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Rare Belgian Beers Hit the Suburbs


A slew of new to the market and rare Belgian beers (20 to be exact) are now available at most of Binnys suburban locations, in addition to the city stores where many of these beers have been available since their debut a few months ago.   The beers hail from 11 different breweries, all located in the Flanders area of Belgium except for Bierbrouwerij Grand-Café Emelisse, which is in the Netherlands.  The new breweries are listed below, with the beers we are offering from them following.

Brouwerijt Gaverhopke:  Gaverhopke Extra

Brouwerij Het Alternatief:   The Bitter Truth

Brasserie de Cazeau:  Tournay

Brasserie La Botteresse Brewery:  La Botteresse Blonde, La Botteresse Noire, La Botteresse Brune


Brouwerij Contreras:  Valeir Divers, Valeir Extra, Valeir Blonde

De Hoevebrouwers:  Toria, Toria Tripel

Bierbrouwerij Grand:  Café Emelisse:   Emelisse Barley Wine

Brouwerij Hof Ten Dormaal:  Hof Ten Dormaal Blonde, Hof Ten Dormaal Amber

Brouwerij De Dochter Van De Korenaar:  Noblesse, Embrasse, Courage

St. Canarus:  St. Canarus Tripel

Brouwkot:   Netebuk, Manten
As mentioned above, these beers are rare, and not yet available at all of our stores.  If you have any questions about any of the beers or breweries, or want to inquire about availability, please contact

Is Cabernet Still the King?

It’s been a weird year for me with wine.  I will always consider myself a Cab/Bordeaux guy, but my most recent trip to Napa and Sonoma opened the door for some varietals that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. I bought a total of two mixed cases from about ten different producers in Napa and Sonoma.  I bought ONE Cabernet.  How does that happen in Napa?   I found so many good Zins, Syrahs, Petit Sirahs and Grenaches that were well priced.  I’m debating whether my palate is changing or I’m just looking for value.  My standout value Cabernet come from Washington. 
The 2007 Seven Hills Cabernet has a nose of ripe bing cherry, cassis and warm Earth.  It was well balanced with ripe berry flavors, good acidity and smooth tannins.  This wine is a steal under $20.  
For the other varietals I mentioned, the last wine meeting I attended, my collegues and I tasted some beauties. 
This had a nose of ripe, cooked berries, black pepper and fried bacon.  In the mouth, it was very refreshing, with ripe and bright berry flavors.  It also had a nice, underlying Earthy quality to it as well.  The ripeness in this wine could pass for a 100+ year old vine Spanish Garnacha.  Great value, here.  
Very powerful and fragrant nose that yields ripe, dark cherry, black pepper, potpurri, peppered bacon, smoked meat and leather.  This literally hurt my nose when I smelled this wine-but I couldn’t stop smelling it.  In the mouth this was bold, with racy acidity.  The tannins were gripping and herbacious.  Even though this wine is a decade or more from being ready to drink, it’s probably the best wine I’ve had this year.  Even though this runs $79.99, and it’s not ready to drink, I still find value in it.  Cote Rotie is a region in Northern Rhone that is allowed to add up to 20% Viognier to its Syrah.  I don’t know exactly how much Viognier is in this monster, but with the fragrance in the nose, I’m guessing there is 20%.  
This comes from the Montelena Estate in Calistoga.  Calistoga is one of the newest appelations in the northern part of Napa.  Even though it is the northermost spot in Napa, it is actually the warmest part of the valley.  Zin, Petit Sirah and Cabernet do really well in Calistoga.  The Montelena Zin is fairly low production compared to the similarly priced Montelena wines.  The wine is very ripe, peppery and velvety.  With the factors of the “rarity,” pricepoint and high quality, this Zin is a great buy.

Stone Brewing Co. Debuts New IPA & Vintage Beers

Last week Stone Brewing Co. brought their 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA to Binny’s.  The beer uses all British ingredients, but don’t be fooled:  it is 9% ABV, and incredibly hoppy.  The brewers at Stone Brewing Co. had a traditional British style in mind when brewing this beer, but Emperial IPA definitely has a San Diego-touch to it.


Another IPA is always exciting, but this week Stone Brewing Co. is bringing some beers to our stores that probably trump their debuting IPA. Fifteen of our stores will have vintage Stone Brewing Co. beers available.  This week you will be able to purchase 2008, 2009, and the current 2010 vintage Stone Russian Imperial Stout and Stone Old Guardian Barleywine. 


Be warned though, these aged Stone Brewing Co. products are in short supply and high demand.  If you wish to acquire these vintage beers with someone else putting the time in to age them for you, act soon.  If you want to see if your store local Binny’s has any of the above mentioned Stone Brewing Co. beers in stock, email

Celebrated Czech Brewery Hits Our Shelves

The Nachod Brewery from the Czech Republic first opened its doors 1872, and the historic brewery is only now debuting in Chicago. It looks like the 138 years of brewing experience has paid off, as the four styles they have made available in the windy city are already causing a stir. Look for these beers from the Nachod Brewery at your local Binnys:

-Primator Lager

-Primator Dark Lager

-Primator Maibock

-Primator Double Bock

Email to see if these brews are available at your local Binnys.


How do you think the Primator beers stack up against other traditional Czech beers?

Founders Everyday Lineup as Good as Their Rarities

Last month the World Beer Cup took place, which has been hailed as the worlds largest beer competition.  642 breweries entered 3,300 beers which were judged in 90 different categories.  Founders Brewery, which many people dub famous for their extreme and unique beers such as the bourbon barrel aged KBS and the triple IPA Devil Dancer, took home four awards.  But what surprised us are the medals that Founders were victors of were a result of their everyday beers instead of the cutting edge brews that make them famous in many peoples eyes.


Founders beers  that took home silver medals for the Grand Rapids brewery were Dirty Bastard in the Strong Ale category, Centennial IPA in the American-Style India Pale Ale category, and Porter in the Robust Porter category (which by the way, is a phenomenal beer to cook with).  Founders Imperial Stout was the recipient of a bronze medal in the American-Style Imperial Stout group.


So next time you are in the mood for some Founders, dont just go for the raritiestheir normal lineup is just as tremendous.  What is your favorite readily available beer from Founders?

Fun with Bottle Variation

   I went a little nuts on Saturday and bought a bunch of wine, right before the July Wine Sale ended (don’t worry, the August Wine Sale is coming soon check on August 11th). Buying wine is usually an exciting thing, but this time it caused a slight problem. When I arrived at home with the new bottles, it became apparent that they would put me squarely above the capacity of my little wine fridge.

   So I did the geekiest thing possible: I pulled all the wine out of there and sat on the floor, surrounded by bottles. I cataloged them, ranked them based on price, ageability, sentimental value and immediate openability (!) and put most of them back in the fridge. Which left me with more than a half dozen bottles that needed to be opened RIGHT NOW and a promise to myself to enjoy more wine in the future, instead of packing it away.

   Basically, it was a nice, relaxing Saturday afternoon.

   A casualty of this manuever was the three bottles of 2005 Ch des Judes Bordeaux that didn’t make the cut; inexpensive Bordeaux now in what I guess is its drinking prime. Plus, this wine seemed like it would be a good choice to pair with that evening’s planned dinner an easy meal of cauliflower & cheese and wilted spinach with mushrooms and onions.

   So I opened a bottle, poured a glass, sniffed. I noticed a strong presence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole.

   The wine was corked. Corked into oblivion.

   Don’t cry over spilled milk, right? I had two more bottles of the stuff, so another cork was popped and another glass was filled. Smelling with more caution this time, I was met with hot plum and raspberry, weedy ditch rot, char; not really my idea of a good time. It struck me as similar to wines that I knew had spent too long in warm closets or near heating elements, slightly roasted. I figured that this is just about how this wine is, so I sat down to eat, tasting the Bordeaux again and deciding that maybe dinner would be okay without wine. My fiancee offered similar tasting notes, but being the eternal optimist that she is, suggested that we open the third bottle.

   It was Goldilocks. Or close – not exactly “just right,” but as good as this particular wine could be, I think. The fruit lifted in weight closer to cherries with a little plum, the earthiness backed off but the tannins still apparent, offering support. A compact and well-rounded little wine, nothing spectacular but nothing glaringly wrong, either.

   What really struck me as funny about this experience is that the bottles were numbered: the corked wine bottle #89519, the burnt wine #89525, and the good wine #89522. As far as I can guess, these bottles have had identical existences since the moment the labels got stuck on there. They came here in the same box, warehouse to boat to truck to Binny’s, in the same bag as I carried them up to my apartment and crammed them into my wine fridge where they waited the months until I ran out of space. All three wines were finished with the same cheap composite corks. Yet they turned out so differently.

   Is there a moral to this story? First, though I can’t be certain that the cheap corks are to blame, I look forward to the day when wine is finished under enclosures that don’t risk damaging the juice they’re supposed to protect. That’s not meant as a dig at at all corks, but at least those tacky, low-grade composite corks.

   Second, don’t settle for crappy wine, not ever. If it’s flawed, there has got to be something better close at hand.

August is Midwest Craft Beer Month at Binny’s

August is Midwest craft beer month at Binnys, and this is your opportunity to try local beers at a discount.  Perhaps you are interested in seeking beers new to the Chicago market such as the beers of Argus Brewery, or maybe old favorites like Founders Brewery at a slashed price will grab your attention.  There is something for everyone in this sale that celebrates one of the premier brewing regions in the world.  For a complete list of beers on sale, click here.  Which Midwest brewery will be on your radar during this month long sale?


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