McHenry County in northern Illinois, is home to several great craft breweries, all of which you can check out on the McHenry Co. Craft Beverage Trail. This week we are visiting one of the two located in Woodstock IL, Kishwaukee Brewing who recently won a silver medal for their Bufflehead Brown Ale at the 2023 World Beer Cup.
Kishwaukee Brewing Co., is the pride of founders and owners, Dan and Cara Payson, and we visited with Dan and his head brewer, Mark Gres, to find out a little more about their success. Joining me for this interview was my co-host, Ken McMullen from Fox Republic Brewing, who may have assisted in starting the career of one of Kishwaukee’s future employees…more on that in the interview.
We talk with Dan and Mark about how their brewing careers started, and how they came to join forces at Kishwaukee to produce classic, award-winning beers. Dan’s approach has got them through building the brewery at the start of the pandemic, then opening after the first shutdown, only to be closed a week later with the second one. All that being in the past, they have emerged from those dark days, and are moving into a strong position as a producer of great beers in the Illinois craft beer scene. Their tap room is a wonderful space, as is the outdoor patio, and you won’t be disappointed when you make a visit!
We must offer our apologies to Mark, who apparently had a mic which had ‘technical difficulties’ and caused him to sound like he was at the other end of the brewery. We’ve done our best to improve his sound in post-production, so hopefully it won’t detract too much from the conversation!
Bufflehead Brown Ale, American Brown Ale, 6.8% ABV
Sandhill Lager, India Pale Lager, 5.5% ABV
Tart Peach Saison, Wild Saison, 5.5% ABV
Pollinator, Doppelbock, 7.7% ABV
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Joliet has a long and rich brewing history, but until recently it died away and most of the classic German-style breweries closed. Now, the industry is starting to creep back into the city center with not one, but two locations opening over the last 12 months. Ken McMullen from Hopvine accompanied me as we visited with MyGrain Brewing, located right by the Joliet Amtrak station. Head brewer there is Dan Rosenburg, and we sat down with him to hear about the brewery and sample some of his many offerings on tap.
It’s an impressive building, and a big space, and owners Vince and Greg have filled it with an impressive tap room and restaurant serving a wide range of food offerings. But it is the beer that we focus on and Dan does not disappoint, with up to 18 or 19 options on tap at any one time. We try to sample a range of them from his light and crisp Kolsch, to the signature stout which usually has a couple of variants available for comparison.
We also got a sneak preview of their first anniversary brew, the details of which we can’t reveal here, but suffice it to say it will be amazing, so keep and eye and an ear out for the announcement!
It’s worth the drive down here, and make sure your route takes you down 171 and past the Old Joliet Prison, and then head to the city center and MyGrain. You won’t be disappointed!
From PALE They Came, Collaboration with P.A.L.E. Home Brew club, IPA, 7.2%
FNL Kolsch, Kolsch, 5.7%
Ze Vorld’s Greatest Doppelbock, Doppelbock, 9.2%
City of Stone, Saison, 6.5%
Stateville Stout, Milk Stout, 7.4%
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Metal Monkey Brewing opened their doors on Jan 30, 2016 down in south suburban Romeoville. Nearly one year on, head brewer Dan Camp and the rest of the Monkeys are getting ready to hold their 1-year Anniversary party.
We were here last for a podcast at the opening and since then Dan and crew have settled in and started to produce some really solid brews.
We discuss where they’ve been and where they are going, and hit a couple more topics like Shower Beer and what’s the best container for selling draft beer. Plus we sample some of the Monkey beers we haven’t tasted before and of course pass opinions that are only our simple, personal views.
Beers we sampled:
Burninator Doppelbock, 7.5% ABV, 22 IBU – Batch #100
Glazen Boterham Saison / Farmhouse Ale, 4.2% ABV, 24 IBU
Up And Atom American Brown Ale, 4.8% ABV, 22 IBU
Chocolate War Zone W/ Raspberries American Stout, 6.2% ABV, 60 IBU
Asmodeus Stout – Russian Imperial Stout, 12% ABV, 60 IBU
Play the show from our player below, or from SoundCloud…
As we head into the rush of the holiday season, the pubcast crew decided we should highlight some seasonal ales and winter warmers that we think would be good for experienced and new craft beer drinkers to try. It seems to be the spiced ales that come in for most of the attention, but we are trying to look at a couple of other brews that could be good alternatives to those heavy stouts we looked at last week.
This edition is what we consider our Brit and Yankee Christmas party, and joining Phil and Mark is friend of the pubcast and certified consumer,Tom Ryan, Chuck Fort, assistant brewer at Church Street, and as we are recording live at John’s Tavern in Winfield, publican and owner John Karwoski rounds out our trinity of tasters. It’s a seasonal six-pack and we chose our top 2 at the conclusion on our tasting session.