AboutMathew Powers – PorchDrinking.com
Suburban Chicago’s Imperial Oak Brewing will celebrate its 6th anniversary this May, and that will be the last one as a single-location brewery. Imperial Oak will open a second location about ten miles north of its current taproom this summer; the brewery purchased Brixie’s Craft Beer Bar, a family-run bar that first opened in 1934.
Imperial Oak (Willow Springs) joins several other of Chicago’s west- and south-suburban breweries that opened in a roughly fifteen-month stretch from late 2013 though early 2015 in expanding, and in the process have grow into name-brands. Imperial Oak, Hailstorm, Pollyanna, Noon Whistle, and Werk Force have all expanded their original spaces, and some are now adding second and third locations.
Move over Cupid. Oswego Brewing, Riverlands Brewing, Skeleton Key Brewing and Wolfden Brewing have concocted the perfect method for which to achieve romantic bliss: the Box of Chocolates Beer Collaboration. The multi-brewery Valentine’s Day beer package is more than just a treat, though, because the beers also serve as beautiful demonstrations of the versatility of stouts (or stout-like ales), which is fitting for February (a.k.a. Stout Month).
As we close the book on 2019, it’s time to look ahead to a new year — welcome to the ’20s! Each year, we at PorchDrinking.com take time to look ahead and publish a few of our “beer goals” for the upcoming year. What do we want to drink? What topics do we want to cover? Where do we want to travel? We hope that some of our 2020 New Beer Resolutions inspire you to set a few of your own beer goals for 2020.
As the Chicago-area craft scene inches its way towards 200 breweries, the annual task of summarizing the year’s best beer stories has grown ever so daunting — and exhilarating. To peer through one’s pictures of the beers, events, and interviews and re-discover the year in beer offers a reminder of how enriching the job of a beer writer can be. Indeed, the pick the minds of brewers and industry folks, and drink the fruits of their labor, is satisfying to no end. Mike Zoller, Chicago and Midwest Editor and I, Chicago writer and National Content Editor, decided to provide some of our highlights this year. Without further ado, enjoy our 2019 Best of Chicago Craft Brewing
It’s great that St. Nick takes care of the kids. But, for grown-ups, it’s all about St. Bernardus. He doesn’t need to send his elf for your shelf because his smiling face and festive hat adorn every bottle of St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. One sip of the exquisite Belgian beer will surely bring an abundance of holiday joy to any beer fan.
We at PorchDrinking.com thoroughly enjoy the Holidays, and the beer that comes with it. From Winter Warmers to Christmas Ales, there’s something for everyone (even if they’ve been naughty). We have decided to showcase a different holiday beer each day the next couple of weeks. Some beers enjoy rich histories while some are new to the scene, but each one has a warm place in the heart of the writers who’ve chosen to showcase their favorites. Even better, for those writers “up north,” the beer is keeping them warm as Jack Frost nips at their noses.
A Christmas Classic beer showcase will publish each day until we approach Christmas. Hopefully we can add to this list next year and in the years to come. And because the Holidays are all about over-doing it, we’ve also added a few extra goodies to your PorchDrinking stocking.
The holiday shopping season is underway, and it seems that breweries are a hot item. In a matter of weeks, we’ve witnessed the acquisition of New Belgium Brewing by Kirin’s Lion Little World Beverages and, just yesterday, the stunning story …
The fourth annual release of Santa’s Cookies Imperial Milk (and Cookie) Stout, a collaborative effort by Hailstorm Brewing and The Open Bottle in Tinley Park (Chicago), arrives November 30. Since its first release in 2016, Santa’s Cookies popularity has grown and expanded to include variants, which is good news because part of the proceeds of the beer goes towards the Tinley Wish Foundation, who help local, needy families.
On Black Wednesday (Nov 27), BuckleDown Brewing in Lyons, IL (just outside of Chicago proper) will release the third edition of its Significant BBA (Bourbon-Barrel-Aged) Imperial Milk Stout. The three-year-old program has transitioned from bombers to cans, and has grown from one bottled variety to four canned offerings: the base and three variants. Each year, the brewery has used different barrels to store the beer with this year relying on Few Spirits, located in Chicago.
Fresh off its Silver Medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB) for its Rye Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Crystal Lake Brewing has unveiled its 2019 Boathouse Reserve barrel-aged series, which will formally be released on Saturday, November 23. …
The GABF Gold Medal awarded to Begyle Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas validated what many already knew: in a town abound in exceptional bourbon-barrel-aged beer, Begyle’s has risen to become one of the best. The 2019 release on Friday, November 15, will be the first for the Community Supported Brewery (CSB) since winning the medal. They graciously hosted PorchDrinking a couple of days early, offering to provide us with a few tastes and plenty of discussion about its barreling program.
Two hundred breweries from around the country will come to Chicago on Nov 8-9 and offer guests a wide variety of wall-to-wall, remarkable barrel-aged beers. However, with an abundance of wilds, sours and a host of bourbon, rum and wine barrel-aged brews, the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB) tests both one’s liver and belly.
So, how do you survive? How can you avoid getting so inebriated you can’t taste the beer…or walk? How do you avoid having your stomach curdle? For that matter, how do you enjoy FoBAB fully?
Don’t worry; we have a plan.
You remember the Pale Ale, don’t you? Sure you do. It’s a beer style born in England during the early 1700s. It was then resurrected and reinvented in the U.S. when Fritz Maytag introduced the lovely Cascade hop into his Anchor Brewing Liberty (Pale) Ale in 1975. He was followed by Jack McAuliffe of New Albion Brewing Company, and then most famously by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in 1981. Early American Pale Ales profoundly altered the modern craft beer scene. Even the first canned beer to emerge in modern craft beer was Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale in 2002. Its place in craft beer history is forever cemented, but is still relevant as we approach 2020?
The nation’s first all-in-one brewery collaborative, Chicago’s District Brew Yards, has added a forth member to its team of breweries. The Latin American-inspired Casa Humilde Cervecería will join Burnt City, Around the Bend and Bold Dog in the unique pour-your-own beer hall and retail shop on Chicago’s West Side. The announcement of the fourth brewery comes on the heals of the Brew Yards’ unique Kveik Fest and Bold Dog Brewing winning the 2020 Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” award, which was announced at the Great American Fest in early October. The four breweries will officially kick off their new partnership with a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration on November 1.
The 17th Annual Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB), the world’s largest barrel-aged beer festival and competition, will occur in Chicago on Nov. 8-9 at the University of Illinois-Chicago. More than 200 craft breweries from across the United States will showcase innovative, rare and special barrel-aged brews, while also competing for top honors in The National Barrel-Aged Beer Competition.
“FoBAB continues to be a one-of-a-kind showcase of the creativity, innovation and passion that defines the craft beer industry,” said Danielle D’Alessandro, executive director for the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, host of FoBAB for 17 years. “We’re thrilled to provide a venue for breweries across the nation to feature their barrel-aged beer to thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world.”
For the second year, Jameson Whiskey sponsored and participated in the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Twenty-two brewing partners used Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels to age beer and then pour the finished product for fans in the energetic, music-filled Caskmates Barrel Aged Beer Garden. For this Irish (craft beer loving) American writer, it was my (pleasurable) task to drink as many of the 45-plus creations and provide my feedback.
The Great American Beer Festival began in 1982 with 24 breweries serving 47 beers to fans for a single, five-hour session. Today, the number of external events exceed the beers poured at that first fest, and the convention hall will allow patrons to select from more than 3,500 beers. What do you drink? Where do you go? How can one possibly navigate such a colossal beer experience? We at PorchDrinking.com have tried to make the process simpler, writing more than a dozen stories on the event. And, to further simplify it, we have now put all those stories in one location.
First a few important notes on this year’s festival:
- A few tickets still remain for Thursday Night and Saturday Night sessions. Tickets available here.
- This year’s festival format returns to booths being arranged alphabetically by region.
- Attendees of ALL sessions will receive glass cups instead of plastic.
- Thursday Night, Friday Night and Saturday Night Sessions begin at 5:30, Saturday’s Day Session begins at Noon. For first time attendees, we recommend arriving at least an hour and a half before your session to wait in line.
- Don’t forget to check out other sections for hidden gem beers. The Brewers Guild section has guild representatives from several states that bring beers from breweries that aren’t otherwise pouring on the festival floor.
- The Heavy Medal section has beers pouring from past GABF medal winners.
- There’s a Fresh Hop booth with all fresh/wet-hopped beers.
- Several breweries will have special timed releases that aren’t otherwise listed on the pour list. Modern Times Beer, for example, will have a different special release each day of the fest.
Enjoy GABF. Enjoy Beer. Enjoy Craft in all it glory. And here are more tools to help you enjoy the week.
For one week a year, Denver and the surrounding metro area turn upside down for the Great American Beer Festival. While the festival floor is a great place to sample thousands of beers from all across, the events happening outside of the festival have become equally as impressive and formidable. From tap take-overs to beer dinners, special release to actual full-blown separate beer festivals all together have broken off of GABF. So, to help provide some perspective and frothy guidance, we have made that navigation a bit easier with a 2019 GABF Week Events Guide. Too much to sort through and choose? Don’t worry, chuggernaut, we got you covered.
It’s only a matter of time before Chicago’s craft-community routinely lists Burnt City Brewing as one of the city’s most innovative and creative breweries. And that day may inch closer after it hosts Kveik Fest. Thirty Breweries from around the country will descend upon Chicago to showcase beer brewed with kveik, a traditional and unique Norwegian farmhouse brewing yeast. The festival will occur on September 7 at the (also innovative) District Brew Yards, a spot shared by Burnt City, Around the Bend and Bold Dog Brewery.
“Kveik is a Norwegian dialect word for ‘yeast’,” explained Lance Shaner, owner at Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago. “In the brewing context, kveik are Norwegian farmhouse brewing yeasts that collectively share a lot of common traits, most notably high temperature tolerance (not unusual for them to produce good beer in the upper 90sF), high alcohol tolerance and fast fermentation. They were brought to the attention of the world by Norwegian blogger Lars Marius Garshol.”
The second annual Metal Monkey Brewing Artisan Market hosted by Metal Monkey Brewing celebrates â€œcraft” in its many forms. The event allows patrons to shop for unique gifts created by more than 30 local artists while sipping on craft beer, enjoying meals from local food trucks and listening to live, local music. Moreover, a percentage of all event proceeds will be donated to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
One artist, John E. Streetz, of Bead Streetz, is a well-known figure among Chicagoâ€™s brewing scene, both because of frequent visitations to Chicago-area breweries and because he regularly displays his artwork there. John is heavily involved in the Artisan Market event. He spoke with us about his work, the connection between artists and craft beer and the event at Metal Monkey.