Union Station, Chicago
Greetings, my beer drinking mates! Last week BaDoink published the first part of my two-part narrative about my recent self-administered beer bukkake at the 2014 Chicago Beer Festival. If your memory isn’t a foggy, swirling haze from drinking the beers I recommended, then you should recall I decided to split this “rapid fire review” of 13 of the brew selections I had into two separate articles. I continue this week with the 7 remaining drinks about which I decided to opine. And so it begins; the 2nd half of my story…
After drinking the Dark Horse Brewery’s “4 Elf” I side-winded over to a nearby table occupied by a company called “Ace”. Ace isn’t a brewer of beer. They are a brewer of cider. What the fuck was a cider doing at a beer festival? Every festival I go to for beer has some sort of grinning wedding crasher. I’ve seen tequilas, wines, and even mead at these things. But who am I to turn my nose up to more alcohol? I’m a drunken clown. I was going to stumble out of there with a flaccid, alcohol soaked jelly boner and be frowned upon by my girlfriend at the end of the night, anyway. Let’s continue with the reviews, shall we?
Ace “Honey Cider”
It is advertised/described as an “apple honey sweet cider”. It looks like liquid candy. It tastes like liquid candy. It is a shiny, glowing, pretty beverage. The flavor is strong and very sweet, and tastes exactly like the description. For some reason it is quite refreshing. As a beer I give it a 0/10 because it’s not beer. As a beverage I give it a 6/10. I can drink maybe 8 ounces of this but no more than that. It’s pretty groovy, though.
Big Muddy Brewing “Galaxy IPA”
This was an interesting situation of drinking. The upfront taste was that of strong bitterness, yet a very sweet citrus flavor like a clementine. Then a bitter citrus hops flavor took over. It got better as I sipped it. It tasted smooth, fresh, and pure. I asked the brewery rep at the station what the IBU was on it.
“I think it’s 40.”
“No way. It has to be at least 60. It’s way too bitter for a 40, and it’s an IPA!”
“I’m telling you it’s 40… but let me look it up on the database”. He tapped away at his smartphone, looked up at me and said, “Well, I’ll be damned. It is 60!” Who was right? I was. Have a seat over there. Awesome IPA. 8/10
Big Muddy Brewing “Vanilla Porter”
Wow! The aroma of this beer had a very strong vanilla to it. It smelled great. And of course the flavor was packed with sweet vanilla. It was smooth, cool, malty, and delicious. It didn’t leave a sticky sensation like it seemed it would. I’m not a connoisseur of vanilla porters but this was very good, and even better than the Breckenridge vanilla porter that I recommend, also. 7.5/10
Lake Effect “Snow” Belgian style witbier
This is one cool beer. It was bright yellow but completely opaque and looked like lemonade. Its unique appearance was odd but made me smile. Its flavor reminded me of a farmhouse ale. It was tart, tangy, fruity, light, funky, and displayed ester. All the profiles were perfectly balanced. I never had one like this before. 8/10
Lake Effect “Session Brett Ale” wild ale
This is a wild extra pale ale brewed with grapefruit. This beer had a lot of character but was not for me. At first the flavor was extremely tart. I puckered and winced like I used to when my grandmother insisted on kissing me on the cheek. The tart flavor parted and a sweet pineapple flavor took over. The aftertaste was very bitter. It’s definitely cool, but not my style. 6.5/10
Ale Syndicate “Van de Velde“ Belgo-American Ale
I don’t think I ever tasted one of this style before, and I humbly request to have my ass kicked for that. This brew was very hearty and yeasty. It had a dark berry sweetness to it along with some pronounced malt and a slight bitterness. It was noticeably creamy and soft. I highly recommend this gem, and I fully intend on exploring this style a lot more. 8.5/10
Tallgrass “8-Bit” pale ale
This one was advertised as being simple yet endlessly fun like the video games of my youth in the late 80s and early 90s. And boy, were they spot on in their interpretation of how this beer goes down. It was noticeably bitter, creamy, and sweet like honey-doo melon and pastry. Like the “Galaxy IPA” it also uses galaxy hops. I need to seek out galaxy hops more often. This breed kicks ass. This was my other favorite choice of the evening alongside the Lagunitas “Couch Trippin’ Fusion”. Awesome pale ale. I can’t wait to buy some at the liquor store. 9/10
Beer festivals aren’t quite the bargain they used to be. They are twice as expensive now. No t-shirt. No pint glass. No free pretzels being passed out. Instead, a small, cheap, plastic little cup that holds 3–4 ounces is all you get. But I still will not pass up an opportunity to attend one. It’s always worth it. It’s a great way to find new breweries and even new styles and experiments. And yes, it’s still an opportunity to get rightly sloshed. Take my advice and attend them as often as possible.