If you know the Illinois craft beer scene, then you probably know John Bittermann – he’s the crazy guy always asking for brewery glasses! He’s also a recognized beer historian, having presented displays and lectures at Joliet Museum. He is the source for those who need to know about new breweries in Illinois, and every year he takes at least one vacation trip downstate to visit those breweries that we in the Chicago and suburbs tend to completely miss out on knowing about, let alone visiting.
As a friend of the podcast, we asked John to come down to the pub studios and report on the ones he had visited earlier this year…oh, and if he wanted to share some of the brews he obtained along the way, we’d be happy to help him taste them. Joining The Brit, Phil Clark, were brewers TJ Bachorz and Chuck Fort from Church Street, and craft beer nerd, Tom Ryan.
On his recent late Winter/early Spring trip, John visited some 30 breweries across and 8-day period, and this show has him recount his experiences and reviews of the locations, so you can add them to your must-visit lists.
We also have a bonus beer from a vert traditional brewery, and learn from Chuck what krausening is, and John show’s us how to open a beer can from the bottom, collector style! Check out the video of this below…
It’s time for the next suburban brewery, Scallywag Brewing, to open their doors, and we are there ahead of the opening day to chat with brewer/founder Dan Burr, general dogsbody/founder Matt Molitor, and co-founders Heidi Burk and Heather Whitlock. Guest co-host for this recording is Ken McMullen from Hopvine in Aurora who joins The Brit, Phil Clark for an afternoon chat and sample session with the Scallywag crew.
Situated about a 5 minute walk south from the train station, on Main Street in Westmont, this brew pub has a great local vibe and some excellent starting beers waiting to be consumed. The crew are self-proclaimed ‘scallywags’, and the theme is one of the sea and the days of pirates and privateers.
We recorded this a couple of weeks before they knew the real opening date, which depended on passing the final inspection. As you listen to this episode, that should have been a thumbs up, and the doors should be open.
We try their range of brews and pass our consumer opinions, and The Brit particularly enjoys the ESB, ranking it as one of the best he’s tasted for a while. Head over and support these guys, and welcome them to the growing list in Illinois!
Hopskull, West Coast IPA
Doubloon, Double Blonde Ale
Raising Sail, Brown Ale
Play the episode from one of the players below, or subscribe on iTunes!
This time, The Brit goes one-on-one with head brewer and co-owner of Penrose Brewing, Tom Korder.
Before they opened in September 2013 (Pubcast 110), The Brit and the original Yankee visited with Tom and then co-founder, Eric Hobbs, in a bare 14,000 sq.ft. warehouse. This was transformed into a beautiful brewery and taproom, that opened in March 2014, and we visited again to check in on the final result (Pubcast 120).
Much water has flowed under the bridge and into their mash tuns since then, and recently they celebrated their 5-year anniversary with a sold out event that featured the best of their wild fermentation’s and some interesting collaboration beers.
What’s changed since then, and where are they going in the future? Who thought that back then we would see an IPA, let alone a hazy IPA and even a pastry stout on the tap list, which recently was ranked as the top high-gravity stout by The Hop Review in a blind taste test.
But despite the divergence to trending styles, the outstanding Wild series continues and grows, still selling out each edition and still coming up with new variants. The Brit tests Tom’s memory with a pop quiz on their Wild series, and Tom talks about the amazing program they have in place to produce outstanding wild fermentation barrel beers. This is a fascinating conversation with Tom, so grab a can of Penrose Session Sour to sip on while you listen.
In Glenview IL, Hackney’s restaurant is a stalwart classic, but not many people know that right next door, there is a small brewery that seems to have slipped under the craft beer radar, Macushla Brewing. We decided it was time to put that right, so the Landlord, Phil Clark, and guest co-host Ken McMullen headed north at the invitation of head brewer, David Kelley.
What we found turned out to be a gem with the setup and atmosphere of the brewery and taproom, but more importantly with the brews on offer. There are enough taps and style varieties to appeal to most tastes, and each one we tasted seemed to be spot on flawless.
David has been involved in craft beer in one role or another for a little over ten years, and is really knowledgeable about yeast and how it plays a crucial role in producing excellent beer. He’s got creative freedom, and he produces solid brews, which he bases on a two-beer approach. Plus a stunning reveal on David’s everyday brew, but a save with his craft selection!
The Brews we sampled:
Czech Yourself, Czech Pilsener, 5.5% 25 IBU
LOUminator, New England IPA, 7.0% 70 IBU
Cherry Glazer, Door County sour, 4.8% 9 IBU
Honey Bear, Belgian Tripel, 11.0% 25 IBU
Play the show from our player or the Podbean player below…
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