Tag Archives: Chicago

Suds: July 30

Editor’s Note: These are my opinions so don’t get all worked up at the blog over them.

Let me start by saying the whole Chic-fil-a debate is much more nuanced than anyone wants to give it credit for, diving into black and white arguments that devolve into hatred and name calling. As a blog, we here at MwBC DO NOT and WILL NOT under any circumstances condone bigotry toward any group of human beings. Life is a marathon and we’re all in it together and sometimes it’s awful and sometimes it’s great, but we really don’t need to go out of our way to make it any more miserable for anyone else. That being said, we’re all missing the point: a bunch of Chicagoans are arguing about a plain chicken sandwich. Don’t like Chic-fil-a’s policies? No big deal. Go eat a hot dog! Eat literally anything else. People come to Chicago from all over the world just to eat the food. Why should anyone care about a chicken sandwich chain? I do not want my food to be tied to any political stance because it’s food and I need to eat it. I will take my money elsewhere and be equally satisfied (probably more so).

I’d rather eat at the Bad Apple anyway.

Along with our stance on equality, as a beer blog, we’re devoted exclusively to regional cuisines. I wrote about it before and I’ll write about it again. Chic-fil-a presents more of an issue because it homogenizes a culinary landscape. Chicago already has great chicken places with a rich history! They have even more history as the Carl Sandburg’s “hog butcher for the world.” I do not stand for imperialism of any kind, particularly when it comes to food (bigoted food in particular).

Phew, I’ve calmed down now. Have yourself a Chicago-style hot dog, drag that thing through the garden, grab some Old Style and let’s get to Suds.

-Beer Here: Radio Free IBA from Lake Louie.

-I have missed the Tour de Fat every year since I turned 21. Articles like this make incredibly sad

A rooftop pig roast? Sounds perfect.

Neat stuff on Dry Hop Brewery in Chicago.

-Good luck getting reservations for these City Provisions dinners

-I love Wisconsin for plenty of reasons, but mainly for places like this: Eddie’s Ale House.

-Sad to have missed reporting on Summer Brew. I guess we can start getting ready for Winter Brew?

-I don’t know what to think about a black saison, but I guess I have to try it…

-Finally, to fit with the season I typed “olympics” and “beer” into Google and found this article about how many calories some olympic athletes consume. Sorry, no science here, but imagine how much food these people would have to eat if they wanted to gain weight. I just don’t think it’s possible.

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Hoptellectual: A Personal Journey From Ketchup to Catsup

I loathe ketchup. Everything about it. It taints the presentation of a good meal, bathing it in B-level horror blood. It overwhelms natural flavors. It disrupts the cook’s intent for your food, and even stands in nicely as a back-handed compliment. It beckons to the laziness in all of us, much in the same way that Sriracha does.* My respect for a person inversely correlates quite well with how much ketchup they use on anything, even eggs and potatoes. I loathe ketchup and everything it stands for.

This is not a perfunctory thing, I’ve been wrestling with it for quite some time. As a kitchen/food amateur, it started as a mild annoyance, but spread like the mold in my compost bin. Originally, my disgust for ketchup was tied to my geography. In Chicago, you do not put ketchup on a hot dog. You just don’t do it and you don’t ask questions. It’s this cultural thing, very exclusive and Chicago. It confuses a lot of people and others find it apocryphal, but it’s such a Chicago thing. My nine-year old cousin who only eats chicken fingers won’t touch ketchup, and I assume it’s more cultural than anything (you can never be 100 percent confident when surveying someone under the age of thirteen).

Why anyone would put ketchup on this, I do not know.

When I started cooking in college, ketchup and sriracha saved many meals. I lived in a cramped house with a cramped kitchen and an extremely inefficient electric stove. I tried to cook, but I never got anything right. My sauces remained stratified and meat overcooked for fear of undercooking, normal mistakes for someone with no kitchen experience and an overprotective mother to make and label as “dinner.” But like most things, I better with practice. With the help of an incredibly fantastic roommate/chef, I learned a ton about how certain foods were supposed to taste.** I learned that good food was easy to make, you just needed to think about it and use all of your fresh ingredients. Trust your hands, instincts, and most importantly, trust the food. Ketchup only subverts this trust.

A lot of this points back towards America’s culinary history, a story that my mom often relates to my own childhood and discovery of food.*** Ketchup became a part of the American dining experience, to the point of oversaturation. Big brands produced metric tonnes of the stuff and drowned out competition, pairing it with other American favorites. The trend served to homogenize the dining experience, leaving us to rely on ketchup and other mechanized products like spam and Lawry’s seasoning salt rather than the natural flavors.**** When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of that stuff. Frozen food and Sweet Baby Ray’s contributed roughly 30% of my total nutrient load. I craved this American experience, heavy on sugars and salt, masking the originality of what’s underneath.

Now that I don’t live in the same city as my parents, I feel sad because I could have been eating my mom’s food the whole time. American dining has followed a similar trend, emphasizing regions and cultures over blanket statements. Similarly, much of my cooking now embraces the lessons I’ve learned from my mother and grandmother, informed primarily by my heritage. My stance on ketchup mirrors my stance on culture: we cannot and should not move away from it. It’s the stuff of memories, and for the most part, it’s all we have.

This post was inspired by Steve Albini’s totally awesome food blog. I hope to be a professional jerk like him someday.

*=I love Sriracha, but it makes me a much worse cook overall. My roommate pointed this out to me over dinner, and now I’m extremely paranoid about my own cooking abilities.
**=My mother and my grandmother are the two most amazing cooks I know, and this is in no way an indictment of any culinary missteps (they don’t make them). It just took me a long time to start thinking about food the way that they did. Nowadays, I consult them on pretty much everything I cook.
***=Unfortunately for everybody, the Smithsonian’s
America Eats exhibit has closed, including the replica of Julia Child’s kitchen. I don’t have sources for this paragraph, but trust me, the information was in this exhibit.
****=I have read that this American diet lead to a country-wide distaste for bold beers, giving rise to the cheaper, more malevalent macrobrew culture that we know today.

Hate footnotes as much as we hate ketchup? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or send an email to mwbeercollective@gmail.com for content with more brevity.

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Suds: April 18

Always love to see New Glarus’ beer getting props from beer geeks. Crack open a bottle of their Cherry Stout and take a look at this episode of Brewing TV before diving into Suds.

Wild Cask at Barley John’s in Minnesota.

Fulton Beer dinner at the Bulldog NE next Tuesday.

– Not in the Midwest, but still a really neat discovery.

– Love to see more women getting into beer.

– Speaking of women that are into beer. Check out this write up on the Goose Island Fulton Wood Series “En Pessant” release from The Girl and Her Beer.

– Point is expanding and hitting the Nude Beach again.

Peoria Jaycees International Beer Festival should prove to be a great success.

– Been a while since we hit an Ohio event, but Parkville Microfest is right around the corner. Get your tickets before they run out.

Suds! It does the body good. So do our other features. Check them our beer reviews, essays and editorials for additional pleasure.

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Suds: April 6

Opening day. The words carry with them the history of America’s pastime and the promise of a new chapter to come. They awaken the spirits of baseball legends like Ruth and Cobb, Williams and Wagner and Aaron and Mantle and call today’s players to achieve the unthinkable. There is the beauty of a no-hitter, the power of a home-run, the speed of a stolen base, the acrobatics of an amazing play in the field and the strategy of a skipper leading his team to the World Series. It’s worthy of the fanfare and of the name, America’s Favorite Pastime.

Check out this clip from Ken Burn’s Baseball  if you need more convincing and have yourself a Bell’s Oberon because summer is finally here.

Fitger’s Brewpub in Duluth has a great line up of beers on tap.

– Lift Bridge celebrates their bottles being back in stores with a tasting at Thomas Liquors in St. Paul tonight.

Sorry Minhas, better just stick to Mountain Crest.

Brewery Vivant to distribute in Chicago.

James Bond will be drinking beer in the next movie. And people are actually upset.

Target Field is adding local beers to their list this baseball season.

– Looking for somewhere fun to have your next pint? Check out Firkin in Libertyville, IL.

– Or if you’re in Michigan, check out the Hopcat!

– Not to be confused with Hopleaf in Chicago.

– If you’re in Wisconsin, you have to check out the Malt House. You can read what’s it’s all about here.

Who is your favorite baseball player of all-time? Tweet @MidwestBeer or post on our Facebook.

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Brew for Thought: Finch’s Cut Throat

It amazes me the distance we have to travel to find what’s always been right under our noses. The Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte once said, “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” I left the Midwest last August, a cloying feeling that I still don’t fully understand. What I do know is that my beer tastes haven’t really changed. I buy beers from New York and Vermont, sometimes even Virginia, but when I want to make a statement with beer, I always get something from the Midwest.


Finch’s started up when I was still living in Wisconsin. I moved back to Chicago for a bit only to find that all the local liquor stores weren’t stocking it. Combine that with how overwhelming the Chicago beer scene can feel, and I just never really got around to trying Finch’s. At $9.50 a four pack here in DC, I made a huge mistake. I bought it for a taste of home, and already went back for more.

Finch’s talks up the beer as refreshing, but it really brings another dimension to the thought. Winter ends quicker here in DC. Snow doesn’t have to melt and the humidity from last summer lingers. I don’t need to be refreshed as much as I need a reminder that there are seasons. Like Chicago, Cut Throat exhibits every season in each beer. The strong, malty backbones reminds you of winter and spring, the crisp finish beckons the fall, the barely traceable orange smiles for the summertime with the sessionable nature. Refreshing is one way to put it, but it’s more than that. This is a damn good beer made to be consumed with damn good company. The cans just make it more portable.

Best enjoyed: When you’re in the mood for reflecting. Or camping.

Best paired with: Seriously, pizza. Lots and lots of pizza.

Find it: Sweet Home Chicago. And for whatever reason, Washington, DC.

Homesick Midwesterner? Tell us about it. Twitter (@midwestbeer), Facebook or send an email to mwbeercollective@gmail.com.

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Irish Suds: March 16

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us and that means one thing–thousands of innocent beers are going to be subjected to the inhumanity of green dye. If only our Constitution protected our sudsy friends from cruel and unusual punishment, we could save the pints from the annual coloring. Show your support for beer by hoisting a nice, dark Irish stout of your choice. Or better yet, ask for a Finnegans Irish Amber and do some good in the world!

And if you feel the need to dye anything green, let it be the Chicago River.

– Duluth’s newest alehouse, Tycoons, continues their Grand Opening celebrations with Communist Daughter playing tonight!

– St. Paul’s Flat Earth Brewing celebrates their 5th Anniversary with Two Fingers Double IPA.

– Barley John’s Brewpub celebrates 12 years of craft beer with their Anniversary Menu.

– Great news from Wisconsin, the Home-Brew Bill passes!

– Looking for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Wisconsin?

Chitown On Tap has a list of great events for Chicagoans this weekend.

– Weekend events for all our friends in the UP and the LP of the MI.

Indianapolis is ready for the Irish too.

What is your drink of choice on St. Patrick’s Day? Tweet @MidwestBeer or leave a comment below!

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Suds: August 5

Ah yes, Lollapalooza weekend. The unwashed masses will descend on Grant Park looking for the ultimate good time for only $215! What a steal! In all seriousness, I once paid the $215. It seems steep looking at the current lineup (Coldplay?), but at the time it made sense.

I have a confession to make: I have been obsessed with Radiohead since Kid A. Before Kid A actually, but that record cemented my obsession. An Onion article once wrote, satirically of course, that Radiohead’s music evokes the feeling of an abandoned playground in winter. The truth is, in many ways, it does. Radiohead specialize in wringing out feeling from the electronic, texturizing the unknown and expanding our idea of  pop sensibility.  For me, spending $215 on a ticket to Lollapalooza was worth it just to be a part of that.

If you squint, you can see me near the front left. Thom and I made eye contact with his not-lazy eye.

For a Radiohead themed suds, I can only think of one beer that I really want: Dragon’s Milk Ale from New Holland Brewery. Not quite an abandoned playground in winter, but the flavors will cause chills. Now on to Suds!

Tickets are on sale for the Great Lakes Brew Fest in Racine. Get ’em while they’re hot!

-This post is what brewing is all about. Kudos to our friends at Northern Brewer, they are truly men amongst boys. Also, there will be wet hops for sale this fall from NB.

-Wolverine Brewing beer labels looking sharp.

-Chicago Tribune takes a closer look at a Wisconsin classic.

-Beer Here: Belgian Style Blonde from Central Waters.

-I am not pleased with the use of a cow in this label.

-Finally, step back in time and enjoy a root beer float.

Need more than just Suds? Follow us on Twitter (@midwestbeer), Facebook or send an email to mwbeercollective@gmail.com.

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