I ♥ 312: Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery Tour

I ♥ 312: Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery Tour

Like anyone who went to college in Chicago, I have a serious soft spot for Goose Island beer, whether that be an ever-present case of 312 or a chilled, $8 Matilda. So when Goose Island offered me a private tour of their brewery I was jumping up and down like a little kid. Or like a college student who just got free beer. (more…)

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The brewery tour began with a behind-the-scenes glimpse at production. From the brewmasters….

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The brewers who spend all day creating and sampling new beer flavors. No wonder they’re smiling!

…to the bottling process.
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As our lovely tour guide explained, John Hall, Goose Island’s CEO and founder, was inspired to start a brewery by his trip to Europe in the 80′s. During his travels he fell in love with the craft beer culture he found in Europe and came back to the Midwest with a mission to brew the same quality beer he had tasted overseas.

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It was particularly interesting to learn all about the beer aging system as Goose Island was one of the first breweries to age beer in wooden barrels. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, one of their highest percentage alcohol beers, is aged in former bourbon barrels which lends a distinctive flavor and scent. Goose_Island_11

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My favorite part of the tour was naturally the tasting at the end. (You guys know how much I love beer, right?) The best brew of the day, in my humble opinion, was Oktoberfest, a light seasonal beer that reminded me of the lagers of my beloved Germany. I also loved all of the classic beers that I have tried before like Sofie, Maltilda and Green Line.

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So bottom line- if you’re ever in Chicago you have to try Goose Island! It really is the city’s most beloved beer and is a great representation of the city’s love of beer and microbreweries.

Thanks so much to Ana and Goose Island Beer Co. for hosting me on this tour. All opinions are my own, I really do love 312 this much!

Coming Back to the City Where You Used To Live

Coming Back to the City Where You Used To Live

As a teenager growing up in suburban Michigan, I dreamed of escaping the endless strip malls and leafy green streets of Midwestern suburbia. So the moment I graduated from high school, I headed straight for the nearest metropolis- Chicago. What to do in Chicago  And there I lived for four freezing-cold years of wild St. Patrick’s days and lazy Sunday morning brunches. Until I left after graduation to move to Paris.

Coming back a year later, I realize that not much has changed. It’s still so swelteringly hot in the summer that the trash stinks. The brown line still creaks as it rattles along and the 312 beer tastes just as cold and tasty as I remembered. My good friends in the city still cook gourmet food out on their patios and are always sweet enough to invite me.

But a part of me feels guilty for moving away and sacrificing the closeness of my college friendships. It makes me sad to know I’ll miss out on all the little things: the last-minute indie concerts, the Friday night wine tastings, the cheese curd-filled ski trips to Wisconsin. And gradually I fear our closeness will wane, and all those friendships I spent four years forming will cease to be.

The reason I don’t live in Chicago comes down to the fact that I want to be somewhere where everything’s new, where I can really grow. And having grown up in the Midwest, Chicago just doesn’t feel different enough. Everything is familiar to me in Chicago- from the nasal Midwestern accent to the oak trees lining the sidewalks to the way people say “pop” instead of “soda.” And after four years of living there, I know the city like the back of my hand.

But among the familiar, there were new experiences. 

Like the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles, which distributes delicious cupcakes 24 hours a day. (THANK GOD that when I lived a few blocks away this did not exist.)

What to do in Chicago

And the $18 view from the top of the John Hancock Center which I had never seen before. (Why is it that when you live in city you never do the touristy stuff?)

What to do in Chicago

What to do in Chicago

And the Mystic Blue dinner cruise I took with my good friend, Victoria, which provided panoramic views of the city and lots of on-board dancing. (Said cruise will forever be remembered as that one time when we crashed an Israeli wedding on a boat. No, seriously.)

What to do in Chicago

What to do in Chicago

What to do in Chicago

What to do in Chicago

But on my return to Chicago, there wasn’t just the new- I also made time to revisit my old favorites as well.

Like brunch at my favorite breakfast place in Lincoln Park, with jars of Nutella on the tables.

What to do in Chicago

Brunch is hands-down the best thing about being back in America.

And wandering Old Town, stopping for my foodie favorites- a.k.a. frozen yogurt at Pinkberry and spices at the fragrant Spice House.

What to do in Chicago

What to do in Chicago

Overall my visit to Chicago made me realize that despite missing so many of my great friends who live in the city, and despite all of the incredible food and architecture the city has to offer, I don’t want to live there again but will always love to visit. Coming back will always remind me of a very happy time in my life, and I’ll (hopefully) always have a friend’s dinner party to crash.

 Have you ever gone back to the place you used to live?

. . . . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to Mystic Blue Cruises for hosting me on their dinner cruise. They in no way insisted that I write a favorable review or that I crash a super-fun Israeli wedding.

Saturday Snapshot 2

Saturday Snapshot 2

In order to file my au pair visa, I had to drive five long hours to the French consulate of Chicago. Considering I lived in Chicago for the past four years, it was also an excuse to visit some very beloved friends and family. And to enjoy some much-needed bonding time with little brother.

I had a hard time narrowing things down — I need your votes! Will it be photo one, two, three or four?

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Photo One

Chicago View

This is the view from my little brother’s apartment, isn’t he lucky?

Photo Two

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This is my little brother. He’s a cutie.

Photo Three

Chicago Architecture

This is the lion in front of the Art Institute of Chicago, notice the four-star Chicago flag in the background. Also adjacent building.

 

Photo Four

Chicago Skyline

I found these funky skyscrapers on a walk back from Trader Joe’s. Weird, right?

The Spice House in Chicago

The Spice House in Chicago

This is my love letter/free advertisement to the best spot to buy spices in the U.S., The Spice House.

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This place holds a special place in my cabinets because the spices are not only high-quality, they are also really, really inexpensive.

A few months back when I was still a Chicago resident I lived in an apartment about a mile away from The Spice House. The shop was around the corner from my gym, so I often rewarded myself post-workout by buying a new exotic spice or replenishing one of my staples.

The Spice House

If I wanted to experiment with a new cuisine, I would buy several one-ounce bags of the cuisine’s essential spices. One day when attempting to make an Indian eggplant dish I bought small portions of cumin, garam masala, turmeric and coriander all for about $7. Because the spices are so inexpensive and can be sold in quantities as small as one ounce, I found myself experimenting and having more fun in the kitchen during the time I lived nearby.

The Spice House

I  also love their spice blends. My little brother, Andrew, and I use to have “jerk chicken parties” and invite friends over to grill in the backyard at my old place in Chicago. He agrees the Spice House’s jerk chicken spice is perfection, and he has even been to Jamaica. Another one of my favorite spice blends is the Pilsen Latino Seasoning which I use on fish tacos.

And if you don’t believe a small fry like me, believe the head chef of the Palmer Place, the People’s Choice winner of the Hamburger Hop last year. I was working as a caiter-waiter attending the event with a group of friends and remember him dedicating his winner’s speech to the incredible spice selection at the Spice House.

Now that I no longer live in Chicago, I order the spices I need online. And whenever I’m in Chicago I use the Spice House as an excuse to wander around Old Town, the adorable neighborhood pictured below.

Oh Spice House. Couldn’t you set up shop in Detroit, too?

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Are you a spice addict, too? Have you visited The Spice House in Chicago or Milwaukee?