AboutMathew Powers – PorchDrinking.com
“Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns.” ~Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings.
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 Viking 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).
Kerri Gatz, general manager of the 2018 Craftbeer.com Illinois’ Best Beer Bar, has cultivated a craft-beer environment that showcases small, local brewers with as much enthusiasm as it does well-known brands. Though operating under the umbrella of the Brass Tap franchise name, the independence offered to Gatz at her Orland Park (Chicago) location has allowed her to provide patrons with beer choices, events and an overall vibe that reflects her personality and love for beer. She’s more than a bar operator; she is a craft beer ambassador.
Founders Brewing is bringing its freshly-released KBS and the entire Grand Rapids experience to Tribes Beer Co., located in Chicago’s southern suburb of Tinley Park, on April 3. Along with the 2018 KBS, there will be a special menu, live music and a host of highly regarded beers such as ’17 KBS, CBS, Doom, Backwoods Bastard and Frootwood.
The event starts 5 p.m! All you need is an appetite and a thirst for good beer.
The layered Black and Tan beer cocktail routinely accompanies American St. Patrick’s Day festivities. However, for the Irish, the subject of Black and Tans is nothing to celebrate; the term refers to a notorious British group sent by Winston Churchill who brutally murdered and tortured the Irish, and regularly destroyed their property, during the Irish War for Independence (1919-1921).
Chicago’s Howells & Hood restaurant and pub, with its 119 beers on tap, lies at the confluence of two Chicago icons—the “Mag Mile” and The Tribune Building. Besides the lauded culinary program and extensive beer list (and draft wine, and cocktails and more), H&H boasts of a fabulous patio that provides patrons with an exceptional, photogenic view of the Chicago skyscape. On March 1, Howells & Hood raided the Bourbon County barrel cellars of Goose Island for its five-year anniversary. The Goose presence served to be somewhat symbolic, sort of speak, as is proved to be Howells & Hood’s Anniversary Party swan song; renovations to the Tribune building will force H&H out on September 30. That leaves fans of the pub (and tourists) one more summer to drink beer surrounded by Chicago’s architectural big shoulders.
Though American societal and political chaos has dominated in recent months, President’s Day remains a day to honor the few who have operated as the Chief Executive of these United States of America, whether they be good or bad, deplorable or laudable. And as we celebrate, it behooves us to have a little fun, too, including discussing those times when presidential culture and American beer culture have converged. From Billy Beer to Duff Beer, presidential beer connections are a part of our nation’s history.
Oh sure, you’ve let brewers please your palate and provide love to your liver, but have you ever let them entertain your ears? That’s what the Brewery Band Ballyhoo is all about. On February 2, for $10 (or $50 VIP), you can watch those brewers or brewing staff members get on stage and battle for the Ballyhoo Gold Record — your vote to determines the winner!
Although, in truth, the real winner is the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Proceeds will go the organization dedicated to keeping our Great Lakes pure. If you like beer, that should be important to you.
A principal attribute of craft brewing involves the confluence of creativity and tradition. The summer ‘18 opening of the newest Tribes Beer Company location—a brewhouse, tasting room and beer garden—exemplifies that characteristic. Tribes draws on tradition while simultaneously adapting to an ever-evolving beer industry.
Don’t think of LaGrow Beer Company as an organic brewery; think of it as a family-owned brewery dedicated to using the purest ingredients imaginable, from soil to suds.
At LaGrow, the ingredients used are pure, which results in a beer abound in flavor and exceptionally crisp, clean and fresh. Even if one doesn’t care about ingesting chemicals, the resultant flavor derived from chemical-free ingredients is sure to please any beer drinker, from beer geek to macro fan.