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*
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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

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Beer Buzz Hits The Road: Michigan

On a recent trip to Michigan, 34 Binny’s employees embarked on a beer education adventure. With visits to Greenbush, Dark Horse, Arcadia, and Saugatuck, we walked away with a new and profound knowledge of what these breweries have to offer- and only just a little bit of a headache.

 

Beer Buzz extraordinaires, Kyle Fornek and Pat Brophy also break down exactly what beers the crew enjoyed most during the trip!

 

Our mode of transportation

Our mode of transportation


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First Stop: Greenbush Brewing
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New to the Illinois market and to the shelves of Binny’s, Greenbush Brewing Co. is a popular brewery living by the motto “Good Beer Wins.” We toured their facility as well as their soon-to-be used 15-barrel brew house. Greenbush is taking the necessary steps to adapt to their consumers… by making more beer.

 

Greenbush2Here are our top two brews from the visit:

 

Anger – This could very well be the best black IPA on our shelves. Somehow it seems to perfectly harness everything we love about a good porter like flavors of chocolate and brown sugar, with hop aromas and flavors still balancing wonderfully due to the addition of Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Cascade hops. Despite what the name tells you, this beer will make you happy.

 

Brother Benjamin Double IPA – This beer is incredibly well balanced, huge maltiness up front with a drying bitterness on the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden. We could have drank a lot of these, but there was a ton of other great beers to try!
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Second Stop: Dark Horse Brewing Co.
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Imagine a playground for adults. That’s exactly what Dark Horse Brewing Co. is. They have a stage where local bands play weekly, a skate shop, a sand pit, an outdoor and indoor bar… do we need to keep going? It’s well worth the three hour drive up to Marshall, Michigan.

 

Brews we enjoyed the most at Dark Horse:

 

DHblog2Reserve Special Black Ale – Upon first glance it looks like an Irish stout with its creamy tan head and black as night color. However this brew is packed to the gills with chocolate and caramel flavors, with a hefty amount of sweetness that balances nicely with an underlying citrus hop taste.

 

Falconers Flight Single Hop Crooked Tree IPA – Falconers Flight is a fairly new hop and this is the first we’ve tried of it. Kind of a weird mix of tropical fruit and pine, but it works with the medium malty profile of Crooked Tree.
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Third Stop: Arcadia Ales
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Arcadia was the third stop on our day, so it was awesome when they greeted us with a fantastic meal, good company and of course, great beer. We ended the night with a tour of their brewery. Fun fact about Arcadia: they still use a direct fire brew kettle to brew their beers. This gives some beers a heavy, caramel flavor.

 

The two brews we enjoyed most at Arcadia:

 

arcadiablog2Whitsun – Very flavorful, sessionable beer. It had a nice balance to it; not too heavy on the orange, not too much coriander, not too “wheaty.” Wonderful summer beer.

 

Cocoa Loco – We had a chance to sample the cocoa nibs that go into this beer, and boy are they bitter and just about unpalatable! But once the brewers at Arcadia have their way with them during the crafting of Cocoa Loco, the end result is flavors of chocolate cake and molasses with only the slightest bitterness.

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Fourth Stop & Brew Day: Saugatuck Brewing Co.

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Saugatuck invited us to come brew at their brewery. It was a great experience for so many of our employees as many hadn’t brewed before. We took Saugatuck’s Pathfinder Pale Ale and added Citra, Simcoe, and Nelson Sauvin hops to it. We then dry hopped it with hard to find Mosaic hops. We’re looking forward to its release, soon!

 
Here are the beers we enjoyed most on draft at Saugatuck’s brewpub:

 

sbblog2Pathfinder Pale Ale - This is what makes Saugatuck Pathfinder Pale Ale different from most other American Pale Ales: it is not overly bitter or hoppy, it is under 5% ABV, it is more malt forward, it is very earthy, and generally speaking, it is relatively mild and drinkable. If there can be a such thing as a session pale ale, then this is it.

 

ESB Amber – This beer is all about subtlety of flavor. Biscuity malts and a lighter hop profile help this one go down easy. Yes, it’s not an extreme IPA or barrel aged stout, but there is still a lot of complexity to be found in this brew.

 

Be on the lookout for Hopfinder in stores soon!

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Keep up with other Beer Buzz adventures here or shoot us an email at beer@binnys.com if you have any questions or just simply want to talk brewskis.

 Dark Horse Group Pic

Have you visited any of these breweries? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below!

Binny’s Beer Buzz Hits the Road: Final Days in Beligum

Our journey is on its final stretch. Catch up with parts one, two and three.

 

We spent day six with the Van Steenberge brewery. As usual, this brewery has been in the same family for generations and produces some top notch Belgian ales including favorites such as Piraat, Gulden Draak, and Augustijn.

 

Van Steenberge Sign

Van Steenberge Sign

 

The brewery itself is very large and sprawls around several acres and has its own water source. They have been on this same property since 1784. Van Steenberge pioneered conditioning beers (carbonating naturally) in kegs and has a lot of space dedicated to conditioning rooms which hold bottles and kegs at slightly higher temperatures to allow the yeast to reactivate and carbonate the beers. Currently Van Steenburge produces about 65,000 barrels a year, of which 75% is exported. This is done on an impressive 100 hectoliter brewhouse that turns out six batches a day.

 

Halve Maan Brewhouse

Van Steenberge Brewhouse

 

What impressed me most at the Van Steenberge brewery was their yeast management program. They use seven different yeasts and only use yeast for three generations. They use two different yeasts for bottle conditioning, one for flavor and one to remove oxygen. Yeast management is crucial when so many of your beers tip the scales at over 10% abv.
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Binny’s Beer Buzz Hits the Road: Belgium Days 4 and 5

If you haven’t been following along, Nate Hadley and myself have been traveling through Belgium tasting beer, sight seeing and learning all about the culture! This is day four and five of our journey.

 

Hop Farm in Poperinge

Hop Farm in Poperinge

 

We spent day four with the Van Ecke brewery, makers of Poperings Hommel, among others. Our first stop was a hop farm in the town of Poperinge. This was by far my favorite stop of the trip to this point. It was a small, family farm called ‘t Hoppecruyt. We toured the fields, which were just past the initial sprouting phase and the vines were starting to climb.

 

Hops Growing

Hops Growing

 
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Beer Buzz Hits the Road: Belgium Days 2 and 3

We spent day 2 of our journey through Belgium exploring the city of Antwerp with our friends from Troubadour. The biggest news of the day was Nate Hadley’s arrival. Our poor Naperville beer manager was bumped on his flight over due to the flight being overbooked. The flight he was hoping for standby on was also overbooked and then cancelled due to mechanical problems. He spent a night in Washington DC and finally got to us today. His luggage, however, did not. At least he’s here!

 

troubadour

 

Troubadour beers are outstanding across the board. They have a Blond, Obscura (a light stout), Magma Triple IPA, Westkust (a black IPA), and an imperial stout. It’s great to see a Belgian brewery embracing US Craft brewery ideas and creating hop forward beers in a country typically completely devoid of them. If you haven’t had Magma, do yourself a favor and pick one up. There also may still be some of the limited edition Sorachi Ace Magma floating around at some of our stores.
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Beer Buzz Hits the Road: Belgium

We started our day with a little sightseeing in Brussels. We hit the usual spots, including the Atomium, which is a remnant from the 1958 worlds fair. It’s over 100 meters tall. Pretty cool, especially considering that all we have leftover from the worlds fair in New York is some rusty flying saucers in Jamaica Queens. ( There is also a significant remnant from the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Richmond, VA. It is now the Belgian Friendship Building at Virginia Union University, and it is a National Historic Landmark. -ed.)

 

 

We also checked out the iconic Mannekin Pis. It’s very small, maybe 20 inches or so, and not much to look at. So I did what any forward thinking beer nerd would do and popped into Mort Subite for a glass of their house blended lambic, whose deliciousness words cannot describe.

 

 

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Making Its Way to Your Mug: Prairie Artisan Ales

We just got word that Prairie Artisan Ales will be coming to Binny’s in the near future. Their beers should be available at most of our locations sooner rather than later, including Champaign and Bloomington locations (we don’t have hard release dates yet, but we will post again when we do).  This will be Binny’s first time offering a brewery from the state of Oklahoma.  Prairie’s beers are highly rated on all the premier beer websites, and we are excited to offer them. Prairie does a lot of innovative and new stuff; in March alone they released four new beers. Check out the beer labels from these four new brews below, they are some of the coolest labels we have laid eyes on.