When planning an ever-changing craft beer list, it’s helpful to have a certified beer expert on tap with an eye for detail and a taste for the finest. Sam Ruppert, the Beverage Director of Headquarters Beercade, definitely fits the bill. He took the time to share his favorite beers and what he’s learned from his years in the industry for our very first “Brew & A” feature. Stay tuned as we interview local and national craft beer experts & lovers every month!
Q: How long have you been in the craft beer industry?
A: Just over three years.
Q: What was the first craft beer you ever tried?
A: I drink way too much beer to remember something like this, but let’s say Unibroue Ephemere.
Q: In your opinion, what gives the craft beer industry its die-hard fan base?
A: I think it’s really because beer people, brewers, reps, etc. are just regular people. Beer is very community based. Further, I think a lot of people are over these fad, low carb, how-much-can-we-do-to-make-these-beers-not-taste-like-beer beers. Beer goes well with any food (better than wine, by the way) and has a great history. It brings cultures together, and is ever evolving!
Q: Who are your mentors in the industry?
A: I am constantly learning from a lot of people. That’s the beauty of the industry: Everyone is friendly and always there to answer any questions you may have.
Q: What is your favorite beer that you’ve ever brought in to HQ (or the one you most want to bring in)?
A: I’m crazy about Belgian beer. If I could make the whole list just lambics and saisons I totally would. It is really tough to pick a single favorite. We recently got an excellent saison from Brasserie à Vapeur called Saison de Pipaix. Just an amazing farmhouse ale with loads of fresh pear, dough and pepper. The beer I am most excited about bringing in is actually a mead. I just had the pleasure of tasting it this past week. It is a South African Chili mead from Iqhilika. The flavor has this amazing balance of honey and pepper. And, of course, Headquarters would be the only bar in Chicago drafting it. We will also be the only bar in Chicago to draft a California exclusive brew from an awesome California brewery, so be on the lookout!
Q: What do you think sets Headquarters’ beer list apart in Chicago and in the craft beer bar industry?
A: As with our cocktails, I try to be creative, whimsical and unique with our draft list. The beauty of a rotating list is freedom. I am able to do a lot with only 16 lines. Further, we are not afraid to try anything. Our drafts are essentially part draft and part exclusive bomber program. Since we do not carry any bottled beer, we are able to draft a lot of interesting and rare beers that may get lost on another bars’ extensive bottle list. We are constantly learning and exploring, doing our best to bring the area the best draft list we possibly can.
For more info from Sam, keep an eye out for his #HQBeerDirector hashtag on the HQ Twitter page.