Spiteful IPA

In an effort to keep things interesting and share the joy of beer with as many people as possible, Vas Foremost will try to get a beer enthusiast to write a review of a beer of choice.

Today, in addition to our resident Beer Reviewer’s beer reviews, we have allowed someone who is passionate about beers to write a review of a local beer, Spiteful IPA, now offered in cans.

spitefull

Spiteful IPA

This freshly canned IPA pours nicely with a creamy head that lasts throughout the pint.  It is a golden color with an appropriate amount of carbonation.  Highlighting the El Dorado hops used with a tropical citrus aroma on the nose that also come through while you are drinking and then closes out with a hint of grassiness.  It is smooth, creamy, clean and very diggable!  Yet another beer from Spiteful that should be sought out by IPA lovers, and while satisfying your hop cravings also remains crushable for the long haul.

 

Rob Grum
Twitter: @lyubovorlova

Untappd: rgrum

 

 

 

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday With Some Local Options…

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

 I could have written about tropical drinks earlier this week, the way the weather was.  Chicago, of course, can experience all four seasons on any given day, but this week gave us a chance to test out the durability of our thermometers.  Hopefully you all endured the weather, and are somewhere warm while you read this.

It’s an exciting weekend coming up.  There is, of course, the Super Bowl. This occassion is about much more than the football game itself, which often takes a sidestage to the antics of the commercials and the half-time show.  Whatever your reason for watching the game, it is a great opportunity to get together with folks and have a good time.  We’re here, of course, to help you with that goal.  I realize (painfully) that as Chicagoans we have nothing collectively to celebrate with this game.  With that said, there is no reason Chicago still can’t be represented in your celebration.  We’ve got some exciting new Beers in stock, including two new local beers! 

New to the shelves at Vas Foremost is Ravenswood’s Begyle Brewing with their offering of a Pale American Wheat Ale Crash Landed (22oz. $8.79).  We are also happy to carry  Spiteful Brewing’s GFY Stout (22oz. $9.79) and Burning Bridges Brown Ale (22oz. $9.29). These new brewers are an excellent addition to the burgeoning Chicago brewing scene, and we are pleased as always to represent our local craftsmen!  

I hope that you all enjoy your weekend!  Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the game….  If you have any questions or comments, you can email me directly at george@vasforemost.com,tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Welcome Back…

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

Welcome back…a resurrection of sorts for this blog is in order. I have been gone way too long, but luckily, you guys haven’t stayed away in my absence, and over the last several months I have had the pleasure of talking with many of you. We’ve had some exciting stuff in stock over the last several months, from Bourbon County Stout to the recent arrival of Hopslam, and it remains abundantly clear that the expanding range of styles and offerings are finding their way out to everyone.

 In that vein, I want to do my part to get the word out about new, exciting beers and other drinks.  We carry a wide variety of wine, bourbon, scotch, rum, vodka, etc. in addition to beer and I don’t want to neglect anything while trying to cover everything!

 So, what’s in store?  Over the next four weeks I am going to cover a variety of topics. What really interests me, and what I really enjoy covering, and things that you enjoy reading/learning about.  I humbly request that readers send in beer/spirit topics for coverage!  You can email me directly at george@vasforemost.com,tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420. I look forward to hearing from you, and I am truly glad to be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Cider…Something a Little Different on a Hot Summer Day…

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

It’s pretty darn hot outside.  While I am well known for extolling the virtues of beer for all occasions, I was thoroughly upbraided by my sister-in-law for neglecting some of the other superb choices in the drink-world that let us unwind from the heat of the long summer days.  With her inspiration, I will digress into the world of cider.

When you hear cider, you probably think apples, and therefore fall.  And you’d be right in your initial inclination, because apples are harvested in the fall.  There’s no reason, however, that you need to constrain your consumption to autumn.  After all, you don’t drink wine only in the season that the grapes are harvested, right?  Same logic applies in this case.

Hard Cider isn’t only made from fermented apple juice.  Other fruit, such as pear, is also commonly used.  Like beer, hard cider also comes in a variety of styles, and ranges in taste from super dry to syrupy sweet. Like wine, the type of fruit used (in the case of apple cider, even the type of apple) will make a huge difference in the overall flavor of the drink. 

Cider is a classically American experience. Until prohibition, this was a huge drink in America, from the times of the colonists onwards. In New England, apple trees grew prodigiously, and their harvest contributed to the brewing of apple cider.  Cider only began to dip in popularity towards the end of the 19th century, when beer made huge inroads intoAmerica along with waves of immigrants coming in fromGermany and Bohemia. 

In the last few years, as the popularity of Hard Cider has grown, the available brands have as well.  Some of the more popular ones include Woodchuck, which carries a variety of different styles, Crispin, Strongbow and Angry Orchard.

We’ve got all of these available, and I will happily vouch for the pleasant experience of cracking open a cold bottle of cider on a hot day. Have a great week, everyone.   As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Craft Beer

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

  I’ve been writing posts for a while now, and have been referencing plenty of craft brews, but I’ve never actually bothered to explain what a craft brew is, or why this is even a big deal.  While I can probably take it for granted that most of you are into beer enough to know anyway, I don’t want to ignore anyone that doesn’t.  Since the more you understand about beer, the more you’ll want to try it, I consider any opportunity to educate and expose people to beer to be a good thing. 

To begin with some perspective: prior to the 1920’s in theUnited States, there were many small breweries throughout the country.  With the passage of Prohibition, many went out of business because they were unable to sustain themselves.  As a result, the 1930s-1970s were predominated by breweries such as Budweiser and Miller, who’s ubiquitous Pilsner became synonymous with American Beer. 

Fast forward thirty years, and there has been a virtual explosion of breweries throughout the U.S.producing a variety of beers in different styles.  A term that gained a lot of traction starting in the 1990’s was “microbrewery”, and this still gets tossed around a lot in conjunction with craft beers.  This is not entirely accurate.  While a microbrew is a craft beer, a craft beer can be a larger operation than a microbrew.  A microbrewery is defined as producing less than 15,000 barrels a year, while the American Brewers Association, produces and defines a craft brewery as one who has “Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less…Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.”  (http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/craft-brewing-statistics/craft-brewer-defined

What this is saying is that a craft brewer must be small (relative to Macrobreweries) and fundamentally independent.  This probably counts for most brewers that are out there, producing relatively small quantities.  Craft breweries run the gamut through, with some small breweries producing a handful to large ones like Boston Beer Co. that put out almost 2,000,000 barrels a year.

That’s a brief technical explanation of a craft beer.  On a more personal level, I’d like to define these beers in a way that is not quantitative.  I’ll leave that to people above my pay grade to parse out in terms of volumes, or percentages owned.  To me, a craft beer is an artisinal product.  It is made with respect for the process of brewing, and, undeniably, a passion for beer.  I think that this is a transparent passion, and it is infectious to many of the people who have been won over by these brews.  This is beer that has moved past getting “slammed” or “shotgunned”, in the same way you don’t swallow down a Filet Mignon like you would a Big Mac. 

I’ll leave it at this point.  If you enjoy these beers even a fraction as much as I do, then you know what I am talking about.  If you are just discovering them, you are in store for a great surprise. 

Have a great weekend, everyone.   As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Summer Beer

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

  

It’s summer in Chicago.  Not technically, per the calendar, but this town is heating up, and one of the first signs of the season for me is all of the summer seasonal beers that we’ve been putting into rotation the last month or so.

When people typically think beer and summer, there are two things that instantly come to mind: mowing the lawn and watching baseball.  While Old Style does say Chicago Cubs to the average North-sider, good beer during the warm weather can be much more than that.  It can serve as a good companion to everything from standard barbecue fare to a more haute meal eaten al fresco on the patio.  It can be something savored sitting on the deck or balcony watching the sun set.

Some beers that I think compliment the warmth of summer in our beautiful city include the following: 

Goose Island Summertime (6 pack $9.29, 12 pack $9.29) A hometown favorite – this is a Kolsch-style beer. It’s hoppy, but not overly-so, and goes great with traditional barbecue foods like brats and hot dogs. 

Sierra Nevada Summerfest (6 pack, $9.99) This one’s a Pilsner, and is hoppy without being heavy.   

Saison Dupont (750ml $9.99) Not technically a “summer seasonal”, nonetheless this is the quintessential summer seasonal beer.  Originally brewed to be served to farm workers during the summer harvest, this is a crisp and refreshing beer that is the perfect compliment to finishing up some outdoor work.

Something a little different

These beers don’t fall in the technical beer category like the ones above do.  To some, they are more of a mixed drink, because they include fruit juice in the form of lemonade.  Regardless, they are excellent for the summer, and deserve to be mentioned here.


-Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy  (12 pack bottles $15.69, 12 pack cans $14.99, 6 pack bottles $8.99, 4 pack 16oz. cans $7.99)
Rapidly becoming ubiquitous in the Chicago land area during the months of summer, this beer’s name says it all.  A wheat beer blended with lemonade, this has become very popular with people that want to drink beer without the “beer taste”.  It’s definitely a light-flavored beer, and it really does go well with outdoor activity. 

-Stiegl Lemon Radler (16.0oz. $3.49) 50% lager and 50% lemon soda, this is very similar to the Summer Shandy in concept.  You can smell the overtones of the lemon when you pour it, and the soda adds crispness to the beer when you drink it.  The Lemon Radler is much sweeter than the Summer Shandy, but this is another one of its qualities that make it such a good beer on a hot day – cold lager and sweet lemon flavor combine to make a very refreshing drink.

With that being said, I send you all into the weekend well armed to stock up and battle anything from mowing the lawn to laying back in a lawn chair and soaking up rays.    As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Thanks again! See you all next week!

Back to the Blog…Stemware

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

 Hi everyone – sorry that it’s been a while, but we’ve had a lot cooking, and I’ve got a lot to talk about, so I’ll be on here pretty regularly going forward.  Thanks to everyone that emailed and called over the last month or so – I have definitely been formulating future blog posts based on your ideas and comments, so there should be a lot of interesting stuff coming up!  Now, on to this week’s post….

____________________________________________________________

“Red Solo Cup…you are my friend…” -Toby Keith, 2011

With those words, the cup already revered by frat boys and party-goers the world over was immortalized in song.  And while the red Solo cup does adequate duty from the perspective of drinking keg-beer and catching ping-pong balls, there is a much more mature component to drinking beer. Yes, beer tastes good out of the bottle, but if you are going to take the time to educate yourself on the beer you drink, then it makes sense to drink it from the proper glass, if you can. 

What’s the big deal?  I know that many people consider the glassware that beer is consumed from to be more marketing than anything, and while marketing may play a role to some extent, there is also a reason for the designs of many of these glasses.

Some of the major types of glassware include:

1. Pint Glass – This is what you will typically be served beer in when you go out.  It gains its name from the measurement of One Imperial Pint (20 Imperial Ounces).  As of late, many brewers have begun to produce custom versions of these glasses with logos or other markings on the bottom of the glass.  This is intended to help with nucleation, a process that allows gas to escape from the beer and help preserve the head on the poured beer.  This is such a ubiquitous glass that virtually anything can be served in one.

2. Pilsner Glass – A pilsner glass can be used for many types of light beers, obviously including Pilsner. Pilsner glasses are typically smaller than the pint glass. They are tall, slender and tapered in appearance.

3. “Yard” Glass – A yard glass is a very tall glass, approximately 1 yard long.  It has a bulb at the bottom, a very narrow middle part, and widens at the top.  While primarily a pub-based glass, plastic variants of this are popular in many places, where people carry them by wearing a band around their necks attached to the glass to facilitate allowing it to hang.  The glass was desinged for drinking Ale, but it’s function serves more to hold large quanitities rather than enhance taste, so technically anything can be put in one of these. 

4. The Goblet – Also known as a chalice, the beer goblet has a deep bowl, with a wide opening.  The wide opening is designed for a large head on the beer. This is a definite choice for sipping a big, heavy beer like a German Bock or a Belgian Ale.

5. The Tulip – A tulip glass is, as the name suggests, a tulip-shaped glass attached to a stem.  The shape of the glass is said to enhance the beer’s flavor, while allowing a large head. The beers best suited for the Tulip include Farmhouse Ales, IPA’s and Lambics.

6. The Stein – This is probably the best known specialty type of glass. The German Stein is a variant of the beer mug, which is itself just a heavy glass with a handle.  What makes the Stein different is that it is typically ceramic as opposed to glass, and may often include a metal top. It is my opinion that any number of beers can be succesfully consumed from a mug, including styles such as Ales, Stouts, and Lagers.

This is a very basic overview of some of the more predominant types of stemware used for drinking beer.  There are, literally, hundred more out there.  In some places, such as Germany or Belgium, each brewery has a distinctive glass that their beer is poured into.  It is quite fascinating to see all the glasses and steins that people have managed to collect. 

I hope that everyone has a great weekend! As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Thanks again! See you all next week!

What’s brewing in Chicago….?

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

 Chicago was always a city of industry, and was also the home to a great many immigrants from the 19th century onwards, Many of these groups came from countries where the beverage of choice was beer.  With their arrival at first came small-scale brewing, but with the industrial ingenuity that makes this country great, this was followed by larger scale commercial breweries.  While not on par with the production in Milwaukee, Chicago was no slouch either, and many breweries proliferated in the time before Prohibition.  With the passage of the 18th Amendment, legal  brewing came to an end nationwide, and although Chicago became quite well known for its illegal contribution to the alcohol industry during the 1920’s, it brewing industry never quite recovered.

Fast forward 60 years, and the beer drinkers of Chicago wanted something distinctive and high quality, or in other words, a true Chicago product.  After being overshadowed by our little brothers to the north and south, Chicago is re-emerging as both a local and national player in the beer scene.  Vas Foremost is proud to participate in this process by providing as many of the burgeoning local breweries that we can.  We are a local store, and we stand behind the credo that you should support your community.  With that, a brief intro to some of the local breweries we proudly feature on our shelves (and in our coolers!):

The most prominent is, without a doubt, Goose Island (1800 North Clybourn).  The oldest of the current craft brewers in Chicago, Goose Island opened in Lincoln Park in 1988, and has continued to operate a brew pub both there and in Wrigleville to the current day.  While it has recently sold the majority ownership to InBev, Goose Island is sure to always remain a Chicago favorite, having cemented its reputation both locally and nationally with brews such as 312 and Honkers Ale.  In recent years they have branched out further to produce belgian-style ales such as Matilda and Pere Jacques, and their famous Bourbon County Stout.

 More recent than Goose Island, but rising in stature are breweries such as Half Acre (4257 North Lincoln Avenue), which is known for its Daisy Cutter and Gossamer Golden Ale, among others, and the Finch Beer Company (4565 North Elston Avenue) which is making its mark with many different beers, including its Golden Wing Blond and Cut-throat Pale Ale.

These are a few of the local options that we have available at Vas Foremost, and we look torwards making all  Chicago brews available. We are firmly committed to enhancing the local presence of our Chicago brewing neighbors, and to supporting the movement they have started.  As with anything, the movement starts at home, and we want to help put Chicago firmly back on the map of the brewing world!

I hope that everyone has a great weekend! As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Thanks again! See you all next week!

NBA All Star Weekend…

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

  Even though it doesn’t feel like enough season has been played yet (there hasn’t been…), it’s that time of year…NBA All Star time!  In honor of the occasion, and in honor of the fact that our own hometown hero, Derrick Rose, will be leading the Eastern Conference to victory, we have assembled our own version of an All Star Team.  We now humbly introduce the starting line up for the Vas Foremost Staff All Star Beer Squad.  These beers all rank tops on the palates of the respective employees at Vas Foremost, and we hope that you’ve ever tried them, or will give them a shot for yourself and let us know if you agree….

1. George – Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss (6 pack, $8.49) I’ve always enjoyed Honey Weiss.  This is a wheat beer, and is very light.  I usually drink it from a glass, with a slice of lemon.  This adds a bit of sourness to the honey flavor, and makes this one of my favorite go-to beers for when I am just kicking back.

2. Pete – Sam Adams – The Vixen (22ozz, $6.49) The first thing that caught my eye was the unusual size for Sam Adams. I figured that if Sam Adams was putting out a bomber, it was worth a shot.  I tried it, and thought that it was an excellent beer – not too heavy at all for a chocolate chili bock.  Malty, without being too sweet, and there was a little bit of spice to it.  I’m a big fan of chili (the stew), and this goes really well with it! The perfect winter beer!

3. Manny – Three Philosophers (4 pack, $15.99, 750ml, $12.49) – This instantly became my favorite craft beer.  I like sweeter beers, and there is some cherry lambic mixed into this Belgian-style ale, so it went over really well with me.  This is a really smooth ale, and I have come to really consider this as a beer to take your time with, and enjoy drinking.

4. Eric – La Chouffe (750ml, $12.49) I really like a couple of things about this beer.  The first is the color – it’s an orange and gold ale.  I also liked that the taste was strong, but wasn’t overpowering.  There is an incredible spiciness and complex flavor, and to me, it really satisfies the palate unlike any other beer I’ve had.  Quite frankly, I can’t put into words how much I like La Chouffe.
 

These are our All Stars, and we are curious to find out what some of yours are. The ranks of the prospects here at Vas Foremost are dense – there are over a 1,000 beers to choose from, so I am sure what some of you will pick will be vastly different from what we have.  Please let us know what you think!

I hope that everyone has a great weekend! As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Thanks again! See you all next week!

Lambic…

THE VAS BLOG – INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF DRINKING

  Every week I sit down, and every week I am faced with a challenge that I find both fun and exciting.  What will I cover in my weekly blog post? Since my aim, and our aim here at Vas Foremost, is to provide maximum value and a superior experience in finding the beverage of your choice, I try to translate the best aspects of the experience you’ll have in our store to something interesting in text format.  Am I doing a good job?  This is for you to decide.  I always solicit comments and feedback, and I look forward to reading what you have to say, or hearing from you.   That being said, this week I sat down, and thought about what I wanted to write.  A few weeks ago I began to pull at the threads on the sweater that is flavored beer, and so I figured I’d yank really hard and start to unravel the world of lambics…

As we have discussed before, and as we show in the vast selection on our shelves, there is massive diversity in the world of beer. Lambic is an extremely distinctive type of beer – brewed only in the Senne Valley Region of Belgium. 

It is rare to find a pure lambic outside of Belgium.  An example of “pure” lambic includes Cantillon, which is quite hard to find.  This year, in particular, their supply has been limited considerably by the unseasonable warmth experienced during 2011 in Belgium.  Most lambics that you’ll find distributed outside of Belgium are actually Gueze. Gueze is made by blending young (1 year old) and old (2 year or older) lambics together.  These are then re-fermented.  The first thing that you’ll notice when drinking Gueze is that it is quite sour and dry in taste.  A good example of this is Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene (750ml, $10.99)

Another variation of lambic that is seen quite commonly is fruit-flavored lambic.  There are several varieties, including Framboise (raspberry), Kriek (sour cherry),  Pecheresse (peach), Cassis (black currant), and Pomme (apple).  We carry all of these in the 750ml size for $10.99.  While still sour, the fruit makes the lambic less dry than its plain counterpart.

One of the things that I find so interesting about lambic is the complexity of the taste.  When drinking an unflavored Gueze, there is definitely a learning curve involved.  I still recall my first sip – my initial instinct was that I was drinking vinegar.  Once I got my tongue around the taste, I started to enjoy the taste for how massively different it was from any other beer I’d ever consumed.  The fruit varieties (Kriek is my personal favorite) are much easier to get into, so I’d suggest starting with these if you instinctively are adverse to sour tastes, and work your way up. 

That’s where I’ll cut things off tonight.  There’s plenty more I could say, but I’ll keep something in reserve for the next round.  I hope that everyone has a great weekend! As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve written, or even general questions about anything else, please feel free to email me at george@vasforemost.com, tweet us: @vasforemost, or give us a call at (773) 278-9420.

Thanks again! See you all next week!