If you’ve spent anytime eating in Chicago or perusing the Farmer’s Markets, you’ll be very familiar with Nichols Farm. Based in Marengo, IL, the family farm has been a part of the growing food scene here for well over a decade. More recently, their apples have become the basis for Virtue Cider’s latest cider, which resembles an American Colonial-style brew. It’s quite a bit different from Virtue’s Mitten and Red Streak, but food-friendly and quaffable nonetheless. Obviously, it’s available at The Hopleaf, and your finer beverage purveyors. Cheers.
There has been a cider surge recently. In Chicago, of course, we all know about Virtue Cider, the company started by former Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall. His Michigan-based company is producing some seriously hand-crafted cider with influences from the best British and French ciders. Red Streak is one of my favorites for pairing with food, and they’ve also recently come out with The Mitten, an oak-aged winter cider that’s been pipping up at Lula and Frontera. But there’s a new kid on the block, so-to-speak, and this one is from Healdsburg, California. It’s called Sonoma Cider, and I’ve admittedly fallen for The Hatchet. Read More
It’s friggin’ cold outside. But this week, The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper has an excellent suggestion: go get yourself some Expedition Stout from Bell’s, the pride of Kalamazoo, MI. It’s dark, roasty and toasty; perfect to sip in front of a fire or have with roasted meats (even chocolate). It looks like oil, but tastes like heaven. Cheers.
If there ever was a good week for something brutally dark and rich and comforting to help get through the dark days of winter, this would be it. While Chicago suffers yet another bone-chilling, snow-covered few days (high of 10 today, folks), Roper picked an apropos brew this week. It’s Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, and if you’re looking for something to go with that cassoulet or slowly-braised beef, this is it. Cheers.
Vancouver, BC – In the midst of a dine around last night during the annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival, I had a preview of the next phase in bitters. As you probably know, the cocktail culture in 2014 is all about fresh juices, esoteric (some would say terroir) spirits and of course, bitters. But in the heart of Vancouver, there is a husband-wife team dedicated to new, ground-breaking bitters like I’ve never seen. Fortunately, I had a chance to taste some of their hard work, as a sort of preview of what Chicago drinkers can expect this year, thanks to the fact they’re close to getting a Midwest distributor. Read More
Very few of our Beers of the Week have had the distinction of being named in a lawsuit at the same time The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper was singing their praises, but such is the situation this week for the talented guys over at 5 Rabbit in Bedford Park. The local brewery – which specializes in creating beers that pair extremely well with Latin food (but are certainly great on their own too) – is probably spending more on attorneys than it would like. But internal issues aside, this week’s pick is a winner. I know where Roper is coming from on this one. The Huitzi is a very special beer, with its hints of chamomile, hibiscus, fresh ginger root and some local Chicago honey. The warm, amber color makes it a perfect mid-winter beer and the aroma is, well, you’ll have to see for yourself. Cheers.