AboutPaul Lewis – PorchDrinking.com
I travel all over Chicagoland for my job, and work trips out to the suburbs offers me the chance to stop by a local brewery off the beaten path that I otherwise would overlook. Recently, I found myself lost in Bloomingdale, Illinois and it was here that I discovered the hidden gem of Wolfden Brewing, located in an old, haunted, building built-in 1851.
Coffee is a vitally important part of my life. Those long cold Chicago nights staying up late with an infant calls for coffee by the pot full, and if my body wasn’t dependent on caffeine before, it sure is now. I’ve always been a big fan of coffee stouts, and Uppers and Downers is one of my favorite Chicago beer festivals during the winter months. As breweries are experimenting more with how coffee and different beer styles and mesh, quite a few different and unique offerings are becoming more readily available, such as Kentucky Coffee Barrel Cream Ale, and it’s a goldmine for both coffee and beer lovers.
As summer comes to an end, I would like to look back on some of the fond memories of 2019. While the birth of my son, Alexander, has to rank as one of the top moments of my summer, a close second has to be my discovery of my new summer beer, Dancing Man Wheat–a Hefeweizen from New Glarus Brewery out of New Glarus, Wisconsin.
Pizza comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms, and all of it is generally good. Chicago is a city saturated in pizza joints, but pizza in the Windy City is the real deal. While many tourists visit Chicago for its deep-dish style pizza, most Chicago locals will tell you their preferred Chicago style pizza is “tavern-style.” What is tavern-style pizza? While there is no strict criteria, any proper Chicago establishment that claims they serve this type of pizza share a similar method. The crust is very thin, better known as “cracker crust.” The pizza is cut into squares, not slices. Pineapple is not a choice on the ingredients list. Using this as a canvas, there are many Chicago pizza joints outside of the tourist traps in the Loop that deliver solid pizza offerings that go great with a nice cold beer on a warm summer day, and here are my favorite Chicago pizza and beer pairings for you to try, whether you’re a tourist or a local.
Summer has finally arrived, and in the Midwest, we only have a few short months of sunshine and warm weather. What better way to enjoy the summer than to take a quiet stroll away from the concrete jungle of Chicago? In honor of Indiana Dunes receiving National Park status, I decided to dust off my hiking boots and head to northwest Indiana to see what fun a craft beer nerd and nature lover can have in Porter County.
A Saturday filled with thunderstorms and unseasonably cold weather did not stop a large crowd of craft beer enthusiasts from descending upon Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo after hours to enjoy the annual Crafts Brews at the Zoo.
The event featured several local Chicagoland breweries including a select few from across the country and beyond. VIP ticket holders were welcomed with a half hour-early admission complete with access to a light appetizer bar and special tappings from Pollyanna Brewing (including a thick, delicious Malted Milk Ball Pastry Stout). As we’ve come to expect from a Lou Dog Events! festival, the event was very well organized with brewery pouring stations located throughout the park, embedded into many of the zoo’s animal exhibits. This allowed ample space to move around, see some animals and sample some great beer.
The weather kept a few of the animals indoors, but festival attendees had the opportunity to see an eastern black rhinoceros, Japanese Macaque and, of course… penguins! In addition to entertainment, we had some great beers being poured from breweries both local and beyond.
Chicago’s iconic Lincoln Park Zoo is a popular tourist destination in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and is one of Chicago’s few free attractions available to the public. The zoo is home to 1,000 animals from 700 different species including zebras, giraffes, kangaroos and even a polar bear. It is a wonderful place to explore, learn and drink craft beer!
Back for its 5th year on Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, 2019, Craft Brews at the Zoo is a true Chicago experience for the craft beer and nature lover in all of us. This Lou Dogs Events! experience will feature more than 150 brews being poured by over 60 craft breweries including local favorites Revolution, Maplewood and Three Floyds. Pouring stations will be positioned around the zoo so guests have the ability to explore while they sample; special events with animals, like a polar bear feeding and aardvark chat will also take place.
To all the hard-working dads out there just waiting for their opportunity to crack open a cold one after a long day of doing dad stuff, Happy (early) Father’s Day! I wanted to showcase the perfect beer for such an occasion that just so happens to hold a very special place in my liver. Dad is a malty, heavy Red Ale that comes out of Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Yes, I know it’s June and this is a technically a Winter Ale, but hear me out. A good friend of mine who lives outside of Cincinnati sent me a couple six packs a few weeks ago as a way to celebrate my introduction to fatherhood. My wife and I are expecting a baby boy in July, and this was a wonderful and very fitting way to welcome me into my new role.
If you needed strong ales to keep you comfortable and warm in winter, then warm weather calls for light, crisp, flavorful session ales that keep you satisfied throughout a day of yard work. Let’s face it, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds are much better with a cold beer in hand, and Chicago’s Revolution Brewing is ready with just the beer for the occasion!
Located 60 miles south of Chicago, the quiet village of Bourbanais, Illinois, might be the last place you’d expect to find an award-winning brewery and brewpub. Brickstone Brewery is well-known nationally for its award-winning APA, and the brewery emerged well before Chicago became the brewery capital of the nation. Recently, Brickstone began experimenting with the new “trendier” styles of IPAs to great success. Brickstone’s Shak’d Up series of Milkshake IPAs gives the brewery a chance to have some fun and experiment with this new style.
Burn ‘Em Brewing is located in Michigan City, Indiana, not far from the entrance of Indiana Dunes National Park. They have slowly made a name of themselves in the area as a brewery to be reckoned with, as the competition in the South Shore communities increases. The tourist destination in northwestern Indiana has quickly become a destination for nature lovers and craft beer enthusiasts alike. One of their most popular offerings is an easy-drinking cream ale with a uniquely Indiana twist. It should not come as a shock to you that the state of Indiana has a lot of corn, and Burn ‘Em Brewing found a very good use of the state’s abundant supply.
While I can’t say anything bad about the Chicago beer scene (we DO have the most breweries per capita), everything else about this city is exhausting, to say the least. From the rampant corruption, violent crime, high taxes and crumbling infrastructure, there is no shortage of issues that make a resident of Cook County want to drink. When I am in need for some fresh air, fresh ale and small-town charm, my day drinking location of choice has always been my hometown: Griffith, IN, located right over the border, 30 minutes south of Chicago.
Griffith’s downtown has the charm of a small town, but also the amenities of some of Chicago’s most sought-after neighborhoods. It’s no wonder people are leaving Illinois in record numbers; many of them are moving here. Real estate is hot and the secret is out—Griffith is a pretty hip(ster) place to be. The town of 17,000 now boasts a small but bustling downtown complete with a bowling alley (with a large outdoor patio area), gourmet popcorn shop, meat market, coffee house, arcade bar, vegan hair salon and three microbreweries. All of the three microbreweries are within a short walking distance from one another with plenty of cool local businesses between to browse, shop or grab a snack to soak up some of Griffith’s fine local beer. On a personal note, I grew up here (my most of my family still lives here) so this small town and its breweries have a special place in my liver. It’s my pleasure to bring you a drinker’s walking guide of downtown Griffith, IN.
March is here; and by this point many of us in cold weather states have gotten sick of the sub-zero temperatures, potholes, and unseen sheets of ice that cause us to fall on our ass. Rather than reaching a breaking point and going postal, it may be a better option make your way towards southern Florida for a short getaway in weather that teeters between the mid-70s to mid-80’s to get some much needed vitamin D.
My wife and I recently reached our milestone of traveling to all 50 states, ensuring we visit the local brewery in each of the places that we visit. While I am an avid meat eater, my wife is vegetarian. So, the places we choose to eat during our travels had to be well researched in advance to ensure they have a vegetarian menu that met the expectations of my wife, who can be quite a picky eater. Luckily, nowadays, that isn’t hard. Many breweries and brewpubs offer at least one vegetarian option on their menu, to various degrees of success and creativity.
I admit, I rage-bought a beer. I bought Pipeworks Brewing Pothole City because of the name. I didn’t even know what style it was, but I knew I wanted it. Nonetheless, the beer — an Imperial Stout — proved to be just as good as the name.
This past weekend, Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom once again hosted the 7th Annual Cider Summit in Chicago, welcoming thousands of cider enthusiasts from around the Midwest as they enjoyed over 150 ciders from producers around the country and the world.
As Chicago barrels toward a week of historically cold temperatures, I was eager to get out to my local Binny’s and stockpile some dark, heavy stouts to keep me sane as I prepare for a week filled with cabin fever.
One of the things that can make a beer festival memorable (besides the beer) is the festival’s venue. Chicago Ale Fest changed things up this year to great success; they brought the festival to the Lacuna Artist Lofts in Chicago’s red hot Pilsen neighborhood.
While PorchDrinking does tend to focus on the craft beer industry, it is hard to ignore the expansive growth of the beer-adjacent craft cider industry. Chicago is again hosting the cider festival bringing many of these cider producers together from …
Despite its neighbor to the south being named Beer Capital of America, Wisconsin’s breweries are plentiful and still sling some pretty damn good beer. While New Glarus might be the destination of choice for those on a Wisconsin beercation, braving the shivering Midwest January weather and making the drive a little farther north brings you to the small town of Amherst, home of Central Waters Brewing. Expect the journey to be arduous as you attempt to avoid snowdrifts, slippery country roads, rogue cows and Green Bay Packer Fans. However, you’ll be rewarded by visiting a brewery that brews one of my favorite winter beers from America’s Dairyland.