The Beer Drop: Alarmist Le Jus

We’ve been waiting to get our hands on this one for a while, and it’s time to finally get JUICY. For the first time in cans, this week’s Beer Drop features Alarmist Brewing‘s highly regardedNew England-style IPA, Le Jus.

If you’re not familiar with what the folks at Alarmist are all about, then you’ve come to the right place. A quintessential hobbyist-turned-pro brewer story, they’ve created some awfully tasty stuff in their brewery on the Northwest side, so we’re pretty pleased they went pro, to say the least. Le Jus is a fantastic take on the incredibly popular NE IPA style, and their flagship Pantsless is easily going to become your next go-to pale ale.

I had the chance to catch up with Gary ‘The Gullster’ Gulley, Owner and Chief Alarmist, to hear more about their story, what took them so long to make Le Jus, and how they became Charlize Theron’s favorite brewery.* Read on below!

Tell us about Le Jus!

Weeeeelllll kind of a funny story. So Le Jus is a New England-style IPA. And up to about a year ago we used to make fun of the style. Hazy beer just looked stupid to us yet it was and is such a HUGE trend. We thought it was just lazy brewing where a brewery decided to not let the hop and yeast matter settle out so the beer could be nice and clear. Instead they packaged it as is with all the gunk in it.

Then one day I spoke to BJ Pichman, formerly of Forbidden Root. He set me straight on what it actually is. What it is is a completely new approach to how hops are used in an IPA. No bittering additions, all late kettle additions, using a specific strain of yeast, and dry hopping during active fermentation (which we always considered verboten). So I spent about a month convincing my head brewer Aaron Dahl to at least research the style. Well, he went nuts and now we have Le Jus.

Hit us with the tasting notes. And it’s best served…?

Citrusy, juicy (a term which used to make us shudder), just a touch of sweetness from a small amount of lactose. Best served chilled but not too cold, wine or tulip glass. Pairs with whatever the hell you want it to.

What’s the story behind Pantsless? (PUN INTENDED)

Pantsless Pale Ale was our very first beer. I brewed that beer when I was the only employee and had friends help me on brew day. The current version is COMPLETELY different from the first versions. Today it is a very crushable balanced pale ale with pineapple or mango from the Mosaic hops. Not too bitter, only 6% ABV. We love this beer. And we think the name is funny as hell.

On Alarmist

How did you first get into craft beer? What were you up to before?

I started homebrewing in 1991. Quit for many years, started up again in 2008 and went nuts. Then I decided to leave corporate America and pursue my dream. Since my dream involved being a rock star and throwing TVs out of hotel windows, I decided to open a brewery instead.

I have a BS in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. Somehow I transitioned into web computer stuff and then into beer. Very strange journey. Went to brewing school instead of getting an MBA. Best decision I ever made.

When did you first start brewing as Alarmist? 

We started brewing in February of 2015. I spent a couple of years researching, writing a business plan, finding investors, finding a space, sourcing equipment. I can’t believe how much work went into that.

Where’s the name from?

The name represents the idea of being afraid of everything and not pursuing your dreams. I worked in corporate America a very long time and hated pretty much every minute of it, but was too afraid to leave because of money and the unknown. Looking back if feels silly. 

What’s the story behind your labels and branding?

Well we’re going to be simplifying our labels in the not too distant future to look more like Le Jus. Our current labels for Pantsless, Phobophobia, and Entrenched were meant to be inspired by the old WPA travel posters during the Great Depression. My friend Dan Gentle designed those labels and we LOVE that artwork. 

How do the beers get named?

Pantsless just came to me one day. I thought it was hilarious and then I thought the idea of a person not wearing pants just because he was tired of fitting in was perfect for the brewery. Phobophobia means the fear of phobias, which goes along with the them of overcoming fear to pursue your dreams. Beyond that the entire teams contributes names. 

Tell us more about home for the brewery:

We are in the Sauganash neighborhood on the NW side of Chicago. Very nice area of the city. We have numerous locals in here and they love the fact that a craft brewery and taproom found a home here. We do lots of fundraisers for local groups and that really builds a bond with the community.

What makes Alarmist special? What’s your niche?

We are a completely insane group of people. We have a LOT of fun and we have a collectively irreverent sense of humor. We’re a family. Our niche is that we are the funniest brewery in Chicago. Just ask us. But we work our asses off to make the best beer we can. And we learn new things every day to make our beer, our operations, and our taproom better. 

How do you measure success there?

If we can keep the doors open. Oh and having people tell us how much they love our beer. Oh, and if Charlize Theron ever stops in. 

Hot Hop Takes

Alarmist’s biggest fan:

We think we’re Charlize Theron’s favorite brewery. This is based on no evidence whatsoever, but it is not easily disproved, therefore completely plausible. At least in my imagination.* 

Biggest beer pet peeve:

Beer reviews. We don’t read them. I really don’t know how people have time to do it. Even before I had a brewery I never read or wrote beer reviews. But hey, I wear Crocs, so what do I know?

Favorite brewery other than your own:

New Glarus

Choose a character from history to drink Le Jus with:

Charles Lindbergh. Hand him a 4-pack of Le Jus right before he stepped into the “Spirit of St. Lous” on his way to making his historical crossing of the Atlantic. Because it would’ve been hilarious if he got disoriented, landed the plane, jumped out and said, “Well, I made it.”, but he was actually in Nebraska. 

Next big beer trend:

Angler fish beer. That fish in the depths of the ocean with the little light thingy dangling in front of it to lure in innocent victims. Our team of marine biologists is working on this right now.

Gary – many thanks for sharing The Juice with us, and for taking the time to chat! We’re glad you guys finally caved and brewed up this NEIPA. And Charlize, if you’re reading this, could you confirm who your favorite brewery is?

1,111 check-ins and counting – toast (or roast) what Sean’s been drinking here. Have a beer or brewery you think should be our next drop? Hit us up! ✉