Posts ByRachel Morrison, Author at PorchDrinking.com
You are not alone if you’re wondering how 2023 is almost over. It was another eventful year in the Chicago craft beer scene. The year included endless beer releases, major events, unique membership offerings, newcomers and bidding farewell to a few local favorites. While naming the “Best of 2023” in Chicago Craft Beer is no easy feat, we’re giving it our best shot.
BuckleDown Brewing and Vault Comics recently collaborated on Barbaric Blood Red Ale, launching Friday, Dec. 15. It’s an American Red Ale, offering rich malt flavor, subtle sweetness and a blood-reddish hue. It’s a well-balanced, approachable beer, clocking in at 6.5% ABV. Fans of BuckleDown Brewing and Barbaric can be the first to taste the beer at the BuckleDown Brewing taproom in Lyons, Illinois, on Friday, Dec. 15.
While Guinness originally hoped to open its Chicago taproom in time for Saint Patrick’s Day, it experienced some delays, which moved its official opening date to Sept. 28. Immediately stepping foot into the new Chicago location, it’s easy to see that the wait was worth it.
The Guinness Open Gate Brewery is now open in Chicago. This marks the second U.S. location for Guinness. The other U.S. location is in Baltimore, Maryland.
Oktoberfest season is upon us whether you’re ready for it or not. Oktoberfest styles start getting released in August, and celebrations tend to follow in September. While not all Chicago breweries are hosting official Oktoberfest celebrations, there are many opportunities to celebrate the two-week festival that originated in Munich back in 1810. If you’re not able to make the trip to Germany, you have a lot of options right here in Chicago.
There’s a new beer in Forbidden Root’s core lineup. Forbidden Root Peach Wit is a Wheat beer brewed with peach, rose, chamomile, jasmine, mahleb, arris root, osmanthus flowers, and sour orange. Along with this new introduction, all Forbidden Root beers will now be offered in sixteen-ounce cans. Trust me, you’ll want the extra ounces of this one. Peach Wit joins Strawberry Basil Hefeweizen in Forbidden Root’s core beer lineup, giving distribution partners some variety.
This week, Lagunitas reopens its Chicago taproom in Douglass Park. Before you keep reading, open Spotify, search “Pure Imagination” and press play. Ready? OK. The Lagunitas Taproom reopens to the public on Thursday, April 13. You’re immediately transported back in time when you open the doors of the 30,000-square-foot brewing facility. Right away, guests are greeted with the nostalgic tune from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Both Lagunitas and the filmare set in a vast and imaginative space. The same 32 taps line the bar in the upstairs taproom, and the kitchen is serving bar bites, sandwiches, mussels and more.
Off Color Brewing of Chicago is known for its funky beers, an IPA-free menu and mice illustrations. More recently, the brewery is known for a sold-out beer and dumpling pairing event for the release of Sī Fáng Pale Lager, brewed in collaboration with QXY Dumplings. The collaboration between Off Color and QXY is unique from other collaborations. Typically, two breweries collaborate and leverage both of their respective audiences. For Sī Fáng, Off Color collaborated with Qing Xiang Yuan (QXY) to highlight an underrepresented neighborhood of Chicago, Chinatown. Unlike a regular beer release, the Off Color team worked with their friends at QXY to create not only an incredible beer but an exciting pairing experience.
There’s a new brewery in Naperville, Illinois! Go Brewing offers non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers, exclusively. It recently took over the former Two Fools Cider space nearby Solemn Oath Brewery. As one of the few taprooms solely focused on non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers, the taproom provides a space for people to gather without alcohol. Go Brewing’s founder, Joe Chura, was inspired to start the brewery after taking a sabbatical and participating in the seventy-five hard. During that time, he realized there were so few places not centered around drinking. The taproom offers non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers in a variety of styles, along with an extensive list of programming, providing their community with even more reasons to come together.
The holidays are among us and there’s no better Thanksgiving beer paring than Beer for Dealing with Your Family by Off Color Brewing. Technically, it’s not beer; it’s malt liquor. However, it’s included in the brewery’s “beer for” series and plays off of what everyone knows and loves about Off Color. It’s complex, well-rounded, multi-dimensional, and high ABV, but without carrying the heat. Additionally, and most importantly (to some), the can art is absolutely incredible.
On Wednesday, I fly to Denver, Colorado for my first ever Great American Beer Festival. I’ve never attended GABF and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed. If you, like me, need advice for your first Great American Beer Festival, keep scrolling.
Over 10,000 beers judged. More than 2,000 different beers served. Five hundred breweries from across the country represented. Twenty five beer pairings curated by top-rated chefs. Four sessions. Three days. A lot of farts. This year, the Great American Beer Festival turns 40.
If you like beer even a little bit, you’ve heard of Tree House Brewing. And you haven’t just heard the name, you’ve heard of it in an extreme sense. Maybe two of your co-workers drove cross country to “secure the bag.” Or perhaps your upstairs neighbors graciously gifted you a case after a week of cat sitting. So while you may have been fortunate enough to try Tree House before, you’d never visited any of their brewery locations, until now.
If you’re in Portland, Maine this weekend, clear your schedule. The Beers With(Out) Beards Festival turns five this year. BW(O)B began as the idea for a grad school thesis by Grace Weitz during her senior year at NYU. Since its conception in 2018, it has grown to become the nation’s largest women-in-craft beer festival. The event aims to create space for women and femme-identifying people to feel welcome in craft beer, while highlighting and celebrating the accomplishments of those already paving the way.
If you haven’t yet heard of Moor’s Brewing, then you haven’t been paying attention. While the brewery is only about eight months old, Moor’s is seeing early success and momentum through their ever-growing list of distribution partners, a current residency at Haymarket Brewing and many more partnerships and events in the pipeline.
Often times, smoked beers can offer similar notes and flavors to beef jerky. Separately, both incredible things; combined, not my cup of tea (or beer). Thankfully, no two iterations of any beer style are the same. Enter Django Pennsylvania, a Grodziskie style beer brewed by Ørkenoy in Chicago, IL in collaboration with Live Oak Brewing out of Austin, TX. A Grodziskie is a traditional Polish style, which is a very light, smoky beer, brewed with 100% wheat malt.
Cultivate by Forbidden Root is now open in Lincoln Square. This is the brewery’s second Chicago location, which takes over the space previously occupied by Band of Bohemia. The Forbidden Root team has brightened and opened up the space, introduced an updated menu and are encouraging people to get out of their comfort zones with their beer list, in the best possible way. Their menu features elevated brewery food, including a Porchetta French Dip Sandwich that melts in your mouth after the perfect au jus dunk. The beer menu is extensive and unique, mirroring Forbidden Root’s West Town location. Foeder-aged and kviek style beers set this location’s beer menu apart. The team plans to continue to experiment with all the funk, especially with the attached taproom opening soon.
Parson’s Beer, a Golden Ale, is brewed by Revolution Brewing and can only be enjoyed at Parson’s Chicken & Fish here in Chicago. The beer is light, crisp and refreshing and pairs perfectly with Parson’s incredible menu. You can’t necessarily enjoy the restaurant’s stunning patio year-round, but you can enjoy this beer anytime you’d like–and that’s arguably more important.
The fact that Märzen-style beers aren’t offered year-round is devastating. Even if we all had to come together and choose just one local offering to hold onto outside of the season, I’m convinced that Endgrain by Hopewell Brewing would have a strong chance.
You’ve heard of Dad Bod. If you haven’t, it’s worth crawling out of the rock you’ve been living under to grab some. For starters, Dad Bod is back. More importantly, the brewery behind Dad Bod Hazy Lager, Urban Brew Labs, recently opened their first taproom. Since 2018, Urban Brew Labs has been distributing beer in the Chicagoland area. They began as draft-only and have since evolved to offer cans and draft beer to the market. Now, you can enjoy their beers (along with guest taps) at their very own taproom in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago.
If you haven’t had Jungle Boogie by Marz, I’m sorry. Jungle Boogie, like Marz Brewing itself, has a cult following. It’s deserved. It’s an American Pale Wheat beer brewed with rooibos tea. The beer is perfectly rounded by the subtle sweetness from the mixed wheat grain bill and the stone fruit flavors of the rooibos tea. Light enough, at 5.5% ABV, that you can keep drinking it. Which is convenient, because you’ll want to go for another pint. Jungle Boogie is a flagship and staple at Marz. It’s the middle of the road in terms of the brewery’s long list of hoppy offerings, fruited sours, and clean lagers. The beer itself has thankfully stayed the same. Beyond infrequent adjunct offerings from mango to the more recent blueberry release, you know what you’re getting with Jungle Boogie, the very best.