Pubcast 326 – Big Thorn Farm & Brewery

This week we have a special edition of the podcast, recorded over two sessions down in Georgetown IL, home of Big Thorn Farm & Brewery. Here, Anna Schweig and Aaron Young have created what some people may think of as the perfect lifestyle – open air, country, and brewing beer. Here in Vermillion County, BTFB sits on 15 acres of woodland and open field where  a grass roots brewery has been quietly creating some of the finest non-mainstream styles in Illinois.

The Brit, Phil Clark, and co-host Ken McMullen spent time with Anna and Aaron, but technical issues meant a return trip to capture more audio. And on this visit, a small breeze blowing through the Treehouse Bar caused more issues for the recording. However, we’ve done some post-production and we hope you will find the result, a good listen.

We hear how they started with nothing, cleared the land, put in solar power and some wind power, and are now a unique off-the-grid brewery. Then they erected the fabulous Treehouse Bar, where toy can relax in among the beautiful trees while sipping on everything from sour cherry gruits to green grape saisons. And for those who want to make a day of it, bring your grilling supplies and food and make use of the many BBQ’s and picnic benches they provide. In the winter, the Greenhouse bar is reported to be the place to go, where a double-barrel stove keeps their clientele warm and snug, even when it’s freezing outside.

Listen in, then head down there and experience it for yourself; we’re rating this one of the Top 5 breweries to visit in Illinois!

Play the show from our player or the PodBean player below…


Pubcast 325 – Ommegang at The Pub!

In this episode, The Brit and Yankee Pub holds court to 3 distinguished brewers, and friend of the show and beer nerd, Tom Ryan. Recorded behind closed doors in the pub studios, we welcome from Church Street, Chuck Fort, Alex Drayer from D and G Brewing, and Ken McMullen from Hopvine. This illustrious panel is here to sample beers from one of the premier  US producers of Belgian-styles, Brewery Ommegang.

Based just outside Cooperstown NY, and in the middle of nowhere comparatively, this brewery is famous for their 15 Game of Thrones brews, plus many other farmhouse-inspired sours and wild ales, and has connections to some of the best and biggest Belgian breweries.

The Brit visited the brewery on his vacation trip this past June and gathered up 4 examples of their brewery-only offerings, although we suspect you can find them outside of New York if you have the right connections. He’s coupled these 4 with 2 of their year-round offerings and we have an Ommegang six-pack which should make the mouth water.

Of course we have no idea where the conversation will head as we sip our way through these delightful Ommegang  flavors but we do know that the boys had a good time and among the topics we touched on were what an ommegang is, what are Grains of Paradise, kumquats (what!), cellar or drink, old beer, exploding brews, where to get your rum barrels, Game of Thrones beers, Also, The Brit has to train Alex on podcast etiquette as this is his first time at the Pub, and Ken surprises us by not enjoying what The Brit considers the beer of the evening. Proost!

Beers Sampled and Timings:

    • 00:00 – 18:00 Hennepin, Belgian-style Farmhouse Saison, 7.7% ABV
    • 18:00 – 31:00 Rosetta, Sour Ale Aged on Cherries, 5.6% ABV
    • 31:00 – 44:00 Fruittanomyces, dry-hopped witbier, 5.3% ABV
    • 44:00 – 55:00 Barrel Aged Abbey Ale Dubbel, 8.2% ABV
    • 55:00 – 66:00 Rum Barrel Aged Siren’s Song, 12.5% ABV
    • 66:00 – 84:00 Barrel Master Grand Cru 0004, blended dark ale, 9.5% ABV
    • 84:00 – end    Wrap-up

Play the show from our player or the PodBean player below…

Pubcast 324 – O Canada, Do We Like Your Beer?

This week’s show is back in the pub studios and The Brit is joined by two brewers from the western suburbs, TJ from Church Street Brewing in Itasca, and Eric Bramwell from Riverlands Brewing in St. Charles. Rounding out the panel is retired tavern-owner, John Karwoski. We swore we’d never do a marathon show, and we try to aim for about an hour or less, but this week, with the two brewers on-hand, we have an extended pubcast…so we have added timings, so you can skip to the brew you want to hear us talk about.
And it is a bittersweet occasion, as it is the last time TJ will be a regular guest on the show! He is off to Colorado to be head brewer at one of the Tivoli Brewing locations in Denver, but on the plus side it is the first time that Eric has joined us, and hopefully it won’t be the last!

On a recent vacation, The Brit headed out to Ontario and stopped by one of their many Beer Store’s to pick up a mixed bag of Canadian brews, plus a couple he picked up in breweries on the way. We hoped it was a variety of styles, but there seems to be a golden ale theme to a lot of them, which is a very popular style over the border.

As we work our way through the brews, there’s lots of brewer and pub chat, and we try ot determine how to pronounce Kveik, almost get a hazy ale that want to be a lager or may the reverse, congratulate TJ and Church Street on their Illinois Beer Festival medals, and hear how fruit beer can be added to beers. With these guys in the house, it’s worth listening across a couple of days! We promise we’ll get back to the shorter shows next time!

Beers Sampled and Show Timings:

Play the show from our player or the PodBean player below…

Pubcast 323 – Chris, Brett & Bill: Blind Pig Brewing

We have hit the road this week and The Brit, Phil Clark, and co-host Ken McMullen have headed down to the home of U of I, Champaign IL. In this university town there is a Blind Pig – not just one but 4 locations! They are a brewery, brewpub and English pub, all the brainchild of ex-pat fellow Brit, Chris Knight. Heading to Illinois from the UK, via Switzerland, Chris confesses that he didn’t know Champaign wasn’t part of Chicago, but he found it was friendly and needed an English pub, so he stayed. And the rest is history as they say.

Chris tells us the history of Blind Pig, and gives us a lesson in how to turn a big space into a cosy, representation of an English pub, this one modeled on the Axe and Compass in Hemmingford Abbotts, UK.

As usual the conversation takes twists and turns, including Chris and Phil providing their best (or worst) David Attenborough impressions! Thankfully, brewpub brewer Brett Updyke, stops by and tells us about his role in the Blind Pig empire. He must be the only person to move FROM Hawaii TO Illinois, where he was studying oceanography, but we are the benefactors of his career change with his brewing skills. He tells us the story of Hattori Hanzo, one of their signature beers, using sorachi ace hops.

To round out the interview, head brewer Bill Morgan, jet-lagged from just returning from Japan, provides some awesome words of wisdom on his brewing approach, and the Japanese influence some of their offerings provide. Bill has been brewing for over 30 years, both in the USA and Japan, and can be considered one of the pioneers of the craft beer industry. This last segment is 30 minutes plus, so please grab your favorite brew and listen to a fascinating conversation!

Beers Sampled:

Half-Double ESB, Special Bitter,
Soft Landing, Hazy IPA, 6.7%
U of IPA, IPA, 6.5%
Raspberry Wheat, Wheat Ale, 4.7%
Hattori Hanzo, Pale Ale, 5.2%
Columbia St. Coffee Stout, Stout with cold-brewed coffee, 5.4%

Play the show from our player or the PodBean player below…