Take it Slow After the Big Bangin’ Holiday with these Chicago Sessions

by Kevin Sterne


If you we’re anything like me this past holiday, you ate for America, drank for America and possibly barfed in the name of ‘merica. I feasted my through beans, greens, hogs, dogs, chickens and turkeys slathered with sauce. I imbibed sheer gallons of frothy IPAs, double IPAs, lagers and pilsners. All the while cursing the name of the Donald.

I woke up for work the next day in a sticky, sweaty t-shirt…swathed in a blanket of empty beer cans, needing about three more recovery days. And perhaps even a lifestyle change—nothing too drastic though. Because I have a New Year’s resolution to uphold.

Maybe just turning back the dial on the ABVs. This means shagging the malty, ultra bready double IPAs in lieu of bright, effervescent hopdom. Thankfully, Chicago has plenty of crushable session beers to get me through this week and the looming dog days of summer.

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Daytime IPA by Lagunitas

Unbuckle your slacks, hop on the diving board and jack-knife into this juicy, tropical thirst-pool. It’s a downright chuggable juicy blend made for hop lovers. Chug away, just don’t try shot-gunning these stubby bottles. DO stay hydrated with this crisp, refreshing nectar, just be sure to wait 20 minutes before jumping back in the water.

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Flywheel by Metropolitan Brewing

A Chicago-style pilsner from a brewery bucking the IPA trends—Metro Brewing, like Hopewell Brewing Co, focuses mainly on lagers. But this isn’t your dad’s beer by any means. Flywheel packs spicy hops that are evident in the nose and the taste. Pair this one with some backyard grilling or summer pizza.

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Lil Citra by Pipeworks Brewing

An enormously juicy session that somehow keeps the ABV below 5%. True brewing prowess by the masters at Pdubs. With hordes of citrus flavor, including mango and guava, this is a beer that demands a companion. A Chicago-style hotdog makes a great pair. Hold the ketchup.

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Troublesome by Off Color Brewing

Crisp, tart and refreshing, this beer gives no trouble going down the gullet. So why is it troublesome? Well, it uses Lactobacillus, which I had to look up too. If you’re not clicking on that hyper-informative hyperlink, then you’re missing out on the bacterial properties that lend to the sour flavor of this here Off Color wheat brew. I guess they call it a Gose.

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Mango Guppy by Pipeworks Brewing

Does anyone do scintillatingly citrus beers in Chicago better than Pipeworks? Anyone? Bueller? How about session IPAs brewed with mango puree and honey? Mango Guppy is like your cool step aunt’s fruit salad. You know, the one without the shitty honeydew.



Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.

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Twitter: @kevinsterne
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Chicago’s own Pipeworks Brewing Company and Dark Matter Coffee have a threesome with 18th Street Brewery.

Review by: Kevin Sterne


Pipeworks Brewing Company and Dark Matter Coffee are two institutions of experimentation in Chicago, consistently twisting tongues and bending palates with S’mores and Chile flavored lagers and hop-infused roasters, respectfully. The two cross pollinate the other’s nectar on many occasions; DM releases beans aged in Pipeworks barrels during holidays. In turn Pipeworks has brewed several coffee-forward beers: Dark Matter Machine Coffee Cream Ale and Grand Guignol: Act Two Oatmeal Stout.

For their latest sexual intermingling, they invited a third party, 18th Street Brewery. The child of this threesome—Attack of the Devil’s Lettuce, whose name and artwork alone raise expectations as high as a Wicker Park hipster’s brow. ADL is ultra-dank, coffee-infused imperial IPA that leaves the tongue pulsating from so much flavor arousal.

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My tongue felt how my brain does when heavily caffeinated. I was wired to everything. And with so much going on in this beer, the stimulation can be a bit overwhelming. But I’ll break it down in simple terms:

• Look: No filtering leaves this golden child hazy and deep amber.
• Smell: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Some hops, a bit of malt. But mostly Coffee, Coffee, Coffee.
• Taste: A tome of flavor. Coffee in the front accented by tones of peppercorn, lemon, orange peel. The Sorachi Ace hops lend intense Earthy flavors, giving the swallow a pucker of vegetables plucked from the soil—maybe lettuce? This makes for a flavor clash that’s difficult to reconcile.
• Feel: Big and bulbous, with noticeable alcohol.
• Overall: The bomber size demands two mouths. Full disclosure: I didn’t finish the whole thing, there too many flavors fighting for attention, making the drink experience more taste chore than drinkation.

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While this three-pronged sexual conquest may have resulted in some tainted birth flued, this is by no means a bad brew. There’s a lot for the tongue to touch, and if you can get your slimy paws on it, pick up the Brain Tentacles and Wild Jesus & The Devil’s Lettuce record to stimulate your audio nodes in conjunction. A droning chamber of bass, sax and metal darkness pulled from the murky pools of Lou Reed’s long ago Berlin. Stir the brew and the tunes in a cauldron and puff on your devil’s lettuce. Now THAT is a sensory orgasm.



Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.

kevinsterne.com
Twitter: @kevinsterne
Instagram: Kevinsterne
Instagram: LeFawnZine