Brewpub Shootout 2009

Brewpub Shootout 2009
This past Saturday, Lisa and I attended the Chicago Beer Society’s 11th Annual Chicagoland Brewpub and Microbrewery Shootout. As always, it was a blast.
(Here’s a link to a previous blog posting about the Shootout, and here’s a link to our coverage of the event for the Cheap Date Show in 2007.)
There were 12 breweries/restaurants represented this year, which made the playing field a little more manageable for the attendees. As in previous years, the event was held at the Irish American Heritage Center on the North Side, and was well-attended as usual.
Of all the food and drink events we attend during the year, this is our favorite: the participants all bring their A-game, and the attendees are friendly and courteous (let’s face it, why should they be any other way? :-).
The logistics of the event are simple: when you arrive, you’re given a glass which you use throughout the day (this year’s looked like a wine glass, as shown above) and a guide to the brewpubs and their offerings of the day. Then you enter a large meeting hall where the brewpubs have tables set up around the perimeter of the room, and there are several large tables in the center where you set up your “home base.” We sat at a table with a bunch of people we didn’t know, but we became fast friends with two of the guys sitting right next to us, Kevin and Mike.
One of the neat things about this event is how you can be on your way back from one brewpub’s table and you’ll see someone go by with something that looks really good. There’s a lot of motioning-with-full-mouths-towards-other-restaurants’-tables with your fellow attendees.
Brewpub Shootout 2009
After a couple hours of sampling, it’s time for the crowd to enter their ballots. Votes are cast for Best Beer, Best Food, and Best Food/Beer Pairing. And here are this year’s winners:
Best Beer: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery North & South (Orland Park and Lombard). The beer was their E-Ville Imperial Porter. They also served as bonus beers their Eradicator Doppelbock (North), Blitzen Belgian Trippel, & Abominator Double IPA (South).
Best Food: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery North & South (Orland Park and Lombard). The food was a seared, barley-encrusted baby lamb chop and porter marinated sea scallop served atop mashed sweet potatoes with cilantro-lime pesto and chipotle mango sauce, topped with crispy onion slivers and fried carrot strings.
Best Food/Beer Pairing: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery East & West (Chicago and Warrenville). The food was seared Kobe beef medallions with andouille potatoes, spinach, balsamic-chipotle glaze, tomato emulsion, and crispy carrots. The matching beer was the CBS Düsseldorf Alt.
As for our choices, I matched the crowd for the Pairing. Lisa’s favorite pairing was from the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Bolingbrook, who had Ahi tuna marinated in Sriracha, soy sauce, and toasted black and white sesame seeds, served on a fried wonton topped with namasu. They served a WinterBock with this dish.
My favorite beer was a last-minute recommendation from our pal Chris (who introduced us to the Society and is our Beer Yoda)– the Sarge-Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial chocolate espresso stout from Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewing. Chris reminded us that he’s not a chocolate-person, but he really liked this. Imagine a Starbucks mocha with a kick– that’s the Sarge. This was one of their bonus beers; Flossmoor’s food was their Killer Chocolate Silk Tart and it was paired with their Killer Kapowski Baltic Porter, a very nice experience that won them Second Place for the Pairing contest.
Lisa’s favorite beer was the Behemoth Barleywine from Three Floyds Brewpub and Brewing Company. She said it was sweet and rich, and a little bit creamy. I thought it would make a good spring or summer beer. Floyds’ pairing was with a bouillabaisse with grilled octopus and pork belly. There were a lot of “pork belly” jokes going around the room as the afternoon progressed.
My favorite food was the Bol Le Hautes Terres stew from America’s Brewing at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora. This was a “combination of smoked stag, meats, and fowl from the generations of hunters found in the Scottish Highlands Blackwatch Brigade” according to the menu. It was very good, and was paired with their Peat Smoked Scotch Ale, which I wasn’t too crazy about. Our tablemate Mike really liked the ale.
Lisa’s food choice was lamb chop and scallop from Rock Bottom North & South.
Also worth mentioning are the Chicken and Dill soup from Blue Cat Brew Pub in Rock Island (pickles in the soup– and it works!), the braised goat barbacoa with baconed great northern beans with braised winter greens from Goose Island in Chicago, and the one table I visited more than any other, the chocolate and bacon bark from Lunar Brewing in Villa Park, which was paired with their Power Outage Porter. Excellent stuff.
A complete listing and recap of the event will appear shortly on the Society’s web site, so be sure to check there.
Since this has become such a popular event year over year, the Society has begun to restrict attendance to members only. If you like beer, food, and beer and food, it’s worth the membership just to be able to attend this event.
We’ll definitely be back next year!