AboutMathew Powers, Author at PorchDrinking.com
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.
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.