Chicago Debrief – All the good beers

Chicago was, hands down, the best city I visited on the trip. Most people look at me funny when I say that. After all, I went to NYC as well – surely THAT was the best city?! In my case, it wasn’t; I was horrifically jet lagged in NYC, and it’s a pretty daunting city at the best of times, leaving me pretty overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going back to NYC again…just like I’m definitely visiting Chicago again.

So what made Chicago so good? Honestly, it’s hard to pin it down to a single thing. Maybe it was Michigan Ave, maybe it was Millennium Park, maybe it was all the beer. Or maybe it was because I felt totally at home there, so enamoured and engrossed by the American culture that I no longer felt like a tourist. Anyway, enough about how awesome Chi-town is; lets just get to the beers.

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Two Brothers Cane & Ebel (#135)
To call it ‘a hopped up red rye ale’ is a little off the mark in my books; the sweet, spicy and bitter flavours all balance too nicely. Stone fruit, green apple and palm sugar caramel followed by a short sharp bitterness that works harmoniously. The flavours are great, but it’s just so…light. Like, really light. I was expecting a little more punch from the body. It’s not a flaw, just unexpected. So it’s nice, and it’s a nice change of pace from the hop explosions and brooding darkness that I’ve become accustomed to. It’s just…light.

Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA
Not on the list, but the packaging sold me; any beer in a can that looks like the Incredible Hulk has to be awesome! It’s a damn tasty IPA, if a little unbalanced towards the bitter side. And it’s from a can – I’m nearly converted.

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale (#136)
I’ve seen this around quite a bit, which gives me pause; is it common because it’s good, or just well marketed? I’m not sure why, but I was really hesitant to try this, expecting a rather lackluster attempt at a Pale Ale. Poured it – OK, it’s the lovely light amber colour of a Pale Ale. Smelt it – little bit floral and fruity, with some good malt. Tasted it – everything is there, finishing with a solid dry bitterness. No doubt about it, this isn’t a weak beer pretending to be a Pale Ale. It’s ballsy, exactly what you want from a Pale. I’m happy to say that I enjoyed it, and i fit were readily available in Australia, even in can, I’d be happy.

Anderson Valley Brewing Boont Amber Ale (#137)
Love the brewery name (I wonder if we’re related?) This is just the beer I needed today after 6 horrible rice lagers (I’ll explain that comment in my ext post). It’s so flavoursome. Sweet mollasesy malt followed by a seamless bitterness. This evolves into a more savoury malt experience, akin to an over-toasted Sao, with the same bitterness. Not that I’ve had an over-toasted Sao before, but you get the idea.

Avery Brewing Ellie’s Brown Ale (#138)
Now this is my kind of brown ale. It tastes like lightly smoked chocolate covered hops. Delicious

Two Brothers Domaine DuPage (#139)
OK, I may have forgotten to take notes for this one. But I did leave a comment on Untappd…”Nice enough, but not my style”…sums it up pretty well.

Bridgeport Hop Czar
Also not on the list, but how do you turn down a Hop Czar? Though my note taking was suffering by now. All I managed to scratch for this one was “You could wear this as a cologne. It may as well be called lychee juice.” If that’s not a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is…

So that’s a round up of most of the beers I knocked off the list in Chicago, plus a few bonuses. Good beer was plentiful in Chi-town, just like the rest of the States I visited. In total I tried 28 new beers from the epic list in 28 days – not a bad effort, though I could’ve done better with less jet lag. I’m already planning my next trip to the US, this time along the west coast. I’m told it’s the holy land for beer geeks; I’ve no doubt that’s correct.

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