I'm kicking off the first weekend of Spring with a couple of new local stars, only available in the Chicagoland area. Because we're Chicago, and when Spring hovers around 30 degrees, we deserve a little shot in the arm, dammit.
5 Rabbit has successfully completed the first build-out of their new brewhouse in Bedford Park (out near Midway Airport) and finally has control over their production after almost two years of recipe development and contracting. After a few hard knocks this year, I'm proud to see them coming to market with gusto.
Huitzi is a self-described midwinter ale that is "shockingly pink" due in large part to hibiscus flowers. It pours like a lambic, releasing its fizz quickly and the short, foamy head slowly dissipates. The first sweet bite of honey and thai palm sugar feels fortifying for the season, just as intended, with the ginger providing just a hint of heat. The entire effect is brisk and bright.
A few people, including the Chicago Tribune's Josh Noel, have compared it to last year's contracted version, citing a smaller bite this time out, but overall having a far greater balance and nuance in the brew, and I couldn't agree more. This is sophisticated, encouraging work from newly hired brewmaster John J. Hall's first series of releases.
Find out where you can get 5 Rabbit's Huitzi >>
Read other people's descriptions on Rate Beer >>
18th Street Brewery's Seven
Also showing up for the first time is 18th Street Brewery's first release of Seven, a black double India pale ale with some sharp bite, bitter roasty notes and a giant malt backbone. If Spring hasn't turned enough, this beer has the courage to pull through and hunker down for another couple weeks of winter.
18th Street's Drew Fox and company recently completed his successful Kickstarter making more than double his goal to establish Gary, Indiana's first microbrewery. And along the way, he's been grabbing any available time on the system at Pipeworks in Chicago. It's working.
At the end of the pour, Seven holds on to a thick, creamy brown head, and the aromatics start firing immediately with citrus, chocolate and roast. The finish is dry and slightly medicinal, almost like a Belgian pale. You'll just keeping going back.