Old Chicago, which has put a renewed emphasis on serving craft beers over the past two years, has once again scored a couple of exclusive brews.
The Colorado-based restaurant group began serving HGH Part Duh from Oskar Blues yesterday as part of its annual I Love Beer Mini Tour in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Oregon and Wisconsin. The high-end, small-batch beer was dry-hopped with Cascade hops grown on the brewery's fifty-acre Hops & Heifers ranch in Longmont.
But Old Chicago's Colorado locations also landed another coup, a taste of a formerly draft-only beer from Oregon's highly-regarded Deschutes Brewing that will soon be bottled. Chainbreaker White IPA is an experimental beer that combines a yeasty wheat base with a hops-forward IPA. Bottles won't be released until late March, but beer lovers in Colorado can try it now at Old Chicago.
The I Love Beer Mini Tour is Old Chicago's only tour of the year in which customers can pick eight of their own favorite beers to qualify for their T-shirt.
In other Mini Tours, the restaurant chain lays out the eight beers ahead of time. It runs through February 14, at which point both HGH and Chainbreaker will be taken off the menu.
HGH, which stands for Home Grown Hops, is a 7.5 percent ABV beer that was released in limited quantities last year. A small amount was also canned for sale in Longmont.
"It's a great story," says Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis. "It was a cool year, going out and planting the hops on two acres with the employees and then picking them. We got to be hands on and to get down and dirty out there and take pride in it."
In 2011, Oskar Blues brewed one of its cult favorites, Deviant Dales IPA, for an exclusive run at Old Chicago. That beer went on to medal at the Great American Beer Festival and will be packaged for the first time in sixteen-ounce cans this March.
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Old Chicago has worked with a number of Colorado brewers on exclusive beers for its Mini Tours, including Tommyknocker, Breckenridge, Boulder Beer and Ska Brewing, which made a beer called Big Shikes for American Craft Beer week in 2011.