PUMPKIN THIS! The Revolt continues…

I could not be more serious about the revolt against pumpkin beer, and lattes and pumpkin flavored everything. Since apparently we can’t have gun free zones, I am declaring Que4 radio a Pumpkin Free Zone Besides, that rule will be far easier to monitor. Is that a pumpkin in your pants or…bKYtCB1d7LeYcXTeE_o

Tomorrow on the Revolution and Beer show (Saturdays 11am-1pm, www.que4.org) Your headquarters for the Anti-Pumpkin Beer Insurgency continues.

How serious am I about this? First, I once was a Pumpkin Beer drinker. I am now two years clean. Second, like voting for Rahm, Hillary, Trump, Bush or Rauner with the refrain “Any body but…” I am instituting the ABPB “Anything but Pumpkin Beer.” I am so completely and eternally opposed to Pumpkin Beer that on the show I will even resort to, to…Tune in tomorrow to see how low on the beer totem I will sink before resorting to Pumpkin. I have a list. I’m not even sure yet.

ABPB OR DEATH!!!


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Panicked Beer Review New Glarus’ Totally Naked Extra Pale Lager

The wife came home late from work the other night. She drinks wine. We manage to have a good relationship despite that shortcoming. She’d had an awful day at work. A glass of wine usually relaxes her. Still nursing the tail end of a summer cold, I was already headed for bed.

A week earlier, Deacon Coleman, a regular cohost on the Flabby Hoffman Radio Extravagonzo, heard Saturday’s 1-4pm on Que4 radio in Chicago, handed me a beer just as I was ending my show. He gets up to Wisconsin on a regular basis and is as much a fan of New Glarus beers as I am. As I shut off the mic Deacon said, “This is my favorite so far.”IMG_0031

High praise indeed, I thought. My plan was to review the beer Friday evening before the show, that is until the wife rounded the corner with my one single bottle of Totally Naked. She tipped it up and took a swig, stopping when she saw the horrified look on my face.

In a panic, before the head dissipated I quickly readied for an impromptu review. Made from imported Noble Hop varieties from the Czech Republic I found this beer one of the smoothest and most pleasing beers I have ever tasted. Pouring to a clean and clear golden hue with a snow white head, Totally Naked had a sweet, bready flavor. At41/4 ABV, this beer is very straightforward and casual enough to relax with, but imbued with enough depth for the true beer lover to fully enjoy.

Now, to get a lock box to keep the wife from looting my beer stash! And by the way, Deacon is taking over this week for Flabby Hoffman, in a very rare DEACON COLEMAN’S HOUR OF SPIRITUAL POWER.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Off Color’s Tooth and Claw Lager: 180 Million Years to a Tap

At the age of seven it seemed like the longest word I had yet heard of: Paleontologist. No doubt my parents would recall that practically nothing but dinosaur this or dinosaur that left my mouth for much of the next few years. There was relatively little literature in the early 1970s for the novice about Dinosaurs; I devoured everything I could find. And though it was a fair distance from our rural Illinois home, my parents regularly indulged and encouraged my passion with regular trips to Chicago’s Field Museum.

I dreamed one day of being a Paleontologist. I wrote a letter to the head of the department at the museum and got a reply encouraging me to pursue my studies, and that one day I might be a famous scientist. I still have the letter somewhere. I pursued a career in art instead, and ended up in broadcasting, an author and in logistics.

In a few years I’ll approach five decades since I first walked through the doors and beheld the mind awakening majesty of the great hall. The Field Museum has changed much in that time. Still, in all that time it has never lost its breathless wonder for me. From the halls that map the evolution of the planet and its myriad and wondrous life forms, to the eternal assertions of the ancient Egyptians and the legacy of the vibrant indigenous cultures who effused the Americas for more than 13 millennia before Columbus and the Europeans arrived. In my dreams I retrace those uncountable steps which have come to help guide and define my understanding of the world and my place in it.IMG_3933

And so, in a word, the Field Museum is about evolution, and evolve it has. On Saturday’s radio show, (11am on AM1680, que4.org) a friend of the station shared samples of a local Craft beer available only at the Museum’s new, The Field Bistro, a comfortable and elegant adult respite, features several local brews. Ah, my father would have been in heaven compared with the old days with a somewhat austere basement cafeteria of greasy fast food and fountain sodas. We sampled Tooth and Claw, Dry Hop Lager, brewed exclusively by Chicago’s own Off Color Brewing for the Bistro.

The beer poured, into a pint glass bearing its name, to a slight burnt gold, clear with a one inch fluffy white head. Breathing in a beer is essential to truly valuing the taste. This was light and bready, balanced slightly by that citrusy hint of hops. The first taste was straight forward, reminding me slightly of a freshly brewed European lager on tap at a Prague brewery in the early 1990s. Tooth and Claw, I found, had that great sense of balance between sweet malts and bitter German noble hops. I found that malty fullness first, with a citrusy bitterness that lingered for just a moment. This one I would have bared with a hearty stew hinting of fresh rosemary, grilled meat or a smoky cheese, or porcini or portabella mushrooms for our vegan friends.

I have to confess, at first I failed to recognize Off Color. The label of Tooth and Claw is dutifully understated for the museum. Beer enthusiasts, particularly in Chicago, will recognize their hand drawn cartoonish labels. Last year Revolution and Beer featured their full and rich Scurry Dark Honey Ale. Their Troublesome Gose Style Beer remains one of our favorites. Tooth and Claw proves that Off Color is moved from a competent brewer to one of the important brewing houses in the city. If you ever need an excuse to go to the museum!

It’s funny, about the time I was discovering dinosaurs as a young boy my father let me taste beer for the first time. It too was a local beer, with a ubiquitous name, and one tethered deeply to Chicago history. My palette for beer has greatly evolved since then, just as all those years visiting the Field Museum has helped evolve my intellect and sensibilities. I still find wonder in the world, and new discoveries. Hardly a year passes that I do not find myself exploring those great and seemingly endless halls. It is the sense of adventure and exploration that holds the key, whether at the museum, somewhere in the world and in a new beer. That’s the stuff.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Tighthead Brewing’s Scarlet Fire Red Ale

2500 beers in 28 countries. Except for North Korea, who reportedly makes one of the best beers on the planet, there isn’t a beer producing nation on earth I haven’t sampled. I’ve had beer on the frontlines around Sarajevo, with Gypsies in Romania, with brewers in the Czech Republic amid Roman ruins on the Dalmatian Coast and in a castle in Germany, and it all began in a small bar in Brookfield Illinois, sitting beside my father at the age of 7 sipping a small glass of Schlitz. I won’t divulge how long ago that was. After all that, I still get surprised by the amazing spectrum of beer styles and flavors. While others have moved off to whatever drink is fashionable this week, I remain loyal to that first taste of beer so many years ago.
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Friday night was a special occasion. It was my wife’s birthday. We’d decided on a perennial favorite restaurant in the neighborhood to celebrate with a romantic dinner. Taste of Peru, which has been featured, and for good reason on shows such as the Cooking Channel’s Diners, Dine-in and Dives, easily won the toss. We arrived just after 6, and despite the cold and Super Bowl weekend, the restaurant was already packed. That says quite a lot in a neighborhood with perhaps the most diverse cuisine in the city, and a phenomenal number of competitors. That also says quite a lot about owner and Peruvian native Cesar Izquierdo. Add to that, the restaurant, at 6545 North Clark Street is unambiguous in a tiny strip mall beside a Dollar store, Laundromat and fast food place. You have to want to find Taste of Peru.

The same is true for the beer I brought along that evening. Out of Mundelein Illinois, Tighthead Brewing Company’s Scarlet Fire Roasty Red Ale promised the elements I was looking for to pair with Peruvian cuisine, which blends a variety of influences, from European and West African to traditional Incan. Here hearty sauces, rich spices, grilled meats, sea food and those eclectic influences are married under Peru’s truly unique culinary umbrella. I wanted something with a bit of sweetness and smokiness in the beer pairing. Scarlet Fire promised, now it remained to be seen how well it delivered.

There is an ambiance to Taste of Peru; a certain family quality and a community one might expect to find in a closely-knit barrio. Conversations overflow from table to table, feeding moments, all of it lofted upon the scents of grilling meats, warming bread and warmed Peruvian spices. The lighting is suitably low, the tables near enough to underscore the sense of community imbued within the cuisine. Amid all of this Scarlet Fire poured to a twilight red color with a full creamy head. The aroma was fruity. I’d ordered Aji de Gallino(Ah-gee day Guy-yeeno), a rich and creamy Chicken and walnut sauce served with rice, a deep-fried potato wedge and half a hard-boiled egg; the odd combination works in only a way Peruvian cuisine can.IMG_1841

At a modest and comfortable 5.6% ABV (Alcohol by Volume), the beer was light and pleasant, with smoky caramel notes and a neatly balanced sweetness that paired wonderfully with the food. This was the sort of beer that would work well on its own, and stands among some of the best local beers in and around Chicago. Also recommended by Tighthead Brewing is their Hat Trick Belgian Tripel, which stands up nicely to traditional Belgians.

It really is about the community, and like a great meal, the right beer really can play a powerful part in constructing that ambiance. I found both of those that night at Taste of Peru and with Tighthead’s Scarlet Fire Red Ale. Cesar, the owner of Taste of Peru, ultimately stopped by our table, the effort feeling more like a gesture of hospitality rather than one of obligation. He took one look at the beer and asked whether or not I’d ever had Peruvian beer. Obviously the gauntlet has been thrown, and for that challenge I am only too happy to pick it up. But that is another story.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “Shoot Down: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Today from 1-3pm on an all new Revolution and Beer Show, Join Brian Murray and WC Turck for the Beer of the Week, food and how gentrification is killing diversity in Chicago with guest activist and artist Amie Sell only on Q4 Radio, www.que4.org

Today on the show we’ll be featuring Third Shift Amber Lager from Band of Brewers, Fort Worth Texas. Third Shift is a casual and nicely balanced Amber Lager, perfect for spicy food. I served it last night with homemade chicken tamales, served over refried black beans, garden guacamole, sour crème and Mexican rice.120_0730

On the show, reminiscing with a neighbor about city neighborhoods, we w ere struck by the way gentrification has changed the character of the city. Is it a vehicle for rejuvenation, economic development and reduction in crime, or a destruction of the cultural and artistic vibrancy of the city and an assault on immigrant, fixed income and working families? And it isn’t just Chicago, but is an issue that resonates across the country. We’ll talk to Amie Sell, artist and activist from the frontlines in Chicago’s Logan’s Square.

Plus, are the Koch Brothers and Rightwing groups behind the current immigration crisis, and much more 1-3pm in Chicago, www.que4.org. Join the conversation as well at 312-985-7834.

Gun deaths are on the rise, and in three years, more Americans will die from gunshot wounds than in car crashes, a report found.
BY PHILIP CAULFIELD
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/gun-deaths-outpace-traffic-deaths-2015-report-article-1.1223721

WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Revolution and Beer…of the week: Miller Lite and the pleasures of banality.

Kudos to Miller Lite! They’ve managed the impossible: removing taste from beer. It is a historic achievement, as for thousands of years the taste and ingredients of beer has been paramount to the brewer. Forget those foreigners and their insistence on flavor. Thanks to American innovation, taste and quality are a thing of the past, replaced by consistency and mass production. Normally at Revolution and Beer we review top quality craft and international beers. Today is a special day.i-dont-normally-use-beer-to-fill-my-toilets-but-when-i-do-its-miller-light

I’d recently suffered a head injury which prompted me to reach for a Miller Lite. Marketed for people who believe that “Light” is instead a four letter word, a proper Miller Lite tasting required just the right container. I have goblets, chalices, Weiss and Stout glasses, Ale glasses and steins for tastings, but nothing suitable to Miller Lite, which wouldn’t require flushing first. It needed to be perfect, in order to truly capture all of the subtly and nuance of Miller Lite. Obviously I thought a hat would be perfect.344592d1336775424-beer-carrying-spitfires-world-war-ii-1373436-beerhat_large

The beer poured to a pale golden hue, reminiscent of a dialysis patient on diuretics, and a delightfully thin head which disappeared faster than Casper the ghost in a camera flash. Immediately I sensed the aroma, which exhibited overtones of banality, with undertones of Lake Michigan water filtered through rice not destined for human consumption. The aroma reminded me of a muffler shop at closing time, with the awkward misogynist shouts of Russian middle-aged men calling after women on the sidewalk. Miller Lite boasts an ABV (alcohol by volume) just above a 4am belch after a police breathalyzer.

I do have to admit that it was a luxury not to have to think as I lifted the plastic tube to my mouth for that first gulp, not like those elitist craft beers. In fact, I actually could feel about two dozen IQ points dissolving at that moment. I was thrilled at the marvels of mass consumption, and that I was tasting precisely what 11 million other people similarly afflicted were swilling. Imagine massive tanks of what Miller can legally call beer so huge that a worker could drown in one without affecting the taste! Magnificent!light-beer-beer-bud-miller-lite-light-demotivational-posters-1340073929_zps6d8b1d99

So pick up a beer, turn on cable TV and stare at the weather channel for eleven hours, kick back with a Chalupa, make a toast to Chris Christie, tell yourself voting changes nothing, refuse to leave your couch ever again and suck on your beer hat until your cranium implodes. You’re an American dammit, and Miller Lite spelled backwards is FOX News. Wow, I really am missing those IQ points…

WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Indiana has Beer! Lost River Blonde Ale from Cutters Brewering Company

For too many folks the state of Indiana does not necessarily evoke images of great craft beer or micro breweries. There is a tendency for fellow, and sometimes a bit too arrogant, Illinoisans to think of Indiana as that state between Chicago and Ohio, or Chicago and Michigan, or Chicago and most anywhere else east. I’ll confess to that a time or two as well. If pressed it is the land of John Cougar whatshisname, who did that song about a debutante in his backseat or something. But great beer? Not so much.100_9621

Brian and I have had beers from all around the world. I have cracked a bottle of Sarajevo Beer on the frontline of a war, argued politics with a drunken Russian at a brew pub in Budapest and imbibed freshly brewed Weiss beer in a Bavarian castle, but ask me to name an Indiana Brewery and I am momentarily stumped.

Three Floyds!

Three Floyds is a member of both the Brewers of Indiana Guild and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, so it’s easy to make that mistake. Add to my retinue of Indiana beers, Lost River Blonde Ale from Cutters Brewering Company in Avon Indiana. Deep in the heart of Indiana, you’d practically have to be lost to find this place, hidden in the shadow of Indianapolis. But in that shadow someone has learned a thing or two about brewing very pleasing and accessible beers.

Lost River poured golden and clean, with a sturdy snow-white head. The head settled within a few minutes. A really beautiful lacing clung to the sides of the pint glass. I found it nicely balanced with a slight sweetness, contrasting a grapefruity citrus bitterness. There was a breadiness that reminded me of a good pilsner, but it was hardly overwhelming. And finally, this was a really refreshing beer, bearing in mind that drinking beer in the Midwest is different than other places. A beer needs to be refreshing and casual for the average Midwest drinker, but still offer the layers and levels sought after by craft aficionados. It has to work at a ball game, at the barbeque and be conversational at the bar too. So far Lost River Blonde Ale is two for three. I’ll have to try it at a ball game sometime to see if they can go three for three.

100_9629For food, the wife and I did something simple and homey; grilled Chicken thighs, roasted potatoes and a tomato, onion and cucumber salad with olive oil and vinegar. I recommend a bit of spice with this beer. The gentle warmth of a bit of hot paprika, pepper, a touch of Giardiniera oil and basil roasted with the chicken was perfect. Keep it simple with this one. In pairing I’d recommend marinades and dry rubs for a light to medium heat rather that heavy sauces or really heavy flavors. BBQ sauce would overwhelm this beer. Brats with a pickle and a rustic stone-ground mustard would also be a fine match.

Cutters Brewing Company’s Lost River Blonde Ale makes my list of the top summer beers in the Midwest. Now, I’m looking for their Monon Wheat. I’m a sucker for a good Belgian Style Wit beer. Anybody?

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Astor House, Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, and Joe Fedorko

We sat down for a very informative and urgent conversation with a member of Astor House in Roger’s Park related to fair housing and a pending eviction; an eviction that falls like a guillotine just in time for the holidays. This was happening just a couple of hours before a planned vigil in support of the rights neglected residents to stay in their neglected homes during the holidays.

Then, we moved on to some brilliant jazz saxophone, performed by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi. Sohrab took us through his development and travels into the realms of Akido, and on to his obsession with the power of music and the saxophone. We learned about his multi-faceted heritage, and how that heritage, combined with his experiences abroad, lead him to become a strong advocate for musicians rights.

I the last third of the show, Joe Fedorko of Democracy Burlesque took a break from a crammed schedule of recording for their upcoming Christmas show, “Frack The Halls,” to join us for a beer. He guided us into another level of conversation around satire, art’s roll in society, and how artists get by.

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Revolution and Beer of the week…best of the Pumpkin brews NSA-style!

So I was at rehearsals yesterday for my new play,

Autumn Beers by independent Craft brewers will dominate the season

Autumn Beers by independent Craft brewers will dominate the season

The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden. One of the actors, the amazingly talented and one of Chicago’s funniest comedians, Catherine Povinelli, or Povs, as friends call her, considers herself a connoisseur of Pumpkin beer, which I like, but which is thankfully also a seasonal offering. So, I threw together a sampling of three currently on the market, whipped together a food pairing and headed off to rehearsal.189114_709116582710_8120832_n

We’re reading and working the script, a satirical swipe at the security state, out of Eddie Marks’ Uptown Apartment. Eddie plays my hapless NSA agent’s, a disillusioned company man who realizes that he’s been set up for failure by the agency and falls for Catherine, the sexy KGB agent babysitting Snowden.

The Pumpkin Beers are just making an appearance on shelves, though it is still a bit early. There are really cool weather beers, with the bite of expectant winter cold in the air and the scent of turning autumn leaves. I brought three to the rehearsal, Pov’s eyes lighting up when she spotted the telltale black and orange label of the first, Pumking, from Southern Tier Brewing out of New York, sporting a hefty 8.6% ABV. It poured to a really nice deep copper color and an off white head. This was one of the richest of the pumpkin beers I’ve tasted, coming off sweet and almost thick in flavor, with ample notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Povs loved it, and was somewhat taken aback by the flavor, in a good way.

Pumpkin beers with the author's seasonal take on traditional German Flamkuchen

Pumpkin beers with the author’s seasonal take on traditional German Flamkuchen

Guy Wicke, local actor and proprietor of Wicke International performing arts promotion had never before tasted Pumpkin beers. He was tasting a can of Pumpkin Ale from The Wild Onion Brewing company out of suburban Lake Barrington, a small but solid craft brewer. “

“It was like tasting a pumpkin pie in a can…with a kick,” he offered. At 5.4% ABV, this didn’t pack the kick of Pumking, and was lighter in flavor. It poured to a lighter copper color as well, with a thin off-white head. Across the room, my co-director, Erik Parsons, was working his way through a long neck bottle of Arcadia Ales Jaw-jacker spiced Ale. Again, not as rich as Pumking, the added spice of nutmeg, cinnamon and All Spice was muted and lighter in flavor. At 6%ABV, it made for a comfortable brew.

I poured Povs and Nick Haugland, my Snowden, the last of the Pumking as Ed marks dove into a line. “The Agency, as we like to call it, enables Network Warfare operations to defeat terrorists and their organizations at home and abroad, consistent with U.S. laws and the protection of privacy and civil liberties. Okay, we just threw in that last part to cover our ass…Let me break it down this way, some 12 year old will come along sooner rather than later and render every spying capability we have obsolete, and he’ll do it from the back of his mom’s Volvo on the way to soccer practice. Our job at the NSA is to stay one step ahead of that 12 year old. That 12 year old only has to be right once. The NSA has to be right every time…”
Pumpkin beer is perfect for those late autumn hearty meals with spice and depth and character. This night I paired it with my take on a traditional German favorite called Flamkuchen. It’s a sort of a German pizza of sorts, served on a cracker this crust, with a cream cheese-like sauce traditionally topped with bacon and caramelized onion. To pull it together with the beer, I topped the Flamkucken with a mix of shredded sweet potato, chopped onion, mint and a touch of brown sugar. Lightly browned bits of bacon were added, and the whole thing placed in an oven preheated to 380 F, for about 12 minutes, or until the edges of the crust had browned nicely. Cut into wedges, I garnished with chopped parsley. I made two that night. They were gone in an instant.

Generally I am of two minds on Pumpkin beers, which have grown in popularity over the last several years. First, I believe that they should not over power the palette. Pumking comes right up to that line without crossing it. I enjoy a bit bolder flavors, though there are times a lighter brew works in the absence of meal in helping to capture that autumnal character of the season. More to come on other Pumpkin beers soon…

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.
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BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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Revolution and Beer…of the Week, Romania’s Timisoarana Beer

You’ve probably never heard of the Romanian town of Timisoara. There was a Roma girl I knew there once on one of my first trips to the Balkans just after the fall of the Soviet Union. I’m recalling an evening in a friend’s flat in Belgrade. The friend rented out the front room to a Roma family that was selling odds and ends at a local flea market. I had a room off the kitchen to myself. The girl leaned at the door as I wrote in a journal, her mother and grandmother at the stove, filling the apartment with the wonderous scents of grilling meats, sautéing vegetables and a ubiquitous mix of aromatic Balkan spices.IMG_0847

The girl was 18, with aspirations of attending dental school one day. Those aspirations were plagued by the tragedy of the Balkans in the wake of the collapse of communism and her Roma heritage, a heritage which evoked acute discrimination across much of Europe, leaving the Roma segregated in a cruel sort of apartheid. Lifting a mug of Timisoarana Beer, a clean and perfectly balanced pale lager, the golden color reminded me of the gold in the girl’s auburn eyes. She’d offered me a bottle of the beer from her home town, part of a stash her father and uncle in the next room had carried as they skirted Serbian customs over small country roads on the frontier between the two nations. Now and then her grandmother would intrude, drawing our hands together with her flour covered frail fingers and e3licit uncomfortable blushes from the girl and I with over-eager talk of marriage. 439363-R1-E017_017

The city of Timisoara itself is a roadmap of the last five centuries of European history, falling to the Ottoman Turks for almost two centuries, became part of the Hapsburg Empire and was all but destroyed during the Second World War. The Timisoarana brewery itself opened in 1718, just two years after Prince Eugene of Savoy forced the Turks to abandon the town, making it among some of the oldest beers in Europe. I like to think the supreme and precise balance of the beer reflects that history, and the ethnic and national influences that washed across southern Europe like successive floods, each laying their own character.

The beer takes me back to that night, a chill autumn breeze off the Danube River just across the road, the rattle and bell of the last tram for the night, exotic foods, the beer and her. I was learning, those days. There were too many stories about the Roma in Europe, which carelessly could be affirmed through naïve observation of Roma pickpockets, beggars on trains and upon street corners. Thieves! Criminals! Those were the refrains often heard. I endeavored to fight those misconceptions at every turn, and this good family was the perfect place to begin.220px-Fabrica_de_Bere_Timisoara

And so I am raising this glass of Timisoarana, which is purely and simply crafted and would adhere precisely to the German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot of 1516. In that law, only water, barely and hops were to be used-they didn’t know about yeast in 1516, though they used it. 5%ABV, it poured to a full white head with simple lacing. I like to think that first beer back in 1993 helped to open my mind a bit. I never saw her or the family again, but I sometimes recall those evening’s building bridges of friendship and understanding over a fine bottle of Timisoarana beer.

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