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It’s not any sort of industry secret that Lagunitas Brewing Co. has been known to have an affinity for dankness. The Petaluma, CA-based brewery has had a storied history combining hops and cannabis into beer, which makes their recent announcement that much more exciting. Lagunitas has decided to take their groovy talents to the booming sparkling water market, with the introduction of their Hi-Fi Hops sparkling beverage. The new carbonated water drink is IPA-inspired and blends together hops with both THC and CBD, two chemical compounds found in cannabis.
Oh, summer. As a native Minnesotan and current Chicagoan, I have a mixed relationship with the best season of the year. I’m used to rationalizing the cold, the rain, the snow, more cold…and even hail, endured during roughly nine months of the year, knowing that the sweet embrace of 70 degrees and sunny skies is right around the corner. Unfortunately, summer in the Midwest can be as fleeting as the last drip of Lager in your glass, which is why Midwesterners go so crazy for the nice days: because there are so few of them. One of my favorite summer activities is patio drinking. It’s a staple pastime that tans the skin and bloats the belly as you sit outside sopping up suds and some much-needed Vitamin D. Much like its inhabitants, the breweries of the Midwest also rejoice when the first summer forecast comes into the picture. Patio season can even start before Memorial Day – I’ve seen Chicago breweries unveil their patio chairs on an unseasonably sunny day in March. And guess what? That patio was filled. We asked several Midwestern brewers why patio season is so special for their brewery and for their patrons.
Chances are, the last Revolution Brewing beer you had was probably from their Hero IPA line – or even a Rosa or Pils knowing both are a staple of summer. That might not be the case for much longer. Revolution is diving head first into the sour beer trend with the release of their first-ever sour, Freedom of Speach. The session peach sour gets its tartness via kettle souring and comes in at a sessionable 4.5% ABV, meaning that it will add some variety to any cooler you’re packing this season.
The goal of any brewery should be to produce great beer and positively impact their community. Many breweries have this similar mission, but few are as mission-driven as Savannah-based Service Brewing Co.
There’s few things darker than standing in a pitch black cave. The lack of light heightens your other senses immensely. As the lights went out in the famed Grand Rapids barrel storage cave of Founders Brewing Co., my nose lit up with the smell that any barrel-aged beer fan should be familiar with—bourbon. Founders’ head cellarman Jason Heystek is used to it by now, just like he’s used to scaling the rows of bourbon, tequila and wine barrels that line the former gypsum mine. Five minutes into our tour of the caves, Jason had already found a comfortable seat on-top of a KBS barrel. Much like the booze-soaked liquid that warms the body, Jason exudes a sense of comfort and enjoyment that reverberated throughout the group, making our tour almost 90 feet underneath Grand Rapids, a truly unforgettable experience.
Thanks to the permeation of their ad campaign throughout Chicago, my initial impression of Traverse City was that there was going to a brewery every block. That turned out not to be true – and that’s probably a good thing. While a good deal of breweries can be reached via a leisurely stroll on Front St., a lot of the other worthwhile spots are a bit more spaced out, which forces you to explore the unique history and scenery that makes Traverse City one of the better tourist destinations in the Midwest. We got the chance to experience a good deal of what the city had to offer through a variety of brewery stops on Saturday and Sunday, along with a trip up the peninsula to visit the Old Mission Lighthouse and the scenic grounds of the Jolly Pumpkin brewpub. Here are my highlights.
After a five-day excursion with my beer-loving parents through Western Michigan and Traverse City, I’ve come back enamored with many of the local brews… and about five pounds heavier. But it was all worth it: every single brew, cheese board, burger and beer flight. During the trip, we visited over 20 breweries throughout Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Marshall, Ludington and Traverse City. Some were massive, others were upstarts, but each left an impression. To make my recap as readable as possible, I’ve decided to divide my thoughts up into regions, starting with the focal point: Grand Rapids, and the additional visits we took to Bell’s, Dark Horse and Starving Artist located in Kalamazoo, Marshall and Ludington respectively. Here are my highlights.
Revolution Brewing knows how to make damn good beer, and they know how to market it. With an overwhelming amount of quality craft options in the Chicago market, Revolution has been able to defend their sales turf by standing out through their unique marketing efforts – look no further than their League of Heroes variety pack.
In most areas of business, expansion is almost always a good thing. But that notion has not always been the case in the craft beer industry. Look no further than the sudden decline of national brewer Green Flash, who seemed …
Scroll through your Instagram these days and you’re sure to find a wide selection of hazy beers in tulip glasses, strategically positioned to capture the faintest glimmer of sunlight on the glass. For many, the fanfare around the NE-style IPA is as much about the visuals as it is about the beer’s inherently juicy sweetness. Humans are visual eaters after all, so creating a beer that delights both your eyeballs and tastebuds makes sense. When I scrolled through my feed a few months back, my finger stopped on a post from Chicago-based Forbidden Root. The West-side brewery has made a name for itself with their botanical brews and hazy concoctions, but this newest endeavor, dubbed Assembly Required, was daring even for them. It was a sour NE-style IPA, more opaque than hazy, with a bright rosy red hue that departed from the typical orange juice color of a traditional haze bomb. Their new Assembly Required line is a bold evolution to the must-make trend of the present. After tasting the next batch, I’m confident in saying that the sour haze trend is alive and well in Chicago
New Belgium Brewing has had success in a bunch of different beer styles, most notably with their popular Voodoo Ranger IPA line and the fan favorite Fat Tire. But they’ve never distributed either of those beers as widely as their newest offering. Enter Bicycle Kick Kölsch, their new, refreshing brew primed to be the premiere beer of this June’s World Cup. To give it added appeal for “The World’s Game,” New Belgium decided to partner with five breweries on five different continents, creating a truly unique collaborative beer that boasts the finishing touches from five distinct breweries. The kicker, pun intended, is that each brewery that brews Bicycle Kick will also distribute the limited time beer across their distribution footprint. That’s five continents, making it New Belgium’s most widely distributed beer ever. We asked New Belgium spokesperson Jesse Claeys about how the Fort Collins brewery brewed a beer with worldwide appeal.
When the snow melts, Minnesota springs into life. As a Minnesota native, I’m partial to the great Land of 10,000 Lakes for many reasons. If you can get past the prolonged winters and man-eating mosquitoes, Minnesota really does have a lot to offer to the outdoor enthusiast, family man, beer aficionado, sports fan and everyone in between. Oh, and the beer scene in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is absolutely kickass.
Surly Brewing started in a small retail park in Brooklyn Center, MN. After experiencing sustained growth in sales, the brewery expanded to its massive Prospect Park location that now houses a beer hall and shoulders the brunt of its growing, multi-state distribution responsibilities. And while they do offer some unique one-off beers served exclusively at the beer hall, the older Brooklyn Center location gives them even more space to experiment. The culmination of this brewing flexibility is its new BC Small Batch series.
Baseball season is back. And though it may not feel like it in Chicago, I look forward to the warmer months when I get a sit in a plastic seat while watching a ballgame in person – with a beer in-hand. Much like America’s pastime, the venues that typically host baseball games are rooted in tradition, which usually means a heavy dosage of light macro lagers going for anywhere from $8-10. However, several ballparks around Major League Baseball have started to buck this trend by appealing to the new generation of baseball fans who want to buy a craft beer from a local brewer instead of the traditional Budweisers and Miller Lites of the world. Plus, these drinkers expect a higher price point when drinking in a stadium, which means a craft offering can offer similar margins to a macro brew. Here’s a look at six stadiums who are leading the charge by providing a great ballpark-centric craft beer experience to their fans.
With more than 200 breweries within its city limits, Chicago’s brewery scene can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers or tourists visiting the city for a weekend. Thankfully, many breweries have started to take the guess work out of where to visit by joining together to create uniquely branded brewing “neighborhoods” that offer beer drinkers a structured map of several breweries in close proximity to each other. It’s more a branding play than anything, but it does help each brewery in the allotted “district” brand themselves as being part of the collective – adding extra appeal to those who want to make a day out of walking to several spots in one day. The breweries in the Ravenswood neighborhood were the first to pioneer the idea in Chicago, as the adeptly branded “Malt Row” offers drinkers a robust list of unique breweries and beer styles from the likes Dovetail, Begyle and Band of Bohemia, all located within a near mile radius. Now, Chicago’s quickly growing West Side is getting into the picture with the newly created “Chicago Brewing District,” which includes beer giant Goose Island, GABF-winner On Tour Brewing, large contact brewer Great Central Brewing Company, All Rise Brewing and Finch Beer.
Although the American economy has largely enjoyed growth the last several years, portions within the broader picture have been in a state of flux for some time. For macro and micro brewers alike, the current state of aluminum has both micro and macro brewers concerned. A quick peek at the shelves of your local retailer will reveal rows and rows of aluminum cans. 12, 16 and even 19.2 oz cans have been a huge boon for larger craft brewers and macro producers like MillerCoors, offering greater shelf life and added convenience to consumers. But the strategy of putting everything into cans is entering a period of uncertainty due to the recently proposed tariffs and sanctions put in place by President Donald Trump.
While Trump claims the new regulations will help bolster American business, small to regional sized brewers like WeldWerks and Founders, along with massive brewing giant MillerCoors, are voicing their concerns.
We’ve written on here before about Dogfish Head’s passion to stand out amongst growing competition in the craft beer market. Heck, we even devoted an entire 6er to it. But crafting a beer with scorching hot chili peppers or moon dust can only go so far. At some point, you need to find new ways to set yourself apart from the beer lining the shelf next to you. In their latest move, Dogfish Head is doing just that by introducing the new Off-Center Your Summer Pack. The new pack signals their shift towards differentiation by presenting a more premium product that offers more than just a 12-pack of beer to consumers. Dogfish Head Founder and CEO Sam Calagione offered his thoughts on the new seasonal variety pack and what its introduction to the market means for Dogfish Head and the larger craft beer arena.
Back in the Spring of 2015, Minnesota breweries entered a canning frenzy, as brewers like Surly and Badger Hill realized the benefits of the convenient packaging format compared to the archaic growler variety. Fulton Brewing also joined the canning fray during that period, becoming one of the first breweries in the bustling Northeast Minneapolis area to do so. A myriad of canned Fulton favorites can be found on shelves across Minnesota. Now, they have announced a new aluminum-clad offering.
Allagash Brewing Co. is an eastern stalwart of craft beer’s “old guard,” most known for their impressive spiced Belgian-style wheat beer, Allagash White. But Allagash’s influence in the Belgian style runs much deeper than just its flagship beer. The Maine-based brewery has had a strong barrel-aged program since 2004, having churned out a variety of quality Belgian-style stouts and tripels. Their first ever barrel-aged beer, Curieux, a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian Golden Ale blended with Belgian Tripel, has been a prominent offering of Allagash for over a decade, but it had only been available on draft and in 750ml bottles—until now. Having sensed consumer’s demand for more choice in packaging, Allagash responded by putting Curieux into 12oz bottles – a first for the brand’s barrel program, and an impressive achievement given the complexity of Curieux. The new packaging format is an exciting shift for the craft beer stalwart; we asked Jason Perkins, brewmaster at Allagash Brewing Company, why they’ve decided to make the move and what craft beer drinkers can expect.
The growth of craft beer and social media have followed somewhat similar trajectories. Both have become dominant forces in the day-to-day lives of many Americans, and both have become intertwined – for better or for worse. In its best sense, the availability of social media allows craft brewers to connect with their patrons and for beer lovers to socialize and discuss with one another, expanding their passion and knowledge of the industry. In the worse sense, social media platforms like Twitter and Untappd offer anonymous critics a vehicle through which to hurl insults, often unwarranted, at breweries.