter (Representing the US) and Dr. Ripped Van Drinkale III (Representing England). Let the duel commence!
Bill Simmons, the outstanding sports writer, recently made an astute observation: “I’d like to thank Chicago for single-handedly keeping the following American big-city traditions alive: smoking, drinking during the day, eating terrible food, congeniality and breasts. It’s noble work you’re doing, Chicago. We’re all proud of you. Good luck with the Blackhawks.” True that, Bill. And that libation your smiling, busty muse is lifting to wash down her order of Hot Doug’s Duck Fat Fries? More likely than not an offering from the outstanding Goose Island Beer Company. Read the rest of this entry »