The Bunker: Low ABVs
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Naturally, when one thinks of the holidays, they think of malty and sweet IPAs with a noticeable bitterness on the finish. So we drink an odd newcomer – Goose Island’s Christmas IPA – and this year’s batch of the Xmas IPA standard – Sierra Nevada’s Celebration IPA. Can you guess which one we liked more before even listening to this Low ABV? Probably! We also talk about actual adults who fuck up the work K-cup machine and other appliances; we sort-of review Kirkland-brand five-cheese tortelloni; and we mourn the 90s ska band hype man.
The crew at Maplewood have been letting their little squish-faced dogs get a bit too rotund, and this time, they’re feeding them Salted Caramel Brownies. The flavors are a real pugpile – and we mean that in a good way. We also talk a lot about Family Feud, wonder why Dragon’s Milk can’t figure it out, and tell a few Goose Island media event stories until we’re blacklisted.
No big deal, but Craig’s married now, and he wants to talk about noisy snacks. Well, we do that, as well as drink this wet hop IPA courtesy of friend of the show Matt Milam who just-married Craig had time to see when he was in town and asshole Ryan did not. We get a little nostalgic for board games, talk annoying kids’ toys, and build a ConeTent. Thanks again Matt!
Our second and final Low ABV installment from the floor of GABF 2019 is definitely our most ill-advised one. During the last hour of the Saturday night session, Craig decided we should try and find four medal-winning beers that were still pouring, and that we could only have one per region. This was not easy. But fortunately, we found some pretty great ones: Utah’s Templin Family Brewing and their Rauch Bier (Silver medal – Smoke Beer); California’s Morgan Territory Brewing and their Dark Reckoning (Silver medal – Baltic-style Porter); Ohio’s Fat Head’s Brewery and their Bonehead Red (Gold medal – Imperial Red Ale); and New York’s Gun Hill Brewing and their Void of Light (Bronze medal – Export Stout). We lament missing out on Fresh Draft (or was it First Craft?), Craig sniffs the microphone, and Ryan is stalked by the Ultimate Warrior.
Recorded as an experiment in new frontiers for Low ABVs, we took our mic out on the GABF 2019 floor during the shitshow Saturday night session to review some beers that represent some of our favorites of the fest. The only problems with this are that A. like 70% of beers were kicked when we recorded this and B. we are constantly distracted by our surroundings. But we promise this one turned out much better than we were expecting, and we drank the following beers: Elegant Pride by Prison City, Knotty Dog by Big Dog’s Brewing, Lief by Pure Project, and A light threatens meekly by Orpheus Brewing. Just watch where you’re moonwalking.
We just can’t get enough of that lightly sweet malty stuff! We open our 10th Oktoberfest beer in like a month, but this one comes with a twist. The criminally underrated Around the Bend threw in some pasilla chiles and epazote to make this Marzen a tribute to the Day of the Dead as well. We also talk about mystery tamales and magic potions, by total coincidence.
Never has such a good tasting beer on a Low ABV led to such a bad tasting conversation. With that selling point in mind, we drink this Single Hop Pale Ale from the Vermont’s most verbose brewery, Hill Farmstead. We extend the Shaun Hill mythos by creating his Juggalo name and leaking the details on his secret lactose stash. There’s other gross stuff like eating expired candy, jumping into the coolship, drinking body yeast, and worse. Our apologies to Dave Dunbar.
Stone sent us a small box of beer and Ryan bought some Lagunitas on sale because it had interesting hops, in case you were wondering why this exists. We drink Stone’s Tropic of Thunder hoppy lager and Lagunitas’ Fluxed in Paradise IPA featuring Sabro, Cashmere, and Southern Passion hops. We also launch our Spot-a-Pie playlists, find some delicious migraine remedies, measure weed over Ween, and size up the ALTimate Tour. Send me your garlic bread; I’m so serious.
Not new enough for our New Chicagoland Sampler show, but new to us are Urban Renewal and Oswego Brewing Co. We try a hoppy blonde and a New England-style IPA to speculate how they might fit into the 200-something Chicagoland breweries at this point. Craig also talks about torching flies, we have a firesale on Randalls, and Ryan wants to make your lazy river a Fortnite.
Third Space is just alright with me. On this Low, we drink two more stellar Third Space beers from our Milwaukee trip, and we can’t get over how they get that aroma to pop. But we also talk about how to contemporize the church experience, what the actual hell a Scottish-style ale is, and which old Brewers we can remember, which is not a lot.
It’s been four years since we’ve had anything from the definitely-not-a-vacuum-company Bissell Brothers, and so we dial up this hazy little number courtesy of David Leshinski. We also discuss how we are comforted by the presence of Juggalos; Craig invents Magic Eye can art (™™™™™); and we imagine Nunzino’s Hop Naming Ritual. And in a sequel everyone was clamoring for, we try to write the definitive Children’s Guide to Hops A to Z. (Yeah yeah, we forgot Idaho 7, I KNOW.)
This is fast-tracked into the Hall of Fame for Worst Lead-Ins Ever, courtesy of Craig’s beer-addled brain. Then we drink this guava milkshake IPA from Phase Three and WeldWerks, that divides the hosts irreparably. Craig reflects a bit on his Illinois Beer Summer Passport experience, Ryan has a terrible TGIF experience, we await the time for table beers, and we discover a new offensive-sounding non-offensive word.
From our Milwaukee jaunt, we hauled back this Demo Track from Eagle Park: an 11% hazelnut coffee stout. It’s fine, I guess? So rather, we discuss a shocking revelation about Peppa Pig, the power of chocolate water, whether or not we’ve ever talked about Rogue Ales, and how to make a proper eggy salty cake. There’s also a little of Ryan’s review of the Hop Culture Juicy Brews Art Gallery Beer Fest with some highlights and some good ol’ fashioned beer trashin’.
It’s no secret that we are total suckers for the hazies and pastries coming from Colorado’s WeldWerks. So when random cans showed up in Chicago for a brief time, we weren’t going to miss an opportunity to snatch them up. This is a huge stout with coffee and maple syrup, and the waffle cravings are real. This is also a bit of a flashback as Craig attempts to make his Anime Convention plans, and we try to score some Code Ramen. There’s also a lyrics-based game that proves Craig might be a better rapper than Will Smith. Strap yourself in; we’re going to take you on a rap ride!
Despite the labels not evolving much, a lot has changed since we first heard of Batavia’s Energy City, mostly in terms of their beer’s ubiquity on craft bottle shop shelves. We try two newer ones: a double IPA called Hop Surf and a “Batisserie” Neapolitan stout. This episode is largely about farm animals as Ryan tries to write a book, and we buy a monkey farm. There’s also lemony citrus, spelling with Fred Durst, and ska fonts.
Two old men sit down to discuss beers that throw back to a simpler time: a Czech-style pilsner from Tennessee’s Smith & Lentz, and a Ghost Ride Kolsch from Revolution Brewing. We talk for awhile about conversations we often find ourselves stuck in, all the biscuits, doughballs at the gym, sweat-influenced beer tasting, and a just shamefully bad new brewery idea.
Spiteful has been vehemently against making hazy IPAs (for now) and are canning dark lagers and radlers. Sorry, but that’s gotta be the most punk shit in Chicago beer right now. To salute their sneering defiance, we drink this tangerine soda-enhanced lager that sits at a breezy 2.7% ABV. We talk about extremely on-brand brewery branding, the connection between Sugar Ray and shandy, and just a ton of weird TV-based fears. We also play a game based on the music video for Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” theme. I ain’t afraid of no A-Current-Affair-show-opening-sound! (No, I am, deeply.) Share your weird fears with us!
Put on your oven mitts for this hot take: Half Acre is pretty good at making hoppy beers. Split the Night is a Double IPA with – gasp – no hot-side hops. Craig admits he’s really into grass edging, we have a little KiefTalk, and Ryan indulges himself in a trivia game about the greatest NBA highlight VHS tape of all time.
For their fifth anniversary, Imperial Oak released five variants of their big stout, Quiet Giant, including this one which is bourbon barrel-aged with coconut and cinnamon. We painfully reconcile that there really was a French baby pop star in the 90’s; we start seriously advancing talks about our next t-shirt design; we play a game about minor league baseball promotions.
Leave it to New Glarus to low-key drop 4-packs of a spontaneously-fermented wild aged in oak for a year and a half that tastes like a citrus tea cocktail. We’re extremely here for it. We also talk about why Hazy IPAs are in their ska phase, what Hobbs and Shaw can do for the iced tea industry, and we play a game about TurboGrafx-16 games. Take it from Keith Courage’s shitty friend: this beer is summer in a glass.
Because we had them, we drink two IPAs meant to invoke the two coasts – with neither brewery actually residing on a coast. From Chicago’s Alarmist we have Boomer, a West Coast-style Double IPA; and from Colorado’s New Image we have East Coast Transplant, a “Vermont-style” Double IPA. We express our disappointment in the Pool Kings, fear the French juice, actually measure crowd noise, and try to keep animal-obsessed brewers away from our otter moat.
The criminally-underrated Lake Effect Brewing teamed up with Indian bistro Mango Pickle to make a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine with chai spices and lactose, and it rules. More importantly, we do a mid-year review of the Words That Can’t Be Used in Beer Reviews for 2019, and we play another round of Chicago Brewery and Brewpub Movie Mashup. It’s a real slow churner.
“For two guys who always kind of half-complain about milkshake IPAs, we drink a lot of f***in’ milkshake IPAs.” I couldn’t have said it better, me. On this one, the milkshake IPA in question is from the flavor extremists at Maplewood, and it’s turn-your-brain-off strawberry goodness. We also discuss Chicago baseball cat names, and the definitive guide to colors as flavors in candy. Now I must go feed my cat, Ron Kittle.
Every year, the brothers Hanson throw a music and beer fest called the Hop Jam to bring together Hanson fans from all over and to remind everyone that yes, they do also brew beer. Thanks to Jim Plachy, we have a can of the collaboration between DESTIHL and Hanson Brothers Beer Co. Pink Moonlight Peach Milkshake IPA. It’s surprising! We get some new DogTales, start a Cicerone for dogs, pair 311 with waffles, and enjoy the Golden Age of Milkshake IPAs. There’s also this ridiculous Hanson trivia that Craig just dominates, oddly.
Getting into the taproom-exclusive, wrapped 16oz. can business, Forbidden Root’s first two batches of their Cultivator series are Sour IPA collaborations: Unrealistic Expectations, a collab with Saint Errant with tangerine, vanilla, cinnamon, and lactose; Sprinkles Required, a collab with Ology featuring hibiscus, Rooibos tea, and lactose. They may not be IPAs but ohhhh doctor, they are something. We discuss a new low in internet discourse, bring some Frusion into our lives, get real style nihilistic, and play a game Ryan painfully calls Chicago Brewery and Brewpub Movie Mashup. There are regrets.