Drinking with beer nerds 

John Laffler, Jim Magas, and Jess Straka share their current boozy obsessions

John Laffler, brewer, Goose Island

click to enlarge JOHN DUGGAN

The beer I'm working on that I'm most excited about: Eva It's a saison aged in oak French red-wine barrels with a ridiculous amount of tart Michigan cherries and a wild yeast called Brettanomyces clausenii. Extremely light in body, nice acid, and bursting with notes of luscious cherry skin, cherry juice, and tropical fruit from the yeast. Mild oak and funk add complexity and round out the character.

The beer someone else makes that I'm most excited about: The Publican's Michael McAvena, who blends his own faro I don't know anyone else in the States who does so. Faro is basically lambic blended sparingly with sugar, which sounds simple enough, but it takes a surprising amount of skill to get the balance right. I won't give away all of Michael's secrets, but I always enjoy stopping by the Publican. In fruit season he'll add different fruits as a sugar source. He had a strawberry blend a couple weeks ago that blew me away.

The beer I'm least excited about in general: yet another IPA Beer is so varied and rich in tradition, flavors, and possibility that I personally get frustrated when people get hung up on any one aspect of what beer can be or brewers go chasing after the newest hop or meaningless theoretical IBU calculations. At some point it became, "Hey, I made this crazy new beer!" "What, did you just add a bunch of hops to it?" Noooo—we can do better than that. Don't get me started on black IPAs—they're the cheese in the crust of craft beer.

What is musician and beer connoisseur Jim Magas drinking?

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