AboutMathew Powers, Author at PorchDrinking.com
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.
Forget golden rings. On the fifth year of holiday collaboration, The Open Bottle and Hailstorm Brewing gave to us, Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout. And, it’s adorned in gold labeling, with a special glass to match. The stout is decadent, creamy, full-bodied and somehow still crushable; a real holiday treat. Yet, the real gift goes to Tinley Wish because a portion of sales aids the south-suburban Chicago organization that gives aid to needy families.
The 2019 GABF Gold Medal for Chicago’s Begyle Brewing Barrel-Aged Imperial Pajamas gave credence to those who boasted of its excellence, and the award did wonders for its popularity. However, medals only go so far; Chicago’s beer crowd can be downright snobby about BBAs. The annual Imperial Pajamas release enjoys increasing fanfare because of its consistency, quality and a taproom party consisting of hour-by-hour variant tappings. Sadly, the global pandemic prevented Begyle from throwing its annual gathering. Nevertheless, the three packaged Pajamas stand as exemplary BBAs and evidence of why the program now hangs with the big boys and girls of the strong barrel-aging beer world.
This year’s three Imperial Pajamas release consists of the classic in Heaven Hill barrels, a vanilla variant and a special version aged in Booker Bourbon barrels. “We’ve had a lot of fun with release day variants, the way we handled those hourly releases allowed us to explore many different flavor combinations over the years. With our first foray into canning a barrel aged variant we chose vanilla as it is one of the most versatile ingredients we use in several of the variant combos we have done in the past. From the feedback we’ve gotten vanilla was always the most popular flavor, whether it was just vanilla, or vanilla combined with other ingredients,” said Kevin Cary, Begyle co-founder.
The famous Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871, in a barn owned by Catherine and Patrick O’Leary. The city went ablaze for 36 hours, destroying 18,000 buildings and leaving 100,000 Chicagoans homeless. A frightful October story, to say the least! But, Spiteful Brewing has taken that story, mixed it with some cow-blaming folklore and turned into a sweet Halloween treat: Mrs. O’Leary’s Chocolate Stout.
Eric Hinderaker’s The Two Hendricks Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery discusses two men during the eighteenth century who played significant roles towards maintaining the Iroquois Confederacy amid a French-English rivalry regarding their mutual goal to control North America. Their history, somewhat hidden within broader narratives, at one point included a belief the two were only one person. Hinderaker discusses each men’s lives while also informing how the two men’s history merged (as well as why that could not have been possible). The elder took a trip to London and met the Queen. The younger met with several prominent British colonials. The discussion of both men’s lives provides a lens into the Anglo–Iroquois alliance, notably as it pertained to their place within the British – French struggle.
The Open Bottle craft beer shop and taproom in Tinley Park, Illinois, has not only endured the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak but proved successful enough to advance its pre-pandemic plans for opening a second location. This November, work will begin on its second location (a retail-ready store) in Lockport, Illinois, located near the intersection of I-355 and 159th Street.
The conversation that begat Jameson Caskmates transpired at a pub in Ireland’s County Cork in 2014, eventually evolving and growing into a program that included numerous U.S. Craft Breweries and ultimately a partnership with the Great American Beer Festival (2018 & 2019). Although GABF is virtual this year due to the relentless pandemic, Jameson remains focused as ever on its Caskmates and craft-beer partnerships.
Before 1492, the Irish had never seen a potato; the Italians had never seen a tomato, and neither cows nor horses had ever stepped foot in North America. For that matter, Blue Grass remained in Europe, not in what is today’s Kentucky. Europeans also brought dandelions. Pathogens came, too, which spelled disaster for the indigenous population (Native Americans); disease killed 80-95% of Native Americans within 150 years after 1492. Those are only a few of the numerous lessons provided in Alfred Crosby’s 1972 seminal work: The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. As we observe Columbus Day, it’s time to crack open a good beer and revisit the groundbreaking book that changed how we thought about 1492.
Maplewood Brewing & Distilling in Chicago, IL offered a dual homage to Bavaria this year with Festbier and Fest Whiskey, demonstrating its prowess in both realms of the imbibe world. Though Maplewood may have added distilling to its repertoire after opening its lauded brewery, creating spirits has always been part of the plan. Indeed, in 2016, Ari Megalis, co-founder and distiller, commented to PorchDrinking.com: “When we started, we almost considered only distilling, but it obviously takes some time before you can get your product on the market. But we love beer, and we ended up doing that, too. It worked out great because now we can do a lot of things with it.”
With the 2019-20 global pandemic still at-hand, The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has announced details for a re-imagined 18th annual Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB). Brewers from all over the nation have submitted beers for judging, and this year people can purchase 6 packs to-go, with 100% of the funds going to the host of FoBAB, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. The money will ultimately support the broader Illinois craft-beer community.
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 …