Local Beer Collaborations … try one at City Provisions.

August 27, 2011 at 4:28 am

Tom Keith

One of the hottest trends in beer these days is collaborations between brewers, and sometimes between brewers and chefs. We’ve already told you about an especially successful collaboration here.

Perhaps the best-known brewer-chef-collaborators is Jared Rouben, a former chef himself, at Per Se, one of the nation’s best restaurants, located in New York City. He’s now the head brewmaster at Goose Island Clybourn

But this article has nothing to do with Jared.

It’s all about Cleetus Friedman, the guy behind City Provisions (named Local Beet’s Restaurant of the Year). He loves his locally-produced beers. And most recently, he’s collaborated with Nick Barron, brewmaster at the award-winning Flossmoor Station, to produce a one-time-only beer, called Kirsch Von Blücher, a cherry-based dunkel weiss. “Cleetus named it,” said Nick. It’s a tribute to the 100 lbs. of cherries that were included in the 15 bbl mash. It’s also a tribute to Frau Blücher (if you’ve ever seen Mel Brooks’ film Young Frankenstein, you’ll get it). You’ll need to get to City Provisions (1820 W. Wilson, Chicago) or Flossmoor Station (1035 Sterling Avenue, Flossmoor, IL) soon, to try a sip. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So, what actually happens in a collaboration?

“We kicked around some ideas. We were thinking about doing a dunkel weiss [a dark wheat beer], and Cleetus suggested something with fruit in it,” said Nick.

“I was originally thinking about something with fennel and orange — a witbier,” related Cleetus. “Or maybe something with a seasonal fruit. But I wanted it to be a beer with just a few notes of fruit to it.” So he didn’t want a candy-fruit flavored beer. And he got what he wanted.

He picked up 100 lbs of cherries from Seedlings, in South Haven, Michigan, and delivered them to the train station in Flossmoor. There, Nick and his partner-in-crime, Mark Weinert, added them to the dunkel weiss mash, and let them ferment out.

It’s an interesting beer, well worth trying. The beer isn’t particularly sweet (a good thing), but the cherry flavor evokes images of sweetness. The toasty, caramel notes, which you’d expect from a dunkel weiss, make it a fairly complex, very worthwhile beer

This is just the start of collaborations for Cleetus. He’s planning a series of monthly beer collaborations with other brewers; he wants to focus on limited releases, available primarily only at his joint.

And, he’s featuring hard-to-find products on sale at his place from other locals. For example, I noticed a couple of bottles of Evanston-based FEW distillery products (more on that coming soon to The Local Beet).

Go there. Eat, drink. It’s all good.