Thursday, January 22, 2015

Goodbye 2014. Hoppy 2015!

Well, 2014 is history...
Grain was milled, wort was boiled, beer was drank, and knees were busted...
Overall it was a very good year and monumental in my craft beer learning experiences. I'm thankful for another year filled with so many awesome people and tasty moments. Thanks to all of you that were a part of it. Life, like beer, is better when shared!

2014, a year in re-brew.

- Participated in a Women's demo brew day at Brew Camp on International Women's Day hosted by Hail to the Ale.

- Became a board member on CHAOS Brew Club

- Won first place for my Southern English Brown, in the 2014 Square Kegs Winter Brew Fest Competition.

- Launched my personal graphic design portfolio site, on April Fool's Day... no joke! The site includes some of my design work which I've created for the Chicago craft beer community as well, including work for History on Tap and Goose Island

- Tried more than a thousand beers! #OneofEverythingPlease Thank goodness for tasters and neighbors to help you finish the big bottles! Seriously my untappd went into overload... my unique beers have slowed to a crawl... had it, had it, had it.

- Visited more than 30 breweries in over 12 different cites/towns across America, including: Lost Abbey, Stone, Former Future, Founders, Triple VooDoo Temperance, Sketchbook Brewing, Arclight, GoldenRoad, Monkish, Backcountry and even The Bruery's barrel storage facility, and the Mikkeller Bar in SF.

- Studied my tastebuds off for the BJCP exams! I took the written component, a 60 min 200 multi-question/multi-answer online exam. Once passed I was awarded a certificate and allowed to take an officially scheduled on-site tasting exam, which I did in June at the National Homebrewers Conference. The tasting exam consists of observing, tasting and documenting 6 beer's profiles against it's classic style description from memory and noting any off-flavors that may exist in the beer and offering suggestions on how to correct the beer to avoid off-flavors next time, if they are present. After waiting 7 months for test results to come back... I'm proud to say that as of Dec. 24, my test scores were finalized and I'm an official Recognized Beer Judge, yay!

- Learned how to keg beer! Woot! Now I need to make a kegerator!

- Was an assistant brewer for the day at Horse Thief Hollow, my friend, Dave Williams, who is the head brewer there, invited me to help brew PomPom, a Hefeweizen with pomegranate juice, yum! it was a great opportunity and I'm hoping to help on more brew days in 2015!

- Attended (3) craft beer and brewing conferences: CBC, NHC, and the BBC... What a trip!

- Attempted to run my second Chicago Marathon, but a cycling accident on the way to the brew house in July, prevented it... don't worry it was just a flesh wound! Nothing like flying off your bike and landing in Sphinx pose on asphalt. I pretty much scrapped off my entire right knee cap and reactivated an old MCL injury, so I was wobbly for a while. But, somehow I still found a way to finish my year with over 1,200 cycling miles and 200 walking miles, 55 skiing miles, while my running halted at around 85 miles. Thank goodness for RunKeeper and helping me burn a thousand beers!   

- Poured for a few festivals and events in Chicago including Beer Hoptacular for Illuminated Brew Works and various breweries for FoBAB.

- Introduced Sam Herring of Future Islands to Chicago's very own Malort after a show at Lincoln Hall. That was a fun night!

- Assisted in running a beer competition, The second Annual Nielsen-Massey Homebrew Extract Competition, with CHAOS Brew Club and also judged and/or stewarded in six  others. Including stewarding for FoBAB.  

- Finally had a chance to attend my first Great American Beer Festival!

- Brewed 37 batches of beer, (3) of which were for CHAOS group barrel aged projects, (some of which are still in the barrel!), (10) were collaborations with other homebrewers and (5) of those were new-bees that I taught how to brew! I'm excited that my brewing has inspired others to learn, especially encouraging more women to get into brewing.

So what's in store for 2015? Well two things are for sure... I'll need to brush up on my French and German!

"Je voudrais boire une bière, s'il vous plait?"

"Wo ist der Biergarten?"

Santé & Prost!


  1. I'm ashamed to say I live within 5 minutes of The Bruery and have yet to visit since most of their offerings seem to be either really big beers or sours. Still, many people seem so passionate about sour beers I think it's time to stroll over like a big girl and give them a try. What would you recommend as a good gateway sour beer from The Bruery? I like porters, Belgians, and really hoppy beers if that helps with your suggestion.

  2. Well if you like Belgians then you should have no problem transitioning to sours. I'd start with a Flemish beer. Have you had Cuvee des Jacobins or Duchesse de Bourgogne yet? These ​Flanders Reds ​are very palatable and friendly​ ​sours ​and usually easily found in the US. ​They are in the sour family but still sweet and more complex than a Berliner weisse. I'm sure you'll taste some similarities to that of Belgian styles you like with their ester notes and fine bubbles, almost that of champagne.

    I had a co-worker years ago tell me they didn't like beer. I told him non-sense. You've just been drinking the wrong beers. So I asked him, what do you like to drink? He said sweet things, nothing bitter. Ah, I said.. I'll start you on a fruit beer. And so he completely skipped over macros and his first beer was Founders ​Rubaeus. He couldn't believe it was ​a bee​r​. He loved it and​ soon the beer bug was planted. Another time he asked "I want to try something else, what do think would I like?"​ ​We were at Monks Pub in Chicago, so I said this... and his second beer was a Cuvee des Jacobins. Yup, that's right. ​​Completely skipping over the hoppy IPAs, the roasty malts, and nutty brows because the flavors were so foreign his tastebuds and simply refused it. I took him from a non beer drinker to a Flemish/Belgian/Sour lover. We had to work his way there, start with the things he likes and move onward, to get him to appreciate other flavors. Now he also drinks Saisions, IPAs, Browns and Stouts, but still his favorites are the sweet and the tart.

    ​My recommendations for The Bruery specifically for you would be: Black Tuesday, Chocolate Rain, Oude Tart, and Tart of Darkness. These are some of my favorites and I think you'll like them too.

    Please let me know what you ​drink and what makes your taste-buds happy!


  3. I was at this place last week. This is such a joy as a place for food! I had a beautiful time here. It reminded me of other venues in Chicago. A beautiful, wonderful place that had excellent atmosphere.