About- Mike Zoller
Recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020 and it was a big deal. People lined up early in the morning, waiting for hours in order to be one of the first to legally purchase weed in the state, not unlike a beer release. Several breweries were preparing to release a special beer to mark the landmark occasion; the first one released was Revolution’s Legal Hero.
At the end of last year, I wrote a piece on how in 2019 I was going to stop drinking hazy IPAs. Many people didn’t read past the headline and assumed it was just a purely negative piece on hazy IPAs; however, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
As another year comes to a close, we’d like to look back at the past 12 months on some of our favorite beers we had that came out of Midwest breweries.
With the number of breweries increasing, it becomes harder and harder to narrow down a list, but we have a handful of Midwest writers who contributed their favorite beers of 2019.
Every two years, Samuel Adams releases a beer, in an uniquely-shaped and expensive bottle, that tastes like nothing you’ve ever had before. Utopias has the highest naturally fermenting ABV at 28% and while it can best be described as a port or cognac, it is indeed a beer.
While the barrel-aged releases are dying down as we get closer to the end of the year, Chicago’s Revolution Brewing still has two more for their Deep Wood series and the third release (of four) happens this Friday at the taproom on Kedzie.
When Ballast Point was sold to Constellation Brands in 2015 for $1 billion it made big news. It made even bigger news this afternoon when tiny Chicagoland brewery, Kings & Convicts Brewing announced they had purchased the San Diego-based brewery.
For years, Black Friday has been a day for craft beer fans to hunt down Goose Island Bourbon County and its variants.
But as more and more breweries pop-up, the options for prolific barrel-aged beers are becoming greater and greater. If you don’t want to stand in line or feed big beer’s coffers by purchasing BCBS in Chicago, you have plenty of other options. Here’s our roundup of barrel-aged beers available in the Chicagoland area that you don’t have to wait in line for.
The brewery that took gold in the hazy IPA category at the Great American Beer Festival is getting ready to release its barrel-aged series this week as Old Irving Brewing’s Krampus is out of the barrels.
Upon walking into the new Moody Tongue space, the only thing that would slightly remind you that the building once housed the old Baderbrau brewery would be the stairs you walk up. Otherwise, a full transformation has brought the feel of the Pilsen location to the South Loop.
The new space opened just a couple of weeks ago and allows for owner and head brewer Jared Rouben to finally pair his two passions of food and beer together.
Once again the UIC Forum was packed with breweries from all over the country pouring some of their best barrel-aged beers at this weekend’s Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers. In 17th annual showcase of country’s elite barrel-aged beers, Bottle Logic repeated in taking home Best-in-Show honors for Arcane Ritual.
While those big pastry stouts that go heavy on the adjuncts might command the hype, long lines, big prices, and high trade value, they’re lacking one thing – FoBAB medals.
A message was sent from the FoBAB judges once again in 2019: medal-winning beers need to show balance in the ingredients used and they need to feature the barrel. This isn’t a new message though. Looking back at the history of FoBAB medal winners (thank you to the guys at ABV Chicago for compiling the data) pastry stouts have not had a lot of success at FoBAB.
Before Revolution Brewing releases the next two entries in their highly vaunted Deep Wood series, they’ll already be able to boast a FoBAB gold medal for one of those two. Very Special Old Ryeway (V.S.O.R.) and Straight Jacket will be released at the brewery after V.S.O.R. earned top marks in the Other Strong Dark Beer Category at this weekends Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers.
Known for their thick body, heavy adjuncts and deep flavors, the Cuppa beers from Maplewood Brewery and Distillery enter a new chapter tomorrow with the release of their first barrel-aged versions in the series.
In any industry, to be recognized for exemplary work is an incredible feeling. To win a medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB), one of the country’s premier barrel-aged beer festivals, is a massive accomplishment.
Chicago’s barrel-aged beer selection is second to none when it comes to quality and quantity. While it’s easy to get lost in the releases of Bourbon County or Deep Wood, there are many smaller barrel-aged releases that deserve the attention of the craft beer market. For the second year in a row, Cruz Blanca’s Luchador Series brings big flavors and unique adjuncts to a set of beers that are standouts in a crowded market.
Known for beautiful scenery, cherries and wine, Northern Michigan’s Traverse City has also become a hotbed for craft breweries. With a population of just over 15,000, the city has 10 breweries and even more in the surrounding towns. The Traverse City Craft Beer Week is an opportunity to explore the region’s expanding craft beer offerings.
Following a year that saw Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout go heavy on adjuncts such as vanilla, orange, berries, and chocolate, the 2019 lineup is focused on the barrel itself.
The eight-beer lineup will be released, as is the tradition, on Black Friday but those attending FoBAB or Prop Day will have a sneak peek at the beers ahead of their official release. The media was invited to the Goose Island Barrel House for the first public tasting of this year’s lineup.
As they did last year, Revolution Brewing is once again staggering the release of their Deep Wood barrel-aged series. The first three beers got released last week at its now routine release party, which included cans to-go and a draft list full of rare and stand out beers you won’t find packaged.
Not only is Chicago’s craft beer scene seeing new breweries opening seemingly every month, but more than half a dozen breweries in the Chicagoland area have also announced expansion plans, setting the stage for a busy end of 2019 into 2020.
Breweries like Marz Brewing Co. and Ravinia Brewing Company will be opening second locations within the city of Chicago. While Noon Whistle Brewing and Pollyanna Brewing Company are expanding in the suburbs. Meanwhile, Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery is opening a second location in Columbus, Ohio.
It’s only fitting that the city with the most breweries would host a first of its kind conference exploring craft beer from the culture, history, diversity, and everything in-between. Chicago will be hosting the inaugural Beer Culture Summit on October 24-27, organized by The Chicago Brewseum.