Monday, July 28, 2014

Fermented #27 - I still drink a lot of beer

I've been too quiet on the beer recommendation front, mostly because I've been drinking things I've already talked about in the past, or hitting upon some very average beers. BUT, here's three recommendations and there's quite a few more coming soon.

Hitachino Nest Anbai Plum Wheat Ale, Kiuchi Brewery, Japan, 7.0% ABV - brewed with salt, a green, tart plum, and built on top of the classic Hitachino Nest White ale recipe, this is a beer for summer. It's like a gose-wit combo with a hint of sour fruit. The salt does wonders to the flavor, and the beer is nicely carbonated without being biting.

Begyle Hophazardly IPA, Chicago, 7.1% ABV - How have I never posted about this beer?! I'm sure I have somewhere, at
some point, but this is now a staple of my local drinking. I tend to think Begyle, along with a few other neighborhood/northside breweries, are all just hitting their stride, and nailing their beers left and right.  Nice orange, bordering on red beer, with an almost white, eggshell head. Floral and citrus, almost candy and perfumey aroma. This beer brings all the goodness of midwestern IPAs, with a mashbill that does some of the work to compliment a nice array of American hop varieties. I have mixed feelings on bombers, but this is the perfect amount of Hophazardly. Strangely, I've been drinking this one after a good run.

Gigantic IPA, Portland (OR), 7.3% ABV - Originally, I planned to start an IPA battle, between our Chicagoland breweries and the rest of the IPA-making world. But the beer world isn't really about competition (despite GABF and other "cups" and so on), it's about choice and stylistic differences, and so on. Gigantic isn't your typical West Coast IPA though. This has a rounded, creamier body (more so than Begyle above), and though it rides a hop wave of Cascade, Centennial, Crystal and Simcoe, there's a hefty amount of sweet bready malty goodness that lasts through to the off-dry finish. There's a lot of modern IPAs coming out like this, eschewing high carbonation and bitterness for a more balanced approach to hoppy beers (stemming from the success of sessionable IPAs and highly hopped but not highly bitter pale ales).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Homebrewing with Spices: Beer & BBQ

My pal Kim Leshinski, aka Hail to the Ale, hosts brewing related classes on a regular basis (you've seen some of them here on The Boozy Beggar), and this time around, she's focusing on brewing with spices, with BBQ in mind.

Did that get your attention? (maybe I need a picture of some slathered up ribs and a cinnamon-infused, highly hopped brown ale right here, you know?)

Demos and Discussions with: Kim, plus David Trout, Savory Spice Shop General Manager, and Christian Burdulis, brewer at Lake Effect Brewing Company

There will be samples of spiced beers + grilled appetizers featuring rubs from Savory Spice Shop, the space hosting this class (great staff there, very informative about spices in my few visits, and they make an amazing Hot Cajun rub).

Tickets are here:

Homebrewing friendly event - BYO brew to share. I'll personally have some bottles of a Wit I made recently using sweet and bitter orange peel and coriander.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Make Your Own Bitters @ The Charleston with Annemarie Sagoi, August 3rd, 5pm

Bitters. The mysterious cocktail ingredient who's name implies so much while promising so little, yet charms us with suggestion. What are bitters? What is their role in the cocktail? Well, find out from one of the badasses of Chicago cocktail-making, Annemarie Sagoi (most recently of The Dawson, The Charleston, and written up too many times to link to for making craft cocktail jello shots). Annemarie's creativity fuels her work in all kinds of directions, and this is sure to be more than just standing around hearing some cocktail geeks talk about cocktail-making. The soundtrack alone might be worth the 20 dollars admission to this workshop. (At the Charleston, August 3rd, 5pm!)

In Annemarie's own words:
"While most people know that bitters and tinctures aren't difficult to make, it can be time consuming to amass all of the necessary ingredients and supplies, not to mention all the chopping and zesting involved. Here, everything will be provided (though you are welcome to bring ingredients as well), and you will end up with a bunch of other peoples' bitters too. Everyone can make one or two big batches, and after they are finished in a few weeks, they will get bottled and are ready to swap and take home.

This workshop is perfect for people who are beginners, as we can help answer questions, as well as those who have done it or want to do more but maybe need some encouragement on following through. No brands, no ego - I want passionate people to come together and make something they will share together. Let's get creative for the sake of that alone, with no one benefitting but our own education and our cocktails."
This Make Your Own Bitters Workshop ($20 dollars), Sunday, August 3rd, will let you get a chance to make your own and benefit from the creativity of others, all while learning about the basics of making bitters and tinctures, and their uses in cocktails.
RSVP and hold your spot via paypal:
For those of you without paypal, message me and I will get in touch with Annemarie about getting you into a spot (no promises though, folks).

Chicago's Craft Beer Boat - August 27th

The Craft Beer Boat is both a beginning and an end, a destination and an adventure. The night is a celebration, a collaboration, and a cruise. The Craft Beer Boat brings together Allagash Brewing, Surly Brewing, and Artisanal Imports (beer from 5+ countries including belgium and germany, cider from England and the U.S.), after a series of ticket giveaway events celebrating Craft Beer all over Chicagoland. From the burbs to various neighborhood spots, your chances to get on the Craft Beer Boat reflect your love of beer, meaning each event you attend, you'll have multiple chances to get tickets to the boat. All the details are below (with a list of ALL events for the tickets, etc, coming soon), and The Boozy Beggar is your one-stop blog for all things Craft Beer Boat.

August 27th
7-11 PM

Event attendees will be able to win tickets to The Craft Beer Boat by attending the ticket give-away events and buying the featured beers. Raffle tickets will be given for each beer purchased and tickets to The Craft Beer Boat will be raffled at the middle and end of each event. On the boat, the lucky winners will enjoy free beer, entertainment, good company from other craft beer folks and a fireworks display from Navy Pier. AND, we'll be eating Johnny Van's BBQ! Delicious texas style, dry-rubbed, smoked gold. Learn more about Johnny Van's here.

Check out the Event Brite page to read about how you can also WIN TICKETS via INSTAGRAM while attending the below events.

There's also an Uber Voucher - details on the Event Brite page as well.

There's an event list AND tap list for each event on the above Event Brite page. Much of that will appear here as well.

First Event:

The Globe Pub
7-10 PM

  • Tripel Karmeliet
  • Kwak
  • Aspall Dry Cyder
  • Meantime IPA
  • Allagash White
  • Allagash Confluence
  • Allagash Odyssey
  • Allagash Golden Brett
  • Surly Furious
  • Surly Bkakkr
  • Surly Cynic
  • Surly Hell

  • This Surly Brewing - De Proef collaboration will be released ON THE BOAT!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Auchentoshan: American Oak

    Please pardon me while I talk about myself for a paragraph, before I go into the spirit reference in the title of these post (i.e., skip a paragraph if you don't care). Scotch, of the single malt variety, became my first true, adult booze love, just before my 21st birthday (Auchentoshan being a Scotch distiller, by the way). While abroad in England, I happened to be at a dinner where someone handed me a glass of scotch before the dessert course. I didn't dare refuse it, so I decided to sip it slowly and see if I could handle it (at that time, I had almost zero ability to do shots). Halfway through my glass of what I later learned to be The Balvenie (the Doublewood version), I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. I probably had three or fourth other cheaper single-malts and blended scotches while abroad and during the final year of college. I stepped up my Scotch game in law school, eventually becoming Chairman of the Single Malt Scotch Society. That launched me into the booze world without even realizing it, and as you can read on the About page, I eventually found my way back to it via other non-Scotch pursuits. Up until about a year ago, I barely had time for Scotch, as I dove into American whiskey and a lot of the craft movement there, into beer, into cocktails, into non-whiskey spirits. But, just this last month, I got pulled back into the Scotch world, by Auchentoshan.

    Auchentoshan comes with two distinctions, somewhat related. First, it is one of the few remaining Lowland distilleries (there's something like 4 remaining total), one of the regional distinctions used in single-malt Scotch. Taking this denotation very seriously, Auchentoshan is also the only distillery to triple distill every drop of their whisky, something once traditional in the Lowlands. This produces a lighter and obviously stronger ABV product, which changes (many would say deepens) the relationship between the spirit and the barrel in which it ages (more alcohol, more reactions between wood and spirit, more extraction of flavors from the wood). About all I knew about Auchentoshan before last month, was that they were a lowland single malt scotch distillery (they were used in a single malt scotch tasting we did in something like 2002, 2003).

    The newest, permanent edition to the Auchentoshan portfolio brings together Auchentoshan's triple distilled spirit with first-fill bourbon barrels (meaning all they've contained so far is bourbon). The light yet powerful Auchentoshan spirit pulls delicious caramelized sugar and oaky spice notes from the ex bourbon barrels, and in doing so also evokes coconut and vanilla. Some of the barrels aged in lower parts of the Auchentoshan warehouse promote softer peach and citrus notes on top of that coconut hint, something I distinctly notice in both neat pours of the American Oak, and in cocktails (and we'll discuss cocktails both with Auchentoshan and other scotches soon!). Kind of comes as no surprise to me, there's a real versatility to Auchentoshan, in that it has characteristics similar to Irish Whiskey and Bourbon, while still being distinctly a Scotch. A fun spirit to try in cocktails, but this is also going to become a favorite neat pour at Boozy Beggar HQ. just put up a nice piece this week on the Auchentoshan American Oak as a gateway for new scotch drinkers - couldn't agree more.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Cabinet of Curiosities - Chef Cleetus Friedman, Two Brothers Brewing, and the Field Museum Collaboration - June 26th

    Chef Cleetus Friedman, of Fountainhead, once again brings his culinary background to a craft beer collaboration, this time pairing up with one of the Chicago craft originals, Two Brothers Brewing, and the Field Museum (hopefully no ancient artifacts were used to flavor this beer). The beer, named Cabinet of Curiosities - after the phrase associated with both museums and their precursors in the collections of the rich and powerful in Europe - is a White IPA, brewed with secret spices and hops. The White IPA style is a relative newcomer to the world, combining the Belgian White/Wit and the American West Coast IPA. The style adds fruit peels and spices and sometimes herbs to the bold, citrus and pine notes of classic American IPA hops.

    Tickets Here. $18 for Members, $20 for non-members.
    4 drink tickets, for Cabinet of Curiosities and 3 other Two Brothers beers.
    Cleetus will be there serving and pairing food on the Northwest Terrace.

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    The Moody Tongue Brewery's First Annual Pair-Up, 6/21

    One Brewmaster. Six Chefs. A specially paired afternoon.

    (Did you expect a Lord of the Rings joke?)

    Brewmaster Jared Rouben, Moody Tongue Brewery
    Chef Jared Wentworth, Dusek’s
    Chef Shae Daher, Nightwood
    Chef Paul Virant, Vie
    Three Local Pilsen Eateries yet named
    Music. Collectible posters. Trolley tours of Thalia Hall and Moody Tongue Brewery

    You might remember the name Jared Rouben. He pioneered a really interesting food and pairing program, and a very culinary driven beer menu at the Goose Island Clybourn location. His beers branched out to include Rick Bayless and other chef-driven beers, and added to the already burgeoning legend that is Goose Island (say what you will, barrel aging, culinary beer creations, giving Chicago craft beer in 1988, these are the things of legends). Now his own brewery, Moody Tongue, gets out of the new brewery starting gate with this first of what I suspect will be many amazing pairing events.

    June 21, 2014, 3-6pm, $25.
    Pair-Up Tickets here.
    Location: Thalia Hall


    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    The Toronto cocktail, Fernet, and Kinmont's Bridgetown Milano

    Let's get out of the way a bit of worthless history. The Toronto cocktail, says Imbibe, came about as a means of highlighting the mellow tones of Canadian whiskey. Eventually, Canadian whiskey became associated with rye (partially true, partially nonsense), and delicious and bold and spicy American rye replaced the Candian whiskey in this cocktail. Phew, good thing, because Fernet and mellow aren't often put in the same sentence anymore. The Imbibe version is a 1/4 ounce of fernet, a 1/4 ounce of simple syrup, and 2 ounces of rye, stirred with ice, strained, garnished with an orange peel.

    Let me tell you about The Boozy Beggar variation, which came about through experimentation without knowing about the Toronto cocktail at all. Then I'll also tell you about the delicious Bridgetown Milano cocktail from Chicago's sustainable seafood joint, Kinmont.

    The back of the bar at Kinmont - mix of delicious wood aroma and smokiness from the smokers in the kitchen. There's not a crappy bottle of anything on that shelf.
    I first heard about the Toronto cocktail a summer or two ago, from a friend also new-ish to the industry, who basically just described it as "all I remember is there's fernet and rye in it." I didn't really think much about it until last august, when I bought a bottle of Fernet Branca for my new apartment, and wrote this piece on the Old-Fashioned and Billy Sunday's variation. I mentioned Fernet, and someone told me it is called a Toronto. It became a house standard, though I use lemon peel and lemon oil more than orange. Occasionally, I'd make it a Toronto-Manhattan hybrid and use 3/4 oz vermouth as well 1/2 oz fernet, and no demerara sugar. One time I combined them all together and it was fantastic. Demerara syrup plus vermouth and fernet and a well-made rye end up contributing a lot of delicious and luxurious mouthfeel and subtle flavors, while a 2 oz rye base let's the spirit itself come through.

    2 oz Rittenhouse
    3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula
    1/2 oz Fernet Branca
    1/8 oz/barpsoon of demerara syrup (2:1 demerara to water)
    Lemon peel or Orange peel garnish, expressed over glass

    Served up.

    Then, just a couple of months ago (and again a couple of weeks ago), I stopped in at Kinmont on the way home from work. Great spot down Superior (hey a sustainable seafood restaurant on a street named after a lake), with a very woodsy interior (even aroma), a personable and knowledgeable staff, and a nice little corner dedicated to the bar, where it's easy to order a beer or wine or a cocktail without a lot of pretension. When I saw the Bridgetown Milano, something lit up in my work-addled brain. Woodford Reserve bourbon instead of rye, cinzano sweet vermouth, fernet branca, and Falernum! Falernum is a syrup, often boozy, with ginger, cloves, allspice, sometimes other spices, and lime zest/juice. A gorgeous lime zest spiral accompanied the cocktail after a spritz over the top (as seen below in my slightly fuzzy pic). This play on the Toronto (bridgetown = capital of bermuda, falernum is a caribbean thing, Toronto has a rather large jamaican/caribbean neighborhood or two, fernet is made in Milan) brings together all the things I love from my own version, with a new lime and spice element. The cocktail has a fantastic, decadent body, the lime does wonderful things with fernet, and incidentally, this went quite well with the Scallop Crudo I had as an appetizer (I'm a bit obsessed with crudos and carpacchios and so on, but rarely would I think to pair a whiskey cocktail with it). Probably would go nicely with mussels too.

    BBQ Cocktails, Take 1

    Putting aside the fact I've neglected beer recommendations for weeks, sometimes, you just need a cocktail while you sit in the heat, or on your patio. I hate the phrase patio pounder (which I think implies that it goes down fast, doesn't cost a lot to produce, and makes your bar money), but easy sipping, fresh and lively cocktails that celebrate the season can stand in for your pilsners, wheats, and sours with ease.  The below cocktails are sadly not named yet.

    Cocktail #1
    1.5 oz gin (note: I used Letherbee, and Letherbee's Autumnal 2012, and Beefeater)
    1 lime, juiced
    1.5 oz watermelon
    0.5 simple or 0.25 demerara (feel free to flavor, maybe mint syrup or basil)
    3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

    BB Note: serve it over crushed ice in a taller glass, with watermelon wedge as the garnish if you need to go that route - alternatively, garnish with an herb if you've done a flavored syrup

    BB Note 2: Don't be ridiculous like Boozy Beggar HQ and own zero Collins glasses. They're crucial for the long cocktail and for proper presentation.

    Cocktail #1.5

    When I first booted up the Boozy Beggar, I made a mezcal-driven watermelon cocktail and some variations using a very similar recipe to the above, but with Angostura or Blackstrap Bitters from Bittercube. However, last night, I made the cocktail above using Sombra mezcal, and that's what is picture above (same color regardless of gin or mezcal). Absolutely delicious. The Peychaud's takes over the role of spice and herbal notes, while you get smoky watermelon as the dominant flavor. Other Mezcals: any of the delicious Del Maguey brand!

    Cocktail #2
    (no picture today)

    2 oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse 100 to stand up to rest of the ingredients)
    4 strawberries
    6-8 mint leaves
    0.5 oz simple syrup
    0.5 oz BroVo spirits Amaro No. 16 (from Stephen Cole of The Barrelhouse Flat and Lone Wolf)
    0.25 oz lemon

    Muddle the mint, strawberries, lemon, and simple syrup, add the amaro and rye, then give it a 10 second shake. Strain over a rocks glass with crushed ice or into your favorite julep glass, then garnish with mint and a strawberry (cut the strawberry almost in half and put on the glass rim with mint tucked underneath).

    Untested BB Idea: I want to re-do this one with maybe Branca Menta, or a different BroVo amaro (my preference in non-classics because the flavor profiles are bolder and more pronounced than the nuance of old school italian amaros).

    Friday, June 6, 2014

    Vicaris Quinto Belgian Blonde Ale

    It's a Belgian Blonde Ale weekend!
    Brouwerij Dilewyns/Vicaris releases an exclusive to Chicago/Illinois Belgian Blonde Ale named Quinto this weekend.  This is a 5% ABV blend of light maltiness with citrus peel (lemon and orange), and a delicate floral nose.

    Monk's Pub (205 W. Lake), Free Sampling from 3:30 to 6! Monk's validates parking with the 210 W. Lake St. Lot, btw.

    Rooftop at the Fountainhead! (1970 W. Montrose)
    10 am - 2:30 pm.
    Brunch served downstairs, lunch on the roof.

    Free Sampling at Hopleaf! (5148 N. Clark)
    2 pm - 5 pm


    Live Podcast Recording with Vicaris Co-Founder and Brewer Anne-Catherine Dilewyns at the Good Beer Hunting Studio. If you don't know Michael Kiser/Good Beer Hunting, you haven't been paying attention. Great space, great little events supporting great people (Industry Only event beforehand from 5-7pm).

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    The Bar on Buena Presents: HEFE-OFF, a Hefeweizen Beer Brawl

    The Bar on Buena presents:


    4 Hefeweizens Enter the "Ring," but only One Remains as the Hefeweizen of the Month.

    Tonight, starting at 6, get a flight of the 4 beers below, and pick the winner!

    Contenders (because they can't try EVERY Hefeweizen ever):

    Ayinger Brau-Weisse, Aying, Germany, 5.1 % ABV (1877)
    Schneider Weisse, Kelheim, Germany, 5.4 % ABV (1872)
    Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier, Weihenstephan/Freisberg, Germany, 5.4% ABV (1040)
    Two Brothers Ebel's Weiss, Warrenville, IL, 4.9% ABV (1996)

    Hefeweizens (also know as Weissbier or Weizenbier) are a style of top-fermenting wheat beer originally from Germany. They're at least 50% wheat if not more (by law in Germany, 50% or more, by practice, more like 60%). Only moderately hopped to balance the sweet malt, the flavor profile is mostly influened by the yeast strain chosen, and tends to exhibit characteristics of banana and clove, plus also bubblegum and a nice tartness fitting for hot summer days. Bottle-conditioned with a big fluffy head, and usually served in an iconic glass that promotes the aroma.

    The battle arose out of a very pitched Facebook conversation amongst Certified Cicerones, distributors, sales representatives, brand representatives, and other assorted beer geeks. For those keeping track, Schneider Weisse (not sure if I or someone else mentioned it first, I think someone else did and I seconded) is my favorite hefe in the battle, though not necessarily my favorite worldwide (probably IS my favorite from Germany and in the most classic sense of the style).

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Imbibe Magazine and Campari's NEGRONI WEEK

    The Negroni, that delicious blend of gin, vermouth (or other aromatized wine), and campari (or other amaro), with an orange peel (rocks or up), is a classic cocktail, a legend even, at this point. Every place has some version of it, it seems. Some even have it in slushy form (looking at you Parson's Chicken & Fish). This week, your Negroni consumption takes another step up, in the form of charity donations. Every bar participating has a cause (or two), and money from each Negroni ordered goes to that charity. In addition, the winner in terms of receipts, gets $10,000 for their charity. Every participating bar is listed here, at the official Negroni Week website.

    But, I want to take a second, before I link to my first ever Negroni article, to highlight that my favorite boozspired charity, Un86'd, is the chosen charity for ELEVEN Chicago bars/restaurants. ELEVEN.  That list: Bangers and Lace, Kinmont, LUXBAR, Nico, NoMI, Scofflaw, Spritz Burger, The Barrelhouse FLat, The Dawson, The Drawing Room and Savoy.

    Here's my original post about the Negroni, and the Boulevardier (it's rye/bourbon based variation).

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

    The Boozy Beggar Rum Cocktail Series - The Istrian Daiquiri

    I'm starting this now, in the summer, where it'll be fun to post rum drinks of the tiki variety, but I suspect this will last well into the fall, and even end up having some non-summer cocktails in the middle of July. Rum isn't the only tiki-friendly spirit, or citrus-friendly spirit (and who says I won't go and start a Tequila series with the Masa Azul folks or something like that), but the flavors of rum marry to citrus in a way that creates a whole new thing, a greater than the sum of its parts cocktail. Flavors of caramelized and brown sugars, and vanilla and oak and grass unite with lime and other citrus and non-citrus to create nutty, sweet yet not cloying, bright cocktails. It almost seems disrespectful not to garnish these flavor-exploding, many-ingredient concoctions with some fanfare (but I won't be doing that at home necessarily, we'll see).

    What to expect from me writing about rum? Quite a hefty amount of information on the various rum and rhum varieties (especially as I'm still learning myself) regional differences, the bottlings, the flavors, the brands that are doing great things and so on, but always, a cocktail recipe (and substitution ideas). Last year, for a friend, I whipped together a very simple kiwi daiquiri, pressing some kiwi with the same citrus press I used for the lime, and adding some bitters to balance the additional sweetness. For the purposes of whipping it together at the last minute, it worked, especially after a few drinks had been tossed back. BUT, I wanted to re-do it, with more attention to detail, and with a focus on the rum itself. Randomly found myself with some delicious samples from Venezuela's Diplomatico, kiwi, and a hot Sunday afternoon on the patio with my neighbors.

    I went with the Diplomático Aňejo  for this re-imagined version of the kiwi daiquiri, a 4 year old blend of light column-distilled rum and heavier pot still rum; the Anejo is actually the youngest rum available from the distillery, and finely balances sweet, brown sugar and cocoa powder flavors against creamy coffee and hints of nuts and spice from the oak barrels. My first idea was to emphasis the coffee and nutty aromas, AND to use a simple croatian amaro (from coastal Istria) I'd just stumbled across at an event that focused heavily on orange and almond flavors (so it's sort of orgeat-like), and which used a lot of thick caramel syrup to cut it's bitterness. Kiwi gets very accented when accompanying lime, and a little demerara syrup complimented the rum and the amaro better than going with simple.

    The Istrian Daiquiri

    2 oz Diplomático Aňejo  (sub in other darker, 3-7 year rum, particularly ones that blend light rum and darker rum)

    0.75 Darna Amaro (cynar might work, but consider a walnut-based nocino instead)

    0.5 oz demerara syrup (2 parts demerara or turbinado sugar to 1 part water)
    juice of 1 lime
    juice of 1 kiwi (cut in half, use citrus juicer)

    You can double strain if you definitely don't want kiwi seeds but they're soft, gooey, and edible, plus they mostly settle into the nipple of the coupe (if you serve it that way, at least).

    garnish with a lime wheel and a couple of dashes of angostura

    The simple version:
    1.5 oz rum
    juice of 1 lime
    juice of 1 kiwi
    0.75 oz simple syrup
    2-4 dashes of angostura

    Meet the Founder of Wine to Water - June 1st - Webster's Wine Bar (and get tickets for the Red and White Bash)

    Throughout the year you've probably noticed events sponsored by or in some way associated with Wine to W Maybe your favorite bartender donated a shift (Just One Shift), or your favorite bar donated a 1 dollar per drink bought. Maybe you saw a raffle at an event, with raffle money being donated to Wine to Water. You might have even gladly participated in donating to this great cause, without getting the full gist of what Wine to Water is and what it does for people around the world. Founded by a bartender and musician in the North Carolina area, Wine to Water uses these donations to fund clean drinking water for people without it, in over 17 countries. So far, they've helped over 250,000 people, via filters, well installations and well repair, rain harvesting tanks, and sanitation solutions.

    Now is your best chance to peek back into the beginnings of this amazing organization, find out how it all started, and find out how you can be more involved. Wine to Water's founder will be here this Sunday, at Webster's Wine Bar. Doors open at 6, there's a presentation at 7. There's a wine auction, music, plus food and drinks from Webster's wine cellar and kitchen.

    Tickets are up on eventbrite, starting at $45, are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law, AND you can choose what your ticket supports.

    BUT, not done yet. There's more going on with Wine to Water in the next month.

    If you can't make it Sunday night, then you might want to hit up the Red and White Bash on June 19th. This epic wine tasting featuring over almost 100 90+ point wines, food, and even beer and spirits, at Architectural Artifacts in Ravenswood. Wine Enthusiast magazine (the host) donates 100% of the proceeds to Wine to Water. Good reason to join a wine-focused 1920s style prohibition party, with food from Boka Group, South Water Kitchen, E+O Food and Drink, 312 Chicago and Ruth's Chris Steak House. Tickets for the Red and White Bash, plus more details, are here.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2014

    Monday, May 26, 2014

    Oyster Social and Cocktail Dinner at Bow and Stern - 5/28

    Do you feel like Oysters are taking over Chicago (we could be so lucky)? IF you do, and you're totally ok with that, like I am, then this is a dinner for you. Bow & Stern brings a farm to table and fishing to table approach to oysters, seafood, and local fare, and this dinner starts off with an Oyster social time, paired with bubbles (everyone likes to chat over bubbly booze, right?). From there, it's a sit down, 4 course dinner, 3 of which are paired with wines, and the final course, dessert, paired with a cocktail.

    Champagne + Oysters (east and west coast selections).

    Pickled Oysters - Wasabi, cucumber, pickled cucumber, caviar
    Spinach Salad – Orange sesame vinaigrette, sunchoke, pickled red onion, fennel, goat cheese & curried almonds
    Mussels – Pancetta, kumquat, fennel, garlic, shallot, Herbsaint, marjoram (BB note: I'm a huge fan of cooking with Herbsaint, this dish sounds really special)
    Wagu Beef – Klug Farms asparagus, smashed potatoes, bearnaise, popcorn fried oyster
    Key Lime Pie
    Reservations required (312.988.0644).

    Drank this tasty new Auchentoshan expression on Thursday. Delicate hints of citrus and even some cinnamon-like spice. Then I silkscreened the bottle image onto a shirt. #artofauchentoshan - Boozy Beggar Pic of the Day. #boozybeggarPOTD #chicagolandbooze #boozypics

    via Instagram

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    Scotch Egg Face Off 3: Northdown Tap v. Pecking Order

    We've done two Scotch Egg Face Offs in the first year of The Boozy Beggar, analyzing deeply the pairings and the eggs themselves, with a small panel of judges centered around Tedward Bouillon and myself.

    Battle 1 - Owen & Engine vs. Smallbar Division, ended up being a close one, with Smallbar Division's overall pairing overcoming the gooer O&E egg.

    Battle 2 - The Gage's very classic, sturdy egg and pairing fell to the modern, cross-cultural Masa Azul egg, where Mexican ingredients met English innovation (who says that about their cooking in any other way?).

    BATTLE 3 took place a few weeks ago, between Northdown Cafe & Taproom and Pecking Order, and we have our first TIE.

    HOW? WHAT?
    Pecking Order makes excellent Filipino fare, bursting with flavor, and permeating every level of the chicken/fried chicken restaurant experience, from sandwiches to twists on classic sides, and delicious sauces. They run a tight ship with their beer list, ranging from 3-5 offerings, but it's all chosen to pair with the bright flavors of the food.

    Northdown Cafe & Taproom brings a beer and rock n roll approach to Lakeview, all with good cheer and high fives. They get adventurous with their pub fare (the eponymous burger rates pretty high among most people), cater to Chicago's vegan beer crowd (way bigger than you thought), and know how to throw a huge fundraising party or two. They're not afraid of a beer pairing or of any beer.

    Both these places are deserving of my Recommended! lists for their neighborhood (working on them!) and do a great job at what they do.

    Pecking Order's "Pinoy Eggs" take the Scotch Egg for a Filipino spin, wrapping a 5 minute egg in housemade longaniza, then bread it and fry it.
    5 minute soft boiled eggs stay gooey in the middle (this is a key component for us in judging an egg). Longaniza is a Spanish sausage similar to chorizo, and each region of the Phillipines is known for its own version. Not sure from where Chef Subido hails, but the sausage had just a little heat, noticeable garlic, and was a little more delicate than I'd expected. It crisped up perfectly and wasn't a heavy-handed layer (no lie, this can be the downfall of a Scotch egg). The sriracha mayo complimented the sausage's spices and the gooey egg center. These were smaller eggs than most in the ScotchEggO'Verse, but that actually fit the presentation. Chef Subido went with the classic San Miguel as the pairing, the "national" lager of the Phillipines, and somewhat in the style of American lagers using some corn and hitting on the slightly sweet side of malty, with a clean hop bitterness. On its own, it's a beer that lacks dimension, but in conjunction with a spicy dish with some sweet elements, it brought things into balance. My buddy Tedward Boullion and I both had issues with eating this at a normal pace - I wanted to destroy the dish like Godzilla snacking on a 3 flat before going after a skyscraper.

    Compare and contrast, that's sort of what you do when you compare two of the "same" thing, which made hitting up Northdown next an especially interesting time (and a huge reason for the tie). Northdown's Scotch Egg came in at a more traditional size, and that's where the traditional parts stopped. It's wrapped in Prosciutto instead of sausage, and then gets nestled in a creamy garlicky aioli, drizzled with beer mustard, herbs, and to top it off, served with some Mikkeller Black Hole hot sauce (YES, you read that correctly, and YES, it is f-ing fantastic). This was a bit less gooey than the Pecking Order egg, but other factors gave it the consistency we wanted overall. There's no such thing as too much sauce in the Boozy Beggar Universe, but this got close. Structural difficulties with the proscuitto wrapping caused my egg to slowly morph into a fantastic egg salad. That wasn't a bad thing at all, and actually made it a better easy to use and enjoy the Mikkeller Black Hole sauce. Pairing for the dish came from co-owner Kate Gallagher with the Elgoods Coolship lambic, working particularly well with the way the Scotch Egg broke down into a crispy, gooey, mustard and aioli salad. Ended up mimicking one of my favorite pairings - sour beer and deviled eggs. Instead it was Scotch Egg and that was totally fine by me. The big sour flavors of the Elgoods complimented the mustard and spice of the Egg, while cutting the very rich sauce combination.

    Additional note: We also grabbed a Schlenkerla Helles lager, a lager made in the same copper fermenters as the Schlenkerla Rauchbier, lending smoking notes to a nice light lager. Went quite well also!
    More about both these places this week as we talk about some of the bonuses of visiting them!

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Unicornucopia: Deuce (5/16, 7pm)

    4 culinary/beverage groups unite for Chicago Craft Beer Week, because no one thought to shutdown their dangerous activities after last year.

    Co-op Hot Sauce - the best local sauce company? I have bottles of their stuff hidden in cabinets in secret corners of my kitchen (mostly to hide them from Conall of Big Fork Brand Sausage).

    Big Fork Brand Sausage - Dr. Moreaus of the food world, putting actual bacon into their freaking sausage, against the advice of the American Psychiatric Association (as one doctor said "this is totally mental", and then flaunting it with an assortment of flavors (maple + brown sugar, black pepper, aged cheddar and an assortment of new ones - portabello mushroom, 3 chile, chicken). No unicorns were harmed in the making of this sausage.

    Pipeworks Brewing - these guys have more ideas about what to put in beer than YOU have functioning brain cells (not a scientific claim). They've deconstructed food across the spectrum, from beers with mexican and french inspirations, to a sandwich-themed beer. The bottle art might be a bit intimidating, but these folks are actually a bunch of sweethearts.

    Dark Matter Coffee - hands down, my favorite coffee in Chicago. Best coffee shop too. Used to be the non-office office of The Boozy Beggar.


    Smoked Trout Bao - steamed bun with smoked trout, ramp dust, ginger cream cheese, baby kale salad, candied pepitas
    -paired with Pipeworks Citra Imperial IPA featuring Citra Hops Morcilla

    Choucroute - blood sausage, sauerkraut, poblano mustard
    -paired with Attack of the Devil Lettuce Coffee DIPA brewed in collaboration with 18th Street and with Dark Matter Coffee added

    Chicago Cioppino – Big Fork Bacon Sausage, wild salmon, fennel, San Marzano tomatoes, Pipeworks Poivre Vert, sour dough
    -paired with Poivre Vert Saison brewed with Green Peppercorns, Celery Seed and Cucumber

    S'more Beer Float – chocolate Dark Matter Coffee ice cream, Pipeworks S'more Money, S'more Problems, marshmallow-graham cracker crunch
    -paired with S'more Money, S'more Problems Imperial Stout with Chocolate, Cinnamon, Graham Crackers and Marshmallow


    Regular: $45
    Day of: $55
    VIP Pack: $69.99(not available day of)

    VIP Pack includes:
    1 Pipeworks Bomber
    1 Pack of Big Fork Bacon Sausage
    1 8 oz Bag of Dark Matter coffee beans
    1 bottle of Co-op Hot Sauce barrel aged Unicorn Tears
    1 t-shirt