CHICAGO - This year, one of Chicago’s most popular craft breweries is joining forces — once again — with one of the city's most popular holiday candies.
Hop Butcher and Frango Mints has teamed up to again create a unique blend for a beer.
It’s a pairing that both beer and chocolate fans have been waiting for.
"Delicious. It tastes just like Frango Mints," said craft beer enthusiast Liz Marsh. "It tastes like Christmas, actually."
Marsh brought her 5-month-old son Reed to the newly-opened Hop Butcher brewery and taproom on Lincoln Avenue Wednesday, to be the first person to sample what’s becoming a new Chicago holiday tradition.
"Today is the day that we release our second year of Minted," said Hop Butcher co-founder Jeremiah Zimmer. "Which is a collaboration, holiday imperial chocolate mint stout, that we do with our friends at Frango Chocolates."
So how do you make a beer that taste like Frango Mints?
"It’s a little bit of art, a little bit of science and some creativity," said Justin Miller, Hop Butcher’s Head Brewer.
Miller said they added chocolate to a base of imperial milk stout, and then mixed in the actual mint concentrate used to make Frangos.
"Just a small amount gives the entire beer It’s delicious mint aroma and mint flavor," said Miller.
2021 was the first year of the Frango-Hop Butcher collaboration. They only brewed about 500 cases, which sold out in a matter of hours.
That's why this year, they’re making nearly twice as much — and craft beer fans like Dave Stasior are jumping on it.
"Last year when they came out, a friend of mine got ahold of a four pack. He was one of the lucky ones, and he split it with me. It’s the best I’ve ever had. So when the Instagram came out yesterday, I told my wife I was heading down here. I live out in the suburbs and I wasn’t going to miss out," Stasior said.
"Minted" continues a growing trend of combining craft beer with iconic Chicago products, like the popular Affy Tapple beer from Phase Three Brewing, and the Garret’s Carmel Corn beer from Revolution.
"There are companies that are based out of Chicago that I would love to do stuff with," Zimmer said. "Barbecue sauce, giardiniera, all of those things feed into the same place. Which is taking two things you love and making them happen together."
And if you really want to go crazy, there’s a special version of the Frango Mint beer aged in bourbon barrels that’s available only at the brewery taproom on Lincoln Avenue.