Miskatonic Brewing Company: a local legend is born

AJ and John, beer guys.

AJ and John, beer guys.

Miskatonic Brewing Company in Darien, IL, is a newcomer with a lot of experience.  I beseech you to read this Chicago Tribune article for details of how the company came to be and about the experience of which I speak.  I’d like to tell you about the beer.

Mrs. beerbliographer and I shared a flight on our way home from shopping just after noon on a Saturday, a very spur of the moment thing, but we look forward to going back during peak hours.  The space is great, located in a small industrial park on North Frontage Rd. in Darien, easy to miss if it wasn’t for the “craft beer” and “turn here” snipe signs out front.

Shield Maiden is an American Pale Ale with a good dose of hops and a malty foundation that compliments the piney, perfumey hops and does a good job of balancing the dryness with sweetness.  Good stuff.  Ingenue is a Belgian-style farmhouse ale with hints of citrus and peppercorn, but a mild sweetness pervades, and a light body makes it very drinkable.  At 7.3% ABV exercise caution.  The alcohol is well hidden in the overall taste profile.  Prodigal Son Belgian Porter has a good dose of roasted malts and chocolate in the nose, and just enough of a coffee vibe to make for a mildly dry finish.  My favorite is Catchpenny.  About 8% of the recipe is flaked rye.  The right amount to add a slight spiciness but not enough to

Cool graffiti wall graphics with a nod to H.P. Lovecraft.

Cool graffiti wall graphics with a nod to H.P. Lovecraft.

be off-putting to those who are not rye fans.  None of the grassiness that some rye beers have either.  Light-bodied, easy to drink and at 4.5% ABV you might want a second.

Flight of the day

Flight of the day

Best of luck to Josh Mowry and John Wyzkiewicz, the men behind Miskatonic Brewing Company.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

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Brewery Vivant: flights and food

The only body to ponder is in the beer.

The only body to ponder is in the beer.

If you would have ever told me that I’d one day enjoy beer and food in a former funeral chapel I would have said “yes, I probably will.”  Brewery Vivant, located in Grand Rapids, MI, is one such place.  Where once the deceased was laid out in a black shroud on a funeral bier, fun beers are now released to a laid back crowd.  Oh, nice one beerbliographer!  You may know Brewery Vivant for their Big Red Coq or Tart Side of the Moon, but there are a lot of choices at the tap room, inspired by the French and Belgian farmhouse beer tradition.  First a quick word about the cheese plate:  It doesn’t seem like you get a lot for the money, but what you do get is so flavorful and satisfying that you can justify the price.  Now, about the beer…

Our server (dang, I can’t remember her name) had only been serving for two nights, having previously worked other jobs at Vivant, and was knowledgeable, efficient and as pleasant as could be.  She was quick with a sample if we so desired and had recommendations based on our likes and dislikes.  What we did have is as follows:  Farm Hand, French-style farmhouse ale, very much like Spotted Cow, light-bodied, light sweetness, lightly dry and bitter finish.  In general, light, but not without flavor.  Clean and refreshing.  Barrel-Aged Triomphe is a Belgian-style IPA, very boozy with bourbon notes and surprisingly sweet  Fruity esters are present and it’s really not overly hoppy.  Delicious!  Cherry Doppelbock, yum!  Light on the cherry but enough to be interesting.  Some coffee notes, no artificial fruit flavors, very natural.  Brewed in conjunction with Victory Brewing Company.  Beasts a’ Burnin’ is a copper colored beauty, a little smoky and a little tangy.  Is it a rauchbier?  It’s only available at the brewery, and I should have acquired some there.  I didn’t.

Just a few of many...

Just a few of many…

I love Brewery Vivant and can recommend it highly as a fun, lively and very friendly place to enjoy a pint or a flight or even a cider if you are so inclined.

Founders Brewing Company

For a brewery that almost didn’t make it, Founders Brewing Company has certainly shown that hard work and believing in oneself can pay off big time.  Having a great product does not hurt either.  If you visit their tap room in Grand Rapids you can see for yourself.  Let me tell you a little about the great flight I had their recently.

Red’s Rye IPA is excellent.  It’s mildly spicy, not too heavy and not too hoppy, though it is assertive enough to get noticed quickly.  The dry finish is long-lasting and memorable.  6.6% ABV. Azacca IPA is almost fruity, a tad bitter, light-bodied and not particularly complex, though the locally sourced, experimental hops make it a truly unique IPA.  Philogynist is not only a good description of me, but it is also a fine wheat beer, light and well-carbonated, sweet, wheaty and not at all like a Bavarian style weissbier, which is good, because they excite me as much as brown ales, and that’s not at all.  Big Lushious is a huge dessert beer (7.8% ABV) and it tastes like a liquid version of See’s raspberry truffle.  It’s opaque, black and floats a russet-colored filmy head.  Smell the coffee, cocoa and raspberry!  Excellent!  Mosaic Promise, brewed with one variety of hops (Mosaic) and one malt (Golden Promise) is light and has a kind of Cashmere Bouquet or Sweetheart soap smell to it.  It’s thin, light and dry, which is OK, but it could use a bit more zing.  Solid Gold is a good summer drinker.  It’s grainy and the bouquet smells like brewery air, which I love.  Mild with a definite drying hops presence.  It’s easy to drink with the benefit of some complexity.  Good stuff.  Nitro Oatmeal Stout is super creamy and smooth, but my wife drank it before I could really check it out.  She likes stouts.  4.5% ABV.

The food is good, the service is good, the vibe is good and it is definitely a destination.  Tons of folks there mid day on a Friday.  Inside or outside, there plenty of seating and a nice group of friendly beer lovers of all persuasions to compare notes with.

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company: flight of fancy

Image courtesy of Great Dane Pub & Brewery

Image courtesy of Great Dane Pub & Brewery

I know, stupid title, but Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company is not stupid and it was a really nice place for the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had and a mostly good and interesting flight.  I was told by a local that it was one of the first craft breweries in Madison and has since been surpassed by a lot of the newer places, but I found it to be a nice place to hang out and the service was very good.  The flight:  New Peculiar is a cask aged English style brew that is mild and thin-bodied with more malt and less hops. It is served room temperature, which is interesting, and that helps accentuate the flavors.  It is sweetish but not sticky, brown in color, little noticeable carbonation, little lacing and virtually no head.  6.1% ABV.  Nugget ESB is another English-style beer, also cask conditioned and served at room temperature.  This on is a bit more fragrant then New Peculiar with slightly more hops (floral), but not much.  It is mostly sweet, no head, little carbonation, copper hued and slightly caramelly in flavor.  5.7% ABV.  Belgian IPA is medium gold, slightly bitter and has all of the best traits of both an IPA and a Belgian witbier.  Texas Speedbump IPA retains its thin head for a while and has a mildly floral bouquet.  Man, is it ever bitter.  Catty, dry, bitter and a bit of a gut burner as well.  Not a fan.  6.5% ABV.  The wife had a nice selection of brown beers which were in general a bit more full bodied and leaned toward the sweeter side of the spectrum.  My only real gripe is that the beers all seemed a bit thin.  Not bad, just a bit less than I had hoped for and expected.

Karben4 Brewing: a flight to remember

This delicious and tempting image comes top you courtesy of Karben4 Brewing.

This delicious and tempting image comes top you courtesy of Karben4 Brewing.

Here’s one I’ve wanted to talk about for a year, but I only now found my notes.  Karben4 Brewing in Madison, WI has a very inviting tap room that serves great beer and great food.  Their logo is fabulous too.  The flight I got was a little hop heavy because in the summer I find hops more refreshing and satisfying than malt.  Fantasy Factory IPA has a good deal of malt sweetness, but mainly it’s hops-driven.  Kind of catty.  Plenty of lacing & long-lasting bitterness.  6.3% ABV.  Night Call Smoked Porter may be a bit too smokey for me, and I like smoke.  This is almost ashtray like.  There are some coffee notes and a touch of sour, but to me it was cigarette with a touch of leather.  6.5% ABV.  Samu Rye PA is a rye American pale ale with a solid malt body and a grainy backbone with a spicy, peppery, grassy vibe to it.  Sheets of lace decorate the glass.  Hops are in the finish, but they don’t linger.  Very good and very drinkable at 5.3%  Block Party Amber Ale is certainly amber in color.  Roasted, toasted caramel malt up front, mild hops in back.  5.6% ABV.  Lady Luck Irish Red is awfully dark for a red, so I’ll say it is deep ruby.  Putting Irish in the name is sure to attract some people but it’s not a selling point to me.  It just reminds me of Killian’s which ain’t bad, but something about Irish and beer has me leary.  Whiskey on the other hand…anyway there’s some sweet, some sour, some medicine some raisin…very complex and really deicious.  Plus it is nice and strong at 7.5% ABV.  You won me over.  In short, Karben4 is a great place with a great product and I look forward to another visit soon!