Brewing beer is hard. Starting a brewery is even harder. Along with making the beer that keeps the lights on, there’s logistics, staff, space and marketing workflows that need to be addressed and accounted for. It’s a big undertaking that takes a certain sense of passion and entrepreneurship; many brewers often say it’s a calling. This was the case for Peter Bouckaert when he decided to open up Purpose Brewing & Cellars last year.
This past Sunday, The Post Brewing – Boulder hosted the last of their Battle of the Brewmasters Series. This was a special event for the Colorado local because their head brewer at the time of opening, Bryan Selders, came back to participate in this event. Before moving on to Dogfish Head, Bryan was also a mentor the current head brewer, Nick Tedeschi. In the opening, the two shared the experience they had together; as well as how each of their lives were impacted by the other.
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.
In today’s U.S. craft beer market, tenure is a very relative term. So, when something has been around for 20 years, you take notice. That is the case with New Belgium Brewing’s wood-aged sour program, which is the oldest in the United States. The program has created sour trendsetters like La Folie; all the while continuing to set the mark for what consumers should look for in a good wood-aged sour.
Ike and Oak Brewing Company recently opened in Woodridge, IL as the city’s second brewery after Skeleton Key. They’re offering 11 of their beers on tap, a variety of pizza options – all in a large venue with an exposed brewhouse and TVs to show any upcoming games. Whether or not that’s conveniently located near you, here’s why you should come through Woodridge.
In honor of the NCAA tournament, the PorchDrinking crew decided to commemorate the greatest month of the year with a little madness on our own. We took each team competing in this year’s bracket and wondered who’d win the Big Dance if we were to compared beer scenes from each school’s city.
“We thought it was, like, ‘oh cool, that would be fun, but never-mind.’ And then after a while, I was like, ‘We need to take a break, and we want to do a collaboration, and why not?’” – Tim Jones
We recently caught up with brothers Tim and Jeremy Jones of Aegir Brewing Co. in Elk River, MN. The two had returned from a trip to Iceland that we unwittingly played a role in. Eager to hear their version of the story and the series of events leading up to the trip, we joined them in the taproom on a recent Saturday morning. Before we could ask them anything, though, they had a question of their own:
“You guys want a drink?” Jeremy offered.
For my first piece for PorchDrinking, I decided to revisit a beer that kicked off my love of craft beers.
I still remember the first time I tried The Charlatan…back before it was canned. Before it received its new look. Hell, even before Maplewood came to be known as Maplewood.
Flowers bloom, jackets get placed in storage and new beer makes its way onto store shelves. If the recent weather is any indication, spring is right around the corner. And while I don’t want to jinx it, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t already daydreaming of new spring releases and returning seasonals that pair well with warmer temps and added sunshine. Thankfully, I’m not alone in that sentiment. Spring is an exciting time for craft brewers as darker beers retreat to their barrels and lighter and fruitier options come into prominence. This spring might be even more adventurous for beer releases as craft brewers continuously compete to address changing consumer preferences amongst the surging popularity of lighter alcohol options, wine and spiked seltzer.
I grew up in Minnesota but currently live in Chicago. This means that I often fly back to Minnesota for family occasions and holiday gatherings. The sub-hour long flight has just enough time for one round of drink service in the cabin. Typically, I opt for whiskey or plain water given the lack of craft beer offerings on most airlines. Now, that might all be changing. A few weeks ago, Minneapolis-based Fulton Brewing announced that Sun Country Airlines would be offering their Lonely Blonde Ale on flights for the first time alongside their current craft option, Surly Brewing’s Furious IPA. It’s an exciting move that shows airlines aren’t averse to the changing drinking demands of consumers. I spoke with a few airlines along with Fulton to get more info on how these partnerships work and what beer drinkers should expect on flights.
Recently dubbed the “beer capital of America,” Chicago will soon welcome an entirely new brewing concept to the city. Pilot Project Brewing will be Chicago’s first formal brewing incubator – a space for experimentation and collaboration.
Set to open by early summer at 2140 N. Milwaukee Ave., Pilot Project introduces the city to the incubation concept, adopted at brewing spaces across the country such as Rocky Mount Mills and Labrewatory. All who brew are welcome at Pilot Project, from amateur homebrewers looking to kickstart a professional career, to existing breweries in search of an outlet for experimenting with flavors, styles, and peers.
Being a master blender is much like being a mad scientist. It takes an innate knowledge of the craft, a bit of daring, and a bit of flare. The job inherits a lot of risk thanks to how unpredictable wild yeast can be. Thankfully, California-based Firestone Walker has the man up to the task.
Jim Crooks, affectionately called Sour Jim, has run Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks wild yeast facility since its introduction in 2014. During that time, he’s worked on unique barrel blending projects like Feral One and newer ventures like their recently-released Rose-style beer that uses locally-sourced Paso Robles grapes. Crooks has produced a lot of innovative offerings over the past five years, but the best may be yet to come given their focus on blending the lines between beer and wine with the help of locally-sourced ingredients. We asked Jim five questions about his role, why he focuses on fresh, and what comes next for Barrelworks. Here’s what he said.
The time for women to run this beer industry is now. Despite the efforts of stodgy scared obstinate old curmudgeons like Bill Metzger, the former co-publisher of the Great Lakes Brewing News, this industry is no longer a man’s world, …
One of the many things we love about the craft beer scene is how supportive it is and the community surrounding it.
When Portage Brewing Co. in Walker, MN was destroyed by an overnight fire this past January, the craft community rallied around them. Local fundraisers were quickly thrown together to help raise support, and breweries like Bent Paddle and Modist Brewing announced collaboration beers with proceeds going to support their friends at Portage Brewing.
New Utah breweries are opening at a rate not seen in a generation, if ever. The boom is providing plenty of options for craft beer lovers to drink directly at the source.
At peak times, many brewery taprooms are filled with good beer and lively conversations. However, as with any business, it’s not all-bustling, all the time.
To appreciate the many wild branches of today’s craft beer industry in America, one must take note of its roots. There are few bigger pillars in the American brewing industry than Larry Bell, the founder of Bell’s Brewery. What started as a humble homebrew supply store in the ‘80s has turned into a craft brewing powerhouse that remains a foundational stitch of the modern brewing fabric. A testament to the Michigan brewer’s impact is the sustained success of Two Hearted IPA. Alongside their Oberon Wheat Ale, the unassuming IPA with a fish on the green-hued label is a beer that helped modernize the craft beer scene and helped establish the IPA trend in America. PorchDrinking sat down with Bell’s founder Larry Bell to learn more about the history of the flagship and what comes next.
A mutual love for beer first connected John Rowley of Rowley Farmhouse Ales in Santa Fe and Eric Erman of Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar in Tucson over a decade ago. And the spirit of collaboration also connected them with fellow funk enthusiasts Matt Brown of Tombstone Brewing Company and Rob Hammelman of Sand-Reckoner Vineyards to collaboratively create a Spontaneous Ale that features the terroir of Cochise County in Arizona using only local ingredients.
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.
How do you stand out in the ultra-competitive IPA market? Maybe you go the hazy route; maybe you go with something double or triple-hopped, or maybe you just make a damn good single-hop IPA. That’s the inspiration behind Odell Brewing Company’s Wolf Picker IPA series, which shines a light on a new hop in each iteration.
The 2019 Wolf Picker features the new Oregon-grown Strata hop and is the first of the series to debut in cans. Sourcing unique hops that stand out amongst the competition is a tough job, but it’s one that Odell’s agronomist Scott Dorsch relishes. A typical agronomist role requires the person to be an expert in the science of soil management and crop production, but it takes on a bit of a new meaning when you work at a craft brewery. We asked Dorsch five questions about his career in agronomy, why he chose Strata for the latest Wolf Picker and what excites him about the hop marketplace in 2019.
The modern world of craft beer tends to glamorize the brewmaster as a lone wolf creative genius. One person working away in an underground lair fermenting magic. Of course, a brewmaster relies on a large team of professionals in every step of the process. The very first step is gathering quality ingredients. Yeast is beer’s most mysterious ingredient. A reproducing single-celled organism that consumes sugars to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. Without these invisible creatures, there would be no beer.