Monday, July 29, 2013

When Life Gives You Apples

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. It follows that if life gives you apples — like, your family has presided over an orchard empire since the 1700s — you make cider. It’s a maxim wholly embraced by Henry Chevallier Guild and his older brother, Barry. Lovers of great cider, the brothers saw an opportunity to move beyond their parents’ juice and vinegar business and create some really spectacular ciders — well, cyders if you’re talking about any of the Aspall catalog.

Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, July 30, at 7pm to learn about the core of the Aspall operation and enjoy some of his outstanding cyders. Don’t worry about bringing an apple for the teacher — he’s got plenty.

We’ll be featuring all their hits: Aspall Dry, Aspall Imperial Cyder, Aspall Peronnelle’s Blush, Aspall Cuvee Chevallier.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bottles Up!

Our ever-changing chalkboard is always front-and-center at Bangers & Lace. You can pick a line and find out what Ronnie or Eric thinks you should be drinking at any given moment. So, even though you know we’ve got you covered as far as a phenomenal pour goes, what you may not realize is that we’ve got some deep cuts (in the form of rare bottles).

Here are four rare bottles to get you started, but we encourage you to go digging in the crates on your next visit:

Fantôme Extra Sour Special Original Creation - Brasserie Fantôme

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bon Voyage and Sicheres Reisen, Augie!

You’ll be missing a familiar face at the bar over the next few weeks. Augie (you know, Augie) is leaving town to do some adventuring overseas and he’s bringing his bike. What you may not know about Augie is that he was an instrumental player in organizing last year’s Cycle Messenger World Championships at Soldier Field. This year, he’ll compete in 2013 Championships held in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In case you’re a friendly stalker, here’s his itinerary.

1st -  Germany
Augie’s catching up with friends and drinking some of his favorite beers - German pilsners, wheats and lagers.

2nd - France
They’re leaving Germany to drive into the mountains and catch a leg of the Tour (duh France)

3rd - Paris
Watch the Tour de France famously finish on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and party with a bunch of bike pals in the city of lights. He’ll participate in some alley cat races and check out the Parisian craft beer scene, courtesy of some suggestions from Ria.

4th - Switzerland
Instead of the traditional European train ride, Augie’s doing three day ride to get to Lausanne. It’s about a 300 mile ride thru the Alps. He rides all the time, upwards of 150 miles per week, and he’s biked much of the Northwest (his old stomping grounds), but it’s been a while and Augie says that “part of this will suck” Why? “It’s the Alps.”

He’ll participate in the Cycle Messenger World Championships. Unfortunately, he can’t win this particular race; it’s due to the technicality of a requirement that the winner be an active bike messenger, and not a reflection on his ability.

He might manage a trip to Belgium somewhere in there, then it’s back behind the stick at Bangers & Lace on August 6. Don’t worry - we’ll remind you to stop by and buy the man a much-deserved beer upon his return.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meet Ria!

What’s a cicerone? It’s a certified beer expert, and if you’re reading our blog, then you’re already an informal expert. We’ve got our own official cicerone at Bangers & Lace: Ria Neri has a handle on every beer we pour. Our motto is truly to live every week like it’s craft beer week, so we think Chicago Magazine’s profile on Ria is just as relevant today as it was during CCBW!
What To Drink at Craft Beer Week: Tips From a Certified Expert

To whet your appetite for the 11-day hop deluge that is Chicago Craft Beer Week, we chatted with Ria Neri, the cicerone for Wicker Park restaurant Bangers & Lace. Neri shares her current beer brand obsessions, her thoughts on the craft beer festival explosion, and explains how one becomes a cicerone in the first place.

So how did you break into the cicerone business?About six years ago, I worked for a design company in the hospitality industry. I was looking for a hobby and I enjoyed drinking beer, so I picked up homebrewing. I was reading up on a lot of beers and I heard about the cicerone program. It’s sort of like a sommelier but for beer, so I thought, why not get a certification? You take a written essay test. There are three tiers—a certified beer server, a certified cicerone, and a master of cicerone. I’m a certified cicerone. 
So what do you do at Bangers & Lace?I run the beer program here. I pick out what goes on draft, I do all the buying, and I collaborate with the chef. A few years ago, if you had beer on draft, you never really changed them. We have 32 lines and I change them daily. I'm also in constant communication with the chef. I tell him what the flavors are in this beer, he tastes it and makes a dish that goes with it. 
Why do you think craft beer is so hot right now?The rise of social media. The beer world got smaller. Beer went along with the whole gastronomy thing. Is it overkill?I think it’s starting to get saturated now, but by next year, it’ll start to dwindle. There’ll be a weeding out and the strong beer breweries will remain. You can only have so many IPAs. Also, you’ve got understand that some of these breweries, like Three Floyds, have been around for 15 years. They only really started getting popular 3 or 4 years ago. 
What Banger & Lace craft beer week event are you most excited about?On Monday [May 20], we’re doing a beer dinner with Perennial Artisan Ale, from St. Louis. It’s a sensory experience. [Pairings include Hommel Bier with kimichi sausage and house-made sriracha]. 
What beers and breweries are you really into right now?I like Saison beers, they’re very dry, refreshing and earthy. As far as American breweries to watch out for, there’s Solemn Oath [Bangers & Lace is throwing a one year anniversary for them on Saturday, May 18] and there’s a brewery out of Oregon right now called Gigantic, a great American brewery, all their beers are solid.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Picture Perfect Patio

As Chicagoans, we know there’s something incredibly satisfying about hunkering down at a dimly lit bar (maybe with deer heads or antlers hanging on the walls) with a thick stout or a boozy brown n’ stirred cocktail and riding out our very, very long winters.
But let’s be honest, it gets a little old, and when warmer temperatures hit and the sun is shining, we’re just as excited as you are to open all our doors and let the outside in. Scoring a seat on the patio is even better, and we like to help out there whenever possible. That’s why we extended our patio by a few seats this year and added large format cocktails (perfect for sharing on the patio) to sweeten the deal.

We tried real hard to make our patio as inviting as possible, and we’re super happy many of you think it’s picture-perfect, too! So here’s a roundup of some our favorite Instagrams that you’ve taken at Bangers & Lace. It’s kind of like seeing your name in lights?

@buttpartyerica, @mfabing88, @jnflynn525
@satanbby4l, @thisismeashton, @bigdealbog
@acaldwell09, @fkatrina, @cderusha