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5-27 Stewart Bruno05 9.jpg [photo by Scott Stewart~Sun-Times]

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser, is buying out Chicago's Goose Island Beer Co., according to a release issued today.

The deal is worth some $38 million, with Anheuser-Busch also buying out the Craft Brewer Alliance's 42 percent stake in Goose Island. Anheuser-Busch has a minority stake in CBA.

Goose Island fans can expect more and better beers, says Goose Island founder and president John Hall in a statement on his company's website. Hall explains that the brewery has "outgrown the capacity of our brewery."

"Recently, we've even had to limit production of some classic and medal-winning styles," he says.

That shouldn't be an issue any longer. The Fulton Street facility is getting a $1.3 million upgrade "as early as this summer" as part of the deal, the company says.

Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall, meanwhile, is stepping down and will be replaced by Brett Porter, currently head brewer. Hall will continue on in a consulting role for the brewery.

[Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times]

Here's what has Moto chef Homaro Cantu has up his sleeve with ING, his restaurant in the works at 951 W. Fulton:

* The name is an acronym for Imagining New Gastronomy.

* The food will be "delicious, comforting food, but creative," Cantu told me this morning. "I wouldn't say 'molecular' on this new concept."

* And it will be affordable -- "Nothing on the menu will go over $20 $25," he says.

* You'll be able to order a la carte, but don't expect a "traditional" menu (i.e. appetizers, salads, entrees).

* And beer drinkers will have a field day. Cantu is developing what he calls a "nanobrewing" program, with head brewer Trevor Hamblin and three other inhouse brewers developing on average, a new beer every three days.

* A kitchen table will be devoted to the miracle berry, a fruit that tricks the taste buds into perceiving sour and bitter flavors as sweet. "Everything at the kitchen table will be tasted on miracle berries," he says. Cantu played with miracle berries on his TV show, "Future Food," which was shot at Moto and had an eight-episode run last year on the Planet Green network. (Cantu says he is talking to "other networks" to pick up the show, and is confident it will happen this year; "Same show, different name," he says.)

* Thomas Bowman, currently in the kitchen at Moto, will run the ING kitchen (or kitchens, rather -- there will be three). As as Moto, all employees, including servers, will wear chef's coats and have a hand in all aspects of the operation.

* And when can you begin to experience all this? Cantu is shooting for a March 1 opening.

ING is replacing Otom, and will be right next to Alinea chef Grant Achatz's two new ventures, Next and Aviary, which, once all are up and running, will make this stretch "the number one dining destination in the world," Cantu says.

"I look at it this way: If Grant didn't move in there, would Sbarro's Pizza move in? I sure as hell wouldn't want that."

SCHLITZ1 112908.jpg Yes, yes, the craft beer movement is a wonderful thing, and all the talented local brewers have been nothing but a boon to Chicago. But a can of PBR has its place, too, does it not?

To wit: the Pabst beer dinner at Branch 27, 1371 W. Chicago, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Not only are Old Style, Schlitz and Colt45 making an appearance, but chef John Manion promises his version of Doritos, a "Cheez-it crumble" atop beer cheese soup and . . . Tums with dessert.

This harkens back to chef Paul Virant's Old Standbys beer dinner at Vie in July, which went one course more (though without our beloved Colt45). C'mon chefs -- one more makes it a trend!


story and photos by guest blogger Seanan Forbes:

"People ask me if beer is the new wine," says Greg Hall, brewmaster of Goose Island, "and I say absolutely not." He lets that hang for a moment and adds, "Craft beer is the new wine."

This may be true. It's certainly possible that craft brewers are the new rock stars. These days, it might be easier to catch Hall in an airport than in a brewpub. Recent sightings have been had in Portland, Stockholm and London. A brewer's life is a hoppy one in more than one sense.

There were also New York sightings -- plural. Hall was there for New York Craft Beer Week. Between Brewer's Choice, where he was the keynote speaker (on a Thursday) and Brewer's Bash, for which Eleven Madison Park made all of its tables disappear (on a Sunday), the brewmaster darted from Manhattan to Chicago and back again.

Hall says that craft beer's popularity has "exploded." He links this with people's rising interest in eating well. It's hard to argue against that, especially when standing in a room packed with folks downing fresh oysters, chocolate, house-smoked meats, kimchi chili and more - each item happily paired with hops - or, as Hall sees it, stouts and ales and porters "paired with food - and good food," he says. "There's not one pizza in the room."

In some cases - or kegs - thoughts of food start far from the kitchen, let alone the table. "We're doing a collaboration brew with Rick Bayless," Hall says. "We do collaboration brews with the best chefs in Chicago every month." IMG_1574-Bourbon-County-&-Madame-Rose.jpg

Maybe chefs should be bragging about that. Goose Island took its first award, for Chicago Vice Weizen, at the 1989 Great American Beer Festival. In 1992's festival, it nabbed two awards: a gold for PMD Mild and a bronze for Oatmeal Stout. Since 1994, when it left the World Beer Championships bearing one platinum and two golds, not a year has passed without Goose Island claiming a medal - at one event, two events, four . . .

If you wanted to taste the last of Chicago Island's Bourbon County Stout, a beautifully balanced, dark brew made with Intelligentsia's Black Cat espresso, then you should have flown to Eleven Madison Park. The last two bottles were opened and poured there.

If you want to taste Hall's barrel-aged Madame Rose Belgian Style Ale, then you're right where you want to be: in Chicago. Madame Rose is coming out Dec. 1. (You do want to taste it. It's made with tart cherries grown especially for Goose Island at Peter Klein's Seedling Orchard in Michigan. You can't buy those cherries, but you can get other Seedling produce at Green City Market - big city; small world.)

Something's always brewing at Goose Island - but the special stuff may be out for only a month or so. If you want to know what's coming when, then bookmark the brewery's beer calendar. It's hunger-inducing reading. (What do you want to eat with your Bourbon County Vanilla Stout, while you can get it?)

2010 may be running out of time, but Goose Island isn't running out of beer.

It's hot and humid out, folks. Go drink some beer.

But not just any beer -- get thee to the Goose Island Brewpub, 1800 N. Clybourn, at 6 tonight for the exotically named, potentially award-winning Sai-Shan-Tea, which is very much a beer.

It's the product of a collaboration between Goose Island's brewmaster Jared Rouben, tea purveyor extraordinaire Rodrick Markus of the Rare Tea Cellar and Chicagoist's beer connoisseur/food editor Chuck Sudo (whose byline you see from time to time in our food pages).

Rouben has been on a roll with these beer-making collaborations with Chicago chefs, so it was only a matter of time before a tea connoisseur and bearded blogger were added to the mix.

The beer's key ingredient is Markus' Emperor's Lemon Meritage tea. Sudo, who blogged about the whole beer-making process, describes it as a saison that goes down like a shandy.

"We wanted the beer to have a lot of character and weight, but have people coming back for more," Sudo says via e-mail.

Like summer, this stuff is fleeting -- only 40 kegs' worth available, and only at Goose Island Clybourn -- so try Sai-Shan-Tea while you can. While it's hot. And since we're headed for vacation tomorrow and need to have a clear head whilst packing, have some for us, too.

by guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes

If bringing home a bottle of Goose Island feels like turning your kitchen into a friendly local bar, then there's good reason. Brewmaster Greg Hall honed his craft at the Siebel Institute, but Goose Island started small. His father founded it in 1988, as a brewpub.

"Brewpubs are great," Hall says, "because you control the process, all the way to the pint." Brewpubs also don't need to register new beers, so brewers are free experiment. Hall cites another asset: getting direct guidance and feedback. Do customers like something? Want something? The brewer can try making it. "A brewpub's a great way to start, as a brewer," he says.

In 1995, Goose Island started its second pub and began packaging. Now, the Chicago beer is in 20 states, and it's expanding . . . in more than one way.

"There's a new drinker - a whole bunch of new drinkers - out there," Social drinkers are out having fun. "When you're out having fun, you're probably drinking beer, too," Hall remarks.

About the new drinkers, he says, "They didn't used to drink craft beer, but they drink craft beers now." Goose Island makes craft and traditional brews. There's also something for "reserve beer drinkers, who are getting out of cocktails or wine, and into beer." They're not giving up wine and cocktails; they're just drinking beer, too. For them, there are Belgian style ales. (Kids don't need to feel left out. Goose Island has sodas, too.)

Drinkers aren't the only ones who are changing. Producers see the world differently. "For a long time," Hall notes, "we thought that there were beer occasions and there were wine occasions, and they were different occasions." Now, he happily sells beer at what were once seen as "wine occasions."

With summer looming, many of us are breaking out the grills. What does Hall recommend drinking with grilled foods?

With McCormick Place reform legislation firmly in place, it's doubly encouraging to note that attendance at the National Restaurant Association show, which ended Tuesday, registered a 6 percent increase over 2009. (Last year, you may remember, was dismal -- down 24 percent from the previous year.)

And a few final, random thoughts from the show:

* Spike Mendelsohn, he of "Top Chef" fame, is working on bringing the Good Stuff Eatery, his "chef-y" Washington D.C. burger joint, to Chicago.

Mendelsohn and his sister Micheline (together, they wrote the Good Stuff Cookbook) met with a real estate company while in Chicago about their franchise plan, Micheline said. "The thought would be to expand the concept in big cities, rather than have 10 in D.C.," she said. Makes sense -- a certain high-profile lawyer from Chicago but now living in D.C. loves the place.

* Bumped into Primehouse chef Rick Gresh on the show floor; he offered these words about the street food thing trying to gain a foothold in Chicago.

"I think we have a lot of silly laws on the book. If it does happen, it'll change the way people eat here, in a positive way. Who knows -- maybe we'll have a steak truck."

And speaking of steak, Gresh is working with Goose Island brewmaster Jared Rouben to create what he's calling the "ultimate steak beer" that will mimic the flavors of Pinot Noir. Much like what Rouben has done with Vie chef Paul Virant and a handful of other Chicago chefs.

Brewing for the USB will begin in July for a fall release, Gresh said. There will be a spring release as well.

The parades and public drunkeness have come and gone, but remnants of St. Patrick's Day remain. (Makes sense, doesn't it, given that today is the actual holiday?)

We happened upon one such item at the Artisan Cellar wine shop in the Merchandise Mart: these limited edition, bottle-shaped Miller Lites in aluminum cans, sporting the catchy "Chi-Rish" phrase and a Chicago flag. Because that's what non-Irish Chicagoans need: one more excuse to pretend they're Irish on St. Patrick's Day.


The label, written by the witty Artisan Cellar staff, is all in good humor. Or so we thought. Until we wandered over to eBay and found this yahoo selling two empty bottles. Asking price for the set: $5.99.

Dine out enough and you can get a sense of whether a true team is working to deliver your food. But until I talked with Chef Dan Tucker at Sushisamba Rio I didn't realize that praise for a wonderful duck toban yaki may not echo to the back of the house.

That's why he and other chefs at some of Chicago's higher-end restaurants have made a point of sending food, including some nice Potbelly's sandwiches, to the back of the house as a "thank you" for their hard work. Now the Publican is making it easy for everyday folks like you and me offer a toast to the chefs and other kitchen staff. That's right, you can send a six-pack of beer to the kitchen for making sweetbreads -- mmm thymus glands -- that your grandparents from Luxembourg loved so much.

And now, a confession: We have a soft spot for Colt 45.

It goes way back to high school and some boys we used to hang out with, and it's a story that pretty much stops there, so that now we've revealed too much, let us add that we're relieved we're not the only ones whose 40-ounce memories run deep.

In her college days, Jennifer Keeney held a regular 40-ounce Tuesday night club with a few friends. The club convened after her three-hour "Methods of Psychotherapy" class. "I decided it was so incredibly horrific that we needed to have a 40-ounce night," says Keeney, a Northwest Side resident.

Keeney, now an HR exec, survived that class. But neither she nor we could see this one coming -- a weeklong celebration of the 40-ounce.

All week, the Fifty/50 in Wicker Park is offering 40-ounce specials (and corresponding food specials) to mark what it insists is National 40-Ounce Week. Monday was Colt 45 night. Keeney and her husband were there.

"We thought it was worth a sitter," she says. She posed with a cardboard cutout of Billy Dee Williams, ate a skirt steak sandwich that she says was "spectacular" and, of course, drank a 40-ounce -- or 40-oh, as the kids say.

National 40-Ounce Week at the Fifty/50 ends Sunday. By the way, there's no need to BYO paper bag. The bar has that covered, too.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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