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Epicurean Ramblings - April 2013 Archives

Thoughts on Beer & Food, Home & Away

Dark Traveler Release Party
Posted Thursday, April 4th, 2013 by thewimperoo


Last night I was fortunate enough to partake in the release party for the new Goose Island Fulton & Wood series beer, Dark Traveler.  I'll share some pictures and video from the night, but first just a few words.  

It was a really great time.  Watching Dave work the room, while everyone enjoyed his beer put a smile on my face. Very proud and happy for Dave.  In my opinion, the beer was a success.  Light, crisp, full of flavor with maximum drinkability. At ~5% abv, you can drink this all night (which we did) and not feel much effect.   

Thanks again for the invite Dave.

Dark Traveler in the glass

Dave with his boot

Dave giving the first of two speeches on the night

Sr Brewer Keith with a photobomb by Hack

Swedish Jesus looking fine as always

Dave's speech to the masses (hopefully it embeds, if not click the link)


Crazy Good Time
Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2013 by thewimperoo

This past Saturday night, my wife and I partook in the Revolution 3rd Year Anniversary Party.  $50 for 3 hours of unlimited eating and drinking, plus a bottle of the 3rd Year beer and a tasting glass.  Unreal value for the food and beers being served.  I've missed out on all of the past Revolution parties and have always regretted it after reading recaps.  As soon as I heard about this party, I knew I couldn't miss it.  We opted for the 5pm-8pm session, which turned out fortunate since we never would have made the 1pm session.  Arriving around 4:30 we were greeted with a sign to grab our tasting glass.

Since we arrived early, we were able to snag a barrel to set up shop for when it came time to eat.  There were 9 food and beer stations setup throughout the brewery.  It was a highly efficient setup which led to very little lines despite 500 people in attendence.  

The menu for the night

In addition to the 9 food and beer stations, the main bar was open for drinking as well with additional choices. Highlights included Coffee Eugene, Very Mad Cow, 3rd Year Beer, Coup d' Abricot and Nip Pils

First station that we hit was the Chicken Liver Ballantine w/Sage Jus and Moby the Great White Ale.  Moby was a new beer to me, an imperial wit.  It went nicely with the food. The sage jus was great.

Second pairing we went for was the Scallop Ceviche w/Sour Orange Zest and A Little Crazy Belgian Pale.  I wasn't a huge fan of this food dish.  The beer is very good though, and the citrusy Citra hop profile went well with the orange flavor of the dish.

The third pairing we went after was the Bulgogi Beef Skewer w/Crimini Mushroom and Infiltrator Dopplebock.  Was a little surprised when I bit into the skewer and it was cold, but that didn't detract from the awesome flavors of the meat.  One of the dishes I went back for seconds of.  Really tasty.  The dopplebock was solid, but unspectacular.

Our fourth pairing was the Veal Sweetbread & Pork Sausage, Chow Chow and Salisfy Puree and TV Party Rye IPA.  The complimentary items on this dish were the stars more so than the sausage.  The casing on the sausage was a bit tough.  The Chow Chow was awesome.  I need a jar of that to just eat. 

Fifth pairing was Duck & Bacon Ragout, Smoked Gouda Grits, Pickled Shallots and Basil Orange Puree and Ivan's ESB. This was another of my favorite dishes.  Ended up eating a couple of bowls.  Great combination of flavors. Pickled onions of any kind are a weakness of mine.  Just the cherry on top. Ivan's is a 7+% ESB, not bad but not a favorite.

Sixth pairing we had was the Wild Rice & Barley Risotto w/Coffee Smoked Parsnip Cream and Coffee Eugene.  I'll start with the beer since it's awesome.  Easily my favorite beer of the night.  Ended up having 4 or 5 glasses over the course of the night. The food was my least favorite dish of the night.  I'm not sure if rice and barley was undercooked or it was supposed to be as al dente as it was, but the crunchiness to it was unappealing.  Didn't finish it.

Girl with really cool tats was pouring the Coffee Eugene

Seventh pairing was the Buffalo Chili Surprise and Very Mad Cow, BA Milk Stout. The flavor of the chili was really nice. Complex, tons of flavor layers and a building heat on the back end.  I'm more of a Texas Chili guy so the amount of beans in this chili was unfortunate to me.  I tried to eat around them, but it was basically impossible to get a bite without multiple beans in it.  The Very Mad Cow went great with chili.

Moving onto the dessert portion of the evening. Eighth course was a Dark Chocolate Candy Bar w/Whipped Malt Mougat & Hop Rocks and Winter Woman Imperial Brown. This was a nice combination of food and beer.  The hoppy brown went well with the richness of the nougat.  The hop rocks were a fun gimmick. 

The final dish of the night was probably my favorite, and that's saying something since I'm not really a dessert person. Ninth course was Pears Foster & Piloncillo Ice Cream and 3rd Year Beer, a Rum Barrel Aged Wheat Barleywine. The warm Pears Foster and the cold ice cream made a great counterbalance.  The crunch from the nuts sprinkled on top perfected the texture.  Had a few bowls of this one.

The 3rd Year Beer is quite nice.  Sweeter than Straight Jacket, but not overly sweet.  A bit hot, but also not overpowering. Glad to get the bottles to bring home.

Once we made our way through all of the stations the first time, we hit ones that we enjoyed for seconds and thirds. Then hit the bar for more beer.  For about the last hour as people got more tipsy a dance floor broke out.  Drunk white beer nerds and/or middle aged people dancing is always good entertainment. At one point Josh Deth, Chairman of Rev, busted out the worm and break danced.  Good times all around.  I expected the party to be awesome, and I was not let down.  It will be hard to miss any Rev parties in the future now that I've finally got a taste of the fun.

I'll leave you with some videos of people getting down.


4 Men, One Car and a Bunch of Beer and Tacos
Posted Sunday, December 30th, 2012 by thewimperoo


One night in chat, the subject of tacos in Chicago came up.  I began listing a few places off, and Kevin said that he hadn’t ever been to any of them.  Then said he hadn’t really been to any taquerias in Chicago besides Arturo’s.  Knowing this needed to be remedied, I said that next time he comes up north we should do a taco crawl.  That premise became reality yesterday.  I put together a short list of a few places that I know are good as well as a couple of places that have been on my list for a while. 

Kevin, Dave and I started out the day at La Chaparrita #1 on the South Side.  I had been reading about this place for almost 2 years now and just hadn’t found time to make it here.  They specialize in tacos made in a charola.  Overall, I think this was my favorite taco spot.  The tacos were great.  Loved the crispy tripe tacos, almost like little pieces of crispy bacon.  Not too funky for being offal.  The longaniza is like a more refined chorizo.  Not as salty or greasy.   Mango aquas frescas was super refreshing. 


Taco porn slideshow

Mango Aqua Fresca








Tripas Doradito


Campechano (Suadero (similar to a beef carnitas) and Longaniza)


On our way to the next stop we needed to make a pick up. Hack > Hey


Once Hack was secured, we made our way up to Half Acre.  Big Hugs with Mexican Vanilla Beans firkin was on the agenda.  It was delicious. 


After our Vanilla Big Hugs, we ordered tacos from El Asadero to bring back to Half Acre. Steak tacos are the bomb from here.  Pastor is also solid for a non-trompo version.  Hack enjoyed the chicken tacos.


Steak and Van Horn


After our tacos we hit the streets again and rolled on to Revolution Tap Room.  Solid beers as usual.  Barrel Aged Smoked Stout named, Burt.  A new single hop pale ale, Kemp’s Landing, and a super clean pils rounded out the highlights.  Tohtz discount was enjoyed by all. 


After Revolution we planned to make a quick stop at Pipeworks to pick up the glass I was owed for purchasing the batch 1 Blue Lady that went bad.  They let us into the brewery and from there it was full on hospitality.  The brew day was just finishing up so we tried to stay out of their way.  Soon enough Beejay was offering us glasses of Cherry Oak Abduction.  Pretty nice, agree with Beejay when he said it was better from the version they sent to FOBAB.


I just wandered around the small space taking some pics and enjoying my beer.  A new brewhouse will be arriving in the next few months to replace this tiny outfit they’re currently using.

6 7bbl fermentation tanks

4 bottle bottling machine

Dave, Kevin and Beejay nerding out over some Dark Tower

We were treated to a sample of the soon to be released Coffee Break Abduction.  Brewed with Ipsento coffee and vanilla.  Probably my favorite beer of the day.  Smooth coffee flavor, just great

We also had a taste of a Belgian Patersbier they did in conjunction with 18th Street that was quite good.  This should be in stores now.

After about an hour and a half we pried ourselves away so that we could move onto more tacos.  Tierre Caliente was our 3rd stop in the taco train.  Located in the back corner of a small grocery store, they are most famous for the pastor off the spit.  The trompo was loaded and spinning when we arrived.  2 pastor and a campechano for me, same for Kevin, 2 pastor and a barbacoa for Hack.  Pastor was really great even if we didn’t get it fresh off the trompo.  Microwaved tortillas kind of suck, but the meat was worth it.




Crispy bits of pastor

Campechano (Asada & Pastor combo)

After munching on these tacos, we made one more stop for tacos, because hey why not.  Taqueria Traspasada #2 was our 4th and final taco spot.  1 asada and 1 barbacoa each for Kevin and me.  The barbacoa was excellent.  Tender, silky fat lightly coating the beef.  One of the best versions of barbacoa I’ve had.  The asada was solid, but not spectacular. 



Final stop of the night was at GI Fulton to do some drinking on the brewdeck.  BCS and Big John highlighted the selection.  Once BCS blew, Baudoinia was thrown on.  We got a little tour to drool over the amount of awesome stuff just chillin in the cooler.  I mean 135 cases of King Henry, 95 cases of Rare,  90 cases of Vanilla BCS, 175 cases of Cherry BCS and kegs of stuff you can’t even imagine.  Ridiculous.


Great day.  Excellent tacos, beers and conversations.  Can’t wait to do it again.  God knows there are another 25 taco places we could include, and there’s always more beer places.  



Experience Pure Michigan
Posted Friday, October 19th, 2012 by thewimperoo


A little Tool Man to start things off

This past weekend TheodorHerzl (Matt) and I took off for a weekend in Western MI.  We’ve been talking about making this trip for over 2 years and finally got our shit together to make it happen. 

This weekend would be a list of firsts for me as I hadn’t been to any of the places we were visiting.  First stop of the day was the Livery. 

I’ve had many a specialty beer from the Livery at Great Tastes though the years.  However, I’ve never really had anything from their more standard lineup.  Since there weren’t any real specialties on tap, this visit gave me a great opportunity to rectify that. 


Ginger Peach, I thought this was very nice.

Sampler…really enjoyed most of them.  String of Ponies , Bier Munro and Poor Freddy’s were probably the best.


The food here was also quite good.  I had the Spicy Pork Carnita sandwich.  Roasted pork, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, spicy Thai slaw, chipotle cream on a pretzel roll. 


The atmosphere at the Livery was awesome.  The bar in a basement was cozy.  Mike, one of the owners, was manning the bar.  He was a stitch.  Tons of stories, knowledge and humor.  We could have stayed and chatted with him all day long.


Next stop was Bell’s.  The taplist at Bell’s was particularly awesome on this day.  Tons of choices.

Matt started with the Exp Hop 2012-4, hefeweizen.  This was a great hefe.  Crisp, refreshing. 


I rolled with a sampler

Highlights were This One Goes to 11, Kal-Haven and BA 9000.  The Ravissant was way too much lemon verbena and the other 2 were solid but not noteworthy. 

For a snack we ordered a pretzel plate.  Woof.  Nasty microwaved soft pretzel and some pretzel rods for like $5.  Not good.

Once we finished our beers we took a look around the General Store.

No, 750ml for sale, but they did have a new glass that I hadn’t seen before.  A high quality snifter for $7. 

From there we hit the road to Grand Rapids.  After a quick check into the hotel, we decided to make Perrin Brewing our next stop.  A bit of a drive from downtown GR, Perrin is up in Comstock Park not too far from the 5/3 ballpark.  Matt and I were surprised at the amount of cars in the parking lot for 5pm at a place only a month old in a location that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. 

Everything at Perrin seemed to be brand new.  23,000 square foot facility with the capacity to brew 20,000 barrels right out of the gate.  They said that the plan was to hit 5,000 barrels by the end of the year, despite only opening in September.  The brewery equipment was sparkling.  A kegging line and canning line were all in sight.  The back wall of the pub was clear glass so that you could see into the brewhouse.  Large wide open space with plenty of tables, a moderate sized bar considering the space of the room, a smaller loft area with seating for 20-30 people and a stationary food truck acting as the kitchen.   An impressive space indeed.

Onto the beer, which ended up being even more impressive than the space itself.   They had 10 beers on tap, structured in a similar fashion to Founders’ tiered approach.


We asked for a sampler of everything they had, and out came a wooden tray cut out into the Perrin crest holding 9 mini snifters.  These guys had really thought of everything. 

All of the beers were clean and well made.  A few stood out as exceptional.  The Extra Pale Ale, Imperial Stout and Double Raspberry.  The EPA was very similar to Founders All Day.  A citrusy, hoppy light bodied ale that you could just crush all night long.  The Imperial Stout was roasty and had a great mouthfeel.  The Double Raspberry was a less cloying version of New Glarus Raspberry Tart, a real winner. 

After we made quick work of the sampler tray, I ordered another EPA and a plate of naan & hummus.  The food was really good.  You could tell the hummus was made fresh and with tons of garlic.  The service was outstanding.  Attentive, knowledgeable and attractive.  Not much more you could ask for.  This was another spot where we could have spent a lot more time.  Unfortunately, since it was so far away from our hotel we could indulge for too long.  Maybe next time we go up there, we’ll get a hotel up that way for one night and then stay downtown another night. 


So from Perrin, we made our way back down to our hotel and caught a cab to Brewery Vivant for dinner and another round of drinking. 


As has been documented many times, Vivant is in an old chapel.  It was quite busy by the time we got there and had a 15 minute or so wait for a table.  As we were waiting around I walked around to take some pictures.  One of the hostesses walked up to me and asked if I would like her to take a few pictures of the place from the choir loft for me.  I said sure and she got a pretty nice one.

Not long after that we were seated.  The first beer I ordered was Blossom, a wood aged farmhouse.  They were working through all of the leftover beers from the Wood Aged beer festival that took place the weekend prior.

Matt ordered a sampler that included the Farmhouse, Triomphe IPA, Solitude Abbey and Big Red Coq.  The Farmhouse was the one that stood out the most.  Really enjoyed that one.

The food menu consisted of French, Belgian and German classics sourced from local farms.  I decided to go with the Moules Frites.  A very well done rendition, although a bit pricey as was everything on the menu.   Matt had the burger, which looked very good.

I ended the night with a sampler of Zaison, Escoffier, Ancho Rauchbier and Rye Porter.  The Rye Porter was really good.  Rauchbier was very smoky.  Zaison was not good, tons of nail polish.  Escoffier was unmemorable.  By the time we finished those beers we felt it was a good point to call it a night as we had a long day of drinking to come.

Where's that goddamn Red Shirt guy!


Saturday morning started as a wet dreary looking day.  We were up and moving relatively early.  For breakfast, we drove over to Marie Catrib’s.  Marie Catrib’s is a restaurant, deli and bakery.   There was about a 5 minute wait before we could get a seat at the counter, so I took a few pics of the baked goods and deli case. 

Just as I love to sit at the bar of drinking establishments, I really enjoy sitting at the counter/kitchen seats so that I can observe all of the action.  Our seats gave us a prime view of the juicing station.  Orange & Carrot Juice combo

Onto the food, I decided to go with the Hearty Miner’s Omelet.  Eggs, bacon, in-house made sausage, mushrooms, onions, cheese and potatoes.  Homemade Rye bread with honey butter and mixed berry compote.  So so good. 

Matt had the Rock the Hashbah, which was also great.  In-house made chorizo, diced potatoes, corn, onions, cayenne, cumin, peppers and eggs. 

After a highly enjoyable breakfast that set a good base it was time to get to business.  The plan for Saturday was to hit Founders and Hopcat.  No need to worry about driving anywhere as they were both within walking distance from our hotel.  We arrived at Founders right when they opened and there was a line of about 20 people waiting to get in.  It just happened to be Harvest Party day at the brewery so it was a bit busier than what I’d guess it normally would be. 

 Lots of hoppy beers on tap and a couple of malty ones


We started off with a pint of Harvest Ale

Oatmeal Stout on Nitro

Eventually we needed to get some food.  Founders has a wide variety of sandwiches.

I decided to go with the Castro…their take on a Cuban.  It was a decent rendition.

For my fifth and final beer, I needed to end with a Breakfast Stout straight from the source.  Such a great beer especially on a cool rainy day like it was.

From there we walked the half mile through the rain to Hopcat.  Hopcat was doing brisk business when we arrived around 3:45, but we were able to easily grab a couple of seats at the bar. 

Tons of interesting beers on tap, I decided to start off with some Hopcat beers. 

Hoppopotamus IPA was solid

Worked my way through a Short’s Huma, Hopcat Zugspite Weizen, Hopcat Dictator and a White Flame POP!.  We decided to peruse the bottle list and order a Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Mars.  This was excellent.  For some reason, Chicago didn’t get any bottle of this year’s vintage so it was nice to see this one available.

For food, we started with a free order of crack fries due to a fortuitous Foursquare check-in.  A decent selection of sandwiches to choose from, but I had to go with the Grand Royale.  Sloppy Joe, jalapenos, crack fries covered in beer cheese sauce on a brioche bun covered in more beer cheese sauce.  It was great. 

As the night got later and Hopcat got much busier, we decided to take off and head back to the hotel.  Since it was still only about 9 and we were completely hammered yet despite drinking for 10 hours already, we figured why not hit the hotel bar for a night cap.   Hard liquor…yes please

A couple of glasses of Basil Hayden’s later and it was time for bed. 

Woke up early again feeling like shit.  We checked out of the hotel and hit Cherie Inn for breakfast.  Quite an interesting spot.  A little restaurant that looked like it a bed and breakfast.  I had a grilled cheese, sausage and egg sandwich that was good.  They weren’t stingy with the butter as my sandwich and hash browns tasted like they were griddled in a generous amount of butter.  After breakfast we hit the road back home.  The initial plan was to stop at Greenbush on the way home.  Unfortunately, we left earlier than I figured we would so we were passing Sawyer about an hour earlier than Greenbush opened.  Additionally, I was really fucking hung over and more beer sounded awful anyways.   Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back that way to try them relatively soon. 

I bid Matt farewell so he could get back to Indy and I made a quick detour at Floyds to get a glass before heading home.  Final beer haul from a trip to Siciliano’s on Saturday morning.

It was a really great trip.  I loved everywhere we went and could have spent an entire day at just about all of them.  I can’t wait to see what Perrin does in the future.  They were easily the highlight of the trip.    

More pics here:



Great Taste Weekend Eats & More
Posted Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 by thewimperoo


My Great Taste weekend started on Wednesday.  I had some time to kill before my good buddy, Theodor Herzl, showed up at my house so I decided to check off one of my long time Chicago destinations Longman & Eagle. 

Started off with a Pride & Joy from Floyds

For food, I ordered the chicken and waffles with sweet potato hash and pork belly


This was an awesome dish.  The chicken was juicy.  The batter was light and crispy.  Waffle was perfect.  Can't go wrong with hash and pork belly.  

TheodorHerzl got to my house and we had a chill night opening up some good bottles.  Jester King Das Wunderkind, Russian River Temptation Batch 4 and Firestone Walker Double DBA.  All were excellent.  Really enjoyed the Temptation more than I had ever in the past.  We called it a relatively early night as we had a big day ahead.

Thursday started with breakfast at this place

I had the blueberry flapjacks with blueberry-lemon compote and blueberry butter.  They were real nice.  Matt had the Migas de puerco.  I had some solid dish envy on this.  

From there we hit the road to get into the City for some fun.  First stop was at the Lincoln Park Binny's.  It's always fun to peruse the selection there.  Next, we grabbed a couple of beers at Goose Clybourn.  We arrived right when they opened so there was no one else there for a while.  Nothing too outstanding in the beer department, but some solid choices.  

After that we headed to lunch at Pequod's.  Met up with Chip, PepperPete, Bakes and Rockzo.  Pizza was delicious as always.  The company was even better.  Thicklaugh was scaring people.  I thought Bakes might die from pizza orgasm. 

We took the quick walk over to Local Option after lunch.  Got a Morning Wood, which was delicous. Since I had a long night of drinking ahead and Matt had the drive up to Madison, we headed back home.  

Thursday night at Brac's has been well documented.  A great time had by all, and lots of excellent beer consumed.

In bed at 4 am, up at 6:45 to get up and go to breakfast with the kid before we drop her off at daycare and hit the road.  OOF

New Glarus was the first stop on Friday.  Grabbed Sour Ale bottles and walked around the beautiful grounds.

From there, we headed to Brasserie V for lunch.  Started with a Toppling Goliath Golden Nugget IPA.  Great stuff

Grilled veggie sandwich with goat cheese for me

BLT with avocado for the wife

Order of Frites to share

I really enjoy Brasserie V, just wish it was closer to the square.

From there we hit up a few stores, but nothing tickled my fancy.  We checked into the hotel and took a nap for a bit before we headed out for the pre-parties.  

We started at Madison's for the Goose party.  Free BCS can't be beat.  Ended up double fisting BCS and finishing it off with a Juliet and En Passant.  

After Madison's we were hoping to hit up The Tipsy Cow for dinner, but it was crazy busy as was everything else in the square.  Getting broken up from the group and not in shape to drive, I let the wife figure out what to eat.  We ended up at the Weary Traveler.  Hungarian Goulash for me.  Grilled Walleye Sandwich for the wife.  The food here was good.  It was dark and loud in here.  I'd like to check it out for brunch sometime.

After dinner, I made an appearance at the Brickhouse just in time for Exodus tapping.  The bar was a disaster zone and it took nearly 20 minutes to get a beer.  The whole scene was a bit too crazy for me so I cut out around 10:15 or so.

Early to bed, early to rise.  Started off Saturday morning with a trip to Greenbush Bakery.  Was able to get some giant apple fritters.  Score!

The apple fritters were for later so we made our way to the Square for breakfast.  Tradition states that Marigold Kitchen is the place to go on Saturday morning.

Duck Confit Hash was as delicious as always

My wife's french toast was tasty, but nothing compared to the hash.

A bit of a walk around the market to work off breakfast

The fest was awesome again. Outside of Thursday, my favorite part of the weekend.  So much good beer.  Can't wait for next year.

Pig in a Fur Coat was dinner on Saturday night.  We really enjoyed the place.  The food was tasty, service was solid and vibe was good.  

First course - Dates with chorizo and piquillo pepper

Second Course - Duck Egg Ravioli with bacon and brown butter sauce

Third Course - Beets with goat cheese and walnuts and balsamic

Fourth Course - Pork Belly with eggplant, pine nuts, tomatoes and sunflower seeds

Fifth Course - Trout with potato, pattypans and fennel

After dinner, we went over to the Brickhouse.  I always enjoy Brickhouse much more on Saturday night just because it's a lot more relaxed and chill.  Such a good time hanging out, although we did retire before all of the "real fun" began.

Sunday morning breakfast at the Old Fashioned is also tradition.  Food was good like always, but the service was brutal. 

Cheese Curds

Steak, mushroom and swiss cheese scrambler

Ham and Eggs

With that we made our way back home.  Final beer and glass haul from the past 3 days


Great food, beer and friends.  Already looking forward to next year.  Cheers!