AboutMathew Powers, Author at PorchDrinking.com
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is on a mission to fight climate change, one beer at a time. On September 19, Dogfish Head and Indigo Agriculture, a company intent on “harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet,” released an Earth-friendly Re-Gen-Ale to its local beer fans. As explained by Dogfish Head, the beer serves as the first traceably-sourced beer to address climate change through agriculture using Indigo Carbon, a program that provides growers with a financial incentive to store carbon in their soils.” The beer release arrives in time for Climate Week (Sept 21 – 27).
It’s tempting to bemoan the fact that the industry remains in a lengthy pandemic-induced pivot. However, it’s time to start focusing on what is instead of what isn’t happening. For this year’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF), beer drinkers will have a chance to purchase a GABF Passport that gives them access to a host of good deals (an idea similar to Chicago and Illinois Craft Beer Weeks held in previous years). One can purchase the $20 GABF Passport and start enjoying brewery deals October 1 through October 18. As well, the passport gives beer drinkers an opportunity to attend (view) the star-studded Virtual GABF Festival (October 16-17) (which includes the awards ceremony).
As the sunset arrives earlier each day during September, it becomes abundantly clear that autumn is setting in. And, with that seasonal transition comes one the most recognizable fall beer festivals around — Oktoberfest.
While Munich serves as the home …
The global pandemic has put a damper on our oom-pah-pahs and Zicke, zacke, hoi, hois. Indeed, Oktoberfest 2020 — whether it be in Munich or anywhere else — is not quite the same. Nevertheless, the six official Oktoberfest breweries in Munich have not ceased in creating their beers. The youngest of the six, Paulaner, offers not one, but two versions: the historic Märzen that’s available year-round and the Oktoberfest Lager served in Munich during the festivities. For extra fun, search for the special one-liter can and glass mug set.
A multi-faceted demonstration of craft-beer community support will manifest at Downer Grove’s Orange & Brew Bottle Shop and Tap Room on September 19 (noon – 9 pm). The tap takeover will not only feature a dozen “Black is Beautiful” project beers — some of which have previously only been available in the taproom where they were brewed, but also benefit the Wood Family Pitch In project, which assists oft-ignored inner-city school districts by offering mentoring to kids as they transition from middle school to high school.
When Roaring Table Brewery won the 2020 USA Today Readers’ Choice “Best New Brewery” award, it didn’t come because the brewery engaged heavily in a marketing strategies, nor did it come from chasing trends or a producing a series of sexy releases. Beth May and Lane Fearing, married couple and founders of Roaring Table Brewing, created a brewery that at its heart and soul is a neighborhood tavern or pub that just happens to serve some of the best beer in town.
“Beer is more than just a drink; it’s an experience,” said Lane, who serves as Roaring Table head brewer.
It’s certainly well-known that there’s been an explosion of breweries and distilleries offering alternative beverages such as hard seltzers, ready-to-drink cocktails, hard sodas, and malt-based fruited drinks the past few years—and COVID19 has helped boost that category. Craft breweries have not been shy in cashing in on that trend, and finding their patrons to be quite receptive to their efforts. Two examples of how diverse that trend has evolved comes from Chicago’s Burnt City Brewing and Casa Humilde, two of the four breweries that make up the city’s unique District Brew Yards. They now offer their patrons a hard soda and a michelada-inspired beverage.
Dead Guy Ale, Rogue Ales & Spirits’ flagship beer and one we featured at PorchDrinking.com as part of our OGs of Craft Beer series, turns thirty this year. Rogue is celebrating those three decades of Dead Guy by challenging fans to ‘Paint the Can Dead.’ And, for those that really bring out the spirit of Dead Guy, prizes await them. For those that don’t win, it’s a great way to pass the time in a socially-distanced world; drink beer and do some coloring!
Pure barrel flavoring. No extracts. No syrups. No sugar bombs. The Imperial Oak Brewing Quiet Giant (strong) Barrel-Aged American Imperial Stout series, now in its sixth year, celebrates the artistry of barrel-aging in its purest form.
Yes, there are varieties with adjuncts, but only as complementary flavors. “Why put a beer in a barrel for a year and then completely cover it up? That’s why the two-year [BBA] is still my personal favorite. But, I do like our variants. They aren’t going to knock you in the face. That’s not our thing. None of them are going to be a chocolate bomb, coconut bomb..that type of terminology. I like adjuncts. But, I want it to be subtle and complement the beer,” said Brett Semenske co-owner and brewer.
Quiet Giant arrives each year for its anniversary, which this year enjoys the theme: Six years, Six Feet Apart (details can be found at the end of this story). The party slogan speaks to the challenges presented to breweries in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, Illinois’ case numbers are declining, patios are open and the beer remains consistent as ever. Going forward, most can expect five variants to arrive each May (this year in June due to the COVID-19 lockdown), with more two-year BBA for 2021. However, this year, Imperial Oak also has a one-time special beer from its Savage Oak room, offered in bottles.
While thousands of Chicago residents and many area breweries continue to mourn and speak out against last week’s police murder of Minnesota resident George Floyd, systemic racism, and police brutality, one Chicago brewery has taken a controversial stance.
Manteno, IL’s Steam Hollow Brewing, whose co-owner, Natalie White proclaimed on Facebook, “George Floyd isn’t dead, he is a porn star/actor who knows the officer, who isn’t even a real officer. Wake the f up.” That response comes in stark contrast to Illinois breweries like Half Acre, which posted: “We support our neighbors locally and nationally in the demand for justice and lasting change. Should you choose, you could donate the money you would have spent on beer today to one of the solid organizations helping to create equality for all. Black Lives Matter.”
On Friday, May 29, the full COVID-19 lockdown came to an end for numerous breweries across suburban Chicago, as long as they could offer outdoor seating and follow social distancing protocols (The city proper would have to wait a little longer). The questions were: How would breweries adjust to operating during a pandemic and would beer drinkers comply and behave?
In this new COVID19-driven world, to-go options and canning have taken center stage in the craft beer industry. So it’s no surprise that the first brewery to put craft beer in cans, Oskar Blues, is still producing and distributing a variety of beer styles. One such collection is the Oskar Blues Can-O-Bliss IPA series, a rotating release of IPAs the brewery unveiled in 2019. The idea behind the project is to “showcase unconventional combinations of exceptional hops.” The result for beer drinkers is a series that celebrates the diversity of hop flavors and aromas.
The brewery sent PorchDrinking a few samples to try: Tropical IPA, Hazy IPA and Citra DIPA. The Tropical will return next spring, but the seasonal Hazy IPA is available now and the DIPA is a year-round treat. Oskar Blues will also release a new Citrus IPA in September 2020.
Illinois Craft Beer Week my be postponed due to the COVID19 lockdown, but that’s not stopping six suburban-Chicago breweries and one bottle shop from celebrating craft week in spirit. Together, they have put together the 0th Annual Suburban Beer Hunt. From May 15 to May 30, beer fans can solve a series of puzzles that will take them on a to-go journey to six breweries and one bottle shop located in Chicago’s western suburbs. If they can solve each puzzle correctly, and in the correct order, prizes await the participants.
The idea of “craft community” has always enjoyed duality in that it both touches on brewery-to-brewery camaraderie and the connection between breweries and its neighborhoods and cities. Breweries such as Chicago-area’s Skeleton Key, Wolfden and Sew’d Hop—to name a few, along with a host of brewing and service industry peers, are now creatively working together and with nearby businesses as they pivot to a new “normal” during the lockdown. And, that effort is exemplified by the unique to-go COVID-19 Brewery Baskets available to customers.
The (almost) national quarantine and school closures have forced parents to take on the role of homeschool instructor. Sure, one could joke that sifting through endless passwords and videos is enough to make anyone desire a drink. But, let’s be real here. Beer does more than relax one at the end of the night. Indeed, homeschool beer provides lessons. Homeschool beer broadens one’s intellect. One could argue that attempting to serve as a homeschool teacher without having a beer the night before is analogous to a kid refusing to do his or her homework. To wit: homeschool beer serves as a vital component of every parent’s pedagogy.
This should go without saying, but just in case: Don’t drink the beer WHILE teaching. You do your lesson planning at night or, at least after school. Otherwise, it’s detention for you.
Embrace the Suck: verb, slang, military slang. “To consciously accept or appreciate something that is extremely unpleasant but unavoidable for forward progress.”
The Embrace the Suck mantra does not suggest that we should celebrate the suck, find joy in the suck nor pretend a situation isn’t as bad as it seems. Embrace the Suck requires one to accept fully that our present situation does indeed suck, and that we must willingly accept it. We must understand that it has to suck for a while and that only by enduring can we eventually arrive at a point where it no longer sucks.
And that is where we are in the world, which includes everything attached to craft beer.
Beer & Baseball go hand-in-hand. Although beer operations are either slowed or shut down in almost every U.S. location, to-go options and cellar-emptying are at least helping us through this quarantine. Baseball, however, is on full hiatus, and baseball fans need something to fill the void. The good news is that fans can still enjoy baseball during a quarantine through social and digital media. You may even find sites you never knew existed, and become fans of those sites forever.
The craft beer industry ordinarily revels in St. Paddy’s Day celebrations—everyone is Irish on March 17. And on this St. Paddy’s Day, it behooves us all to remember the Irish’s resolve and endurance. Indeed, Irish and Irish Americans have routinely dealt with periods of enormous difficulty due to famine, disease, imperialism and racism. And we can especially look to Irish women for inspiration as they have shined brightly during the most challenging times, both on the Emerald Isle and in America. So, as we find the beer world, and the entire human race, at a crossroads, we can find inspiration in those Irish women. As Mother Jones once proclaimed: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has us indoors this St. Paddy’s day, here are four inspiring Irish women to celebrate the holiday. And, at the end, this Irish-American in Chicago will provide a little commentary and also mention a special beer that, while untraditional, captures the essence of Irish women’s tenacity and compassion — we can all use that right about now.
Welcome to 2020. For the past six years, PorchDrinking.com have composed a roundup of brand and beer release calendars from breweries across the country. The PorchDrinking 2020 Beer Release Calendar Roundup gives readers a preview of what some of their favorite breweries have planned for the year and also gives an early glimpse of the beer trends that driving the roughly 8,000 U.S. breweries in operation today.
We will continually update this page as soon as we receive information (many breweries are still in the final stages of finalizing their calendars), so be sure to bookmark this page and check back often. If your brewery isn’t listed and you’d like to share your release calendar, please reach out to us via [email protected] and we’d love to add you to the list!
Additionally, if you would like to sponsor future iterations of this page, feel free to reach out as well!
The women of Mikerphone Brewing do not play the role of background singers at the musical-inspired brewery, but instead work harmoniously with the men; they are integral to the entire operation. And, on February 8, Mike Pallen and his skilled assistants handed over the brewhouse to the women of Mikerphone in order to brew Drippin’ So Much Sauce Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA. The beer will not only be tasty but also support The Wings Program, which aims to end the cycle of domestic violence and give aid to those who have suffered.