Uppers & Downers

Photos by Eva Dietch

I haven’t had a chance to write about this before, largely because my co-conspirator Michael Kiser always does it so much better on his grown-up website, yet Uppers & Downers is something I’m extremely proud of and excited about. What started as a fun partnership a few years ago during my time at Intelligentsia, has grown into an ongoing series that’s returning in February and going new places in 2016.

Coffee beers confound me. I love coffee, I love beer, and I want to like when they come together but I often don’t. I often find that the final product is just fine, fine meant in a somewhat anaemic sense. Too often they feel like craft beer appropriating craft coffee, but using it in a commodity fashion. Instead of tasting qualities that make specialty coffee interesting, many beers that boast the inclusion of a certain roaster or specific coffee just manifest a note of roast in the final drink. There are certainly exceptions however, and what has always excited me most is the opportunity to create something delightful, something better than the sum of its parts.

UppersAndDowners_Chicago15-82.jpgCoffee culture shares wonderful parallels with beer culture, parallels that I cherish just as much as the contrasts between them. I think coffee has a huge amount to learn from beer, but I think beer has a lot to learn from coffee too. I admire so much about how breweries work alongside one another and the way they distinguish themselves in such a crowded market. Yet I think coffee has a stronger focus on ingredient, what we lack in controlling process, we somewhat make up on by identifying the source of quality.

Uppers & Downers is an event series designed to explore the marriage of coffee and beer. It takes shape in different forms, pub quizzes, fun merchandise, intimate events and big events, namely our festival – which is returning for its second year on Feb 20 in the beautiful Thalia Hall. We’re partnering with Intelligentsia, the great people at La Marzocco, and a host of other fantastic roasters and brewers to give guests a dynamic sensory experience that’s unique, fun and delicious.

Read more about it at Good Beer Hunting, tickets go live tomorrow. See you there?UppersAndDowners_Chicago15-147.jpg

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