C.H.A.O.S. Diaspora: When Homebrewers Go Pro, Part 1

By Calvin Fredrickson C.H.A.O.S. brew club is a homebrew collective located in Chicago’s Near West Side. Established in 2011, C.H.A.O.S provides brewing resources to budding homebrewers, from equipment, to cellaring space, to camaraderie. But if you’re just looking for a good time without a serious commitment to brewing, do not miss their seasonal parties, which are open to the public through a trial membership. A dazzling array of food – prepared by C.H.A.O.S. homebrewers –is served alongside adventurous homebrew with a deftness to make an epicurean blush. Their annual Cerveza de Mayo is May 7th, 2016. See chaosbrewclub.net for more info. Many homebrewers dream of taking their stovetop batches to a commercial scale. The following homebrewers did just that. Some were present at C.H.A.O.S. from its inception, or close to it, while others had only a brief involvement with the club. One thing is certain of these homebrewers: their shared goal of working in the beer industry was impacted by their time at C.H.A.O.S. These homebrewers found a way to go pro. We hope their stories inspire you like they inspired us. Our first installment features Christopher Murphy and Curtis J. Tarver II + Quintin L. Cole   Christopher Murphy Occupation before going pro: Web/graphic designer Currently: Senior web/graphic designer, Louis Glunz Beer Inc. How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug? My wife and I got a Coopers homebrew kit for our wedding. We made a bad lager from extract. Not too long after we met co-founders Iggy Ignaczak and David Williams and joined C.H.A.O.S., we started doing all-grain batches. From there, our excitement just took off. We were also pretty engaged in the Brew Ha Ha events as well, on both sides of the table. C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum? These days I’m casually obsessive. I have a two-year-old son, with a daughter on the way, so I haven’t had time to brew as much as I once did. When I get the chance, I am obsessive about it, researching classic styles, dialing in water profiles and geeking out about the finer details of homebrewing. Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”?  I never really sought out a “beer career” – I was fortunate that it found me. I quit a job I was miserable at, and the position at Glunz came about at the same time. So, how did you “go pro?” My wife, Jessica of GirlsLikeBeerToo.net, was asked to blog the visit of the Hirter Bier’s brewery staff at Temperance in association with the Hirter Überbrew homebrew competition, and I tagged along as photographer as I often do. There, we met Jennifer, the marketing manager at Glunz. A few weeks later, she was looking for a designer. I had just quit my previous job and was looking for something new and it all worked out. What does your role at Glunz entail? I do a broad range of things at Glunz. Currently, I am working on a major update to glunzbeers.com. I also work on the catalogs and do some product photography in a pinch. There was also an opportunity to work on some co-branded beers with Anchor. I put together art for S.O.B. Ale for Shaw’s Oyster Bar, and Green Door Lager for Green Door Tavern. The work here has been very fulfilling. Which of Glunz’s portfolio’s beers are you jazzed about? Lindemans is going to be regularly releasing their Kriek Cuvée René. This is a more traditional lambic and not the super sweetened kriek most people are familiar with. While I love local craft, these days I get excited about niche and forgotten import styles of beer. A good example is Pinkus Münster Alt, which is not your typical dark altbier; it’s more like a cross between helles lager and saison. It has the nice bready malt base with a lovely floral and spicy fragrance and overtones. Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro? Get involved with the community however that may be: blogging, volunteering for bottling, events, design and art. The Chicago beer community is tight and networking is everything. At the very least you’ll meet a good bunch of people with a passion for beer and drink the best beer.   Curtis J. Tarver II + Quintin L. Cole  Occupations before going pro: Lawyer (Curtis) and physical therapist (Quintin) Current industry gig: Co-owners, Vice District Brewing Co. How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug? We both learned early on in 2011 when we met (during the blizzard of 2011) that we enjoyed drinking beer but also we wanted to start homebrewing. So, it was five years ago now that we jumped all in and we haven’t turned back. C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum? We were obsessive. We brewed two to three times per week. Q traveled a lot for work so he’d mostly have to brew on weekends. He’d brew all weekend. Curtis’ job is based in Chicago, so he would brew throughout the week. Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”?  No, we didn’t have an epiphany. We had people who enjoyed our beer. We just wanted to make beer for the creative aspect – not to sell. The epiphany was really our wives kicking us out of the basement. So, how did you “go pro?”  With full-time jobs, wives, and children (Curtis has two little ones under three), the option to volunteer here or there wasn’t realistic. The only option for us was to start our own thing. We know each other – we know our respective commitment and drive. So, rather than asking others to gamble on us with their business, we asked friends and family to gamble on us with our own business….

Sustainable Beer on Chicago’s South Side: Whiner Beer Company

By Calvin Fredrickson   Located in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, Whiner Beer Co. is housed within a “vertical farm” called The Plant, an almost too-good-to-be-true bastion of environmentally minded business. Folks, it’s the real deal, and its ideology represents a watershed moment in Whiner founder and brewmaster Brian Taylor’s career. More on that later. With 15 years of brewing experience to his name, Taylor had technical know-how in spades. What he needed was a creative partner, someone who could evoke the playful, tongue-in-cheek personality of Whiner’s European-inspired beers. Enter Ria Neri, local hospitality veteran and artist, who embraced Taylor’s vision for Whiner by expressing mutual influences – ranging from 70s French comics to armadillos – through the brewery’s branding and beer labels.   By packaging their beer in cans, much of it barrel-aged, Whiner is looking to convey a highbrow-meets-lowbrow aesthetic. Wary of taking themselves too seriously, Taylor and Neri explain that the brewery’s name is a lighthearted allusion to the wine industry. One gets the sense that Whiner is tipping its hat to the world of wine with a twinkle in its eye. As of October, Whiner was still awaiting word from the TTB, and Taylor was chomping at the bit. “We’re basically ready to go,” he said. Indeed they are.   Daylight spills from broad windows onto the brewery’s concrete floor and walls, playing off brushed steel fermenters. The buzz and cracks of final customizations echo throughout the brewery, dust hanging in the air. Glowing white Xs punctuate the brewery and cellar ceilings. Taylor joked that people take more pictures of those lights than they do anything else. In their defense, the lights are rad. But Whiner’s story and vision outshine the brewery’s cosmetic appeal. What follows is an overview of Whiner’s stainless and wood cellars, their souring and blending processes, and their role at The Plant.   The Stainless Whiner’s 30-barrel, three-vessel brewhouse will accommodate step mashing, a brewing process typical of some of the French- and Belgian-style beers Whiner will produce. Two 60-barrel fermentation tanks dwarf two 15-barrel counterparts, vessels that will serve fermentation, blending, and yeast propagation processes. “Everything serves a really good purpose where it sits,” Taylor said, a credit, in part, to Corcoran Fabrication & Design, whom Taylor often contracted for work during his days as head cellarman at Goose Island.   For Whiner, stainless plays an important role in producing consistent beers. Taking a cue from beers of years past – Sofie, anyone? – Taylor will be blending four parts clean, stainless-fermented beer with one part wine barrel-aged sour, resulting in a tart, balanced beer. While stainless is a necessary side of Whiner’s fermentation, wine barrels hold mystique for Taylor and Neri in a way that stainless does not. In fact, the first two barrels Whiner received were promptly named after their proud stewards ­­– scrawled in sharpie on one, “Brian.” On the other, “Ria.” The Wood “I think I bought the barrels before anything,” Taylor said. “I had wine barrels in here and nothing else.” The best barrels are Cabernet Sauvignon, he said, which lend to initial fills bold wine flavors and aromas, though Pinot noir barrels are good, too. These barrels also present a relatively inexpensive vessel for long-term aging, something that is impractical in expensive stainless steel tanks. Wine barrels, being porous, allow for slow oxygen ingress, which is an excellent environment for microbial activity. Taylor will be encouraging that activity by pitching strains of Brettanomyces yeast into Lactobacillus-inoculated wort. Doing so will develop intense fruity and sometimes farm-like aromas, along with lemony, yogurt-like tanginess from the soured wort.   Whiner’s love for oak is no joke – with 40 barrels in the cellar and counting, Taylor muses of having a foudre or two soon, which can hold close to 400 gallons of liquid. “On a microbiology side, I like the wine barrels, because it’s more about growth; whereas with bourbon barrels, it’s about bourbon character and oak.” Federal and state approval holdups have kept Taylor from filling his barrels just yet, but when he does fill them, lush vinous notes will mingle with the deep oak aromas that have already permeated the cellar.   Souring Process Several techniques exist for souring beer, including hot- and cold-side introductions of Lactobacillus. One type of hot-side Lactobacillus addition is kettle souring, which usually involves an eventual boil, arresting additional bacterial fermentation in the wort upon reaching a desired pH. Another hot-side Lactobacillus addition involves soaking mesh bags filled with malt – in Whiner’s case, pilsner malt – in 110º wort for 24 hours, a technique Taylor honed while working alongside Jared Jankowski at Goose Island. “Everyone says it doesn’t work, but it worked twice as well for us,” Taylor said. Instead of killing the Lactobacillus bacteria with a boil, Taylor sends the inoculated wort to barrels, where it ferments and develops additional lactic character for the period of about a month.   Measuring total acidity – a technique Taylor learned at Boulevard – and blending, Taylor said, will promote greater control of flavor and acid profiles in the finished product. “We want to make sure the sourness of the beer isn’t overly sour or not sour enough,” he said. Once Whiner’s stainless- and wood-fermented Le Tub Wild Saison – one of Whiner’s flagships – is blended in the brite tank, Taylor will pitch Brettanomyces claussenii, a fruit-forward yeast strain that will create additional complexity and tamp down potential Pediococcus activity in the bottle. Pediococcus, like Lactobacillus, is a bacteria strain that creates lactic acid in beer, albeit one that can work more slowly and create off flavors. Recalling his experience processing Juliet wine barrels at Goose Island, Taylor estimated one in ten barrels had to be dumped. Those barrels had become “sick” or “ropy,” resulting in slimy, gelatinous beer, the result of Pediococcus. “It’s dangerous as hell,” Taylor said.   Sulphur sticks, potassium metabisulfite, and citric acid are among the more common treatments for barrel maintenance – and they’re all methods Taylor eschews…

Mash Tun’s Top 5s for 2015

We drank some good beers in 2015. Here are a few selections from four Mash Tun cholos. Some of the beers were released in 2015. Some weren’t. Forget a gym membership. Track down these beers. Calvin Fredrickson’s Picks: The Commons Brewery – Urban Farmhouse Ale: When I visited Commons this past summer, their menu was loaded with tons of low-ABV, flavorful, and expressive beers. Urban Farmhouse Ale was a standout. My girlfriend and I enjoyed a couple bottles while camping along the Oregon coast. de Garde Brewing – The Boysen: Boysenberry funktown. Yogurt and berry goodness. Moderate acidity, tannic, and boasts a beautiful color. It’s beer’s purple drank. Anderson Valley Brewing Co. – The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose: Gose hit its stride in 2015. This one carried the banner. Kimmie was my go-to. I brought it to BBQs, bought it at divey concert halls, and drank it at home. I don’t understand Anderson Valley’s nomenclature. I do understand this beer. Very well. Half Acre Beer Co. – Pony: It’s local, it’s hoppy, and it’s always fresh. I drank buckets of this stuff in 2015. I expect 2016 will be no different. Pivo, I love you, but… Spiteful Brewing – Vote of No Confidence: Dankness and tropical fruit with a creamy mouthfeel. Dangerously drinkable. This beer fueled some good times. –––––––––– Doug Veliky’s Picks BrickStone Brewery – American Pale Ale:  Some call it the Zombie killer [3 Floyds Zombie Dust]. There are definitely similarities, but this one has more malt backbone, and, most importantly, it lasts on the shelf for more than 30 minutes (for now). Oskar Blues Brewery – Death by Coconut: This is the type of beer that could convert casual beer drinkers into enthusiasts, if only they could get their hands on it. Very approachable at 6% ABV, with big coconut and rich chocolate flavor. Spiteful Brewing – Barrel Aged Malevolence Chocolate Caliente: Spiteful has always been on the map of Chicago’s enthusiasts who seek out the freshest beer possible. Their FoBAB winner in the category of Speciality Strong Porter/Stout puts them on the radar nationwide with this well-integrated, big-bodied, spiced chocolate stout.   Desthil Brewing – Dosvidanya: Like a Russian nesting doll, each layer stacks perfectly into this Russian imperial stout, aged in bourbon barrels. Be prepared for a big fudge brownie, covered in rich chocolate sauce. Moody Tongue – Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison: Pair this complex, flavorful Moody Tongue saison with your next meal featuring chicken or fish to really enhance the dining experience. Bright grassy and lemon flavors, mild cracked pepper, and bready malts. ––––––––– Chris Quinn’s Picks   Marz Community Brewing – Jungle Boogie: One of the most original beers I had all year, Jungle Boogie seamlessly intertwines the juicy, dripping flavors of exotic U.S. hops with rooibos tea. de Garde Brewing – Hose: A trip to de Garde Brewing earlier this year was an eye-opening look at the cutting edge of American wild ales. A 100% spontaneous fermentation brewery, de Garde somehow manages to brew a clean, lactic gose. It takes them a year to produce and they sell it for $6 per 750ml….I still don’t know how this beer is possible. Penrose Brewing – Wild X with Cherries: Perhaps the best American wild beer I tasted all year, Penrose took the already stellar Wild X and turned it into something magical. Scratch Brewing – Spring Tonic: My introduction to Scratch came by way of this beer. Technically a gruit, spring tonic is a vibrant, light, and refreshingly quenching beer. It’s a perfect introduction to one of the more innovative and ambitious breweries in the country. August Schell Brewing Co. – Starkeller Peach: Yes, you read that correctly. August Schell, the brewer of Grain Belt lager, decided to start a sour program. And they killed it. I’m as confused as you are.   –––––––– EdMar’s Picks: I decided to review my favorite beers of the 2015 by thinking about how they pair with video gaming, the frequency of their ingestion, and expressing yearnings for those whales that come only once a year. I also picked one of my favorite beers by the brewery I work at. And I used lyrics written by Morrissey of The Smiths to describe these selections. Spiteful Brewing – Alley Time: Punctured bicycle On a hillside desolate Will Nature make a man of me yet? When in this charming car This charming man Why pamper life’s complexities When the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?  (The Smiths, “This Charming Man”) Almanac Beer Co. – Barbary Coast When it comes down to virtue and truth No one can hold a candle to you And I dim next to you No one can hold a candle to you When it comes down to old-fashioned virtue (Morrissey, “No One Can Hold a Candle to You”) Perennial Artisan Ales – Barrel-Aged Abraxas Haven’t had a dream In a long time See, the life I’ve had Can make a good man Turn bad So for once in my life Let me get what I want Lord knows It would be the first time (The Smiths, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”) Marz Community Brewing – Jungle Boogie You shut your mouth How can you say I go about things the wrong way ? I am human and I need to be loved Just like everybody else does (The Smiths – “The Boy With the Thorn in His Side”) Maine Beer Co – Lunch And if a double-decker bus Crashes into us To die by your side Is such a heavenly way to die And if a ten ton truck Kills the both of us To die by your side Well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine (The Smiths – “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”) Bonus Track!  3 Floyds – Broo Doo Dear hero imprisoned With all the new crimes that you are perfecting Oh, I can’t help quoting you Because everything that you said rings true And now in…

In Conversation with Evin O’Riordan of London’s The Kernel Brewery

  In Conversation with Evin O’Riordan of London’s The Kernel Brewery By Jamie Trecker from Mash Tun Journal #5   Just across the Thames, in the borough of Southwark, sits Bermondsey, a working-class neighborhood with roots that date back to King Edward III. Bermondsey has been a place of firsts: this was the home of Britain’s first railway, and the arches that litter Spa Road stand as a testament to one of this nation’s greatest achievements. Wild man “Wee” Willie Harris hailed from the town, giving it a credit in the pre-history of rock and roll. And today, it is the incubator for a number of emerging London breweries, all of which are concentrated in the industrial parks and arches that litter the area. Brew By Numbers is here, Partizan is close by – and then, there’s the Kernel, the greatest of them all.   Why here? “We have a lot of arches,” says Evin O’Riordan, matter-of-factly. O’Riordan, the head brewer and founder of the Kernel, often comes off as deadpan, but that quiet demeanor masks the fierce intelligence and shrewd integrity that has helped put the Kernel atop of the so-called “New Wave” breweries in London. He is widely respected by his colleagues (Jasper Cuppaidge at the Camden calls him, admiringly: “artisan with a capital ‘A’”) and slavishly imitated by others. His no-frills packaging and unwillingness to hard-sell his beer may be mystifying to some, but he doesn’t care about what people think. What he cares about is beer, and making it better every time.   O’Riordan sat down for this unusual long-format interview with Mash Tun, conducted by Jamie Trecker. This interview has been edited for length and clarity but not for content. MT: Evin, thanks for talking to us. Frist off, you had a very unusual path to becoming a brewer, at least for us in the States. I understand you worked at a cheese shop, Neal’s Yard, and are basically entirely self-taught.   EOR: Yeah. I don’t know, I wonder does anybody start off being a brewer? I think we all start off as something much more amorphous than that. But, yeah, I turned to brewing about seven years ago now. You are correct that I was, I suppose, working for Neal’s Yard at the time, and they sent me to New York to help one of their customers open a cheese shop there. That’s pretty much where my eyes were open to the possibilities in beer that I had not seen before. MT: What was so different about New York? London, and England in general, obviously have a huge brewing tradition. EOR: It does have a huge brewing tradition and even then there were still plenty of amazing beers being made. I suppose it’s interesting if you compare New York to London. I wouldn’t be able to say the same thing now; there is no way I could have made it this far without being aware of the possibilities of beer, because of what’s happened here in London in the last few years–I think a lot of that potential and interest in beer was around then. There are different mentalities in the two countries, in terms of how they engage with things like beer and pubs, and the way people communicate their enthusiasm. I mean, it wasn’t only the beers in NY that amazed me, although they did. But what was perhaps even more engaging was peoples’ relationships with the beer. If you want to go for a drink with a friend here, you generally go to the closest pub, whatever’s handiest. Whereas the guys I met in NY took me out for a beer, and they’d say we’re going to this pub over there for these x, y and z reasons (because this brewer is going to be there, he is going to have this beer on, etc). There was much more care put into what was being drunk. One of the joys of drinking in England and Ireland (where I’m from) is they say that the camaraderie of drinking with friends comes first and the beer is secondary. Perhaps that should always be beer’s role: to kind of lubricate the social interaction. The focus in a beer bar I was exposed to in NY was very much the beer as the reason people were coming together, so the response to the beer was much more engaged and enthusiastic. The traditional English image was people who have a regular pint or a regular pub. They didn’t have the same ideas of challenging people, or having something different, or even having bartenders that would explain the differences between things. In New York, it just blew my mind that you could have all these different beers and somebody would explain them to you, and you could then even try a few things before you decided what you want. None of that was happening with drinking in England at that point in time. MT: So you came back from New York, but did you make a conscious decision that brewing was something that you wanted to get into? Is it that you wanted to bring some of this culture back to England, and maybe changing some of the things over here in doing that?   EOR: I think you are exactly right, but it sometimes is hard to look back. Things seem a bit more concrete once they’ve happened. I’m sure at the time it was an idea, perhaps a pretty vague one. And now that the brewery has been going for a few years, it kind of makes that initial decision seem much more important. If it never happened, then would I have done something else, I guess. There was a certain aspect of wanting to change English drinking culture, or at least incorporate aspects of the American drinking culture into it. This was very similar to something I already knew. What happened was that Whole Foods, your American grocery store, was setting up a cheese room…

Dos and Don’ts: A Beer Buyer’s Decree to Consumers

By Clarence Boddicker Everyone approaches the world of craft beer differently. Most come at it from the customer’s point of view, and in last issue, we saw an interesting look from the perspective of the brewer.   How about a glance at beer from the off-premise world? I manage a beer store in suburban Chicago, and I thought it might be informative to throw some light on my world.   The best way to show you the day-to-day of my world is to help inform those coming into any store about what one should do, and more importantly, not do when beer shopping.   Do: Establish a relationship with your beer person. We are a local store and want to take care of our regulars. We will do nice things for people who are nice to us. Be friendly. Ok, friendly might be too far. I would settle for neighborly. Just acknowledge that we saw each other in aisles, say hello and go about our day. That buys a lot of equity with me. But not as much as a plate of brownies would.   Don’t: Have a hissy fit if we don’t have the hot release of the week. There will never be enough beer for everyone. You need to come to grips with that. I told you we didn’t have a specific beer, I didn’t give you a terminal diagnosis. Don’t stomp your feet, roll your eyes and groan at the sky. Please don’t act like a petulant child. I don’t want to be put in a position where I wished that I did give you a terminal diagnosis. Somehow, that ends up making me look bad.   Do: Engage us. We want to help you with your weirdly random but still very precise questions. We don’t want every interaction to be reduced to monosyllabic grunts and pointing, we happily leave those exchanges to the gentlemen in the liquor department. I always perk up when someone is attending a theme party and needs an incredibly specific beer. It keeps us sharp and on our toes, and I appreciate that.   Don’t: Be rude. Real basic stuff here. If I’m helping someone else and you walk right into our conversation and start talking at me, the quality of service you will receive will reflect that. It is just as easy to, hypothetically, tell you we are sold out of the beer in question and turn around sell it to someone polite the minute you walk away. Less is always more, and that includes your presence.   Do: Show me pictures. Of the beer label, please, not of your embarrassing birthmark. “Yeah, I guess it does kind of look like Nevada…” The new technology is a great time saver for all parties involved. It gets trying when he/she come in, and says, “I had this beer in a bar last night, I can’t remember what it was, but it starts with a “J.” Later on, when you tell me it was Bell’s Oberon, I grimly realize I will never get a moment of that time back. You have a camera in your pocket, use it.   Don’t: Expect me to read minds. This scenario happens a few times every week. A customer will walk up and say “Yeah, I want to try something I haven’t had before,” and then look expectantly and impatiently at me for 30 seconds. Fortunately, that is about of time it takes me to wrap my head in a turban and offer suggestions. How on God’s green earth do you expect me to summon the powers to ascertain which beers you might have had recently without you verbalizing it? Imagine, after looking at the menu, asking a waiter at a restaurant that same question? His mouth would eventually go dry from all the time spent spitting in your food. How about flushing out that question in your mind a little bit first? And, trust me, if I could read minds, I sure as hell wouldn’t be standing here talking to you. And for what’s its worth, I do look pretty good in a turban.   Do: Ask how we are doing, or even overextend the social barriers of our interaction and say, “Thanks,” or “Have a good day.” We might be the help, but we still like to be treated with respect. This one gentleman once asked a question, quickly interrupted me, stated he was looking for something else and quickly walked away. He came over a few moments later and apologized to me for being rude. That was well over 3 years ago and I still vividly remember him doing that. He didn’t have to, but it was nice that he did. We deal with so many people, and well over 90% of them are great. However, we only remember the great interactions and the bad ones. Act like a good person, and you will be remembered as one.   Bonus insight for the Industry Side:   Do: Express gratitude. This is a business, and I get that. Everyone wants space in the cooler, a prime spot on the shelf or an end cap. It helps sales, I get that. But I am more likely to give that real estate to someone who takes a moment to let me know they appreciate the things we do for them. Nothing draws my ire more than the new sales rep who storms in and starts to tell me that I need to carry more of his/her product. If you start by thanking me for helping your brand, I will listen, because that means you value our relationship. I like that, beer managers enjoy the sensation of being validated. I always remember the people who show simple, common courtesy. Any other approach will cause my eyes to gloss over and make me wish you were pinned under something heavy with many ill-tempered fire ants nearby. I will ask you to leave, but not before I have you take…

Punk Rock and Beer

By Ian Wise – from issue #6 of Mash Tun Journal I woke up earlier today after a stressful night in the beer industry and read that Tommy Ramone had died. I had the idea for this article a while back, but now it feels a little more urgent. This article is about two very specific things: beer and punk rock. Outside of my family (or perhaps in spite of my family), those are pretty much the only two things that actually matter, in that I still learn so much from both of them, despite the fact that they are basic and erroneous. I know that beer is water, barley, hops, and yeast, but looking at those four ingredients is a confusing rush. Like the first time I heard an SS Decontrol record and thought, “Holy shit, that’s just four people?” There’s something fantastic in how four simple ingredients controlled by tiny variables can create an impossibly large world of flavor and weights. Sometimes something hits just right and all the spaces in between seem to disappear. The four ingredients in beer have taught me more about chemistry, history, and sociology than I ever learned in school. While punk is usually four upset kids yelling, the life lessons I’ve taken away from it have literally defined who I am and what I do with my life on a day-to-day basis. If I hadn’t found punk early in my life then I probably wouldn’t have the confidence and resilience it takes to cut it in the beer industry, and I sure as hell would have found a job more lucrative than backing the craft scene. We currently have more breweries in the US since Prohibition, and now that regional styles are taking off we are starting to see smaller scenes pop up in other countries as well. This explosion mirrors the late ‘70s, early ‘80s trend of aggressive music that empowered people to do something simply because they could. American’s craft beer explosion has similarly inspired a wave of new breweries, to the point of terminal velocity. It seems we are seeing mediocre copycats cropping up. Many are just trying to get us too drunk at the beer fests to remember whether or not we liked their product. Are we really convincing ourselves that bigger is better, or that more of the same is really going to make us complete? Sure, we can all cop Black Flag riffs and spew out a million double IPAs, but does the world really need anything heavier than My War? There is much to learn from the overlooked pieces of our past. Digging out obscure Spanish records—Eskorio, early Deciblios, and the lone single by Vulpess—shows how those bands took cues from British and American styles, before weaving those influences with their own sensibilities. Vulpess, a band composed of four, young Spanish girls, made a notable contribution to the punk canon in 1983 with their ripping cover of the Stooges classic “I Wanna’ Be Your Dog.” Their version includes gender-specific lyrics, and whose updated title roughly translates to “I Like Being a Whore.” It’s not a record people would line up to buy, but it’s on par with the hyped records released by renowned labels of the era. Nowadays, we’ll drive 100 miles—or scour Craigslist—for a bottle of beer whose inclusion into our Ratebeer profile will look good to our friends. Meanwhile, challenging brews sit on the shelves of liquor stores, eager for us to see the intrigue of Maibock, Rauchbier, and Brabent Ale, styles that do not get their just dues, compared to barrel-aged stouts and double IPAs. The brewing industry in the US is catering to a larger, more educated crowd than ever, yet the market’s most popular beer styles show an industry in its infancy. India pale ales make up over 60% of the American craft market, with the term “hop head” being co-opted by even the most bland businessmen affecting a chic persona in their Social Distortion t-shirt. “Yes, I went to college,” they think. “Now I have a lot of money to spend on stuff you can’t afford.” Although the yuppie beer market is expanding, the Danes are an example of counter-culture brewing, churning out awkward brews akin to the glory days of Danish punk like the Lost Kids or the Sods. With breweries Mikkeller and Evil Twin, the Bjergso brothers are showing that they can open up the palates of even those most conservative, aged faux-hipsters. If Evil Twin’s cheeky beers—Low Life Pilsener and Soft DK Imperial Stout, for example—have a rightful place in the market, there’s no reason more esoteric brews can’t make their way into our mouths, right? You may have opened one of the last three issues of this DIY-style zine and read my articles about international cheese pairings with beer. Maybe you actually went to a local market and tracked down something I wrote about. Maybe you had a party with your friends where you paired beer with cheese—I hope my writing had an influence on that. Instead of writing about cheese and beer, this time I’m going to pair beer with records. Whether you find this music at the record store, on eBay, or through BitTorrent, get your shopping list ready. Afterward, invite your friends over for a drinking party that will be a little less sophisticated but a lot more fun. Los Angeles was arguably the punk rock hub of the world in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, home to many of the revered bands whose influence is apparent in the music played on modern college radio. While Black Flag and the majority of the early Dangerhouse Records set are (rightly) celebrated in the mainstream rock press, there are dozens of other early gems that never got the recognition they deserve. The Chiefs, an early proto-hardcore band, released a fantastic 7” in 1980 called Blues. It invited the listener into the Los Angeles scene with open arms. Those arms were sweaty and probably…

The Lager Beer Riot Reenactment! April 25, 2015

To mark the 160th anniversary of the Lager Beer Riot, Chicago’s first act of civil disturbance, and to celebrate the city’s growing beer culture, Pocket Guide to Hell and Marz Community Brewing Company are hosting an audience interactive dodgeball reenactment and beer tasting on Saturday, April 25, 2015 starting at 6 pm. The event is part of Version Festival 15 and is a fundraiser for Benton House, the historic nonprofit charitable center in Bridgeport. BUY TICKETS HERE!  Mash Tun Journal will be releasing a brand spanking new issue at the event! The Lager Beer Riot occurred at the Clark Street Bridge in April 1855. The reenactment is going to be staged in the Benton House gymnasium as a game of dodgeball following National Amateur Dodgeball Association rules. One team, consisting of representatives of Law & Order under the command of Mayor Levi Boone, is to be made up of 10 representatives of Chicago area breweries. The revolting Irish and German bar owners are to be portrayed by 10 representatives of the Bridgeport community. The Strange Brews podcasters (Alison Cuddy and Andrew Gill) are going to provide play-by-play coverage with color commentary from Randy Mosher (The Map Room, Five Rabbit) and Tim Samuelson (City of Chicago Cultural Historian). Historical referees, halftime music by Brass Inferno Productions, and a working model of the Clark Street bridge round out the experience. The Lager Beer Riot reenactment is going to consist, per NADA rules, of 10 three-minute matches, with an 11th if a tiebreaker is needed. There will be a halftime show after 5 matches are played. A beer tasting of specially brewed beers run from 6-9 pm at Benton House in the remains of the former Ramova Grill. Participating Breweries: Marz Community Brewing Company Revolution Brewing Goose Island Brewing Haymarket Pub & Brewery Middle Brow Beer Co. Urban Legend Brewing Company Spiteful Brewing Company Ten Ninety Brewing Company Cademon Brewing Company Ale Syndicate Tickets: $30 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, and a NEW issue of Mash Tun Journal. $40 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, the special issue of Mash Tun Journal, and a limited edition event poster by Kathleen Judge. (Limit 20) $50 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, the special issue of Mash Tun Journal, limited edition event poster, and the chance to play in one of the 10 dodgeball matches (Limit 10) Proceeds benefit the programs offered by Benton House  

Feb 14: The Power of Sour

  Marz Community Brewing Co presents: The Power of Sour Feb 14, 2015 4-8pm Western Exhibitions • 845 W Washington Blvd. 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60607 Marz Community Brewing is excited to bring you an anti-Valentines Day event on Sunday, February 14th at Western Exhibitions. We have been dying to do an Art of Marz Brewing event with Paul Nudd, one of our favorite painters, trouble makers and friends along with his gallery, Western Exhibitions. Paul made the painting of the “Bubbly Creek” monster which adorns our Bubbly Creek Berliner Weiss bottles. For this event we are releasing a limited edition four color silk screened print made especially for this Power of Sour event. And Paul’s work will also be on view. To enjoy Paul’s art Marz will be sampling out our expanding line of South Side Sours. Our sour ales are made with a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum discovered by Marz Brewer, Al Robertson, and isolated by Omega Yeast labs. It’s our secret weapon in converting beer drinkers to a style of sour ales that are tart, mildly acidic, delicious and made here in Chicago. During the Power of Sour event we will provide complementary pours of our Bubbly Creek Berliner Weiss, The Duchess de Bridgeport sour brown ale and our brand spanking new Gose style beer called Ruby’s Tears. Sampling glasses will be provided by our sister project, Mash Tun Journal. A suggested donation of $15 will get you one of the prints made by Paul. If you want to guarantee you will receive one of the edition of 100 or so prints you must purchase Admission online at EventBrite. The link is below : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-power-of-sour-tickets-15611467319 See ya there.

Homebrewer’s Ball Winners!

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon for a beer festival in our Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport, known as “The Community of the Future.”  Many Homebrewers and beer enthusiasts that did not go to the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin made their way down to our gallery, The Co-Prosperity Sphere, to participate in our first annual Homebrewer’s Ball. This year we had twenty two entries that competed to win the prize of having their liquid entry made by our new brewery, Marz Community Brewing Company. Our Marz project started about the same time as Mash Tun: A Craft Beer Journal some two years ago. After a grueling wait, we are finally up and running and are making some exceptional and delicious brews. You can try them all the time at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and other fine drinking establishments throughout Illinois, if yer interested. We also poured a few brews at the Ball to let these Homebrewers know we are not fucking around. We were delighted that over 140 people showed up to vote for the final four beers that would be entered in the final round of judging by Master Cicerone, David Kahle, Marz Brewing brewer, Tim Lange, and Beer Superfreak and CHAOS Hombrewers club member, Eric Padilla. While we were waiting for the final vote tally and judging we treated everyone to The Doner Men Food truck. If you are smart you will follow them on Twitter and figure out a way to try their German Stye doner wraps, and curry wurst. My god it’s good. And the food pairs perfectly with beer. Attendees were also able to procure an on the spot silk-screened t-shirt, tote bag and/or bar towell from our best buds at Teetsy! The competition was pretty tight. There were about 10 brews within a few votes of each other. The People’s Choice was the Blood of the Bine Imperial IPA by Frank and Danielle Costanzo. And the final award winners of the Hombrewer’s Ball are as follows: Honorable Mention: Morning Rush, a Coffee & Oatmeal Stout • ABV: 8.5%  by Oscar Montenegro + Dany Reyes Third Place: Blood of the Bine, a Double IPA by Frank and Danielle Costanzo Second Place: La Ley, a Wheat Beer with fruit and peppers • ABV:5.3%  by Walter Ornelas and Oscar Sanchez and First Place went to Lazy Susan, an American-style Strong Pale Ale • ABV: 7.35% by Joe Sumrall  and Eric Franklin. We are super thrilled to have been able to taste so many great brews from Chicagoland based homebrewers. We know some of these guys will be turning pro real soon. Thanks for joining us and see you at the Ball next year! For  more awesome photos by David Ettinger please visit this link!    

Mashtoberfest / Mash Tun Journal Release Party October 26, 2013

  Mashtoberfest Mashtoberfest October 26 – 8pm-Midnight Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219 S Morgan St Mashtoberfest is the release party for issue number four  of The Mash Tun Journal. Our Halloween costume ball will be held at the Co-Prosperity Sphere featuring complementary pours of the finest libations offered by Half Acre, Dry Hop,  Solemn Oath, Pipeworks, Revolution, Lagunitas, Allagash, 18th Street, Stone, Greenbush, Three Floyds and others. Maria’s will also be providing tastes of a wide variety of fruity, spicy, tart and pumpkin beers .  Hardcore Craft Beer  will be featuring their Alechemy project during the night and  we will be giving out prizes for best costume, so make it happen, cholo.  Food will be provided by local Bridgeport chefs and our favorite fried food: Popeye’s Chicken. You can enjoy live music by geighties cover band Members Only, Population, and DJ Hector and Co. Admission $40 •  Purchase tickets at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar or the Co-Prosperity Sphere (21+). Major credit cards accepted. No Refunds. Admission gives you membership to the Mash Tun Society, our not so secret beer club. Mashtoberfest is a celebration of the release of Mash Tun: A Craft Beer Journal issue #4. The Mash Tun is a publication put out by your buddies at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and The Public Media Institute, a non profit arts and culture organization based in Bridgeport.  Mash Tun is our paean to craft beer. It follows the pleasures and aesthetics of craft beer and how it intersects with food, culture, and society.

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