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How have you been this year - naughty or nice? Don’t forget, someone is always watching… Over a year ago, Old Irving Brewing filled some of the Whiskey Hotline’s hand selected 1792 and Maker’s Mark bourbon barrels with stout and OIB’s been patiently watching over them ever since. Christmas 2021 came and went, while the beer remained in an oaken slumber. For this special edition of Krampus Cookies, we turned to you to vote on the adjuncts. Canned up in the waning weeks of summer, it’s time to prepare yourself for an unexpected visit from Krampus.
Featuring vanilla, cocoa nibs, coconut, and coffee beans – it’s the deep roasted coffee that stands out most on the nose, accented by notes of dark chocolate. Thick and weighty on the tongue, it delivers the decadence of German chocolate cake, enjoyed alongside a fresh cup of coffee. The lasting and complex finish envelops the palate with a wave of bittersweet chocolate, accented by notes of blackberry, chocolate liqueur, and coconut macaroon.
A pair of Chicago institutions join forces to bring you a caramel corn ale! The easy play here would have been to simply dump in caramel flavor and call it a day. Thankfully Revolution did not take that route. They workshopped this collaborative brew over the course of many months, resulting in nearly a dozen trial batches. The final brew is a brown ale base featuring brown sugar, a touch of kosher salt, and over 450 pounds of Garrett caramel corn! That having been said, this is a wonderfully balanced brew, with restrained sweetness that ensures it can be enjoyed alongside a bowl of Garrett’s delicious popcorn
It should come as no surprise that there’s caramel on the nose here, but there’s also a toasted malt character with notes of chocolate. Medium-light in body, this is a well fermented ale, making it surprisingly light on the palate given its deep amber color and rich caramel flavor. The finish here offers just a touch of sweetness, enlivened by a touch of salt. A must try alongside some of Garrett’s famous caramel and cheddar mix.
ALSO FROM REVOLUTION
And now for something completely different… Four malts, three hops, and a tickle of boozy warmth – Red Skull is back, and our cup runneth over. This massive 9.3% ABV reddish orange brew harkens back to simpler times, when hop heads craved bold beers, not thick haze and puree. Caramel malt sweetness here is tempered by a hefty dose of citrusy and piney hop bitterness. Imperial red ale, American strong ale, whatever you wanna call it, we call it delicious.
Affy Tapple is an Illinois institution. They made their first caramel apple back in 1948, and their plant in Niles currently dips several million each year! They’ve once again partnered with Phase Three Brewing Co. to create this special apple ale. A Bushel of Apples is back, but it tends to go quick - so make sure to stop in and stock up.
The nose here delivers as promised, offering notes of apple, caramel, and peanuts. Light in body, it begins with a burst of tart apple, followed by a wave of caramel sweetness. The finish is bright and nutty, leaving the palate thirsty for more. It’s a long-standing tradition that Affy Tapples are often sold for fundraisers. In that spirit, a portion of the proceeds from A Bushel of Apples are donated to GiGi’s Playhouse.
Bitter - it’s a beer style name that could use a makeover. Bitters are essentially English pale ales, but the name is a bit of a misnomer as they are not all that bitter. Long before branded tap handles, asking for a bitter was simply a patron’s way of ordering an ale with more hop character than a sweeter English Mild. Bitters are one of the original “session beers”, typically clocking in at around 3-4% ABV. Eventually brewers started crafting “special” bitters that were slightly higher in alcohol. ESBs still feature modest ABVs, especially by American standards, which is perfect when you’re looking to enjoy several pints with friends, be it at the pub or at home. Hopewell’s Belly Up pays homage to the British Public House, where you belly up to the bar for the refreshment of a proper pint.
Belly Up is built with a mixture of DRC, crystal, and aromatic malts from Simpson’s Maltings, a fifth-generation family business, that opened doors in 1862. Coupled with stout malt from Ireland, the resulting brew is amber in color and rounded in flavor, displaying a toasted biscuit character with nutty accents. English Fuggle and East Kent Golding hops provide a balancing dryness, with floral accents and touch of bittersweet orange marmalade. A classic pairing for popular UK pub fare like shepherd’s pie or bangers and mash, this ESB will complement a wide variety of dishes. We suggest you give it a try with a burger or chicken sandwich topped with blue cheese and thinly sliced apple.
Misbeehavin’ Meads not only makes great mead, they also make one of our favorite hard ciders. We’ve tasted several caramel apple inspired beverages over the years, but none better than this. The barrel aged version takes things to a whole different level, and we aren’t the only ones who think so. Last year’s batch was aged in some of our hand selected bourbon barrels and it took home GOLD from FOBAB. After the win, we made sure to send more of the Whiskey Hotline’s hand selected bourbon barrels to Misbeehavin’. Keep an eye on the Buzz for the release later this fall. Until then, enjoy the original and make sure to stock up - anyone you share this with is gonna want more.
How do you make cider taste like a caramel apple? Misbeehavin’ adds brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom. We think the subtle hint of cardamom is the magic ingredient here, as it evokes memories of a wide variety of baked apple treats. Sweet, but not overly so, we could go on about how wonderful this is, but it’s probably just better you taste for yourselves.
No doubt inspired by the popularity of imperial stouts and IPAs, several cider makers have started releasing “imperial ciders” that clock in at or above 8% ABV. We’ve been particularly impressed with the offerings from Schilling, Seattle and 2 Towns. After tasting Blake’s American Apple, we’re adding it to our list. Made with 100% fresh pressed apple juice, it delivers a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, along with a clean finish. Like all the best ciders, it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Another solid cider from the Blake’s family farm.
We are big fans of Vienna lagers so it’s been exciting to see so many local breweries giving this underappreciated style a shot. Never had a Vienna-style lager? Chances are you probably have, and you didn’t even know it. We talked about the history behind the style and tasted through a bunch on a recent episode of Barrel to Bottle. The key takeaway – this malty Austrian lager was developed in tandem with the more recognized German marzen lager and the two styles are strikingly similar. So, if you love Oktoberfest beers, but are sad to see them disappear each year, it’s time to start giving Vienna lagers a try!
Off Color’s unique take on the classic Vienna style was to finish this brew with some Grade A Very Dark late harvest maple syrup from Maple Row Sugar House in Jones, MI. Before you cry heresy, you can rest assured this is not a pastry lager. The maple syrup ferments out almost completely during secondary fermentation, meaning that very little sweetness is left behind. What remains is a lovely genuine maple syrup aroma on the nose, along with a refreshing minerality on the finish. Toasted and nutty Vienna malt shines here, with just enough earthy hops to keep things balanced. Light the lamp and sound the horn, Off Color scored with this one.
Halloween is just around the corner and the pumpkin beers are here. Pumpkin not your thing? Brewers have been getting creative and the latest release from Ommegang is perfect for fans of peanut butter cups. All Hallows Treat is an imperial oatmeal stout that combines chocolate malt with flavors of peanut butter and vanilla. Soft, creamy, and dangerously downable.
September 17th marks the official start of the 2022 Oktoberfest celebration in Munich. In addition to the classics from Germany, we also have a wide variety of American festbiers and marzens that you don’t want to miss. So stop in, stock up, and bring a little gemütlichkeit to your driveway, porch, or patio!
2016 GABF Bronze medal winner in the German-style Maerzen category, Fruhauf is yet another impressive lager from Pollyanna. Its layered malt complexity features notes of caramel and cocoa, culminating with a long, nutty finish.
While copper in color like a traditional marzen, BuckleDown's Oktoberfest drinks more like a modern German festbier - delivering a lager that’s moderate in ABV, medium in body and well balanced with a healthy dose of hops. Sweet and nutty malt character gives way to a dry finish, accented by spicy and earthy European hops.
Pouring a ruby tinged shade of amber, the nose offers earthy hops, nutty malt, and a touch of minerality. Sweet bready malt is adeptly balanced with noble German hops, resulting in an Oktoberfest with old world stylings, yet a surprisingly crisp finish. A standout American made Oktoberfest that is not to be missed.
100% German malts provide the base of Revolution’s Oktoberfest beer. Balanced and mellow, it features a nice biscuity quality, as well as a touch of candied sweetness reminiscent of caramel corn.
Bell’s is famous for ales, but they brew some great lagers too. After six weeks of lagering, this malty marzen emerges rounded and well balanced, offering toasted caramel malt sweetness that’s tempered by just enough herbaceous hop character to keep things quaffable.
Metropolitan’s Afterburner features an earthy malt aroma reminiscent of the finest German marzens. Hearty and satisfying, its complex malt profile delivers flavors of roasted chestnuts and rye toast. The finish is light and nutty, with a subtle kiss of herbaceous noble hops.
The beast is back! After over a year of rest in Willet bourbon barrels, Crushing Mass clocks in at a monstrous 15.1% ABV. Infused with coffee from Dark Matter – if you’re a fan of the illusive Dark Lord, Crushing Mass is a rarity you don’t want to miss.
The nose here bursts with bold coffee aromas, bringing to mind freshly brewed espresso, anise, and clove. Slick and creamy on the tongue, a wave of dark roasted coffee envelopes the palate, followed by a bright burst of cocoa. The finish is big, and bourbon packed, with lingering chocolate, mint, and touch of allspice.
Next week we officially say goodbye to summer and welcome in the first days of fall. Cooler nights call for malty brews, and we’re excited for the return of a favorite – Good Gourd from Cigar City. Available for the first time in cans, this 8.8% ABV pumpkin ale is generously spiced with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg. A touch of vanilla is the cream on top of this remarkable autumnal brew.
Pouring amber in color, with a crown of beige foam, the nose here is sweet and spicy, delivering aromas of caramel and pumpkin pie spice. Medium in body, this is surprisingly light across the tongue, given the hefty ABV. Pumpkin on the palate is joined by notes of vanilla, maple, and honey. The finish is spicy and spirited, with lasting notes of cinnamon and allspice.
On August 14th 2003, 55 million people throughout the Northeast and Canada lost power. The first domino? Some say it was a tree in Ohio. From this two-day fiasco of computer problems and failed protocol, came at least one glimmer of hope – a remarkable stout from Great Lakes. It’s been a bit since we last tasted Blackout Stout. Amidst the current trend towards sweet pastry stouts, this boldly hopped old-school imperial is a refreshing return to form.
Living up to its namesake, this stout pours black as night. Generously hopped with Simcoe and Northern Brewer hops, the nose here is woodsy, melding fresh notes of cedar and pine with coffee and cocoa. Medium to full in body, it glides effortlessly across the palate, delivering a wave of rich chocolate, tinged with blueberry and orange peel. Black malt and roasted barley, coupled with the hops, results in a bold and bittersweet finish - with lasting flavors of dark chocolate, mint, and molasses. A world class stout from Great Lakes.
This week we’re excited to welcome back one of the greatest pilsners we’ve ever tasted – Firestone Walker Pivo Pils. While not billed as an “Italian style pilsner”, Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson drew inspiration from Birrificio Italiano’s Tipopils when formulating Pivo. Multiple medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival, Pivo is one of the most lauded lagers in the history of American craft, with brewers across the country extolling their love for this dry hopped masterpiece. Alongside Pivo we also welcome back a seasonal favorite from Firestone Walker, their wine barrel aged festbier, Oaktoberfest.
Brewed with Spalter Select, Tradition, and Saphir hops, it is perhaps the generous dry hopping with Sapir that makes Pivo such a standout. Saphir imparts lovely notes of thyme, lemongrass, and juniper - to both the aroma and the finish. This strikingly crisp pilsner concludes with a boldly herbaceous finish that pairs especially well with seafood.
Crafted with a mix of Weyermann Vienna, Pilsner, Munich, Cara Hell, and Cara Red malts, this pours dark golden into the glass, clearly leaning more towards the modern Munich festbier style. Tradition and Spalter Select hops bring a touch of spice and balance, making this 5.2%er an exceedingly sessionable Oktoberfest option. The time spent lagering in wood produces a soft and rounded mouthfeel, along with a subtle wisp of oak. A unique Oktoberfest that is not to be missed.
Some beers are built for comfort, others are built for speed. Floyds teamed up with Municipal Waste, masters in the art of partying, to bring you this late summer crusher. Still on the fence about craft lagers? It’s time to open your mind. Grab a couple sixers, turn it to 11 – then kick back and thrash.
Pouring golden in color, the nose here offers toasted malt and a touch of grassy hops. Soft across the palate, a spicy and floral hop character washes over the tongue, giving way to a uniquely complex finish that delivers flavors of cedar, green peppercorn, white grapefruit, and rose petal.
Founder’s makes some world class barrel aged beer, perhaps most famously, their imperial breakfast stout KBS. While stouts are the most popular candidate for barrel aging, Founder’s hasn’t been afraid to fill barrels with all manner of ales. Over the years we’ve seen old ale, scotch ale, DIPA, even gose. This fall we’re excited to announce another oddity, a barrel aged marzen! After nine months of lagering in bourbon barrels, this celebratory Oktoberfest is ready to party. At 10% ABV, this is a sipper, but if you’re looking to fill up a stein, their more traditional 6% ABV marzen is available in 12 packs.
The nose here is rich and spirited, offering notes of vanilla nougat, gingerbread, and caramel apple. Soft and creamy on the tongue, it begins with a wave of caramel, accented by hints of sweet dessert spices. The bourbon-soaked finish delivers flavors of maple syrup, caramel corn, and green apple.
Light amber in color, the nose here delivers notes of graham cracker, followed by a wisp of grassy hops. Well fermented and on the leaner side of medium bodied, this easy drinking Oktoberfest offers pronounced caramel malt character, followed by a quick and clean finish.