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2012 Beer Bloggers Conference. Day 1: Chicago.

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July 24, 2012 by fhsteinbart


Once again this year, I had the distinct privilege of being able to attend the Beer Bloggers Conference.  For those of you that are not familiar with it, the conference brings beer bloggers and people from different facets of the beverage industry together in one place to exchange ideas and information, hone their social media skills, and more importantly to build relationships with each other.  It’s not so much about networking as it is about building a community. A community that I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of.

Pre-conference events are no stranger to the BBC, and this year was no exception.  This years event took place in Chicago.  In store for us this warm Thursday evening was a pub crawl organized by Jess Murphy from Girls Like Beer Too and Kristin Stroud from beer + running = happiness.  On the agenda, a brewers dinner and tour at Goose Island’s Clybourn Brewpub, and stops at Peace Brewing and Pizzeria, Revolution Brewing, and winding up at Haymarket Pub and Brewery.

Our first stop was Goose Islands Clybourn Brewpub where we were welcomed by Mark Mahoney, Goose Island’s Communications Manager.  We were shown to a dining area reserved for the beer bloggers where we all had a seat and promptly had a glass of Sophie set in front of us. I won’t go into profiles for each beer here for brevity’s sake and trust you know how to look them up on the interwebs. Likewise I won’t go into detail on each course served and instead refer you to the picture of the menu for the evening that I’ll include in the photo gallery at the end of the post.  Suffice it to say, the food was amazing, the beer was amazing and the pairings were spectacular. Additonally, being led through each pairing by Suzanne Wolcott, Goose Island Education Director was a real treat. All in all, one of the best beer dinners I have ever sat through.

Once dinner was over, we were led from the dining area, into the brew house where Brad Dessy, Goose Island Clybourn Brewer, gave us an overview of the brew house at the Clybourn brew pub.  It was interesting to stand in the brew house and list to Brad tell us about the Goose Island philosophy while standing amongst the many barrels of beer aging around us.  I think one of the most interesting take aways from this portion of the stop was that when AB InBev bought Goose Island a little more than a year ago, it did not include any of the brewpubs, only the production facility.  One of those little details that didn’t seam to make it out to any of the news sites or blogs.  Once done with the tour, we said our good byes to the wonderful Goose Island staff and headed out the door for the bus that would take us to our next stop on the pub crawl, Peace Brewing and Pizzeria.

Located on W. North Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood in what was once a garage for a former roofing company, Peace Brewing and Pizzeria has been serving up New Haven style pizza and award winning brews since 2002.  In fact, Brewer Jonathan Cutler has brought home 21 awards including golds from the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.  Everyone seemed pretty pleased with the beers.  The Top Heavy Hefeweisen I selected was a very nice German style Hefe with nice notes of banana and clove.

Moving on from Peace, our next stop was Revolution Brewing.  Revolution opened it’s doors fairly recently in February of 2010 on Milwaukee Avenue in the Logan Square area.  Founded by former Goose Island brewer, Josh Deth, Revolution Brewing is located  in a very cool old building that has been smartly remodeled with lots of wood paneling, brick and gorgeous bars.  Lots of open spaces, plenty of seating and a very friendly and accommodating staff.  And the beers we’re pretty damn tasty as well.  I went with the Anti-Hero IPA which had a ton of hop flavor and aroma with some nice citrusy notes in the finish.  Definitely a place I’d like to go back and check when I have more time.

Our final stop on the pub crawl was the Haymarket Pub and Brewery.  Haymarket is located on the West Loop in downtown Chicago, not far from our host hotel.  We were given a warm welcome by Brewer Peter Crowly after which we had the opportunity to try there beers from their Belgian focused line up.  Without knowing I was picking a winner, I went straight for the Last Chance Belgian IPA.  Nice and hoppy with that distinctive Amarillo flavor and aroma.  When I say winner, this beer won gold in it’s category at this years World Beer Cup.  Nicely done!

The last stop of the night had nothing to do with the pub crawl.  We were hungry, and by we, I mean Alan McCormick of Growler Fills, Brian Aldrich of Seacoast Beverage Lab and Zach Rose of Beer Pairings and Beyond.  After a quick stop at the Clark Street Ale House, what can I say, were were still thirsty, we found what were were looking for.  Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta.  For me, one of the highlights of the evening and a great way to finish our time in Chicago.  Good food.  Good conversation, and the most important thing, good people.  I’m sure I would be pretty tired the next day, but it was worth it, and I didn’t care.

Prost,

Duke

When not writting for our blog or manning the counter at the shop, Duke can be found prowling beer events and festivals in and around Portland or traveling the country (he works part time for an airline) pursuing his passion for beer and brewing.  You can follow Duke’s beery exploits on Twitter @Dukester or on his blog at brewtography.tumblr.com

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