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14. October 2015 · Comments Off on Drink Local, DuPage! And Other Tips for the Craft Beer Scene · Categories: Articles


Woman enjoying two local DuPage craft beers



By: Ellie Ramadani (Author of Beers//Books//Brigands) 14 October, 2015.

Now, Sustain DuPage would never condone irresponsible drinking, but we’ve been known to tie one or two on, especially if we’re in the neighborhood! If you’re even remotely into beer, then you know of the craft beer boom. And DuPage County is not shy about its local brews, with a total of approximately eleven different craft beer breweries within its borders. Man, is it a good time to imbibe for DuPagers.

For those of you that don’t know me, allow me to make my introduction. My name is Leyla, but feel free to call me Elle, and if I like you, Ellie is just fine. I’m a local criminal defense attorney, and a beer drinker. I have started a beer blog of my own over at Beers, Books & Brigands  where I talk about what I’m drinking, what I’m reading, and who I’m representing.

I’ll be writing here at Sustain DuPage as a beer correspondent, so you always know what’s tasty and local. In a series of posts, I’ll be telling you about the different local breweries and what you can expect if you go there. You won’t always agree with me on the beer, because taste is so subjective and all tastes are valid. Heck, you might not even agree that a certain brewery is in DuPage county! The metric I used for this series is that if the brewery was in a town such that at least part of the town was in DuPage county, I counted it. It just gives us more and more options when it comes to what we drink.

The following is a list of breweries in DuPage County:

1. Solemn Oath Brewery – Naperville

2. Urban Legend – Westmont

3. Noon Whistle – Lombard

4. Pollyanna – Lemont

5. Miskatonic – Darien

6. Lunar Brewing – Villa Park

7. Emmett’s – Downers Grove

8. Two Brothers – Warrenville and Aurora

9. Hopvine – Aurora

10. Flesk Brewing – Lombard (no taproom, will not be covered in this series, but look for it

at Binny’s if you want to try their stuff!)

11. Church Street – Itasca

I’ve been to about … 10 of the 10 of these breweries you can actually go to. (Flesk does not have a taproom facility where you can go and actually order a beer.) 

If you want to hit these spots in order to try some new beer, eat some frozen pizzas (Lunar Brewing serves those), and hang out with friends while you support a local business and help the local economy grow, that’s awesome.

But if you’re interested in learning more about beer, I have some tips for you. I only started drinking a couple years ago, even though I was already well past the legal drinking age. At first, I was convinced I hated beer because I didn’t like the first two beers I tried. But I stuck with it, and learned so much in the process.

So here are some tips for the person who wants to learn a lot about beer, and local beer.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Brewers and bartenders at craft breweries are often only too happy to help someone who doesn’t know their way around the beer list. If you have questions, ask. Even if the question is, “I really don’t know anything about beer; anything that you can recommend?” They’ll ask you some follow up questions, and then they’ll start making suggestions. Don’t ever worry about them thinking you’re an idiot; everyone was a beginner once. And the craft beer community is very welcoming. 

Sample. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples or a taste of the beers you’re trying to decide between. If you’re eyeing a raspberry cream ale, for example, but you’re not sure if it’ll be too sweet (or not sweet enough), ask if you can have a little taste. Most craft breweries have no problem with this, and you won’t be charged for it.

Think about styles. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a style that you like. Explore that. If you’re a coffee lover, for example, you’ll probably end up digging stouts and imperial stouts, many of which contain coffee notes. So once you’ve figured out that you like a certain style, you’ll be able to spot it on beer lists. Then you can ask for a taste and see if it’s to your liking before you order. This is great for the absolute novice, who may feel overwhelmed by all the different beers he or she sees on a list.

Order flights. This is a great way to figure out what style of beer you like. Flights are usually about four or five 5oz samples of different beers brewed at the brewery. This way, you can order a couple of fresh beers that you know were brewed on-site and figure out what styles you like, as I discussed above. That’ll help you navigate your way around a beer list as you get more into it.

Read the beer descriptions. A lot of breweries have beer menus that contain a detailed description of each beer. As you sip, read the description. Focus on what you’re drinking. Can you smell what the menu says the beer should smell like? Can you taste the different notes described? Make drinking the beer a conscious, mindful experience.

Keep track. It can be very helpful to keep track of what you’re drinking, what it tasted like, what you like. I use the app Untappd, available on iOS and Android, as well as a little blue notebook of tasting notes. (So if you see a girl at the bar counter writing in one of those Mead Fat Little Notebooks, come say hi!) Other people have a RateBeer account, which is a great resource because the RateBeer site contains all sorts of information about craft brews as well as detailed user-supplied tasting notes.

And that’s all there is to it! Stick around for my series on DuPage craft breweries, and raise a glass to drinking local. Cheers!

 Sustain DuPage can’t operate without your support. Find out here all the ways you can involve yourself!

06. October 2015 · Comments Off on Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability · Categories: Articles

John Mulrow at East Branch of the DuPage River



By: Sustain DuPage Board Member John Mulrow 6 October, 2015. 

There are many ways to frame the transition to sustainability. Most commonly, we hear about technology-based transitions: Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, industrial agriculture with organic and local agriculture, combustion engine cars with electric, recycling instead of landfills, etc. Framing the transition in this way allows us to picture the future as not much different from today, just with different nutrient and energy sources working behind the scenes.

A former EPA official reinforced this notion when he commented on the White House’s recently-announced Clean Power Plan: “It’s really a technology issue, and I think the only effective way to deal with climate change is to make sure we’re investing in technologies that will give people what they get today from fossil fuels at a [comparable] cost.”

To be sure, true sustainability – keeping resources, biodiversity and human systems in stasis with the planet’s ecological systems – is about much more than climate change and fossil fuels. But even in other realms of the discussion, the technology framework is often front and center.

A few years ago I worked with Worldwatch Institute Senior Fellow Erik Assadourian documenting behavior and lifestyle changes involved in the transition to sustainability. But rather than create guides with Ten Simple Things You Can Do to save the planet, we took a step back to the many factors that influence behavior and lifestyle. These factors are definable – they make up a thing called “culture.” WE created a simple yet powerful framework for transitioning culture from one of consumerism to true sustainability, and it continues to influence my work and writing on this topic.

Here are the basics:

First, the planet cannot keep up with today’s levels of human consumption and still function like we expect it to. The latest measurements from the Global Footprint Network show that humans are extracting, consuming, and emitting more than our God-given biological system can handle – we are in Earth Overshoot.” We would literally need another half of a planet to continue indefinitely consuming the way we do (and remember, “current” consumption levels still fail to provide adequate nutrition and sanitation for about a quarter of the world’s population).

It’s our culture that drives consumption. Culture can be defined as a set of social expectations that dictate how we must look and behave in order to be normal humans. Today it is completely normal to drive cars, buy new products, and consume processed foods on a nearly daily basis. Without hesitation we celebrate birthdays and holidays with disposable dishware and plastic gifts. And this lifestyle is expected or desired everywhere. It is this globally-shared culture that is driving unsustainability.

But how did we get here? The shift to a culture of consumerism happened mostly in the past 100 years, and its mechanisms are traceable. The shift to car-centric lives provides a great example. Today, US auto companies spend more on advertising than any other industry, surrounding us with images of the car-enabled good life and making it nearly impossible to imagine life without a car.

As the car industry grew in the early-mid 1900’s, more deliberate efforts were made to encourage car use: Car companies were allowed to buy up and shut down public transportation systems; Laws were passed against jaywalking, making streets the sole property of the car; and auto insurance companies sponsored classroom programs on the dangers of playing in the street. However uncoordinated, all these efforts have added up to a massive shift in humanity’s concept of travel.

We need another massive culture shift – toward sustainability. In order for humans to thrive well into the future, we need to make sustainable living culturally normal – just like consumerism feels normal today. We can take the lessons of past cultural shift and apply them, creating a deliberate shift to cultures of sustainability.

The shift is already happening around the globe! The Worldwatch Institute’s Transforming Cultures Project has documented hundreds of efforts to shift away from consumerism and toward sustainability. These efforts include the increasingly-legal Benefit Corporation status, the rise of the sharing economy, and smaller efforts to get us walking to school, using reusable diapers, and pursuing green burial.

A culture of sustainability is the fundamental requirement for saving the planet. Without it we are left with technology and policy solutions that do not fully fix the problem. With it, we may live lives that are not only healthier, but more equitable.

  Sustain DuPage can’t operate without your support. Find out here all the ways you can involve yourself!