Chicago Beer Round Up

Sarah and I took a trip to Chicago for Labor Day weekend fully intent on having a few brews that we could not find here in New York. Our friends had them ready for us when we arrived. The beers we had most often this weekend were Bells and New Belgium.

From Bells Brewery we had: Oberon, Two Hearted Ale, Oarsman Ale, and Amber Ale. From New Belgium we had Fat Tire and Ranger. I wish we had more time (and money) to try the many more beers that are common in Chicago and not available in New York. Binny’s had a selection of Lost Abbey beers that top the list for the next Chicago trip.

Of the Bells beers, my favorite was Oarsman Ale, which, as far as I can tell, would fall under the Berliner Weisse style (I have not had the style but had the fortune of reading about it in The Naked Pint this weekend) and clocked in at 4% ABV. It was tart and refreshing with a little bit of citrus. It was a slightly hazy straw yellow color with a white head.

Despite having previously read some mixed reviews of New Belgium’s Ranger IPA I thoroughly enjoyed it, even more than the Two Hearted Ale from Bells. It was very floral with a piney hop profile. It went perfectly with the enchiladas that our friends Charlie and Natalie made for dinner on Sunday night.

During the weekend, we took a trip to Quenchers beer bar, which boasted an impressive tap and bottle list. Many of the beers were new to us. I couldn’t resist Bells and started with the amber ale. The star of the night for me was the Urthel Saisonniere from Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven B.V in Belgium. This saison had the classic funkiness of the style but seemed to be a lot cleaner than other examples and had a thinner mouthfeel. The beer had a golden straw color that was less hazy than other saisons.

A word on price: I couldn’t help ordering a Founders Porter while in Chicago at Quenchers and checking out the Founders beer at Binny’s, a distributor in Evanston. I was floored by the availability and prices of their beer that is so rare and expensive in New York. At Quenchers the porter went for $5, while in New York you will probably pay $7. At Binny’s a 6 pack of most Founders beers were $9.99, while in New York a 4 pack of the same beer will most likely run you around $12.

– Giancarlo

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