It’s the official holiday season now, and a few Chicago brands are collaborating some boozy gifts to satisfy the most difficult to please.
First up is the beer this city has been waiting for since... forever? Hop Butcher for the World and Garrett Brands have joined together to give their fellow citizens the greatest holiday gift of all: Minted, an imperial chocolate stout that Hop Butcher promises tastes just like Frango Mints, the iconic chocolate mints that were forever associated with the now-defunct Marshall Field’s, although technically they were invented in Seattle.
Popcorn maker Garrett has been manufacturing Frangos since 2017, and they donated the mint oil to Hop Butcher, which continues to work on its new taproom in the former Half Acre Beer Co. space along Lincoln Avenue. The beer contains 10.5 percent alcohol and comes in 16-ounce cans, which began appearing in stores this week: for a complete list of locations, see Hop Butcher’s website. It’s a hot item as many stores are already sold out.
The Tribune’s Josh Noel got a chance to try Minted in advance and reports:
A beer nodding to Frango mints can only work through balance, and Minted pulls it off: a silky chocolate-mint note up front that’s never overbearing and gives way to a long, roasty, bittersweet chocolate finish that lingers surprisingly long — as long as the mint. It is thankfully not liquid dessert, and for that reason, probably won’t wow non-stout drinkers. But for stout drinkers who double as fans of chocolate and mint, it is one to savor.
Meanwhile, over at the Nisei Lounge in Wrigleyville, the same crackerjack mixologists who gave the world pumpkin-spice and Peeps-infused Malört have turned themselves into busy little elves, hard at work on infusing that same indescribable spirit with Brach’s candy canes. Because what can be more appropriate for the holiday season than trying to rinse away your self-loathing with shots of Malört spiked with peppermint?
And finally, everyone, apparently, needs an itchy sweater for holiday photo ops. For one day, and one day only, December 12, day of the sacred Bears-Packers game, former Bears tight end Zach Miller will temporarily impersonate Santa himself, traveling from bar to bar spreading cheer, goodwill toward all men and women (except Packers fans), Miller Lite, and a limited supply of free Bears/Miller Lite Christmas sweaters! (Zach Miller, Miller Lite, a corporate sponsorship made in heaven! Er, the North Pole.)
Miller will not be traveling by sleigh, alas, or descending down chimneys. Instead, he’ll be traveling by truck to four separate locations in South Loop, River North, Wrigleyville, and Bucktown, where he will distribute snacks, mittens, koozies, scarves for both humans and dogs, and, of course, the sweaters — but only 50 at each stop, with no allowances for size.
But that’s part of Christmas, isn’t it? Not everyone gets the air rifle or acrylic sweater of their dreams, but there is always more booze.