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About- Mike Zoller

Mike Zoller

Mike Zoller

After trying to retire after a lucrative two-year career in sports journalism, Mike got back into sports but in the administration side. He currently works for the Northwestern University Athletic Department as an account executive working directly with football and men's basketball. At Miami University Mike was the sports editor for the The Miami Student and also did radio play-by-play for RedHawk ice hockey, football and baseball. Mike is still waiting to see Northwestern basketball play in the NCAA Tournament and the Cubs win the World Series.

Posts By Mike Zoller

Staff Picks | The Festival of Barrel-Aged Beer’s (FoBAB) Best of the Best

November 14, 2019 |

Once again the UIC Forum was packed with breweries from all over the country pouring some of their best barrel-aged beers at this weekend’s Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers. In 17th annual showcase of country’s elite barrel-aged beers, Bottle Logic repeated in taking home Best-in-Show honors for Arcane Ritual.

Photo by Eric Dirksen

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FoBAB Judges Avoiding Heavily Adjuncted Pastry Stouts

November 13, 2019 |

While those big pastry stouts that go heavy on the adjuncts might command the hype, long lines, big prices, and high trade value, they’re lacking one thing – FoBAB medals.

A message was sent from the  FoBAB judges once again in 2019: medal-winning beers need to show balance in the ingredients used and they need to feature the barrel. This isn’t a new message though. Looking back at the history of FoBAB medal winners (thank you to the guys at ABV Chicago for compiling the data) pastry stouts have not had a lot of success at FoBAB.

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Revolution’s Gold Medal Beer FoBAB Winner V.S.O.R. Releases Friday

November 13, 2019 |

Before Revolution Brewing releases the next two entries in their highly vaunted Deep Wood series, they’ll already be able to boast a FoBAB gold medal for one of those two. Very Special Old Ryeway (V.S.O.R.) and Straight Jacket will be released at the brewery after V.S.O.R. earned top marks in the Other Strong Dark Beer Category at this weekends Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers.

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Maplewood Set to Release First Barrel-Aged Cuppa Beers

November 8, 2019 |

Known for their thick body, heavy adjuncts and deep flavors, the Cuppa beers from Maplewood Brewery and Distillery enter a new chapter tomorrow with the release of their first barrel-aged versions in the series.

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Illinois Breweries are Preparing for FoBAB

November 4, 2019 |

In any industry, to be recognized for exemplary work is an incredible feeling. To win a medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB), one of the country’s premier barrel-aged beer festivals, is a massive accomplishment.

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Cruz Blanca’s Luchador Series Continues to Fly Under the Radar

October 31, 2019 |

Chicago’s barrel-aged beer selection is second to none when it comes to quality and quantity. While it’s easy to get lost in the releases of Bourbon County or Deep Wood, there are many smaller barrel-aged releases that deserve the attention of the craft beer market. For the second year in a row, Cruz Blanca’s Luchador Series brings big flavors and unique adjuncts to a set of beers that are standouts in a crowded market.

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Event Preview | Traverse City Craft Beer Week

October 28, 2019 |

Known for beautiful scenery, cherries and wine, Northern Michigan’s Traverse City has also become a hotbed for craft breweries. With a population of just over 15,000, the city has 10 breweries and even more in the surrounding towns. The Traverse City Craft Beer Week is an opportunity to explore the region’s expanding craft beer offerings.

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First Taste | 2019 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

October 24, 2019 | 4

Following a year that saw Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout go heavy on adjuncts such as vanilla, orange, berries, and chocolate, the 2019 lineup is focused on the barrel itself.

The eight-beer lineup will be released, as is the tradition, on Black Friday but those attending FoBAB or Prop Day will have a sneak peek at the beers ahead of their official release. The media was invited to the Goose Island Barrel House for the first public tasting of this year’s lineup.

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Revolution Brewing Releases First 3 Deep Wood Series Beers

October 23, 2019 |

As they did last year, Revolution Brewing is once again staggering the release of their Deep Wood barrel-aged series. The first three beers got released last week at its now routine release party, which included cans to-go and a draft list full of rare and stand out beers you won’t find packaged.

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2020 to See Expansion for Many Chicagoland Breweries

October 21, 2019 |

Not only is Chicago’s craft beer scene seeing new breweries opening seemingly every month, but more than half a dozen breweries in the Chicagoland area have also announced expansion plans, setting the stage for a busy end of 2019 into 2020.

Breweries like Marz Brewing Co. and Ravinia Brewing Company will be opening second locations within the city of Chicago. While Noon Whistle Brewing and Pollyanna Brewing Company are expanding in the suburbs. Meanwhile, Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery is opening a second location in Columbus, Ohio.

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Inaugural Beer Culture Summit Aims to Educate Chicago Beer Fans

October 18, 2019 |

It’s only fitting that the city with the most breweries would host a first of its kind conference exploring craft beer from the culture, history, diversity, and everything in-between. Chicago will be hosting the inaugural Beer Culture Summit on October 24-27, organized by The Chicago Brewseum.

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Chicago takes hazy gold once again at GABF, 9 other medals

October 5, 2019 |

Chicago is once again home to Great American Beer Festival’s gold medal-winning Hazy IPA after Old Irving Brewing Co. took home top honors for Beezer. Last year, the first year with the Hazy IPA category, Alarmist won the inaugural gold for Le Jus. (And, in 2017, Hailstorm won for its Prairie Madness IPA which was the most-entered category by breweries that year.)

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2019 Great American Beer Fest | Standouts and Recap from Day One

October 4, 2019 |

As bagpipers marched into the Colorado Convention Center Thursday evening to officially usher in the 38th annual Great American Beer Festival the PorchDrinking team was feverishly sampling as many beers as possible, to discover hidden gems and standouts from night one.

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Drinking Through the 2019 Surly Darkness Barrel-Aged Variants

September 27, 2019 |

For the second year in a row, Surly Brewing Co. will be releasing a series of barrel-aged variants of their popular Russian Imperial Stout, Darkness. The different barrel and adjunct beers were released at Darkness Day last year and will follow suit this year.

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GABF Spotlight | The Best Chicagoland Beers

September 26, 2019 |

There will be more than 4,000 beers poured at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. It is impossible to try every beer there, it would even be a feat if you tried 3% of all the beers being poured at the event.

I went through the pour list of every Illinois brewery pouring at GABF this year and picked out a handful of beers that if you’re not from the state, should be on your list to try. Keep in mind that pour lists do change and so I’m going off of what is available on the festival’s website. I’ll also give you an honorable mention beer from each brewery that may not be the most hyped up beer they have, but it’s still worth trying.

Also, know that a lot of breweries submit beer for judging but don’t make the trip out to Denver to pour their beer. So if you saw that your favorite brewery sent beer to GABF, it doesn’t mean that they are actually going to be there for you to try. Read More

Event Preview | The 9th Annual BeerHoptacular

September 26, 2019 |

Billed as Chicago’s original craft beer festival, the BeerHoptacular returns once again to the Vertiport hangar on September 28 with over 100 beers being poured.

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Ultimate 6er | Pairing Six Revolution Beers with White Castle Menu Items

September 18, 2019 |

I’ll never forget waiting in the drive-thru lane of a White Castle at 12:45 a.m. after immediately seeing Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. It wasn’t my first time, but it was my most memorable time eating those delicious little sliders with onions that really do pop with flavor.

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Recapping Burnt City Brewing’s Kveik Fest

September 10, 2019 |

There are beer festivals centered around hazy beers, big stouts, sours and other styles, but rarely is there a festival around a strand of yeast. Burnt City Brewing teamed up with Omega Yeast Labs to showcase the Kveik strand of yeast and show just how versatile it is.

30 breweries were on hand at District Brew Yards, the home of Burnt City in Chicago, to pour more than 60 beers, a majority using the Kveik yeast. Everything from hazy IPAs to stouts to barleywines were on hand at the festival.

Mathew Powers and I were both there for PorchDrinking.com and we were also joined by Jack Muldowney from The Hop Review; we’d like to share some of our favorite beers from the afternoon. 

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Revolution Brewing Adds Hazy IPA to Year-Round Lineup

August 30, 2019 |

One of Chicago’s most notable series of beers is getting a new year-round addition. Revolution Brewing’s Hero Series which features their iconic Anti-Hero is welcoming a hazy IPA, aptly named Hazy-Hero.

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Chicago Quick Sips | Aug. 26 Chicago Beer News & Events

August 26, 2019 |

Quick Sips is our way of highlighting beer events, tap takeovers and other notable beer news around the city of Chicago. If you’d like to submit something to be included in the next Quick Sips, please email us at [email protected].

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