Midwest US to UK beer arbitrage
June 27, 2014 4:08 PM   Subscribe

My wife wants to bring an American craft beer to a former colleague who is primarily a real ale drinker in the UK. He is pretty game to try anything (and is more of a hophead than I am) and we would like to get him something he can't get there and that is a bit different (so no American Belgians for instance) but also worth the hassle. What should we get? We are in Chicago and probably have to get it from Binnys.
posted by srboisvert to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Goose Island is a popular local brewery.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2014

I have no idea if he still works there or still has long hair (call first), but if he does he will give you great answers. Go to the Binny's near North and Clybourn and ask for Adam. Adam has long hair (but is not the guy who looks like Jesus). I don't drink and know exactly zero about beer, but I have gone to him with a few times with extremely vague but also specific "this person likes x y and z but I want to get something new that perhaps has a little more a or b" requests, and every single time he's selected something interesting that the other person has loved.

I hope he's still working there. Adam is a fucking treasure for things like this.
posted by phunniemee at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is excellent. It's a barrel-aged and awesome.

You could also try to get Zombie Dust, but it can be hard to find. Our local Binny's told us that they get one shipment a week, and that they don't even bother putting it out on the shelf because it sells out so fast just from people who are waiting for it. Zombie Dust is hoppy, but also really well balanced.

Alternatively, whatever the latest release by Half Acre is could be a good choice too. Revolution is also worth a look. Good luck!
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:50 PM on June 27, 2014

Bourbon County Stout is 1) NOT AT ALL HOPPY 2) Not currently available for purchase for love or money. Seriously. I drop huge sums and waste hours finding the BCS every year and I won't drink anything with even a hint of hop.

I assume you're looking for factory-sealed? Otherwise, Dryhop is in the hood and does growlers of everything they brew. It's all too hoppy for me, so it might work for your purposes, if a growler will work. Otherwise, so far, phunniemee has the most sensible response in this thread (though random Binny's guys at the Castle have done well for me and the narrow range of beers I'll drink).
posted by crush-onastick at 5:21 PM on June 27, 2014

I seriously doubt he's drinking any Belgian beer styles other than a dubbel or triple.

So I suggest a Saison or a Grisette.

I suggest Tank 7 from Boulevard Brewery. Internet says Binny's has it.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:25 PM on June 27, 2014

I love most things "Goose Island", but NOT their IPA - it's rather disappointing. Doing a quick search for IPA on the Binny's website reveals lots of great options. As a certified Hop Head, I can personally recommend:

Victory Dirtwolf Double IPA (one of my favs)
Victory Hop Devil
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Founders All Day IPA
Lagunitas IPA
Two Brothers Side Kick

All these great beers are on page 1 of 37 in the search result. i could probably spend all night going through the rest of the list, but any of these would awesome choices. Could you buy one of each and take a sampler 6 pack with you?
posted by walleeguy at 5:43 PM on June 27, 2014

Founders All Day IPA is my favorite of that style right now. Lagunitas IPA is a nice standard too. You could also do one of the other 3 Floyds beers other than Zombie Dust, like Gumballhead. And yes the Binny's beer person should have plenty of recommendations.
posted by evisceratordeath at 5:47 PM on June 27, 2014

Lagunitas makes fine beers. A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' is a very nice beer. If you can get it, A Little Sumpin' Wild is astonishing - but's it's seasonal and you won't see it until August.
posted by plinth at 5:47 PM on June 27, 2014

This is a perfect place to recommend most things by three Floyd's in particular alpha king. Its Chicagolabd made delicious and hippy. But seconding asking the guys at bimnys theyre really quite helpful.
posted by Carillon at 5:49 PM on June 27, 2014

Half-Acre brews in Chicago and has only local distribution I believe. I like Half-Acre's Daisy Cutter (an IPA) , which probably means it's not that hoppy. I'm also a fan of their Over Ale (a brown ale), which I've found a hard time finding good brown ale's.

Three Floyd's brews in Munster (NW Indiana near Chicago) and doesn't distribute far either. Three Floyd's Robert the Bruce (a scotch /scottish ale) is one of my local favorites.
posted by garlic at 7:22 PM on June 27, 2014

So I'm not from Chicago but I do know my IPAs as I live in Portland. I checked out Binny's beer list (and I got to say I'm impressed) and saw they have Unibroue beer, which while not hoppy in character are unlike almost any other beer. Le Fin du Monde is awesome, although the Maudite and Trois Pistoles are good runner ups. It's not local to anywhere I the US - they're Canadian.

Of all hopped beers I prefer fresh hopped, and it looks like they carry the New Belgium fresh hopped. It's different than an IPA and easier to drink.

To get the most hoppy of beers, go for an Imperial IPA. I gotta support my local brewer and say get the Rogue or Pyramid but really they'll all taste like hell.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:18 PM on June 27, 2014

Best answer: Half Acre will have small-batch specialty brews in 22 oz. bombers available from their storefront. You might be able to taste some samples there, or next door at their tap room.

2nding a bourbon-barrel-aged beer--bourbon being distinctly American, of course. You might find someone selling a Bourbon County Stout if you look hard enough. (I've got a bottle on reserve, but I'm saving it for some friends.) But there are others; Dragon's Milk is delicious and easy to find.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:19 PM on June 27, 2014

Best answer: I'd also recommend Lagunitas - readily available here, but I've never seen it over there. The US beers I saw regularly in Europe tended to be Anchor and Flying Dog (and gnat's piss, which we shan't sully this conversaion with), so if he's the sort of person who will shop around, try to avoid those.

American IPAs are certainly a distinctive and local invention. You might want to try for a decent American porter or oatmeal stout, too. Both styles are notably different from British beers (not a surprise when you consider they're brewed to be drunk at completely different temperatures).
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 11:32 PM on June 27, 2014

Don't get him an American-style IPA; he'll take one sip, murmur “You're doing it wrong”, and order a real balanced, perhaps cask-aged, British IPA for you. American IPAs are only drunk for a dare. Coals to Newcastle, after all …

You can get Lagunitas in the UK, if rather spottily. If you're looking for something really outstanding from North America, my recommendation would be one of the Unibroue concoctions from Quebec, like Maudite or Fin du Monde.
posted by scruss at 7:45 AM on June 28, 2014

Goose Island is very available in the UK - suggest something obsure.
posted by laukf at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2014

Surly Furious is available now in Chicago. It is hoppy, it has a Euro cult following. It might just be the ticket.
posted by mygoditsbob at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2014

I'd stick with things made in the Midwest - the region has quite a beer culture, and one that is is distinct from the coasts. Among the common local beers, A good sampler is Gumball Head, Edmund Fitzgerald porter, and bells Two Hearted. I'd pass on the other Three Floyd's brews - they're excellent on tap, but my experience is that they loose a lot in the transition to the bottle.
posted by wotsac at 7:37 PM on June 28, 2014

I'd steer away from stouts and porters personally. Sure, US IPAs are very different to British IPAs, but he'll be looking for something different and interesting rather than a UK imitation ale.

Right now my favourite IPA is this new Go To IPA from Stone -- the only non Colorado beer I drink here in CO. Stone's beer finder shows it to be available in Chicago.

New Belgium's Ranger IPA is great too, but what I love about Go To is that it's only 4.5% but somehow so hopped up it's like biting into a bunch of alpine flowers. I've taken Dale's Pale Ale back to the UK for people on occasion too.

(FWIW, I live in the US but am British and a real ale lover.)
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:47 PM on June 28, 2014

Bell's is widely available in Chicago, and I love their Oberon Ale. The Two Hearted IPA is supposed to be excellent. Also, you get to have the fun of explaining that the beer came from a place called Kalamazoo, which is actually a place that exists.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:51 PM on June 29, 2014

Response by poster: We ended up going with a bottle of Dragon's Milk because I like it and know it is good and it was available. I looked for an atwater vanilla java porter (my current favourite) but they were out of stock.

I chickened out the hoppy stuff because I just can't judge it because I just don't like it.

Crush - there are a two beers on Dryhop's current menu that are lower hop and good - Vampire for your love and The angry samoan. The rest were too hoppy for me as well. However, post chef change their poutine quality has dropped off entirely.

scruss - Unibroue is good (and btw they do the TJ's belgians if you didn't know) but it is frequently available in good UK off-licenses.
posted by srboisvert at 9:21 PM on July 1, 2014

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