#wildales – PorchDrinking.com
What happens when a vintner’s daughter, who has worked in her family vineyards and wine cellar from early childhood, falls in love with spontaneously fermented beers in Belgium? Enter Jitka Ilčíková and her “vintner brewed beer” at Wild Creatures in Mikulov, Czech Republic.
Being a master blender is much like being a mad scientist. It takes an innate knowledge of the craft, a bit of daring, and a bit of flare. The job inherits a lot of risk thanks to how unpredictable wild yeast can be. Thankfully, California-based Firestone Walker has the man up to the task.
Jim Crooks, affectionately called Sour Jim, has run Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks wild yeast facility since its introduction in 2014. During that time, he’s worked on unique barrel blending projects like Feral One and newer ventures like their recently-released Rose-style beer that uses locally-sourced Paso Robles grapes. Crooks has produced a lot of innovative offerings over the past five years, but the best may be yet to come given their focus on blending the lines between beer and wine with the help of locally-sourced ingredients. We asked Jim five questions about his role, why he focuses on fresh, and what comes next for Barrelworks. Here’s what he said.
Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood is home to some of the city’s most iconic restaurants. From Girl and the Goat to Au Cheval, followed by an endlessly growing list, it’s a Chicago hot spot for eating but also drinking. While there are a lot of places to get great cocktails in the West Loop, the craft beer scene is also becoming more prominent in the area and starting to make a name for itself.
For most, the foray into the world of beer trading is swiftly met with an introduction to the secondary value world, as that perceived value tends to drive the trading market. Fortunately, there are still areas free from the shackles of “me first” mindset. Luckily, through my own beer journey, I’ve been fortunate enough to find a small group that acts as a family. While the group mostly allows us to maintain connections online and send each other beers as presents, surprises, and BIFs (beer it forward, essentially chain mail but with beer as presents); recently I have focused my domestic travels on meeting these people in person. With SF Beer Week in progress and more than a half dozen faces I had yet to meet in person, I “sailed off for the San Francisco Bay”.
“Ride, captain ride upon your mystery ship. Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip.”
Just 60 miles north and a short ferry ride from Seattle sits Port Townshend, a favorite weekend getaway destination for Seattlites at any time of year. Located on the eastern edge of the Olympic Peninsula, Port Townshend truly has its bases covered as an ideal getaway destination: it boasts a state park for hiking, a marina for whale watching trips and boat tours, and a charming downtown full of local goodies. Highlights include a seriously legitimate tea shop, waterfront ice cream, an inspiring bookstore, and – last but not least – Propolis Brewing.
Craft beer as a whole has gone through a shit storm over the last few months. Literally and figuratively. And the in-fighting hasn’t stopped. But at the Funk Collective: A Gathering of Independent Breweries, no amount of storminess could keep the masses away.
SweetWater Brewing Company has always pushed an image of nonconformity. Its latest venture, The Woodlands, is no different. Over the last 20 years, SweetWater has focused on growing its brand, and as founder Freddy Bensch explains “We have capacity under control, and can give more time to projects we’ve always aspired to do.” Bensch continued, pointing out, “We’re always challenging ourselves to evolve and master our craft.” The Woodlands is the physical manifestation of the brewery’s vision to push its practice and, as Bensch finished, “…make some really phenomenal beers.” So it was in this spirit of innovation and mastery that the Woodlands was born.
ABV: 9.9% | IBU: 33
Funky doesn’t begin to describe Odell Brewing Elephunk Imperial Wild IPA. This delicious boozy palette puncher is indeed a wild ride. It’s weird. It’s complex. It’s funky with a “p-h.” Yep, it’s PHunky.
Beers Made By Walking’s sixth go-around did not disappoint attendees at the Denver Nature and Science museum this past Tuesday, Oct. 4. Attendees rolled in at 5:30 p.m. sharp to fill their tasting glasses alongside earthly relics like a sparkling gemstone exhibit and a huge whale skeleton suspended from the rafters. The setting was certainly fitting for the nature theme of the festival, and breweries displayed whimsical adjuncts like pine cones and berries on their respective tables. I felt a buzz just thinking about how the event’s proceeds would be directly benefitting this museum we were standing in.
Veiled by a shroud of mystery and intrigue, Denver’s Former Future Brewing shuttered taproom operations earlier this week and promptly began transmitting a series of cryptic messages, videos, and an equally arcane Facebook event page as a teaser for bigger things to come.