Week 31 of 52
(we are going to get caught up this week. sorry for the delay)
837 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
Type of Establishment: Gastropub, Pork orgy
Visit: To say “I have been meaning to visit The Publican” is a vast understatement. I feel deeply ashamed that it took me two months of Chicago residency to make it over there. Fate would have it that the must-attend art openings last evening were a mere 3 blocks away from this holy grail of Chicago beerdom. As everyone knows, you can’t go to those things sober. The time was right.
Beers on Tap:
Green Flash West Coast I.P.A., Green Flash Brewing Co.
Moloko Milk Stout, Three Floyds Brewing Co.
Founders Dirty Bastard, Founders Brewing Company
The Czar, Avery Brewing Company
New Holland Black Tulip Trippel Ale, New Holland Brewing Company
Long Thai Rainbow Rye, Half Acre Beer Company
Weihenstephaner Original, Brauerei Weihenstephan
Minx, Goose Island (this beer is mindblowing and well worth the $10+ dollars you will have to shell out for it. Find and imbibe at all costs)
Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Red Ale, Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Bluebird Bitter, Coniston Brewing Co, Ltd.
De Ranke XX Bitter, Brouwerij De Ranke
Ayinger Bräu Weisse, Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG
Bottles: Way too many to list. Full selection here, highlights include Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Victory Wild Devil, Dogfishhead Bitches Brew, Autumn Maple and 2 Turtle Doves from The Bruery, and all of the Goose Island, Jolly Pumpkin, New Holland and Two Brothers offerings.
Food Options: “Pork based” – need I say more? Having only partaken in their “afternoon snack” menu, I will limit my commentary to that, but I visually devoured their dinner menu as well as the drool-worthy plates parading by me.
Verdict: Sans the surly hosts, Publican gets a perfect score from For Whom The Beer Toales!
Right off the bat: terrible impression by the host and hostess. They were visibly irritated by our party of six (for which there was more than ample room in the bar area) and rude to everyone in line, going so far as to snap at someone for taking a menu to look at! I expected a little more from a place with such a far-reaching reputation, especially at 5:30 on a Thursday.
Luckily our server Christine, who was as knowledgeable about the menu (food and beverage alike) as she was friendly and patient (my party had about a zillion questions, she showed no sign of annoyance or condescension), turned our frowns upside down.
The interior of the restaurant is beautifully executed. The main dining room is lined with stall-like tables (you are literally closed into them) that provide cozy privacy. There are more family-style dining tables with high backed chairs that provide large party seating throughout the rest of the room.
What really tickled me was the adorable “standing bar” area where we ended up. There is a small cluster of two-tiered round tables at bar height that are perfect for a post-work drink and some shared plates with friends. I really have a soft spot for the standing bar, so many places in Chicago will shuttle you into a formal dining setting (sit down table) and roll their eyes at you when you only want a beer and some fries.
In addition, The Publican has a wondrous assortment of purse hooks and shelves (built into the chair!) for all you heavy traveling lady drinkers to store your baggage. All this combined with an open kitchen and a deli-style meat slicer installed right at the end of the bar provide a great ambiance for enjoying The Publican’s knockout beer list and, in the words of Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston, “pristine product, simply prepared.”
I had a very hard time selecting which beers to order. My companion and I decided to share the New Holland Black Tulip Trippel Ale and Half Acre’s Long Thai Rainbow Rye (very reasonably priced at $5 each). The Black Tulip was smooth and sweet in all the right places, it coated my tongue with honey happiness. The Rainbow Rye was one of the best I have had of that style, and I have to hand it to Half Acre Beer Company. A bartender at Hopleaf tipped me off to this relatively new Chicago brewery. I’ve not had a bad beer from them yet, and their Daisy Cutter Pale Ale might be my #1 beer of Summer 2010.
We also split the frites with fried eggs – do not sleep on this, people!! Frites are perfectly prepared, required no seasonings OR KETCHUP (and I love me a ketchup). The combination sounds weird but tastes so, so right.
My brief encounter left me wanting more. I went back today for a few more rounds and some beer banter with the lovely bartendress. Please excuse typos as I indulged in a Bluebird Bitter (perfect pairing for the Hannahs’s Bretzel with Bavarian mustard) and The Czar (coming in at an impressive 11.5%). Get there early or make a reservation because this place gets busy, and don’t forget to visit the bathroom (just trust me on that one).
Here, in the third installment of the collaborative brewing article, we present a bit of a list of some of the most notable collaboration projects of the past, present and future.
This write up would be remiss to not mention the prolific Danish brewer with no brewery, Mikkel Borg Bjergso of Mikkeller. If brewing beer at someone else’s brewery were criteria enough to evoke the collaboration moniker, every Mikkeller beer to hit the shelves would be just that. Even still, Mikkel has, over the years, joined forces with Stone, Brew Dog, Three Floyds, Struise, Alesmith, Nogne O, and others to make some really exciting beers.
A collaboration that us Seattleites are very familiar with is that of Elysian Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. The ‘Trip’ series allows Elysian to brew with more volume on the New Belgium system and New Belgium to brew more experimental, small batches on the Elysian system. Lucky for us, these beers are only available on draft in the Northwest.
The first brew was Trippel (not triple) IPA, a Belgian-inspired Indian Pale Ale. Trip II was a unique hoppy Belgian Golden Ale spiced with lemongrass and grains of paradise. Trip III was a sour brown ale and Trip IV, a Finnish style sahti brewed with juniper. Beer Blotter will be on the edge of their seats in anticipation of each subsequent release.
The darlings of the Florida scene, Cigar City Brewing, just may be sending a bit of their art in Seattle’s direction when they collaborate with The Bruery in what will be the most anticipated collaboration release for yours truly. Keep your eyes peeled in July or August of this year.
Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, GA and Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, CO have actually decided to make a somewhat regular go at collaborating together with the ‘Midnight Project’ series. Brew One in 2008 produced Terra-Rye’zd, a black rye lager. Last year’s Brew Two saw Depth Charge, an espresso milk stout. Sadly, WA is not amongst the 6 states that receive these beers, but if you are in TN, NC, SC, GA, FL or CO, we will gladly offer you our address and some packaging materials.
Quite possibly the biggest (in terms of brewery size) collaboration yet sees Boston Beer Co. and Weihenstephan join forces. The largest American craft brewery and the oldest brewery in the world, that’s pretty monumental! The uncharacterized style will come at the intersection of brewing innovation and the old German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. According to Realbeer.com, “their yet-to-be-named beer will be released in both the United States and Germany next spring in cork-finished bottles. Effervescent and Champagne-like beer it will weigh in at more than 10 percent alcohol by volume.”
Another fairly sizeable collaborative effort came at the hands of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. These two have been quite active lately, in fact, on the collaborative front. Life and Limb came when Sam Calagione and Ken Grossman, two monumental names in American craft brewing, decided to cook up a beer together after sharing a pint or two at the Craft Brewer’s Conference. Their concoction ended up being a 10% strong ale brewed with maple syrup, fermented with a combination of both breweries house yeast strains and naturally carbonated with birch syrup. Limb and Life was also created in this session, a small beer made from the second runnings of Life and Limb.
Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, MO just recently made its first mark on the collaboration scene with a very unlikely cohort, the Belgian Trappist brewery Orval. Using an old recipe that Orval brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock had, an Imperial Pilsner was made using only one kind of malt, Saaz hops, water, and a lager yeast. Beer Blotter has never wanted to try a pilsner so bad. This beer is available in Seattle so look for it, we will be.
The final collaboration to be discussed in this round will be another America-meets-Belgium pairing that, well…I’m sure you can all imagine just how much that concept gets our blood pumping. Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego County and Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium have teamed up to make Bière De L’Amitié, or “Beer of Friendship”. Beernews.org reports that this 9.5% blonde Belgian strong ale will be released in June of 2010. Rye and wheat malts were used, along with Amarillo hops, St. Feuillien’s yeast strain, “secret” spices, and the whole mess was dry hopped with Amarillo. Sounds stupid good.
Any thoughts on collaborations? Know any good ones we missed? Join the conversation with a comment.