AboutMathew Powers – PorchDrinking.com
Enter the BuckleDown Brewing taproom and you’ll find, among other elements, an arrangement of leather furniture around a table (barrel) that makes one feel as if they have been invited into the BuckleDown home. It’s a fitting setting for an inviting brewery where the people matter as much, if not more, than the beer served to them. Ironically, BuckleDown opened with a production mindset in place rather than a brewpub or any concept intended to draw people through the door. Nonetheless, people arrived and relationships were forged. Catering to people isn’t a business strategy at BuckleDown: it’s organic and genuine.
Only Child Brewing may not enjoy the street cred afforded to breweries located within the city limits of Chicago, but with its 3rd Annual Barrel Birthday Bash it’s abundantly clear that the skill needed to convert water into wine-barrel-aged beer (or any other BA beer) has nothing to do with a brewery’s geography. Indeed, the barrel aged beers proved to be spectacularly executed and artistically conceived. Throw in some terrific food, fun music, excellent weather, friendly staff and a lively crowd, and it’s easy to see why Only Child continues to grow more popular each year.
To describe each beer would be exhausting, but here are five beer experiences from the day (six beers total) that shed light on the Only Child bash.
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Chicago’s Burnt City Brewing is making waves. The brewery already boasts of a chic brewpub and bowling alley on the always-hip Lincoln Avenue, a brewhouse located in the locally-famous, former Jay’s plant, eye-catching label artwork and a recent collaboration with Chicago’s illustrious Art Institute. But now it’s also churning out a diverse, impressive collection of beers including its Brett and Yeast friendly “Wildfire Series.”
Anchor Steam®. Those two words serve as a metaphorical window into a world filled with a veritable wealth of American beer history.
To view Anchor Brewing is to observe three distinct stages of American brewing: 19th Century to Prohibition; the resurrection of American craft and the establishment of craft as a business worthy of significant investment. To drink the beer is to enjoy a historical brewing process that afforded West Coast brewers an ability to brew successfully without ice; it also helped remind later-twentieth-century beer drinkers that beer need-not be clearish-yellow and full of adjuncts.
Denver’s Avanti F&B (Food & Beverage), presented by Shinola, is throwing a New Belgium Brewing Beer Cocktail Party on Monday, August 13, from 6 pm to 9 pm, and you are invited. Guests receive a complimentary New Belgium Beer upon arrival, taste the 10 competitors cocktails and help select a winner.
The grand prize winning bartender receives a spectacular Shinola watch. But the night is more than about winning and losing: “This contest was designed to be low impact for contestants, and a fun celebration of our community,” notes Avanti.
Rogue Ales & Spirits Dead Guy Ale first emerged in 1990 during a special November 1 Dia de los Metros (Day of the Dead) celebration at Casa U-Betcha, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Portland, Oregon. For the rest of us, the beer came into our lives in 1994 during the Clinton Administration, the first season of Friends, and 14 years before Facebook arrived. Nevertheless, even after its nearly 25 years of roaming the craft world there’s nothing dead about Dead Guy Ale.
The beer received an extra boost in early 2017 when Rogue decided to can the beer for the first time and update its label artwork. Indeed, the beer has grown so iconic that one will not find the name “Dead Guy” anywhere on the cans because most every drinker knows the beer simply by the Dead Guy imagery.
Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) has an affinity for beers that also tell a story, be it history, weather or paying homage to its local, Cleveland sports scene. For instance, GLBC released its Rally Drum Red Ale brewed in honor of the well-known Cleveland Indian bleacher-seat drummer, John J. Adams. Come September, Cleveland fans can sip on 73 Kolsch, brewed with Cleveland Browns hero Joe Thomas, an offensive linemen who played in an amazing 10,363 consecutive snaps during his 11-year career. Hence, GLBC describes the Kolsch-style beer as “A Brew Fit For An Iron Man.”
While we can’t pretend to list every new beer release, here are several tasty tidbits that have come across the PorchDrinking.com desk from around the nation. Founders, New Belgium and Rogue recently announced beers that will hit the shelves across much of the nation. Get ’em while you can!
“Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns.” ~Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings.
The History Channel’s globally-popular Vikings is set to return for its Season 5, Part B this fall. While the drama takes creative license with history, the show itself is captivating and as a bonus, the show sheds light on Nordic (including Viking) culture, which has inspired many to investigate Nordic history. Mostly, it’s just a fun TV show and perfect for pairing with beer. Here are six themes (mostly derived from seasons 1-3) coupled with both beers and history books that are meant to help enhance your Vikings-viewing experience. So, binge watch the old shows and then get ready for some more action this fall.
About 60 miles south of Downtown Chicago, in a town of roughly 18,500 people, one will find a superbly crafted American Pale Ale (APA). You remember APAs, right? Craft beer drinkers used to consume multitudes of them a few decades ago. Well, they still exist, and they are as good as ever, exemplified by Brickstone APA from Brickstone Brewery in Bourbonnais, IL.
It almost feels strange to discuss a beer that’s been around for more than a year, but who says beer writers must concentrate solely on new releases? So, as summertime reaches its apex, it seems fitting to discuss 21st Amendment Brewery (21A) Watermelon Funk.
Most of the PorchDrinking.com audience is well aware of craft beer’s growth in recent years. However, one may not be aware that 59% of coffee consumed daily is classified as “gourmet,” according to the 2017 NCA report on National Coffee Drinking Trends. That was the first time in the report’s 67-year history that the number exceeded 50%.
Somehow, suburban Chicago’s Scorched Earth Brewing barreling program remains off the radar for most beer drinkers, which leaves this writer befuddled. Certainly those in the Chicago region with a nose for barrel-aged beers should make it a high priority to seek all forms of Scorched Earth brewing alchemy. One of the brewery’s latest releases, Barrel 76, is a Flanders red ale aged in French oak wine barrels with Montmorency cherries and Madagascar vanilla beans. Traditional, yet innovative. Sophisticated, yet rustic. Tart, yet a bit sweet. The beer serves as an example for what craft brewing is all about.
The inaugural Illinois Craft Beer Week (ICBW) replaced the former, annual Chicago Craft Beer Week (CCBW), but both the kick-off and closing festivals took place on Chicago’s north side, and most of the intra-week events occurred within the nation’s third-biggest market, which also happens to be where the vast majority of Illinois breweries operate. So, as they say, “A rose by any other name.” Nevertheless, the 2018 version is in the books and once again demonstrated that the enthusiasm for craft beer remains high. There are nuances to the industry and week-long festivities worthy of mentioning, so let’s take the time to note a few observations made during ICBW.
Haymarket Brewing in Chicago (and now also in Michigan) owes its name to one of the most notable moments in labor history: The Haymarket Affair. But, this is no time for a history lesson, this is a time to get to know a brewery renowned for creating beer intended for drinking, not sipping; for enjoying after a hard day’s work, not kept in cellars. And Pink Sock Monkey Raspberry Wheat Ale is one of those beers.
Haymarket commits itself to workers — no matter the color of the collar — and Pink Sock Monkey Raspberry Wheat reminds us all that artisans and craftspeople enjoy a long legacy of cherished American professions, from blacksmith to brewer. Haymarket deftly weaves its way through the craft beer world by creating beers that simultaneously exude refinement and also approachability. Yes, those are often overused buzz words, but in this case they are perfect descriptors.
The vast majority of craft brewers take immense pride in every beer they produce, and it shows in the exuberance they demonstrate while discussing their creations to patrons during Illinois Craft Beer Week. Sure, beer releases, festivals, events and tap takeovers during craft week are wrought with stressful, logistical challenges. Nonetheless, whatever might betide, in those moments when a beer fan inquires as to the details of a beer served, sheer joy routinely arises. In fact, all those associated with the brewery exude palpable excitement when presented with an opportunity to speak about their products.
All that hard work. All that cleaning. All that blood and sweat is worth it when it gets boiled down to the very essence of beer making — the beer, itself.
Banded Oak Brewing Barrel-Aged Atomga comes with an intriguing backstory: it was brewed to celebrate the release of the band Atomga’s album, “AGA” and the recipe resulted from a collaboration with Bodebrown, a Brazilian brewery.
But, a great story means nothing if the beer is subpar. So, rather than provide an article filled with interviews and storytelling, I decided as a writer to concentrate solely on the beer.
The ubiquitous nature of craft beer fests suggests that the novelty of simply offering nothing but an array of craft beer has diminished; a lively competition among fests exists. As a result, festivals routinely engage in the “craft-plus” strategy, such as a “craft + a theme” or “craft + an appealing venue.” One such craft-plus fest occurred on May 5 in the Chicago area at the Schaumburg Boomers’ minor league baseball stadium — the 6th Annual Ballpark Brew Fest (co-hosted by Bigby’s Pour House).bot
The alluring venue coupled with breweries who brought A-game brews, mostly served by its all-star staffers, made for a successful fest and one for which has the potential to maintain its year-to-year viability.
It was the best of sours, it was the best of sours. My apologies to Mr. Dickens, but the tale of these two sours from two different breweries located in two different regions, and enjoying two different histories, is a joyful one. So, do you prefer California or Colorado? Kettle or Barrel? Belgium or Germany? It doesn’t matter. You can have whatever you want because beers like these exemplify how we as craft beer fans are indeed living in the best of times.
Valentine’s Day has its chocolate hearts and Easter its chocolate eggs, but chocolate beer can be enjoyed all year. And why not? Chocolate and cocoa are more than additions to dessert, they a delectable ingredients that enhance a multitude of savory dishes such as mole sauce, chili, barbecue and ravioli. Granted, chocolate beers tend to lean to the sweet side, but has anyone ever had a chocolate shake in the summer? Chocolate exists as a diverse, adaptable and downright delicious ingredient, and brewers have mastered its integration into beer. Here are six noteworthy examples of chocolate-infused beer (even if it’s been a while since the release date, the beers can be found on shelves, or in your beer buddy’s cellar).