Spoiler alert: I did not get a ticket to Dark Lord Day. I did not have the pleasure of sharing and drinking beer with my fellow hopheads on what could possibly be considered the holiest of holy days on the beer drinker’s calendar. While I’ll wait another year to make my sacred journey to hollowed 3 Floyds ground I didn’t need a Willy Wonka Golden-esq Ticket to experience great beer last Saturday April 25th.

Thanks to fellow beer blogger Natasha from MetaCookbook and Karl, Co-founder of Guys Drinking Beer, I joined countless other thirsty Chicagoans during Beer3Up at Emporium in Wicker Park. Now in its third year, Beer3Up began when Natasha and bloggers Eric of Blah…Blah..BEER and Jeremy from SubBeerBia teamed up with Arcade Emporium to bring a beer event to the beer geeks who needed to wash away their Dark Lord woes in some doggone good Chicagoland beer.

Photo Courtesy of: Natasha from MetaCookbook

Photo Courtesy of: Natasha from MetaCookbook

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From the Fridge: Hitachino Nest

A series where I try to drink my way through a fridge full of beer. Currently three-fourths of my shelves have been overtaken with 6-packs and 22 ouncers. I need room for my groceries! I’ll pick a new beer each week and give it a taste. I’ll provide the specs and review my choice based on how many “miles” I think it can go. The more miles…the better the beer. Brews can range from simple 5k (3.2 Mile) beers to more advanced half-marathoners (13.1 Miles). And if I find a marathon (26.2 Mile) beer…well, I’ll pledge to run my own marathon. I’m thirsty. Let’s drink and see how many miles these beers from my fridge can log!

This week:

Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale

Purchased at: Whole Foods Lincoln Park


ABV: 7%

Style: Specialty Grain

“Miles” (aka Rate): 3.0

Pour out of the bottle. Cloudy, almost dark pink peppercorn in appearance. Immediate aromas like Champagne. Bubbles explode through the head of the beer packing intense flavors of dragonberry, marionberry, and raspberry. The experience reminds me of a kid in a candy store dipping his hands and nose into bin after bin of fruity sucker sweets.

The most interesting quality of this beer might be the sounds it makes. You can literally hear the snap, crackle, and pop coming from the carbonation in the fizz and foam.

The flavors of this Red Rice Ale brewed with a special red rice cultured in Ancient Japan (as it says on the label) do not leave my tongue wanting for words. Having said that the flavor combination can be a bit weird at times. Deep purple plum and apple butter notes interlock like tectonic plates with funky almost sour fermented mash territories. I’m reminded of corn husks, huitalacoche or masa tortillas on the Spanish spectrum. Then I remember it is an Asian beer and ingredients like sticky rice and red bean paste come to mind. This ale is an earthquake of sometimes competing and yet sometimes oddly complementing tastes.

Fruit…then rice…fruit…then starch…fruit than dough.

I can best describe it as like taking a bite of jam and then a mouthful of rice pudding.

This beer is worth trying simply to experience the odd flavors. The beer doesn’t quite come together, but does prove for a flavor-provoking pint.

hitachino nest

From the Fridge

Have you seen my refrigerator lately? Beer lines 3/4th of the shelves. No joke here is what’s in my fridge right now: I’ve got a six pack of Fuel Café Coffee Stout from Lakefront Brewery, fruits of a Whole Foods shopping trip–Solemn Oath Man vs Internet Belgo-American Double Red Ale and Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, Picks from the $8.99 craft beer sale section at Target that I just could not avoid when I walked in (I mean a 4 pack of Ommegang Rare Vos, Brewery Vivant Farmhouse tallboys, and a 6-pack of 21st Ammedment To Hell or High Watermelon for $8.99 each), I have a variety pack from New Glarus courtesy of my trip to Madison now almost 2 months ago, birthday beers from my coworkers–Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose (oh man I forgot I still have some Anderson Valley Winter Solstice in the back corner from the winter)–and Duchesse De Bourgogne!! and lastly four bottles of beer accrued in the Portland airport to remind me of the beervana I shortly had to leave.

In order to avoid the “cellaring” death spiral  I often fall into I’ve created a new series I’m calling From the Fridge. Each week I’ll showcase a different beer from inside the chilly halls of my icebox. Not only will this force me to drink the beer, but it will give me a chance to really think about, focus, and write on the flavors of one beer at a time.

the fridge 2

Beer overflowing the middle two shelves of my fridge….


the fridge

…And spilling over into the door! I mean I feel like I’m on a version of Craft Beer Cribs.

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Blot Out the Siren Song

A legendary aquatic creature with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish, Mermaids are not just the folklore of children’s movies anymore. And nowadays in Chicago they’re swimming in a different kind of liquid…beer.

Coronado Brewing, who’s mascot Mermaid you’ll find unabashedly emblazoned on their 6-packs, began distributing in Chicago with Wirtz Distribution for the first time in early March. A few Tuesday night’s ago I set out to capture a taste of the sensual siren at Northdown Cafe and Taproom Continue reading