Festibarrel Beer Event at Riverview Tavern - Jan 31st

January 30 2015 - 2:41 AM

Too often beer bloggers rather annoyingly post about these really awesome beers which they just tried that you, the reader, possibly – or even probably – can’t buy.  Some joker will write a piece about something like Bruery’s Chocolate Rain, or even – ahem – Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, extolling the beer’s virtues while you think, “Greeeeaaat.  Thanks, pal.”  Yes, I’m sometimes guilty of this snottiness myself.  But I’ve also, and too often, been on the outside looking in.  To be fair, sometimes when one tries an incredible brew, the world just has to know about it – that world being all 33 of my Twitter followers.  Moreover, broadcasting such a unique experience has virtues ranging far beyond the coolness factor.  It offers curious beer drinkers an idea of what’s possible, of what’s beyond the ordinary.   After all, how long would a beer blog carry your interest if every post was about mundane, everyday beers?  Probably about the length of time needed to finish a pilsner flight.  Well, here’s a chance to actually try some of these crazy-good barrel-aged beers over which the geeks obsess.  It’s the second annual Festibarrel event at Riverview Tavern, occurring on Saturday, January 31, beginning at noon.

Promising to be a terrific event, Festibarrel will feature rotating taps of several dozen barrel-aged stouts, porters, sours, Belgian-styled beers, and others.  Among the notables are several years of Bourbon County Stout, including the 2013 Bourbon County Barleywine, several versions of Revolution’s “Gene” series of barrel-aged porters, plus Founders Backwoods Bastard, Deschutes Black Butte XXV, and a High-West-barreled Lagunitas coffee stout.  I’ll disclose that my first drink ticket is surely dedicated to Begyle’s barrel-aged Imperial Pajamas, which I’m told is an overlooked treat.

Riverview has reinvented itself under new management as a budding craft-brew powerhouse.  Half a decade ago it was a popular trivia spot on Tuesdays, where you might find a Brooklyn IPA or a Sierra Pale as representing the “craft” category. These days Riverview is drilling down into the craft catacombs and pulling out rather hard-to-find gems, even on regular, non-event nights.  Last time I was there I enjoyed a refreshing Dreadnaught, a beer you certainly don’t see every day.

Festibarrel 2015 is a chance for Riverview to truly flex its craft-beer muscles in the city’s top beer bars’ faces.  I’m excited  for the outcome.  More info about the event is linked above.

Join bar manager Peter Faber, and my pal Brian who will be bartending, Saturday for some terrific barrel-aged goodness.  And don’t say that you have nothing to thank me for.  It’s all about the beer.

– M. Sheppard

Riverview Tavern

1959 W. Roscoe

Chicago, IL


Spiced Beet Cocktail

Country of Origin: USA
Main Spirit: tequila

tequila, mezcal, beet, ginger, lime, lemon, brown sugar

Love ’em or hate ’em, beets are a staple of spring farmers markets. And though they don’t appear in cocktails very often, the earthy little buggers actually pair remarkably well with grassy, vegetal tequila.

In this recipe from Market-Fresh-Mixology: Cocktails for Every Season, the two come together with some ginger spice to make a bold, dark stunner of a cocktail. Using a little bit of mezcal as suggested below will provide a complex layer of smoky goodness, but if you don’t have a bottle handy you can round the tequila up to a full 2 ounces.

Read more about market-inspired cocktails here and make sure to check out our chat with this drink’s creator, Bridget Albert.

Spiced Beet Cocktail
Bridget Albert with Mary Barranco, Market-Fresh Mixology: Cocktails for Every Season

  • 2 oz spiced beet juice (see below)
  • 1 1/2 oz silver (blanco) tequila
  • 1/2 oz mezcal
  • 2/3 oz lemon juice
  • 1/3 oz simple syrup
  • 1 beet leaf, garnish

To mixing glass, add silver tequila, mezcal, cooled beet juice, lemon and simple syrup. Add ice to tin. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a beet leaf.

Spiced Beet CocktailSpiced Beet Juice
(makes about 2 ounces)

  • 1 beet (peeled and sliced)
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 barspoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground ginger

To saute pan, add sliced beet, lime juice, sugar and ground ginger. Cover and simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until beets are tender. Stir occasionally. Remove beets. Let liquid cool.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Agate Publishing.


Warding Circle

Country of Origin: USA
Main Spirit: rye whiskey

rye whiskey, amaro, sherry, salt

Mike Ryan’s chocolatey broVo Amaro No. 14 is great for mixing, adding a rich depth and a layer of savory thyme. This Manhattan-ish drink will drive the last of the winter chills away.

For the rye, Ryan suggests using something 90 proof or above “with some backbone” like Wild Turkey 101 or Bulleit and for the sherry, he suggest Lustau. “Garnish,” he says, “with a roaring fire and a blanket and a view of a chilly mountainside.”

Learn more about the broVo Spirits Amaro project here.

broVo Amaro CocktailsWarding Circle
Mike Ryan, Sable, Chicago

1 1/2 oz rye
1/2 oz broVo Amaro No 14
3/4 oz pedro ximenez sherry
1 very small pinch of salt (kosher, not iodized)

Stir all ingredients together with ice and strain over a large chunk of ice, or serve up in a chilled cocktail coupe.


Bitter Giuseppe No. 16

Country of Origin: USA
Main Spirit: Amaro

Amaro, sweet vermouth, lemon, orange bitters

Stephen Cole – one of the forces behind The Barrelhouse Flat and Lone Wolf – originally constructed this curious drink using Cynar, an artichoke-based amaro with rich flavors of chocolate and light citrus. As one of his favorite amari, Cole authored his broVo Amaro No. 16 as an homage to it, but with unique additions such as sandlewood and oris root as well as a spicy peppercorn finish.

Using Amaro No. 16 in place of the Cynar changes the drink a bit, but both liqueurs are built to expand when mixed; those tight complex flavors gain a bit of space to spread out and shine.

Learn more about the broVo Spirits Amaro project here.

broVo Amaro CocktailsBitter Giuseppe No. 16

Adapted from a recipe by Stephen Cole, The Barrelhouse Flat and Lone Wolf, Chicago

-2 oz broVo Amaro No. 16
-1 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
-1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
-6 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
-lemon peel, garnish

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.


The Embittered

Country of Origin: USA
Main Spirit: Irish whiskey

Irish whiskey, lemon, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, wine

Irish whiskey can sometimes be so light and easy-drinking that it gets covered up and lost in a cocktail. But the more robust varieties – like those we recommend as our top picks – can stand-up well when mixed.

This highball from Hubbard Inn in Chicago is a play on the New York Sour, a classic traditionally made with full-bodied Scotch and a float of wine. Here, barman Jason Felsenthal swaps in Jameson Black Barrel for a sweeter, lighter base, but adds a few heavy dashes of Angostura bitters to make things snap.

When mixed, the drink should have a lovely two-tone effect… the dark wine and bitters creeping their tendrils into the lighter cocktail below. Stir to combine. Or not.

The EmbitteredThe Embittered
Jason Felsenthal, Hubbard Inn, Chicago

2 ounces Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Malbec wine
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Combine the whiskey, lemon and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into a highball glass with fresh ice, then dash in the bitters. Carefully pour the wine over the back of a bar spoon held just above the drink so the wine floats on the surface, creating a nice two-tone effect.