Pubcast 394 – Matt Strysik of Knack Brewing – A Craft Beer Oasis in Kankakee

The greater Chicagoland area hosts many of Illinois craft breweries, but there are plenty of downstate options to visit and enjoy. In this episode The Brit, and co-host Ken McMullen of Fox Republic, travel to Kankakee IL to visit  founder and brewer Matt Strysik, who together with his wife Emily, co-own Knack Brewing located alongside the Kankakee River.

Knack (or to give them their full name, Knack Brewing & Fermentations) has been open for nearly a year and a half, and is the only craft brewery in town. The taproom is located in a corner building, and the brewery in a separate building right next door. Matt tells us about has some of the challenges of getting his kegs down to the basement cooler, which can only be described as a ‘crawl-in’ cooler. Like many small breweries, he did much of the work himself in setting up both areas, and has created a unique, welcoming place to drink great, small batch craft beer.

This is a grass roots operation but Matt is producing extremely high quality, and very drinkable beers, tapping in to the tastes of the area clientele, but also testing out the waters with some adjunct variants. Definitely worth a visit downstate!! Cheers!

Beers Sampled:

  • Thrilla, Kolsch, 5.2% ABV
  • Honey Biscuit, Helles, 5.1% ABV
  • Remy, Dark Lager, 5.1% ABV
  • Extra Super, Doppelbock, 7.5% ABV

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Pubcast 393 – Bob Salzman of BBGB Brewery Hopfarm

Bob Salzman has been the Brewmaster at BBGB for around 5 years, and we need to apologize to him upfront! We have no idea why we haven’t been out to taste his brews before, but we’re glad we have now!

BBGB is the brewery arm of an amazing restaurant called Hardware, which from a distance looks like something out of a Mad Max movie, but in reality is an experiment in recycling. Opened in 2007, they describe themselves as a sustainable gastropub and brewery, but it also includes a 1.5 acre hop farm, and the harvest from that provided our first sample brew. The restaurant presents a wonderful place to dine, plus the whiskey collection is vast, but we were there to find out more about the brewery, and of course, Brewmaster Bob.

Joining The Brit is co-host Ken McMullen, who find out about the beers, Bob’s background and his passion for brewing, and how the heck they put their taps into a solid piece of rock that rivals the black obelisk in 2001 A Space Odyssey! Plus we discover that the bricks used for some of the construction of the restaurant came from a crematorium! Pretty scary, but sustainable which is what they are all about, and their full-time master gardener grows most of their salad greens onsite in a hothouse.

Again, we regret not having tried Bob’s brews sooner, and you can believe we’ll be back to try the food, paired up with them!! Cheers!

Beers Sampled:

  • Bradley’s 1041, Vienna Lager, 6.0% ABV
  • Fresh Harvest 2023, Red Harvest IPA, 6.5% ABV
  • Saison Marilyn, Farmhouse Ale Saison, 9.0% ABV

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Pubcast 392 – Brülosophy with Steve Thanos

Home brewing is where the craft beer movement all started. President Jimmy Carter back in 1978 signed HR 1337, lifting some 50 years of prohibition on homebrewing regulations, and thereby creating a thriving amateur brewing environment that developed into the craft beer industry we have today. So many professional brewers have come from a homebrew background, and one of the organizations that has produced many of Chicagoland’s brewers in PALE, Plainfield Ale & Lager Enthusiasts.

One man who has remained in the club, has not become a professional, but who is very much involved in helping homebrewers with their education, is Steve Thanos. Steve is also one of the main contributors to Brülosophy, an organization that takes the art of homebrewing to the next level with their ‘Exbeeriments’ and discussions on brewing methods, just part of their extensive website.

In this episode, co-host Ken McMullen, who was also an originating PALE member, joins The Brit in welcoming Steve down to the Brit and Yankee Pub studio where we talk homebrew, plus we undertake one of Steve’s Exbeeriments! How do we fare? You’ll have to tune in to find out, but whether you are a professional, a homebrewer, or just like craft beer, this episode is a fascinating story of the total experience of tasting craft beer.

We held back and posted this episode AFTER Brülosophy posted the results of this Exbeeriment, at their request, so now you can also head over to their website and check out the full article on the results. Cheers to Steve and all those at Brülosophy!

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Pubcast 391 – Steve Woertendyke of Two Hound Red Brewing

Glen Ellyn IL is home to The Beer Cellar, one of the first craft beer bottle shops in the area, and less than a block away is Glen Ellyn’s intriguingly-named craft brewpub, Two Hound Red. Steve Woertendyke has been the head brewer there for 3 years and has managed to provide a well-balanced variety of brews that will be sure to suit everyone’s palate.

The Brit and Yankee team of The Brit and co-host Ken McMullen, were long overdue for a visit, so we rectified that this week and headed out to sit down and chat with Steve in the soon to be full of barrels, barrel room. We talked a week ahead of their Oktoberfest celebration, so his fest marzen and the companion smoked marzen started off our interview in great style. Steve  and Ken worked together many years ago at the long-defunct Limestone Brewing, so it was nice to get the two old chums together again for some pub chat!

As a full brewpub with an extensive restaurant menu, we feel 2HR is definitely worth a visit so you can judge for yourselves…Cheers!

Beers Sampled:

  • Angel of Lite, American Lager, 4.1% ABV
  • Steel Machete, Mexican Lager, 5.5% ABV
  • Oktoberfest, Marzen-style, 5.0% ABV
  • Smokektoberfest, Smoked Marzen-style, 6.0% ABV
  • Pale Horse, IPA, 6.4% ABV
  • Boathouse, IPA, 6.0% ABV

Play our audio podcasts using your favorite smartphone podcast app or our player above. We have a direct link to Apple Podcasts and Spotify below…and lots of other links on the sidebar! Plus you can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking this link.

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