The podcast is starting out 2020 with a bang with the year’s first brewery recording and what a superstar bumper edition we have in store!!
One of the brewery teams that we’ve long admired are the husband and wife team of Brandon and Amanda Wright, and the excellent brewing powerhouse that is Werk Force. This week, Ken McMullen and The Brit headed to the Plainfield taproom for an afternoon of conversation. And we get a bonus from Brandon’s Banjo picking, as he plays the music for our segment breaks…an exclusive first for this podcast that is sure to have record producers cocking an ear once they hear the tunes, but we’re not sure if it will be toward or away!!
We talked about how the couple met, and the challenges of balancing family life and running a brewery. We find out how Brandon got into home brewing as one of the early members of PALE, along with Ken McMullen and a plethora of other names who have gone on to be stars of the Chicago craft beer scene. There’s a guest appearance by Erik Pizer, who has time on his hands while his new brewery, Milk Money, is in the build-out phase. Erik and Brandon are part of a bunch of founding brewers who are part of a collaboration group called The Idiots, who have produced a series of never-to-be-repeated brews.
Brandon talks about his barrel program, and how he starts with a blank canvas and from there how he creates the final ‘masterpiece’, many of which have received awards and medals at several prestigious competitions. He relates the story of his World Beer Cup medal win, which Ken actually accepted on his behalf, and we see the box the award is still in, autographed by many of his peers, plus a mustard stain!
Parts 3 and 4 of the podcast are extended discussions on 2019 styles, what 2020 may bring, the hard seltzer craze, the pricing of beer and adding CBD etc. into beers. Fascinating stuff!
Of course, we sample Werk Force brews as we chat and these were:
Hillbilly Haiku, Pre-Prohibition Lager, 5.6% ABV
Double Dry Hopped Formerly Known As.., IPA, 7.2% ABV
Joliet has a long and rich brewing history, but until recently it died away and most of the classic German-style breweries closed. Now, the industry is starting to creep back into the city center with not one, but two locations opening over the last 12 months. Ken McMullen from Hopvine accompanied me as we visited with MyGrain Brewing, located right by the Joliet Amtrak station. Head brewer there is Dan Rosenburg, and we sat down with him to hear about the brewery and sample some of his many offerings on tap.
It’s an impressive building, and a big space, and owners Vince and Greg have filled it with an impressive tap room and restaurant serving a wide range of food offerings. But it is the beer that we focus on and Dan does not disappoint, with up to 18 or 19 options on tap at any one time. We try to sample a range of them from his light and crisp Kolsch, to the signature stout which usually has a couple of variants available for comparison.
We also got a sneak preview of their first anniversary brew, the details of which we can’t reveal here, but suffice it to say it will be amazing, so keep and eye and an ear out for the announcement!
It’s worth the drive down here, and make sure your route takes you down 171 and past the Old Joliet Prison, and then head to the city center and MyGrain. You won’t be disappointed!
From PALE They Came, Collaboration with P.A.L.E. Home Brew club, IPA, 7.2%
FNL Kolsch, Kolsch, 5.7%
Ze Vorld’s Greatest Doppelbock, Doppelbock, 9.2%
City of Stone, Saison, 6.5%
Stateville Stout, Milk Stout, 7.4%
Play the episode from one of the players below, or subscribe on iTunes!
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…
Music: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com Happy Life by FREDJI https://soundcloud.com/fredjimusic https://www.facebook.com/fredjimusic/ Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/u4PI5p5bI9k
We’ve had this thing with the O’Brian lads where they keep brewing, and we keep up-to-speed on their progress. It started in Lombard at the location that is now AfterThought, and then they moved up north and the Flesk Brewing brewpub was born. Our last visit was back at the end of June 2017, and Will gave the Brit as special bottle of their 1st Anniversary Imperial Porter. The Brit said let’s crack it open on your 1st anniversary of the brewpub. And so that’s what we did.
The Brit is joined on this edition by ex-tavern owner John Karwoski, and they headed up to Barrington, where among the hub-bub of the FleskFest, we chatted with Will and James O’Brian about their first year, and sampled the three collaborations they have on tap for this event and ongoing until they’re gone!
We celebrate with them by opening a bottle of Flesk 1.0, !st Anniversary Imperial Porter from 2013, which turned out to have mellowed into a VERY tasty brew. Our photos below also show our two pre-show brews, left Moro Blood Orange IPA, and right Patio Party Raspberry Sour…both tasty!
You’re Larping Wrong – Farmhouse IPA – 5.5% ABV
Brewed in collaboration with Werk Force Brewing. Heir Apparent – Dreamsicle wheat ale – 7% ABV
Brewed in collaboration with Rock Bottom Warrenville. Awesome Brownie – Stout – 5.6% ABV
Brewed in collaboration with Hailstorm Brewing. Flesk 2013 1st Anniversary Imperial Porter, 9.5% ABV