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Wine Staff Picks

This month, we turn to Binny’s Highland Park Wine Consultant Keith Akers for a few of his top recommendations. With his eye for value, he offers up five great selections from all over the world.


2011 Chateau de la Ragotiere Muscadet
Aromatic and mineral driven with seashells, crushed rocks, white fruits, and a touch of floral notes. Light bodied with crisp and refreshing medium/high acidity. Summer is over, but this is still perfect with lighter foods and is a pleasure to drink all the time.


Tissot Rose Tissot Rose jura-9-20-2013
Crisp and aromatic with a red fruit base of red berries, red fruits, warm dough, and a bit of mineral tones. Medium bodied with zippy high acidity, this is a great sparkling rose that competes with many Champagnes that are twice the price. Also, be sure to check out Tissot Indigene, a dead ringer for a Blanc de Blancs from Champagne at half the price. The sparkling wines of Tissot only at select Binny’s locations.


2011 Evening Land Blue Label Pinot Noir
The pretty and perfumed nose shows fresh picked red berries, cherries, spice tones, and roses. Medium bodied with nice and tart medium acidity. This beautiful pinot leans more towards the nuanced side instead of raw power.


2010 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico rocca-9-20-2013
Tones of red cherries, berries and roasted herbs fill the glass and have a great savory quality. Medium bodied with medium acidity and silky tannins, this Chianti Classico is great to drink on its own and to have with food.


2009 Argyle Brut
The nose is lively and balanced with red apples, yeast, white fruits, and mineral tones. There is a real freshness on the palate as well, with a silkiness to the medium body and medium/high acidity. This is a great sparkling wine buy that is a real pleasure to drink.


Keith has been a fixture in the Highland Park Binny’s wine department for six years. He especially loves the wines of Italy, Champagne and Burgundy, having graduated from beer to wine after falling for wine’s sense of place. Email Keith at or stop by Binny’s Highland Park.


For more wine news any time, check out the Wine Hotline.

Quick Flight, Small Pours

Yuengling Ice Cream.

No, we don’t think we’ll be able to get this, either.


Guinness tugs at your heartstrings.


Beer Myths, Wine Myths.

These are always fun.


Wine people: have you seen Red Obsession?

It’s a good watch, and still mostly relevant.


We were on TV!

Proud to support a local hotshot bartender.

By the way, you should still totally try Crafthouse Cocktails.


Finally, a way two drink two different beers in one vessel.

It’s an untapped market.




Our New Favorite Pinot Grigio


Introducing Arboreto, the new Italian pinot grigio exclusively at Binny’s.


Sometimes it seems that all a pinot grigio has to be is clear and wet…. What makes Arboreto stand out?


“It’s vibrant, with lots of tart green apple,” says Binny’s Wine Buyer Barbara Hermann. “It drinks like a pinot grigio that might usually cost you 18.99, only it costs half that price.”


Hermann is excited to bring in this exclusive new product. “We’re working with a hometown, Chicago-based importer. But she was originally from Verona, in the Veneto. She’s from the same region as this wine.”


What should you expect when you pour a glass of Arboreto? Light bodied and full flavored, it shows notes of orange zest, fresh melon and spiced pear. The finish is dry, tangy and delicious, with the spicy flavors lingering.



For more wine news any time, check out the Wine Hotline.

Binny’s New Brew: Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale

Remember Ken? He is the beer manager at Binny’s in Buffalo Grove, and shares with us why he can’t get enough of Point Brewing’s new pumpkin ale, Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale.


One word to describe this beer: Delicious!hog-9-13-2013


What makes it delicious?
This beer had a great nose full of pumpkin and cinnamon; plus the head had a gorgeous subtle orange hue to it. I missed out on it last year and later found out it took gold at the GABF 2012 for the pumpkin category. Anyone who loves pumpkin beers has got to pick a four pack up and give it a go, you will not be disappointed!


How does it taste?
The body has a creamy texture with all the right amounts of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice etc. that you’d expect with a well balanced pumpkin ale. This is the closest beer to compete against Southern Tier’s Pumking that I’ve ever come across!


Do you homebrew?
I plan to dabble with homebrewing in the future, but right now it’s hard enough to keep up with all the new beers coming into our market. To top that off, I have a hard time drinking more than two of the same beer, let alone 5 gallons of it.


What’s the oddball beer on your shelf that more people should try?
I have a soft spot for sour/lambic style beers. From what I’ve seen, this is a big grey area for most drinkers, but every day this style is gaining more and more popularity. If you see any sour put out by The Bruery, I highly suggest you pick it up.


What foods do you pair with your pumpkin ales?
The brown sugar and caramel notes pair well with the browned skin of a roasted turkey and who doesn’t love turkey around Thanksgiving? Pumpkin pie is a no-brainer, but this also balances out a spicy dish with the malty sweetness and nutmeg that pumpkin ales are known for.


Do you have a preferred mode of transportation?
If it was summer year round, I would have to say hands down that I love riding my 2007 Yamaha R6. Riding a motorcycle in my eyes is the closest thing to flying without leaving the ground and I enjoy going out anytime I can. The last ride I did with some friends was a trip up to New Glarus Brewery and talk about gorgeous countryside and of course, great beer!


Summer all year round? That would be great! Thanks for the review, Ken! Join Ken and his beer team Saturday, October 5th for an epic Pumpkin Beer Tasting.


Prost to Oktoberfest!

Get your lederhosen out… Oktoberfest begins today, September 21st! A 16 day span of unlimited sauerkraut, würstl and of course, German beer. Give our Oktoberfest favorites a try, and let us know what you think. *clink, clink*
atom-9-13-2013Two Brothers Atom Smasher
“I’m not someone who goes crazy over the Octoberfest style. I feel like it’s a style that only allows for subtle differences and if you’ve tried one you’ve tried most. With that in mind Two Brothers in Warrenville is one brewery that’s doing something different with their version called Atom Smasher. It’s your traditional Marzen with its roasted malt character, but then it’s aged in Oak foudres. The aging doesn’t add your usual vanilla notes but more so balances the brew and brings out a smooth caramel flavor. Overall it’s a very tasty beer that is unique among it’s peers.” – Matt Burger, Binny’s Arlington Heights


Weihenstephaner Festbier
“Burnished gold in color with a big fluffy white head, Weihenstephaner’s Oktoberfest often perplexes American drinkers. The Marzen/Oktoberfest style here in the US is mostly populated by dark amber brews that burst with big bready aromas and rich caramel flavors. While Weinhenstephaner is lighter in color, it’s every bit as flavorful and its rich honeyed sweetness and a subtle earthy noble hop character offers a refreshing alternative to many American examples of the style. Paired with a knockwurst on pumpernickel smothered with bacon fried onions, es ist wunderbar!” – Roger Adamson, Binny’s Willowbrook


revolution-9-13-2013Revolution Oktoberfest
“This is my favorite American Oktoberfest! It has a really nice toasted malt note, and is very well balanced. It’s a simple, easy drinker!” – Jimmy Wallwin, Binny’s Downers Grove


“Revolution Oktoberfest is an excellent combination of an American and traditional German Oktoberfest beer. It has a great malt presence like the American styles to go along with the hoppiness of German styles, which cuts through the sweetness. A well balanced beer that fans of either style can enjoy. And it’s in a can, so it’s perfect for those fall bonfires!” – Adam Brate, Binny’s McHenry


Great Lakes Oktoberfest
“Great Lakes Oktoberfest has a rich amber color and a malty-sweet aroma of caramel and toffee. The mouthfeel is smooth with balanced maltiness up-front followed by a slightly dry finish accented with mild Noble hops. This is a great beer to enjoy at an Oktoberfest celebration or to drink with friends on a cool autumn day.” – Scott Lasky, Binny’s Lake Zurich


metro-9-13-2013Metropolitan Afterburner Oktoberfest
“This time of year is always fun cause I get to see what new Oktoberfest beers are brought to the table. Now I’m not shying away from the classics but one brewery in my opinion stood out and definitely wowed me. I’m talking about Chicago’s own Metropolitans’ Afterburner. It sits at a nice 5.5% abv, is caramelized, bready, and has just enough spice. It is also very drinkable. Now typically I wouldn’t consider myself an Oktoberfest guy, but I’ll definitely try to get my hands on as much of this brew as I can. Unfortunately it’s limited so get out there and get it while you can.” – Jason Battersby, Binny’s Des Plaines


Central Waters Octoberfest
“With an enticing, bready maltiness characteristic of traditional Marzen-style lagers, Octoberfest is a radient amber-colored brew that finishes crisp and clean. Enjoy this fall seasonal as summer turns to autumn and the colors of the Northwoods are ablaze.” – Producer


Samuel Adams Octoberfest
“An excellent brew, very malty and very flavorful…Tastes like a smaller version of Samuel Adams Double Bock.  A fall seasonal that is a must buy.” – Beer Advocate


Binny’s New Brew: Pumpkin Beer Edition

‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin, especially pumpkin brews. In light of the season, we picked some of our favorites for you to try. Enjoy!
Lakefront Pumpkin Lager
“This pumpkin lager has strong aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose, which continues onto the palate. The spices are followed up with a balanced pumpkin flavor, and the beer finishes with a touch of malt sweetness. A must try for fans of pumpkin beers.” – Peter Sorgatz, Binny’s Glen Ellyn


Schlafly-9-13-2013Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
“Hands down, there is nothing more appealing on a cool Indian Summer night than Shlafly’s famed Pumpkin Ale- that is unless you can manage to hold onto this gem throughout the remainder of fall. The build of this beer holds a firm amber-malt toastiness complimented by the clean crisp sweetness it provides. Minimal hop presence allows for the pumpkin base to shine through, harmonized fantastically with a variety of spices. Nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, all-spice, and vanilla are some of the more notable characteristics. Toasted malt and a buttery graham cracker flavor provide a seductive dessert-like beer perfect for any occasion. Unlike most pumpkin ales I’ve had the opportunity to try, Shlafly’s provides a well rounded body big enough to match the array of spices packed into this top notch brew. Pour it, adore it.”
– John Hedges, Binny’s Champaign
*Note: Schlafly beers are only available in our Champaign and Bloomington locations.


Big Muddy Pumpkin Smasher
“I am not a big fan of Pumpkin beers, however, Big Muddy Pumpkin Smasher is a pumpkin beer I had recently that I could drink quite a bit of. The beer is brewed with real pumpkins and savory pumpkin pie spices; natural cinnamon and nutmeg flavors are peppered throughout. The blend of American hops balanced with Pale/Caramel malts creates a full-bodied taste and fantastic flavor. This is pumpkin pie in a bottle!” – Nick Gallichio, Binny’s Bolingbrook


hog-9-13-2013Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale
“The nose is softer that the boldness of my other favorite pumpkin beer, Southern Tier Pumking, but this one sure delivers in large amounts on the palate. Huge notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and pumpkin which all balance wonderfully. Point Whole Hog also took Gold at the GABF 2012 for the pumpkin category. This is the closest beer I’ve tasted to Pumking to date and any pumpkin beer fan should absolutely give this one a try. ” – Ken Habenicht, Binny’s Buffalo Grove


Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin
“Don’t confuse this with Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale; Smashed Pumpkin packs over twice the ABV (9%) and a boat load of more flavor than its counterpart. Smashed Pumpkin was top dog at a recent blind tasting of ours that included 8 pumpkin ales. It is spicy with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a plethora of other fall spice flavors, to go along with a perfect amount of pumpkin flavor.” – Kyle Fornek, Binny’s Willowbrook


Fan of Pinterest? Check out these brewtastic holiday crafts.


Independent Spirits Expo

Just a quick heads up to make sure you know about this awesome spirits event:


Independent Spirits Expo

 The Chicago Hilton Towers

720 South Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60605

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

VIP 5-9, General 6:30-9



Buy VIP tickets here and general tickets here.


Why should you be at the Independent Spirits Expo? For starters, you’ll have a chance to sample spirits from an overwhelming number of independent distillers from all over the world. That means all those indie bottles you see on our shelves that you always wondered about. Our very own Pat Brophy is sitting in on an industry roundtable discussion earlier in the day, which is cool. Plus there’s a very good chance you’ll bump into other notables from The Whiskey Hotline and familiar faces from Binny’s stores.


But hey, it isn’t about us, right? It’s about the spirits!

Coming Soon: Ommegang/Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout

Takt the BlackBrewery Ommegang has once again collaborated with television network HBO to create a beer around one of the most watched shows in HBO’s history, Game of Thrones. Take the Black Stout is the second such collaboration, following in the footsteps of the incredibly popular Iron Throne.


For fans Game of Thrones, the picture on the label of Take the Black Stout shows the Weirwood tree where Jon Snow recited the oath before joining the Night’s Watch.


For fans of the beer, the description on the label of the beer is as follows: “Take the Black Stout is a 7.00% ABV stout brewed with chocolate malt, Midnight Wheat and roasted barley, hopped with Northern Brewer and Columbus hops, and spiced with licorice root and star anise.”


Want to try Ommegangs’ latest concoction? A keg of Take the Black Stout is being tapped at our South Loop tasting room later today. Bottles have popped up at a few Binny’s locations already, with most stores scheduled to receive their allotment later next week.

Binny’s Rolls a Strike with New Store Location

In the past three months we’ve shared our Lincoln Park Expansion, Glencoe Expansion, and now we’re pleased to announce the opening of a brand new location in…drum roll, please… Evergreen Park!


The new location is estimated to be 24,000 square feet and will include a 28 door beer cooler, a temperature controlled wine cellar for fine and rare wines, a walk-in humidor and the widest and best selection of 8,500+ wine, spirits and beer products. Director of Operations for Binny’s, Rick Parenti shared, “The store, like all Binny’s locations, will feature the best, most knowledgeable staff, ready to provide our customers with the highest level of service!”



Binny’s will replace Bleeker’s Bowling Lanes, a long standing establishment since the 1950’s.


“We’re revitalizing a beloved neighborhood landmark and introducing Binny’s to a prominent community,” says Michael Binstein, Binny’s owner and CEO. The new location will bring the company’s retail locations to a grand total of 30. That’s right Evergreen Park, get ready to do some major holiday shopping with us!


We’re curious, where would you want to see a Binny’s pop up next?

7 Unlucky Recommendations for Friday the Thirteenth

Push your superstitions aside and try any of these unlucky recommendations. Trust us, they’re not that spooky.


1. Jura Superstition Single Malt
This single malt is exactly what you need to get through this Friday the 13th. Its honeyed, dried fruit body with creme brulee aromas makes this scotch everything it is and more.


2. Casillero del Diablo
The story we heard might not match their marketing- but it’s close. The easiest way to keep winery workers from sneaking samples? Convince them the devil himself lives in the cellar.


3. Surrogates Skull Breaker & Asylum Straight Jacket
From the humidor comes a pair of cigars you’d be lucky to try, even if their bands are a little creepy. Surrogates Skull Breaker and Asylum Straight Jacket are both complex, medium-to-full bodied smokes that doesn’t overpower. Both are exciting, limited cigars at very lucky prices.
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