It was a cold, windy night as my girlfriend and I made the trek across Roosevelt to the South Loop Binny’s. This Binny’s is a little different because it has a tasting room on-site. While the bar is usually stocked with great craft beers, at the Beer Social being hosted this particular evening, they were serving rare and limited releases from 3 Floyds, Bell’s, Dogfish Head, Founders, Half Acre, Revolution, Stone, and Victory.
I really liked the organization and execution of this event. We were required to RSVP ahead of time and pay an admission fee, which kept the crowd to a manageable size. When entering, we had the opportunity to buy tickets for Bell’s Black Note and Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half. Buying a ticket meant I didn’t have to worry that those beers would tap out before I got one. Complimentary bottled water and ice cream were another nice touch.
The event admission included a pint of Founders All Day IPA and a pint glass to take home. Coming in at 4.7% ABV, this sessionable IPA was a wise way to start the evening.
Thankfully, the bar was offering 4 oz tasters of most of the beers, so between the two of us, we were able try a number of beers, including Three Floyds Krunk Monk, Theobroma and Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head, Stone Escondidian Black IPA, Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half, Bell’s Black Note, Victory HopDevil, and Half Acre Cipher. My favorites for the night were Olde School Barleywine, Curmudgeon’s Better Half, and Hop Devil.
Olde School Barleywine is DFH’s take on the barleywine style ale. It’s a strong brew at 15% ABV. Fermented with dates and figs, its distinctive fruity taste sets it apart from other barleywines. It’s one of my favorites but you need to take it easy because of the high alcohol content.
Curmudgeon’s Better Half is the latest in Founders Backstage Series. It’s an old ale (Founders’ Old Curmudegeon) aged in maple syrup-bourbon barrels (The same type of barrels are used to age Founders CBS). The taste was very malty with a maple sweetness typically not found in most bourbon barrel-aged ales. I liked this one so much I ended up getting a second glass.
The Victory HopDevil IPA was poured from a firkin. It was a nicely balanced IPA that I’d never had before, and was a treat to sample from a firkin.
While enjoying a Bell’s Black Note, we recognized the Bell’s rep from last month’s Hopslam firkin tapping, so we struck up a conversation with the reps from both Victory and Bell’s. It was pretty cool to hear them talk about how their breweries prepare their firkins (e.g., whether to use finings, whether to use the firkin for primary or secondary fermentation, etc.). You could tell that these guys love their jobs, and it was very interesting to learn that different breweries produce great beers doing using very different techniques.
We had a fun night at the tasting room, and the folks at Binny’s and the various breweries involved came together to put on a great event. I can’t wait for our next trip back to the South Loop!
(Photos courtesy of Oscar, unless otherwise stated)