AboutMathew Powers, Author at PorchDrinking.com
In 2008, long before breweries populated every Chicago neighborhood and suburban town, Metropolitan Brewing opened its doors. Today’s Chicago beer market now supports several Lager-focused breweries, but Metro served as the city’s trailblazer. There’s nothing pretentious or Bourgeoisie about Metro; it’s a come-as-you-are brewery. (And a Malört-friendly place, too.) And one can revel in the brilliance of its brewing at its gorgeous taproom and patio spot located on the Chicago River, a location they opened in 2017. Among the many beers they produce, there’s one that isn’t technically a lager: Krankshaft German-style Kölsch. Drinking Krankshaft provides insight into why Metro has evolved into one of Chicago’s most respected and recognizable breweries.
It’s natural to seek silver linings in bad situations, but when storm clouds hung above our collective heads during the COVID19, crisis, Anvil & Forge Brewing and Distilling provided Illinois beer drinkers with some helpful grey — Earl Grey Tea, to me more specific. Earlier this year, Illinois Beer drinkers partook in a March Madness bracket-style beer event — #BEERacket — that, yet again, served as a virtual replacement for the in-person festivals we once took for granted. But, amid that reminder of the trouble caused by the evil microbe came a host of good beers, including Springfield Illinois’ Anvil & Forge Wolf Bane Grey Tart, a sour ale with with lemon peel, dried wild bergamot flower and Earl Grey Tea. An exemplary botanical beer, Wolf’s Bane reminds beer drinkers that there are still brewers willing to producing flavorful beers outside the realm of “trendy styles.”
Cinco de Mayo has come to mean less about its history and more about parties filled with fishbowl margaritas, music and taco platters, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The Mexican-American relationship has undoubtedly been a strained one over the centuries. Indeed, such events as endless immigration issues, the Bracero Program and the U.S.-Mexican War (and subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo where Mexico ceded 55 percent of its territory to the U.S. — present-day Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah) mark the struggles between two countries. So, sure, there are plenty of real-life, geopolitical issues that can be discussed. And, yes, some confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence day, instead of its true meaning: the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (also known as Battle of Puebla Day). But, why not let it be a celebration of Mexican food and culture, even if it’s a bit cheesy (pun intended)? Maybe it’s good to forget the meaning and just have fun. At PorchDrinking.com, that means enjoying Mexican Lagers, demonstrated by the nine writers who recently showcased the style — enjoy!
Can you believe it’s almost May? It might be tough to believe considering a large chunk of the nation dealt with snow this past week! April’s fickle weather aside, there is much to celebrate:in this week’s edition of What We’re Drinking. Hundreds of millions have been vaccinated; we flew a helicopter on Mars and today is German Beer Day. Those all sound like good reasons to raise a glass and say Cheers — or Prost!
Prost! For some parts of Europe, grape is king. But, in Germany, it is all about barley and hops. German Beer Day (Friday, April 23) celebrates that country’s rich brewing culture and history. So we wanted to briefly discuss German brewing and ask some of our team what German Breweries they’d like to visit and what German beer styles they genuinely love.
A beer exuding New Zealand terroir, the latest release of Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion No. 18 consists of four hops from the island country: Nectaron, Nelson, Motueka and Riwaka.
“It’s a celebration of our new grower and merchant relationships that we’ve forged over the past couple of years in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “It’s the first time we’ve had enough supply to go all-in on a blend of 100% New Zealand-grown hops.”
“I think this would be a good time for a beer,” exclaimed Franklin Roosevelt after signing the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933. Though the passage of the 21st Amendment in December 1933 fully ended the nation’s temperance experiment, the Cullen-Harrison Act allowed for the legal sale of low-alcohol beer (and wine). It went into effect on April 7, 1933, a day we commemorate as National Beer Day.
The flavor. That enticing aroma. Ah yes, there’s just something special about that first hoppy-beer experience. When Adam Firestone and David Walker founded Firestone Walker 25 years ago, West Coast IPAs helped convert multitudes of beer fans into craft beer fans. These days, of course, the IPA is more than just a West Coast treasure as hops are now grown and distributed throughout the world, and that’s demonstrated fully by the Firestone Walker Crafted Thru Hops IPA Mixed Pack.
Indeed, the Firestone Walker IPA Mixed Pack expresses one of IPA’s most favorable attributes: versatility. Each case comes with three cans each of the classic Union Jack West Coast IPA, the Hazy Mind Haze IPA and two New Zealand hopped beers: the 18th batch of Luponic Distortion and the hazy, single-hopped Propagator Series.
The calendar says April, but for millions of sports fans it’s still March Madness. The 68 teams that qualified for the tournament have been reduced to the Final Four, who will battle in Indianapolis on Saturday. Will you be drinking a beer while watching the game? If so, what beer? Let’s be honest, picking which beer to enjoy can sometimes be tough. That got us thinking: If a there was a beer style competition, what styles would make the Final Four of Beer Styles? Our staff provided their picks — what are yours?
The first week spent in Daylight Saving Time may have made a few of us tired at first, but it didn’t stop the PorchDrinking staff from enjoying some delicious beers. We hope you are able to enjoy the extra daylight and warming weather with a few beers of your own — maybe even at a brewery (be safe).
When Katherine and Chris Valleau say they built Exit Strategy Brewing Co. from scratch, they’re not kidding. “When we first walked into the building, the skylight was hanging down from the ceiling and there were birds flying around. Everything had been stripped. No plugs. No running water. Only four walls,” said Katherine. Nearly six years later, the couple has turned that once empty space into a popular, name-brand brewpub (food and beer), frequented by locals and often visited by traveling craft-beer aficionados.
Now in its fourth decade, Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC) is now owned by the McGee family, namely Kevin McGee, an attorney who previously opened the one-barrel, nano brewery called Healdsburg Beer Company (out of his garage). Although buying an “OG” craft brewery just in time for a global pandemic was not ideal, AVBC has managed to not only survive, but do well. It helps that AVBC beer remains in the hands of the well-respected, longtime brewmaster (and author) Fal Allen. Under his direction, the brewery continues to produce its famed Gose series, run a laudable barrel program and offer a slew of “regular” beers such as its Boont Amber Ale. The beer is produced in part with power from the sun, as roughly 40% of the brewery’s power is solar (and soon to be 100%). And why not? When you can look outside your brewery and view gorgeous scenery, you might feel inspired to protect the planet that provides it.
We wanted to know a bit more about Anderson Valley so we asked Kevin McGee, owner and CEO of AVBC, five questions about the brewery and its beer.
In the world of meteorology, March 1 is the start of spring. So, happy spring! Because of a heavy story load last week, this week’s version is actually two weeks’ worth of beer submissions. Needless to say, there’s been a slew of good beers enjoyed by the PorchDrinking staff. So, forget that whole “March comes in like a lion,” deal — excellent beer always makes for an outstanding start to a month.
The phrase “Sitting down over a beer” is part of the American lexicon. Friends discuss work, marriages, money, politics, sports or even physical health. But, what about mental health? Why does that seem so rare? As well, craft brewers, who routinely engage in community support, have not addressed mental health until recently. Maybe it’s because it seems hypocritical to produce alcohol and note support for mental health; but that’s a stigma that many hope to change. Malteurop Malting Co., Hollingbery & Son Hops, Eagle Park Brewing, Hope for the Day and many others have kick-started a collaboration beer called “Things We Don’t Say IPA” in an attempt to make mental health discussions as common as Monday morning quarterbacking. This is not to say that one should have a beer when feeling down. Simply, it’s that that people who make and/or enjoy beer should not only feel okay discussing the topic, but be happy to do so.
For the past seven years, PorchDrinking.com has compiled a collection of breweries’ beer release calendars. The PorchDrinking Comprehensive 2021 Beer Release Calendar Roundup offers readers insight into what some of their favorite breweries have planned for the year and provides an early glimpse of this year’s brewing trends.
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!
Can you believe we are already one month into 2021? It’s tough to say that 2021 is much better than 2020, so far. But, one thing hasn’t changed: the beer produced by a nation of brewers remains good as ever. The PorchDrinking team certainly loves to demonstrate that with photos of their beer-drinking experiences. We hope you enjoy this week’s version of What We’re Drinking, and we also hope that you have a moment or two this week to kick back, take a deep breath, and enjoy a malty libation of your own.
In 2016, I wrote a piece about Pollyanna Brewing Summerly Raspberry Wheat that stated, “Pollyanna Brewing‘s rapid success is almost unfathomable until you try the beer — and then it makes perfect sense. Just shy of two years old, Pollyanna Brewing is already expanding its production.” Well, nearly five years after that story published, the brewery has opened two new locations and won a host of prestigious beer awards, including its Lite Thinking American Lager that won 2019 gold and 2020 bronze at the Great American Beer Fest (GABF).
Our country has gone through tough times before – wars, economic strife, pandemics, and political upheaval. So, as we move deeper into the 2020s, a decade with its own inauspicious start, we thought it would be nice to look back and different periods of history through the lens of craft beer. A Beer Journey Through the Decades starts during the 1920s and ends at 2020. Each decade presented society with difficulties, yet each era also had its good moments and offers evidence that 2020’s misery won’t last forever.
As reported by CBS Chicago’s (WBBM) Marie Saavedra, Side Lot Brewery in Wauconda, IL (Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs) must pay The Hershey Company $8,500 by January 4th because of its Sugar Series beer release this past Halloween comprised of Hershey’s candies and the associated labeling that mimicked Hershey products. We spoke to the parties involved about the trademark dispute.
The North Pole goes dark for months at a time during the winter months, which also happens to be the time when the indigenous elves work their hardest. The elves, of course, serve the world’s most famous philanthropist, Santa Claus. But, with a harsh and brutal winter comes the need to kick back with friends and enjoy a good beer or two and that’s where North Pole Brewing comes into play. The brewery, and its head brewer Abigail Cornelious, have so far enjoyed resounding success.