February is (usually) the last, miserable month of winter in Chicagoland.
The holidays are a distant memory. You’d rather not talk about your misguided New Years resolution to only buy produce from farmers markets from now on. Maybe you picked up an old TV series that you missed to get you through until spring, but you’ve already finished it. You haven’t felt the warmth of the sun in months. In fact, the only part of you that ever sees sunlight is your face and maybe a bit of ankle when you step out of the car. Your skin is pale and colorless and you’ve had a sinus infection since Christmas.
Cheer up, guy, we made you a doppelbock. Endsinator is our take on the hefty dark lager that originated centuries ago in Germany. Brewed with a base of dark Munich malt and boiled to within an inch of its life for a rich, complex malt profile of toasty melanoidins, caramel and dark fruit. There’s just enough grassy hop character to balance the sweetness and it’s fermented super cold to keep the focus on the full-frontal malt assault. Stay strong, spring is almost here.
We’d like to introduce you to a beer that we’re very happy with. But first, a few words about our approach to crafting recipes.
The majority of beers we brew can be classified under four categories:
- Traditional Style – These are beers that fit into existing BJCP or GABF guidelines. The beer must fit into specific parameters for original/final gravity, color, IBU, ABV and flavor to be considered a traditional style. Bier der Toten Vienna Lager and Interrobang Belgian-Style Tripel are examples of beers we brew according to style guidelines.
- Super Style – This is when we take an existing traditional style and exaggerate certain qualities, kind of like a traditional beer style after plastic surgery. Scareball would be considered a super style since it uses all the ingredients of a traditional Pilsner, but quantities are exaggerated to give it a bigger dry-hopped aroma and higher alcohol content than a typical Pilsner.
- Hybrid Style – A beer that has aspects of two or more styles would fall under this category. The current trend of “Belgo-American” styles is a perfect example of this. At SOB, we brew Nourri au Fourrage to be a hybrid of the American Stout and Milk/Sweet Stout styles.
- Freestyle – These are beers that are delicious, but don’t resemble any particular beer style. They can be some of the most memorable beers in a brewer’s profile, though they may be difficult to classify. Our best example of this approach is Pernicieux.
I think we can all agree that the best way to accurately convey the flavor profiles of craft beers is to compare them to Alice in Chains albums.
For example, the hard rock, early grunge sound of Facelift is comparable to a traditional American IPA like Kidnapped by Vikings and beers with cattier hop profiles and more hop/malt contrast like Grumpess and E-Ville are closer to Dirt. It’s obvious where I’m going with this, right? Oxford Comma is our Jar of Flies. No face-melting guitar or assaulting vocals. The flavor profile is far more mellow and balanced than our other seasonal offerings have been thus far. Our goal was a truly unique beer with a harmonious blend of flavors and no single ingredient dominating the others. Ginger and lemon peel add a tartness to enliven the floral bouquet of lavender, rosehips and green coriander. The light, crisp sweetness of Pilsner malt is balanced by a minimal earthy hop character and delicate Belgian yeast esters.
On Christmas Eve of 1999, after unsuccessfully trying to get a job in radio, I got hired waiting tables at a new restaurant that had just opened in Warrenville. The only thing I knew about Rock Bottom was that it was in front of a movie theater and hadn’t opened yet.
I quickly learned that this restaurant had its own working brewery on full display, and that the only beer they served was brewed in-house. I had been legally of age to drink beverage alcohol for only six months but even then I knew my tastes were more sophisticated than the average beer drinker. I had already moved beyond “lite” beer and was routinely drinking Miller Genuine Draft (and, if I was going to be encountering a need for intelligent nightlife, Zima.)