Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Craft Beer Unicorns: Latinas

I recently wrote a post for The Keg Tap and wanted to share it here as well. If you get a chance, head on over to their site and check it out!

Craft Beer Latinas
I am a unicorn. I didn’t realize it until last night, but apparently I’m much like the mythical creature — legendary, elusive, and often surrounded by bright colors and glitter. OK that’s not really what I’m talking about, but you know what I mean, a rare individual. I was sitting in the Goose Island Tap Room and I looked for other Latinas. At first glance there didn’t appear to be very many of us. Then I tried to count how many women present, the numbers are dwindling. Yup. Looks like I’m the only Latina here. That’s cool, it means it’ll be easier to make friends. I smiled, mentioned Star Wars, and next thing you know I had 3 glasses of beer in front of me (thanks guys!). We talked single origin coffee beans, stouts, sours, and a plethora of other beer nerdage. So how did I get here? Or rather, what lead me down this path to craft beer snobbery? I suppose a part of that is that I come from a line of unicorns, descended from generations of other women who also drink beer. My mom — a Bohemia is her brew of choice. My grandma — while she won’t necessarily admit it, she has been known to take a few swigs from time to time when she thinks no one is paying attention. I drank my first beer with my mom, there wasn’t anything that seemed strange about it. But then again, I was raised in an environment that encouraged me to not only be different, but to embrace my uniqueness.
The more beer I drank, the more aware I became of my “otherness”. Here in Chicago the good folks over at Lakeshore Beverage started a beer club. I invited another blogger to join me for the first meeting and we ended up being the only women of color present. It’s easy to notice when you’re the “other”. There we were drinking dark beer and all I could think about was how we were the only “dark” people there. I wonder what it is that’s caused this rift. Surely there must be plenty of Latinas who drink beer, right?
Craft Beer Latinas

A few weeks later I ended up at a brewery for a running event and there I was again, one of the few women of color drinking beer. Another woman at my table asked what I was drinking (I was the only one with a dark beer) and I proudly exclaimed that it was an oatmeal stout then offered to let her try some. We had an entire conversation about beer after which she said “wow, so you really know your stuff huh?”. I never feel like an expert, mostly because when I go to beer focused events I feel so much the outsider. I’m often asked if I’m there with my “boyfriend”. Nope, I just like good beer sir, but thanks for bringing attention to the fact that I’m single and here alone.
Craft Beer Latinas
This has become pretty common for me. There’s always an initial “how did you get dragged into this event?” or some other comment implying that I must not like beer or that I don’t want to be there. Yes, that’s right, I’m a woman, I’m Latina, and yes I’m here for that newly released saison – can we get on with it now? Even at all female events I’m immediately reminded that I’m not the same when I’m suddenly the only one with a beer pint as everyone else delicately sips their elaborately garnished cocktail.
And while I may be different, I’m certainly not a victim. I’m not mistreated, I think I just confuse people. I get it, you’re not sure what to do because I don’t fit into one of your neatly crafted boxes – you’ve never encountered a unicorn before. Its easier for you to assume I don’t belong. But maybe I do, after all, every great story needs a legendary character or two right?  Once you realize I’m here just like you, to enjoy a delicious brew, I hope that you’ll accept me with open arms and open bottles.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Beer Fest Beat Down

In case you're wondering, yes, Lucha Libre is still a thing. I remember watching it as a kid with my grandpa and being entranced by the crazy masks and dramatic moves. We all knew it was fake but that was part of the appeal. Sitting with my grandpa and laughing at the luchadores are some of my favorite memories as a kid. When I saw Beer Fest Beat Down would have live Lucha Libre I knew I had to go. I mean really, how often do you get the chance to see that AND drink craft beer while you're at it? The beers were great, there were more samples than I could have tried over the span of a week. Taking a friend was key so we could sip from each others and try more stuff. I'll definitely be back again next year!
panoramic view of the floor level of the fest
this artwork is fantastic!
one of my favorite sample glasses so far
Beeringham Fountain
its about to get real...trash talk level 100

Friday, December 4, 2015

Lincoln Park Brew Lights

I love the zoo. I love beer. Brew Lights is basically the best thing for those like who are still a kid at heart and love checking out the animals and lights while sipping on some brews. The setup was great, there were several tents with the same beers so you weren't stuck waiting in line for very long at any location to get a sample. It was a bit chilly so warming up in the different animal houses was also a big plus. While it originally seemed like the samples wouldn't be enough to truly satiate our beer drinking needs, Adam and I quickly realized that we would have more beer than we knew what to do with. Eventually I had to tap out on drinking the full pours and only took a couple sips of each before dumping it. It was so sad to have to do that but my poor liver just couldn't handle all that. Note to self for next year, be prepared and have snacks. 
fancy little tasting mug
weeeeeee I love the carousel!!!
oh ya know, just riding a giraffe and drinking some beer
but do you see how happy he is? we had a blast! drinking ALL THE BEERS

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Founders Brewing Dinner at Flo & Santos

First of all, please forgive the snapchat photos. I know its super lame but I was out for my birthday and just wanted to enjoy the experience. Afterwards I realized how bummed I was for not having any pics of the amazing dinner but thankfully my friend Adam had captured it all on his snapchat story.

So, disclaimer aside, this was by far one of the BEST birthday dinners I've ever had. I saw a post about Flo & Santos hosting a Founders Beer Dinner and as fate would have it, it was on my actual birthday!  I bought tickets for my friend and I then counted down the days until I would be partaking in the delicious menu by Mark Rimkus (Executive Chef). I had no idea what to expect, I'd never been to a beer dinner before but I was beyond excited. My friend had also never been so we were like two little kids on our first day of school as we walked up to the restaurant.

As soon as we got to the back we saw a big table set up with all kinds of Founders swag and got to pick our seats for the evening. I glanced at the menu and immediately my mouth started watering. Just the first item alone - bacon dusted popcorn - I mean, who doesn't love bacon, this is gonna be a great night. We chatted with the guys from Founders and Mark came over to talk about Flo & Santos. This was my first time there and I already felt comfortable. This place is like going over to your aunts house for a relaxing dinner. ((Also, their normal tap list is phenomenal!))
So first up we had the All Day IPA with the bacon dusted popcorn. I'm typically not a fan of IPAs but this one was smooth and VERY drinkable. I was done with it before we started the next course.
Next up, Red Rye draft with cheese & meat charcuterie.  Have you ever had duck prosciutto? I hadn't but it was so delicious! This is not something I would normally look for or order but I'm so glad they included it because it was seriously delicious. Also, the jam was so gooooood I wish I could have bottled it up and taken it home. My taste buds were dancing! The Red Rye draft was a favorite of the guy sitting to my right so I was excited to try it and it definitely did not disappoint. I hear its a bit hard to come by though so I'm trying not to get too attached. Ok seriously though, I could eat these wings on the regular. I don't know what life was like before I tried these pork wings but things will never be the same. SO meaty and tasty. The combo was perfect because Breakfast Stout is one of my all time favorites. I can't say enough good things about how much I enjoyed this particular course. They were a perfect pair!
The classic pairing, beer and pizza. This round we did the Mosaic Promise with a play on a Hawaiian pizza. Typically I'm not a fan of pineapple on my pizza but this worked really well together. The crisp clean taste of the beer that started a  bit sweet was a nice compliment to the sweetness of the pizza.
 Rubaeus Nitro and pesto, shrimp, cherry tomato, goat cheese and arugula pizza. Sounds like a mouthful but all the components came together for a delicious symphony. The Rubaeus has this great sweet creamy taste that was perfect for the goat cheese pizza. Adam didn't like his so I lucked out and got a second serving of this pizza :) I'm just bummed this one isn't on their regular menu.
 Final pizza round. This one was a play on the classic Italian Beef sandwich paired with the Harvest Ale. This was like sitting at a baseball game on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The pizza was just spicy enough to get your mouth tingling but not so much that it made it burn your taste buds. I notice this one IS on the regular menu so I make a mental note to come back for this one.
 The final course is upon and they truly did go out in style. Backwood Bastard was phenomenal. I've added it to my list of beers to find next beer run. (I kept my fingers crossed that I might win some in the raffle but no dice on that). The cinnamon-sugar coated donuts were such a delightful ending to this dinner. They were just the right amount of sweetness to cap everything off.
 Adam won the first raffle (it was actually for a tshirt but it was extra schmedium so he traded for this hat instead)
 That lucky duck, he also won a bottle of Blushing Monk. Isn't this supposed to be my birthday celebration? Here he is winning all the prizes...but like a true gentleman he snuck the beer into my fridge when he dropped me off so I'll save this one for our next beer adventure.
Oh heyyyy!!! I finally won something and the shirt DOES fit me so I'll be taking this one home :)  
 Ohhh and would you look at that, I also scored a couple bottles of beer! Perhaps I am luckier than I thought...
All in all, this was a superb experience. I'll definitely be adding Flo & Santos to my regular rotation of restaurants and Founders has become one of my favorite breweries. I'm hoping I can make it to some more events like this because it was a great way to try beers that I normally wouldn't order and feast on some delicious bites.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Nike Run Club

Nike Run Club Chicago has had some great neighborhood runs, here are a few highlights from Fulton Market and Little Italy.
pre-run with Ara
smile for the camera!
post-run rooftop chillin
pre-run with Ara and Emily (I glow!)
same jacket, different lighting (I am not an alien)
pre-run with the squad
running through the streets with my woes
snacks and drinks at the Goose Island tap room
perfect post run pour...oatmeal stout