While most of craft beer’s largest watershed moments have involved Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (ABI) acquisition of an iconic, previously independent craft brewery, yesterday’s merger between Boston Beer Company and Dogfish Head Brewery marked an equally resonant moment for the industry, that didn’t directly involve its biggest player.
Las Vegas is the definition of excess. From swanky pool parties to bougie night clubs and incredible hotels, Sin City is never one to lack in any type of entertainment. I recently took my inaugural trip to Vegas and came back with more than a few stories—with one in particular I’m keen to share.
Vegas has a world-renowned dining scene that offers cuisine that appeals to every palate. Every hotel on the strip boasts a bevy of great fine dining options but tend to lack in their craft beer offerings. While many house robust wine lists that you can’t find anywhere else, the beer pairings are typically not up to par. So, when I checked into my hotel for the trip, the SLS Las Vegas, I pinpointed one dining and beer experience that I was excited to try: The Umami Burger, Beer Garden—and Sports Book (it’s Vegas after all).
Consistency is hard to replicate in any industry; it’s especially difficult in the craft beer market. Churning out a consistently excellent product that resonates with consumers and drives a positive bottom line is no small feat; even for the most established brewers, like Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery.
Amidst the sustained success of their hallmark IPA, Fresh Squeezed, Deschutes has brought new beers and new branding into the fold to better compete with a slew of newcomers and new beer styles. Amidst all of this market churn, it’s important to have a consistent element; which is where Veronica Vega, Deschutes’ Director of Product Development comes in.
In an alternate timeline of the Marvel comics, Thor, the God of Thunder, could have become the God of Craft Beer. Craft beer nerds who’ve also seen Avengers Endgame, might have noticed several cameo appearances by one of craft beer’s fastest rising brands, Athens, GA’s Creature Comforts Brewing, and now we know how that all came to be.
Germans love their beer, and they love to drink a lot of it, which means most German styles need to be crisp and fairly low in alcohol to support extended drinking sessions in those gorgeous beer gardens you keep drooling over on Instagram. When I say the words “German beer,” you most likely picture a glass of pale, brilliantly clear Pilsner, or perhaps a stein of amber-colored Märzen (Oktoberfest). Maybe you think of a curvy vase of cloudy Hefeweizen that’s the color of a wheat field. All of those refreshing styles can make a sunny day even better, but it gets pretty cold in Germany during the winter months, and one family of German lager styles—Bocks—have the strength to stand up to the season’s cruelest weather.
Sometimes you take the best things in life for granted. Chicago’s craft beer foundation is built on excellent ales like Anti-Hero and Daisy Cutter, but they no longer generate the lines and Untappd check-ins of past years. It’s not their fault—Chicago drinkers have so many great craft beer options at their disposal that it often becomes overwhelming. So how do you consistently churn out excellent flagships while appealing to the “newness” decree of today’s craft beer drinker?
One valid option is Revolution Brewing’s Hero series. With taproom-only releases, unique 6-pack offerings and comic-inspired variety packs, the Hero line has helped the city’s largest independent brewer stand out from the fray and consistently provide something new to the masses. Each new offering allows Head Brewer Jim Cibak a chance to flex his brewing muscles in new and exciting ways. His latest notable creation is Cryo-Hero. I spoke to Jim and the Revolution team about the new Hero variant, the complexities of that brewing process and what other exciting beers they have planned for the coming months.
A new chapbook by Scratch Brewing co-founder and brewer Marika Josephson lays out a blueprint for what it means to run a true farmhouse brewery in the 21st century.
“There is an ironic disconnect in craft beer in which drinkers care a lot about beer being made locally but don’t know or don’t care about where the ingredients themselves are from,” said Josephson when I interviewed her for a story for Civil Eats in November 2017.
The quote could serve as a thesis statement for her new chapbook Keeping the “Farm” in “Farmhouse Beer”, published by Good Beer Hunting in 2018.
In episode 59 of The PorchCast recorded during the Craft Brewers Conference, we were honored to welcome two legends who literally wrote the book on barrel-aged beers.
Reading more like a scene from National Treasure than your typical beer origin story, the recipe for AC Golden’s latest release, which was first recorded in the annals of history by Adolph Coors himself, was only recently uncovered in a dusty, old, forgotten brewer’s log, stored in the Coors archive room.
The nice thing about the craft brewing industry is that there’s always something new to drink and learn. Both happened to me at Allagash Brewing’s Saison Day at Off Color Brewing’s on April 6, 2019. I wasn’t expecting to find a beer on tap with a hazy color and a viscous texture that would showcase the bright and colorful Saison and Farmhouse ale creations from the likes of Off Color, Allagash, Side Project and Brasserie Dupont. But there I was, savoring every drop of Birds Fly South Ale Project’s Rustic Sunday, a deliciously savory yet fruity Farmhouse ale created via the Solera aging style. I had never heard of Solera aging before but after having one of Birds Fly South’s (BFS) brews, I knew I had to find out more.
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.