Category Archives: Beer in Southern Illinois

Learn How to Make Russian and Finnish Home Brews

I was asked by the Neighborhood Co-Op to create some beer-related classes for their upcoming cooking class schedule this season. I think we have some exciting offerings for the next couple of months!

Because of the peculiarities of the liquor laws in our area, I was unable to do my first choice, pairing beer with food. However, I think we’ve come up with something just as fun! I’ll be teaching people how to make a couple of incredibly easy brews which need no extra equipment beyond a pot and a mason jar. (If you can can, you can make beer!) We’ll learn all about the histories of these brews (which people have been making in their kitchens for centuries) and make traditional food to accompany them.

Below are descriptions of the classes. You can register for each by clicking on the link at the end of the description.



Russian Home Brewing

Saturday, February 11
5 PM to 8 PM
$20 for Co-Op members/$25 for non-members

Most people think that home brewing is a complicated hobby that requires a lot of expensive equipment. Not true for many traditional home brews of various national origins. Come learn how to make kvass, a Russian home brew made—incredibly—with rye bread! We’ll put together an incomparable loaf of rye, make a fantastic appetizer and entrée to accompany it, and then turn it into the national home brew of Russia. Bring a Mason jar, preferably 1 or 2 L, to bring home your Russian home brew.

(I hope to make okroshka, a cold Russian soup made with kvass, as one of the appetizers. Come try the food of the other side of the world!)

Sign up for Russian Home Brewing here.


Finnish Home Brewing

Saturday, May 5
5 PM to 8 PM
$20 for Co-Op members/$25 for non-members

It is said about the Finns that they “don’t drink any more than anybody else—they just drink it all at once.” Come learn about Sima, the May Day drink of Finland, a sparkling lemonade with a bit of a kick; and Karpalojuoma, or Cranberry Sparkle. We’ll make Finnish doughnuts to accompany the Sima, per tradition; and a handful of appetizers to whet the palette for the coming warm weather. Bring a Mason jar, preferably 1 or 2 quarts, to bring home your Finnish home brew.

(A home brew from my ancestral home! This fantastically easy drink is a simple crowd pleaser. Get ready for a Suomi extravaganza!)

Sign up for Finnish Home Brewing here.

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Announcing Scratch Brewing Company

Just down the dirth path from where we will be building our brewery in Ava, Illinois

Once upon a time I embarked upon a brewing and blogging mission that was to serve a singular purpose: to catalogue my adventure in starting a brewery in southern Illinois. Shortly therein I discovered that starting a brewery would take some time and that my writing interests tilted toward an examination of the intersection of beer and food. So this space suddenly became dedicated to food and beer pairing and a passionate exploration of farming in this region of southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri, and western Kentucky.

I never gave up the dream of starting the brewery, however, and I continued to research how to make the fantasy a reality. I also quickly realized that in starting a business there is a virtue in exposing less before you know exactly how things will take shape. I applaud those who have shown the bare bones of their plans as they’ve created them. But I realized that I didn’t have it in me to discuss every detail. Deals fall through; people come and go (some even pass from this world); concepts change; money evaporates. There is an unsung beauty in revealing less in order to let the things in this world pass by quietly, as so often they do.

In the course of creating the brewery that I am announcing to the world publicly this week, I had several viable–indeed, seemingly concrete–possibilities fall through before my eyes, and just as many others that were suggested and never materialized. A beautiful old building in a small town, an idiosyncratic Pentacostal church, and now, as we settle into our final locale, a small building we will construct ourselves on two acres of gorgeous wood land in Ava, Illinois.

This was nearly two years of constant work, most of it struggle, weighing options, calculating money, and biting nails about the future with little proven track record in the area about what to expect it would bring. We still keep those anxieties to a certain extent, but we also move forward with a belief in the strength of an idea that has been chiseled to fit us on so many levels.

I am proud to tell you that following the direction of my blog of the last two years, Scratch Brewing Company, my endeavor with Aaron Kleidon and Ryan Tockstein, will focus to the greatest extent possible on creating beers made with local ingredients, grown in our garden, foraged in the southern Illinois hills, or found in local farms. Our food will be produced under the same ethic. We will start with a small but carefully crafted menu that is created with ingredients the majority of which haven’t traveled more than 100 miles.

If you’d like to follow the progress of the brewery, go to where we’ll post regular updates. You can also follow us on Facebook. I won’t post too much about the brewery here. I’ll continue to use the blog to write beer reviews, create beer pairings and focus on beer and food in southern Illinois.

Here’s to good beer! I hope you all enjoy what we have in store. I think I speak for Ryan and Aaron when I say that we look forward to sharing it with you.


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Thursday Tastings: Big Muddy Monster

As I’m spending the next couple of weeks celebrating my local co-op, I thought I’d also focus my beer reviews and pairings on local brews and local food.

My first review is of our one truly local brewery, and one whose beers I have yet to review: Big Muddy Brewing Company in Murphysboro. Big Muddy has been offering beers regionally for about two years now, growing from a local distribution, slowly making its way north to the Chicago area. Owner Chuck Stuhrenberg has been a generous guide into the world of beer, allowing me to brew with him on occasion and to help him pour beer at regional beer festivals, such as St. Louis’s Microfest and Madison’s Great Taste of the Midwest.

I’m reviewing his latest release, the Big Muddy Monster, a beer he brewed as a collaboration with another friend Shawn Connelly, southern Illinois’s Beer Philosopher. The Big Muddy Monster is an India Brown Ale, a hybrid beer that is part hopped up American Brown ale, part malted up American IPA. The beer has only recently become available in bottled form, and is a hot seller, if the sales at Kindling, where I work at once a week, are any indication. The beer I’m reviewing today is only the second batch brewed on a large scale, and will surely go through some more tweaks in the months ahead.

Below are my tasting notes and tomorrow I pair it with a smoky, cherry wood-fired bleu cheese burger.

Big Muddy Monster

India Brown Ale/Specialty Beer

Interesting mix of chocolate and citrus hops. A little roasted aroma with almost a hint of milkiness, as if there were a lactic addition. Low esters, if any, hidden behind the malt. No DMS or diacetyl.
8/10 points

Dark, dark brown, almost black. Moderate off-white head that hangs around the surface of the beer and on the sides of the glass. Almost opaque, because so dark. I know they’re still working on making the color more brown on the brown side and this appears to still be leaning black.
2/3 points

Very dry. Perception of dryness is enhanced by the roasty character of the malts and possibly a fairly robust hop addition for bittering. Surprisingly less sweet than it smells (and than I remember from the first version). Roasty character comes to the fore with melanoidins in tow. Almost too heavily roasted character which borders on char. Dominant coffee flavor with a hint of chocolate. Citrus hops take a back seat to malts.
15/20 points

Moderately full body with moderate carbonation. A hint of creaminess, but generally quite dry. Don’t get much alcohol “warming” effect, but the strength of the 6.5% alcohol content sure creeps up on you quick.
5/5 points

I enjoy this beer. I like the complex malt profile and that the hops enhance the malt flavors but aren’t the driving force of the beer. I found this a bit drier than I remember in the first version and, considering the kind of creamy, milky aroma that must come from the melanoidins in the malts, I think that a lactose addition might actually be nice to enhance the sweetness and give the beer more creaminess on the palate. Just enough to bring the beer together, but perhaps not as much as in a milk stout, for example. Very enjoyable sipping beer. Would be great with pulled pork, bleu cheese, or anything with anise.
8/10 points

38 points: Excellent

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Save the Craft!

I haven’t written much here about two pieces of legislation that are being discussed in the Illinois state legislature. That’s primarily because a couple of people have already done a great job doing so. Shawn Connelly at the Beer Philosopher has written a detailed description of the laws and what they mean for our local brewer, Chuck Stuhrenberg at Big Muddy. Chuck, along with one other craft brewery out of Chicago, are essentially fighting off Anheuser-Busch/InBev single handedly.

But this legislation is also some of the most important for the state since Prohibition. Not only would it guarantee that small guys like Chuck would be able to continue to self distribute their beer, it would allow all start ups to do the same, and — for the first time since Prohibition — it would allow brewpubs to distribute their own beer. I wrote about how important this could be for the Illinois economy (as much as for local craft beer lovers) in an opinion piece this month for the Southern.

One website based out of Chicago, Guys Drinking Beer, also recently took it upon themselves to unite craft beer drinkers around the state and give them resources to make their voice heard. They created Save the Craft, a project which serves to give craft beer drinkers from Chicago to Metropolis comprehensive information about the legislation, as well as specific action items that anyone can take to let their voice be heard.

This is an extremely important bill and one that has not at all yet been decided. There are strong constituents on all sides of the issue, and it is important that if you are interested in seeing your beer choices remain varied, and, better, to continue to grow, that you take a moment to inform yourself about the laws, and to even consider writing a letter to your state senator and representative. They are listening; I can tell you that with full confidence because I wrote to my state Senator, Dave Leuchtefeld (R – Okawville), a month ago and he personally called me to tell me read the letter and that he’s listening.

I urge anyone who is interested in learning more to visit Save the Craft at Guys Drinking Beer, and to visit it often. If you are a beer drinker who still isn’t sure how the laws will affect you, you can also read my short interview with Ryan Hermes, one of the guys behind Guys Drinking Beer, as he answers some of my questions on today.

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Southern Illinois Home Brew Club

If you missed last week’s Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest in Murphysboro, you missed a highly successful inaugural festival. Over 600 people attended–well over the “sell out” number–and almost every beer was drunk. Our friends at Windy Hill Hops sold out of all of their hops for the year. Read more over at the Southern (and see an absolutely horrifying picture of me in home brew Skeletor mode from the Daily Egyptian… Halloween came early.)

You also missed an announcement made by Ryan Tockstein that we are starting a home brew club here in southern Illinois. Along with fellow home brewer Aaron Kleidon, we brewed up a couple of batches over the course of the afternoon, while collecting names of the many local home brewers who are interested in being a part of the club. After meeting home brewers at Kindling on Monday nights, we realized that most people are spread out widely throughout the region and have no central place to gather. We thought it would be nice to get people together and to pool our wealth of knowledge.

In the end we had 45 people sign up from all different brew levels and backgrounds. We had everyone from novices who are wanting to learn how to start to the former head of southern Illinois’s now defunct home brew club. We will find out some way to accommodate all of the different levels of interest and experience, but 45 people is a great start. We’re looking forward to getting this thing up and running!

If you would like to be involved with what is certainly shaping up to be southern Illinois’s biggest and baddest home brew club, then e-mail me and I will make sure you’re on the contact list.

It was great meeting so many of you at last week’s festival and I hope to meet more in the coming months.


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Frankenstein Beer

This is my first contribution to the Session, a monthly collaboration of beer bloggers writing on a chosen beer-related topic. This month The Beer Wench has chosen “Frankenstein Beers” as the topic du jour.  Links to all of the blog posts can be found in the comments section of the Beer Wench’s Frankestein Beer column. Read more about Beer Blogging Friday (a.k.a. “The Session”–I know, I’m a few days late!) over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Southern Illinois is a bit of a black hole when it comes to good food and drink. (Although much has changed in the last year and a half, due to the persistent efforts of one Shawn Connelly, a.k.a. The Beer Philosopher, and the effects of Kindling Spirits, Food, and Florals, and its extensive craft beer selection in Carterville.) There’s no great bar, no great brewery (although Big Muddy is making inroads), no great restaurant (although Tom’s Place and Yellow Moon might just be close, and Melange is right behind) and no great home brew store (although Windy Hill recently announced that soon they may start). The closest truly great place for home brewers is St. Louis Wine and Beermaking in, well, St. Louis. Our local place, Old Town Liquors, is great in a pinch, but you’ll never be able to find the extensive array of yeasts, grains, hops, or equipment that someone serious about their craft needs to make good beer.

Recently I started brewing with a good friend of mine, Ryan Tockstein, a home brewer who recently moved to the area from a little further upstate. Ryan teaches chemistry and was a member of a home brew club in Edwardsville when he was a student there. He is serious about beer. Several weeks ago we were itching to brew but hadn’t planned early enough to order our ingredients from Northern Brewer in order to get them in time for the Labor Day holiday, so, we decided to support our local home brew store, and make a Frankenstein beer with whatever ingredients we could cobble together at Old Town Liquors.

The plan was to make an IPA. When we got there it became obvious that instead of doing an all grain batch, we’d have to do at least a partial mash since none of the grains were crushed (and neither of us had a grain mill), and the cost of the grains was about twice what it normally was. In order to do a 10-gallon batch (hey, we both needed enough beer to make it worth our efforts!), we had to buy roughly 12 lbs of uncrushed grain and 10 lbs of liquid malt extract. Of course, there were only 4 lbs of any one grain, so we ended up freakishly patching together 4 lbs of Pale Malt, 4 lbs of 2-row barley, 2 lbs of Pilsner malt, 1 lb of rye, and 1 lb of roasted barley. That would be combined with 6.6 lbs of extra light malt extract and 3.3 lbs of light malt extract.

Old Town is the kind of store you have to dodge soon-to-be drunks in the parking lot, and climb over already-past-drunks in front of the door to enter. Bud Light is likely the biggest seller, and the surprise of discovering home brewing ingredients is worn off by the skeptical speculation about their age and where they may have been before arriving on the shelf. Old Town is also like the castle in Emerald City for home brewers in the area, however, because it’s the only place where you can get ingredients, and there are ingredients hidden around every corner. Just ask at the front counter, for example, and you’ll be led to a back room where a wall–glowing green, I swear!–of fresh hops (well, fresh except for those two bags with big holes in them) stare at you in vacuum-sealed packages. Who knew hops were even available in southern Illinois (although Windy Hill just started selling their own–if only we’d had those a month ago!)? Well, to make our Old Town monster we loaded up on 1 oz Norther Brewer, 1 oz Columbus, 1 oz Fuggles, 1 oz Saaz, and 2 oz of Willamette (I said this was a Frankenstein beer, didn’t I?). In general we were going with somewhat earthier hops to complement the darker, earthier beer we were about to create with the rye and the roasted barley.

For yeast we used a couple packets that I still had at home: one safale yeast and one Nottingham.

The morning was an exercise–literally–in crushing grains by hand. We went back in time to an era without grain mills and with two rolling pins and a couple of gallon Ziplock bags (surely the monks were using those in the middle ages). We crushed 12, count them 12, bags of grains by hand. Exhausted, we mashed them in at about 160 degrees, and then sparged to our 10 gallons of water. That was already at the 4-hour mark and I had an appointment, so Ryan finished the batch without me. He added the malt extract and racked to two 5-gallon carboys.

In the morning he woke up to this horrifying scene

The evidence: One airlock, three feet from carboy; yeast splatter marks on the wall; giant yeasty foam emerging from neck.

One carboy overflowing with beer. I guess that 1-year old Safale yeast still had some kick.

We let it sit for about a week and then dry hopped with the hops that were left: 25% Columbus and 75% Northern Brewer in one carboy and 75% Columbus and 25% Northern Brewer (for a total of 1 oz in each carboy), in the other. The majority Northern Brewer only sat in the secondary for a week before we bottled. The other sat for two weeks and was bottled last weekend.

But that means that I got to try this monstrous concoction and can report on the results…

It’s strange, I’m not going to lie. We were worried that it would be too light when we bottled. The aroma is fantastic, but it felt a bit thin for all those hops, and for the style. However, after sitting in the bottle for a week, and now for two weeks, it’s really built up some body. There’s a great roasty rye flavor that’s well balanced with the other malts, but the hops are almost a bit too grapefruity. So you get this deep charred flavor, which, if that were the only thing distinguishing this IPA might be interesting in itself, and then you get this great aroma from the hops, and good hoppy earthy citrusy flavor, which would also be interesting if it were the only distinguishing character of the beer. But together, they’re… well… kind of a Frankenstein of a beer. A bit patched together, but hey, he had his good parts, too, right? I mean, my God, he was ALIVE afterall! That’s got to count for something. I’ve got a special place in my heart for him… I think he’ll age to become the kind of monster who, let’s face it, isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but you’re okay with bringing to parties.

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Filed under Beer in Southern Illinois, Beer Stories, My Home Brews

Beer-Paired Dinners Wednesdays at Melange

Something big is coming to Carbondale…

Carbondale's MelangeFor all of you beer lovers who yearn for good food (and pairing the two), Melange has got your number. Starting this Wednesday, the excellent food and drink establishment on Rte 51, just north of Southern Illinois University, will be serving an innovative menu of beer and food and an innovative way of experiencing both.

Melange will be offering a 3-course meal, each course paired with your choice of two beers, hand selected by the Beer Philosopher, Shawn Connelly. You can get all three courses, or just one. You can try a beer with round two, but not with round three. The pairings and the courses are up to you. No matter what, though, the dinner will fit your budget, and the food and beer will be excellent.

This week’s menu is:


Grilled and Chilled Marinated Shrimp and Spring Vegetables ($12.00)

Marinated in olive oil, fresh herbs and spices, served with crostini and balsamic reduction

paired with Pilsner Urquell ($3.50) or North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner ($3.50)


Pan Roast (Half $12.00, Full $22.00)

Fresh salmon, shrimp, mussels, clams and lump crab meat simmered in rich seafood stock, served with French baguettes

paired with New Belgium Mothership Wit ($3.50) or Unibroue Blanche de Chambly ($4.50)


Baby Back Ribs (Half $15.00, Full $22.00)

Slow smoked pork ribs glazed with Melange’s bourbon BBQ sauce, served with hand battered onion rings and fresh cut coleslaw

paired with Weihenstephaner Korbinian ($6.50) or Ayinger Celebrator ($5.50)


Creme Brulee ($7.00)

Rich vanilla custard topped with caramalized sugar

paired with
Southern Tier Hoppe ($8.00) or Southern Tier Hop Sun ($3.50)

That’s the menu, and, I should add… drumroll… I am informally consulting on the food. So you know it’ll be good.

Dinner is served from 6:30 to 9:00 so come out when the schedule suits you. This is one of the most significant steps forward for craft beer in Carbondale. At the moment, Melange hopes to do this every Wednesday, so there will always be a day of the week you can count on to get hand-selected beers paired with well crafted food. However, they will only keep doing it if there’s a good response. We need more regular events like this to build up our local community of good beer and food, so come out to support this great new initiative in Carbondale.

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Agenda: Good Beer in Carbondale

This week the Southern Illinoisan is asking readers whether they think that grocery stores should be allowed to sell beer and other packaged liquors.

If you are a local who is interested in craft beer, this is a major venue to make yourself heard. All you have to do is go to the Southern Illinoisan’s website, and click “no” in the poll asking readers if “Carbondale should continue to prohibit grocers and convenience stores from selling packaged liquor?”

Here at She Brews Good Ale, I am going one step further in the fight for good craft beer. As of today I have created and am offering T-shirts to people in support of craft beer here in Carbondale. Sure, our mayor has said that “we’re not going anywhere” on the packaged liquor law front. In fact, he’s not even sure he wants to put the petition that 7,500 locals voted in favor of on the agenda.

But I do.

So, I’m offering, totally and completely without profit to myself, T-shirts in support of making craft beer the #1 issue on the mayor’s agenda here in Carbondale. Not only is the mayor brushing this issue aside, but so are certain members of the city council, like Chris Wissman, who thinks that this isn’t something that we “give a rat’s ass about” (he really said that). Apparently, getting a quarter of the population of Carbondale’s signatures is “easy.”

If this is something you give a rat’s ass about: buy the shirt, wear it around town, and buy good beer. If you see someone wearing it, ask them why they want to change the law.

If you don’t know why, inform yourself.

T-shirts are available on CafePress at cost. I just got mine yesterday and it’s AWEsome.



Filed under Beer in Southern Illinois

To sell packaged liquor or not to sell packaged liquor in Carbondale

For the last couple of weeks, the issue of whether to allow more licenses to sell packaged liquor (particularly to grocery stores) has been debated in Carbondale. On the surface this may seem like a distant question, or one of mere convenience, but for craft beer drinkers in the area it could be the first real step to getting quality beer throughout the city.

Shawn Connelly has been keeping close tabs on the situation over at the Beer Philosopher. Go there to keep up to date and to learn more about the wide-ranging implications of the law locally. Here I wanted to post the letter I wrote to one of Carbondale’s City Council members in support of the potential new legislation. Hopefully this will provoke some people to “get out the vote,” and sign the petition at our local Kroger, Schnucks, Neighborhood Co-Op or Arnold’s Market, in order to allow the sale of packaged liquor here in Carbondale.

To the Carbondale City Council:

My name is Marika Josephson. I am a beer writer here in Carbondale and I wanted to write in support of opening licenses for packaged liquors from the informed perspective of someone who follows beer drinking trends locally and country-wide.

It seems that there are two main points at issue in the debate over whether to allow more licenses: safety and economics. A few notes on both of those points:

It is understandable that the sale of packaged liquors in more venues may drum up memories of Carbondale Past, a time when the city had reason to worry about the ease with which youth could get their hands on liquor (and cheaply). It was interesting and heartening, therefore, to read an article in the Daily Egyptian last week, in which one student reporter talked to another student about how the law, if changed, might affect him. Richard Mouser, a junior, said he was “unsure whether the possible increase in liquor caps will change his shopping habits.” It seems that convenience was the greatest determining factor as to where he and the majority of people would buy their liquor. In fact, in cities like Charleston and DeKalb, “college towns” where packaged liquor licenses have been extended to grocery stores, an increase in sales tax revenues have not followed, implying that more beer has not been bought as a result of more licenses. Rather, the place where liquor was purchased has changed. The bottom line is that the majority of people do not buy more when more liquor is offered in more stores, but they buy what they always bought in the stores where it’s most convenient.

The discussion about safety is also reminiscent of laws passed recently, in which states have lifted the cap on beers with a particularly high alcohol content. Ohio was one state which controversially raised its cap in 2002, only to find that instead of increasing dramatically, drunk driving deaths decreased in the now eight years since they raised the cap. Thus irresponsible safety issues similarly did not follow an increase in the ease with which people could buy stronger beer.

One reason for this is that beers with a higher alcohol content are generally more expensive, and usually consumed by aficionados. Indeed, while the law currently being debated in Carbondale may not affect the average shopper’s habits, it could dramatically affect the habits of shoppers who are (and are becoming) more and more interested in the centuries-old craft of beer making. Craft beer is only a small portion of the market, but one that has grown exponentially in the last five years. And it was only in the last year that southern Illinois residents could buy some of the world’s (and the country’s) award-winning beer because, in spite of the hundreds of microbreweries operating around the country, only a small number of those beers were available here in Carbondale. It was only in the last year that the stores licensed to sell liquor gave them shelf space. But that shelf space is still relatively small, and not available in all stores. Increasing shelf space in grocery stores will force liquor stores to follow suit.

Why is this a good thing?

It was propitious that on the same day that the Southern Illinoisan published a front-page article about the grocery store petitions, it also published a front-page article about Chuck Stuhrenberg, the local brewmaster behind southern Illinois’s only microbrewery: Big Muddy Brewing. Chuck’s success in only the first seven months since he started selling local beer out of Murphysboro shows how people don’t just want to knock back inexpensive swill, but are interested in drinking hand-crafted, local beer, made with fresh ingredients. Chuck’s second beer is a “Dunkel Dawg,” a German-style beer brewed in honor of the Salukis. Brewers like Chuck want to support their local economy, and one of the consequences of allowing more stores to sell beer is that some of those stores—Schnucks and the Neighborhood Co-Op, for example—specialize in regional foods, and would support and highlight local brewers like Chuck. And when business for a brewer like Big Muddy can grow, that means more jobs end up right back here in southern Illinois.

I myself am an inveterate craft beer drinker. I also recently made a commitment to eating locally and sustainably. Most craft beer drinkers are like me, and there is a healthy contingent of us here in southern Illinois. Kindling Spirits, Food, and Florals in Carterville hosts weekly beer tastings, presided over by Carbondale’s own popular beer writer, Shawn Connelly. Shawn has worked tirelessly to educate people about the craft of beer making and the quality options for beer that are available locally. Occasional beer-paired dinners at Kindling are sold out, drawing interest from people the region over. This October, Big Muddy will also be holding its first annual beer festival. Craft beer is on the verge of making a real turn here in southern Illinois, and it could be one of the best things that could hit the local economy during the current recession.

These are the most important reasons to take selling packaged liquor in grocery stores seriously; the safety of locals won’t be affected, but the economy could instead get a real boost by having a greater number of outlets supporting local brewers and their efforts.

I thank you for your time and consideration of this letter.


Marika Josephson


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Thursday Tastings & Friday Forks

I’ve been slightly less active here in the past few weeks than I was a couple of months ago.  Part of the reason for that is that I’m now writing about beer almost daily for, as the Carbondale Craft Beer Examiner.

In order not to double up my posts on both sites, then, I’ve decided to focus more on homebrewing and other crazy stories of beer life in southern Illinois (a good one to come shortly) here on the blog, and move much (though not all) of my beer reviews and recipes to Examiner.

So, for those of you following me here at SBGA, make sure you check out my beer reviews every Thursday at Examiner.

And my beer pairings every Friday, in which I attempt to create a perfectly paired meal with the beer I reviewed on Thursday.

All meals are made with ingredients found locally in southern Illinois, and all beers are also available in the area.  I will still post reviews here for interesting beers I find on vacation (or that other people find for me on vacation); and recipes–especially ones that are near and dear to my heart–that go well with the homebrews I’m working on.  Soon, one of those recipes will be for the Philosopher’s Pizza, the pizza that Philosopher #2 and I have perfected over the years, which just so happens to go perfectly with the light ale that has almost completely departed my keg.

And in the meantime, check out this week’s review of Founders Old Curmudgeon Ale, a finicky old ale with a whopping 9.8% ABV.

And the ideal pair for it: Mexican Chile Cream Soup.

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