Beer me
March 20, 2011 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a great beer my dad can drink! (complicating details inside)

Hi all!
My dad loves great craft beers. The only problem is that some trigger asthma attacks because of the sulfites. I know that he can drink most imported beers, but no cheap American stuff (Coors, Bud light, Miller lite, etc). I'd like to bring a 6 pack of some awesome beer to dinner tonight, but don't want to send my dad to the emergency room. I know he drinks beers like New Belgium's Fat Tire and Bell's Kalamazoo stout, but he would really be into trying something new.
Can anyone recommend some beers to try? I am located in Chicago, if that helps.
posted by frnzks.a to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I bet you can find a New Glarus Spotted Cow in your area.
posted by geekyguy at 8:56 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Brews from either Lakefront or Sprecher in Milwaukee shouldn't be hard to find in Chicago. My personal faves from each are the Lakefront Organic ESB (a particularly good bet to be tolerable for your Dad) and Sprecher Black Bavarian. From experience, Three Floyds (Munster, IN) products are also easy to find in Chicago, and high-quality.
posted by gazole at 8:56 AM on March 20, 2011

Since you're in Chicago, you should go to the Binny's near North and Clybourn (1720 N. Marcey St) and talk to Adam. (Just ask up front.) I've been there a couple of times with people looking for something new, and he really knows what he's talking about. Call first to make sure he'll be working when you go in.
posted by phunniemee at 9:01 AM on March 20, 2011

Thanks for the quick responses!
I'm going to add on another quick question-- is there any way I can tell which beers won't trigger asthma attacks in my pops?
posted by frnzks.a at 9:06 AM on March 20, 2011

Goose Island's Night Stalker is pretty awesome, if you can manage to chase down a bottle.
posted by box at 9:06 AM on March 20, 2011

To your follow-up question:

In the USA, by law, any wine or food containing 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfites must be labeled as containing sulfites. If the product does not contain more than 10 ppm sulfites, it does not have to be labeled as such. - source
posted by carsonb at 9:14 AM on March 20, 2011

Oh, and that warning is added specifically for people like your father who are allergic to sulfites.
posted by carsonb at 9:15 AM on March 20, 2011

I'm particularly fond of Goose Island's Vintage Ales and if we can get them in Cincinnati you should have no problem getting a hold of a bottle or two of them in Chicago. As for the sulfite question, I'm seeing conflicting answers about sulfites, beer and asthma. Some resources say there shouldn't be any or very small amounts and some others are saying that there might not be much sulfites but other chemically similar compounds present. I imagine that the only way of knowing is to find out the exact proportion of problematic compounds that exist in a dad compatible beer vs. an incompatible dad beer.
posted by mmascolino at 9:16 AM on March 20, 2011

I bet you can find a New Glarus Spotted Cow in your area.

Sorry, some quick Googling suggests that New Glarus beers are not available in Chicago. Otherwise, they'd be a good option.
posted by John Cohen at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2011

re: carsonb's point, I sadly have a bottle of Miller Lite in my fridge and it contains no such warning and it says it has no preservatives. So frnzks.a's dad is reacting to sulfites that are less than 10ppm or he is reacting to some other compound.
posted by mmascolino at 10:11 AM on March 20, 2011

Has he ever tried Anchor Steam Beer? The Anchor Brewery creates some really high quality all-malt beers.

As to whether it has sulfite in it, I bet you could write to them and ask them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:25 AM on March 20, 2011

As I understand it, sulfites are used as a preservative, especially with fruit and things which contain fruit.

So (total conjecture ahead), I'm guessing that beers marked 'no preservatives,' and beers that are bottle-conditioned, are less likely to have sulfites. Beers which list all their ingredients, like e.g. Rogue, or beers which are subject to purity laws, like e.g. German beers, are also probably less likely to contain sulfites.
posted by box at 11:42 AM on March 20, 2011

You might want to try German Wheat beers from a taste perspective (hefe weizens). but not sure if they have a high quantity of sulfites. Paulaner or Franzishkaner's are good brands if you want to try them.
posted by theobserver at 12:08 PM on March 20, 2011

My understanding as a homebrewer is that sulfites are not a "standard" ingredient in beer production - the bacteria they are added to combat are far more common in grapes than grain - but it would make sense that many large producers would use them in small amounts to prevent a batch from souring. The easiest guarantee that a beer would *not* contain sulfites would be to select styles which are based around the souring action of bacteria the chemicals are meant to combat: any Belgian framboise or Flemish Sour would be almost guaranteed not to use them, as the styles rely on bacterial action to provide the sourness. As far as locally produced beers in the Midwest, I would recommend that you give a call to the brewery to be absolutely sure. My favorite brews in the area are the previously-recommended Sprecher and Three Floyd's, both of which I have heard are very friendly if you get in touch with them. Two Brothers, made in the northern Chicago suburbs, is also known for good beer and the accessibility of their brewers - they would be more than happy to talk you ear off about their beers.
posted by caminovereda at 12:15 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Call Half Acre Beer Company. They are located in Lincoln Square, and they have AH-MAZE-ING beer. Oh god I love them. Explain what you need and want, and I'm certain they would steer you right. You could probably get a brewery tour, too.

Good luck! Man shouldn't have to live without beer.
posted by bibliogrrl at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2011

I would pick a few breweries that you can get locally (ask at the liquor store for some suggestions), and then email them. I have noticed how many beer people are just Good People, and would probably be happy to answer your question.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:12 AM on March 21, 2011

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