HUNTER/Gatherer #4 — Justin Rheinfrank

Justin Rheinfrank (@justrhein) is an interaction designer in Chicago and has joined me on a number of beer adventures. Every time I see him strike out into unknown territory he always returns home quickly — to his beloved IPAs. This guy has a serious tolerance for hops. He joined me a couple months ago for the Empircal Brewery tasting event and snapped some photos as part of the event coverage. His favorite of the night? The Double IPA. Recently we got together for some beer and NES gaming. He knew the Contra code, but it still didn’t get us past the second board.

What’s your favorite beer and style?

I’m an unabashed hop-head. My go-to beer is Goose Island’s India Pale Ale. Not too light, not too dark, a great year-round session brew.

What’s in your fridge right now?

At any given time, I keep my fridge stocked with one IPA and one seasonal. Right now I just finished up a six-pack of BellsTwo-Hearted, a slightly fruity, but not for the faint of heart, IPA. My experimental fall/winter brew right now is 5 Vulture by 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, a dark ale. 5 Rabbit does a great job balancing a good beer with hints of flavor and the 5 Vulture does not disappoint. Every sip finishes off with a spiciness from the ancho chiles used in the brewing process, reminiscent of a mug of mexican hot chocolate.

What was the first beer that clued you in?

I didn’t always enjoy IPAs. My first love was for darker ales— specifically Newcastle brown ale. It is a simple, light and very drinkable beer. Best way to drink it is on tap in Europe — I feel it doesn’t travel as well as, say, Guinness. I used to buy them by 24-pack my freshman year of college.

Bartender or brewer?

Brewer, of course. I always considered myself first and foremost a foodie. I find it difficult to pair mixed drinks with food like you can with wine or beer styles. Cocktails always seem like dessert.

What was your greatest beer hunt?

I don’t have a particular memorable beer hunt; but the beer I’m currently on the prowl for is Zombie Dust by Three Floyds Brewery. I had it on tap at the Hopleaf recently — it sold me at the first sip. I look for it at Binny’s every week with the same response, “Sorry, sold out. Hopefully we’ll get more next Tuesday.”

What’s a beer on your wishlist?

This winter I’m looking forward to tasting the Bourbon County Series from Goose Island. I have also been recommended by fellow hop-heads to try Hop Whore by Tyranena Brewing.

Michael Kiser