In any casual beer consumer’s journey, there are many inevitable “firsts” that can occur before finally culminating with unbridled beer obsession. From the first time one crosses into the refreshing bitter blast of a hop-forward IPA, to the first time you become infatuated with beautiful rich boozy bourbon barrel-aged stouts; the first time one travels to a destination beer fest, to pulling the trigger on a first successful beer trade, these milestones mark one step deeper into true beer geekdom.
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Chicago’s Burnt City Brewing is making waves. The brewery already boasts of a chic brewpub and bowling alley on the always-hip Lincoln Avenue, a brewhouse located in the locally-famous, former Jay’s plant, eye-catching label artwork and a recent collaboration with Chicago’s illustrious Art Institute. But now it’s also churning out a diverse, impressive collection of beers including its Brett and Yeast friendly “Wildfire Series.”
For the past nine months, Katie and I have been adventuring our way through Minnesota’s craft beer community. With more than 150 breweries and brewpubs to visit — last we heard that number was actually upwards of 180 now — we’ve been busy and content with what’s right here in our own backyard. But sometimes a new adventure calls, and when an opportunity to visit breweries in Iceland, Ireland, London and Paris came calling — we answered.
In truth, no one came calling for us; we just happened to be heading to Europe on a sort of one-year anniversary/bucket list trip. Still, we took advantage of our time abroad to visit some new taprooms, make some new friends and drink some new beers.
Located in the heart of Ravenswood’s Malt Row, Empirical Brewery has drawn a significant following thanks its scientific approach to brewing and great sour beers. Oh, and the cats are a huge draw too. You won’t find them roaming around the taproom or on much of their branding, but there’s no doubt that their three Ghostbuster-themed cats, Venkman, Egon and Raymond have had a significant impact on the staff at Empirical and on their business as a whole. On a given Saturday brewery tour, it’s common for patrons to be more interested in finding the cats hidden amongst pallets or perched in their cat castle than getting a close look at Empirical impressive experimental brewing system. We asked Head Brewer and COO Jacob Huston about his feline employees and how they’ve become a vital part of the brewery’s family – and business.
The long-awaited project pairing a budding local mixed-use development empire in Zeppelin Places, with one of craft beer’s most storied pioneers, New Belgium Brewing, has finally opened to the public.
The Source Hotel, the fourth major mixed-use space in Denver’s River North Art District from the Zeppelin team following Taxi, The Source and Zeppelin Station, has been a long time coming. In fact, New Belgium Brewing and Kyle Zeppelin’s team had been collaborating on this project since 2014. Normal construction delays and accidents made opening a practice of patience for everyone involved, but the excitement was palpable as Kyle Zepplin (developer), Stephen Dynia (architect) David Stutz (The Source Hotel GM) and Kim Jordan (New Belgium) addressed the crowd at the soft-opening this past Thursday.
This past Saturday, beer fans from across Chicago (and the larger U.S.) made the trek to Half Acre’s Balmoral home to partake in the burgeoning beer fest called The Big North. Half Acre has hosted this event for three years running now. Each year is bigger, each year is better, and each year, the beer list grows to eye-popping quantities. The third iteration of Half Acre’s beer celebration did not disappoint as hundreds of sudsed-up beer fans took in a picturesque summer evening across Half Acre’s ever-expanding campus. The event is special for many reasons, but it’s also an important milestone for Half Acre’s self-titled pursuit of “duality,” which means that they’re able to make enough mainstream brews to keep business moving, while also keeping their creative and experimental programs producing at a high clip. The result of Half Acre’s pursuit was witnessed on Saturday, and boy did it taste good.
There’s energy in the air. You can feel it. It feels exciting. Monday Night Brewing just celebrated their 7th anniversary last week, so we sat down with Peter Kiley, Head Brewer, to catch up on the last seven years. I met Kiley with a pale golden liquid-filled glass in hand, he greets his friends and family with warm hugs and firm handshakes. This place feels important. It feels like home. Like family.
Wisconsin is known for its cheese, beer and football. Green Bay, Wisconsin’s third biggest city, is simply known for the Packers. Dubbed Titletown USA, Green Bay has been home to the Packers for ages (the team will celebrate its centennial next year). The team is also a massive business boon for the city thanks to the tourism and additional business opportunities it brings to the small port city.
Packers football Sundays have also become big business for Green Bay’s small, but growing, craft beer scene. Two breweries, Badger State Brewing and Hinterland Brewery, are strategically positioned within a quick walk from the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field. Stillmank Brewing Company is a bit farther away, but still sees a good deal of added foot traffic during any Packers’ home game weekend. We spoke to the owners of each brewery for an assessment on how the Packers have impacted their business.
We at PorchDrinking.com thoroughly enjoy covering craft beer trends and showcasing the newest beers. But, before terms like Brut, Milkshake, New England and even BBA entered the brewing-industry lexicon, beer fans were thrilled to taste Ambers, Pale Ales and some mysterious beer that may or may not have arrived from India. So, for one month, we are going to take time to remember some of those OGs of Craft Beer — the brews that made it all possible.
An OG beer showcase will publish each day for the next several weeks. It would be a daunting task to cover them all (we are discussing less than one-half of the beers on our list), but our writers selected beers near and dear to their heart, ones that were often gateway beers that lead to our love of craft. We hope you enjoy our homage to the abridged list of classics.
In just over four years of operation, Broomfield’s 4 Noses Brewing has grown to become one of Colorado’s fastest rising young breweries, and last year announced full distribution throughout the state through distributor Elite Brands. The family-run brewery has already undergone a series of more subtle branding updates, but are now embarking on their most significant brand refresh to-date. We caught up with Marketing Manager Stacey McMahan to discuss what went into the updated can label designs.
Look in the hand of any avid craft beer fan and you’ll most likely find a can of glistening beer. Right now, the shift towards aluminum primarily revolves around the traditional 12oz and tallboy formats, but that trend is evolving as consumers continue to voice their beer opinions through their wallets. The next frontier for cans is one that has been on-shelves for some time. Unsurprisingly pioneered by Oskar Blues back in 2012, the 19.2oz can, often called a stovepipe, is a behemoth of beer, giving drinkers over 1.5 standard servings of beer. It’s not a format for everyday use, but several brewers across the nation are finding interesting niches for the big can format.
We asked them about the growing trend and if they think the can is here to stay.
In most any celebration, raising a beer is an appropriate practice. This is especially true in the case of welcoming a new life to the world and the subsequent bonding of two families. A beery toast is even more fitting …
Sometimes in order to take two steps forward, you’ve got to take one giant leap back. Such was the case two years ago when Wynkoop Brewing made the difficult decision to end the packaging and distribution of its beers to outside bars, restaurants and liquor stores. However, the decision to shift focus solely toward on-premise sales has also allowed the Wynkoop team to re-invest in innovation and grow a stronger overall beer program.
There are a lot of amazing IPAs out there these days, but something you don’t hear about as often is an amazing triple IPA. Triple IPA is not an official style recognized by the Brewer’s Association, but generally speaking, it is a high ABV IPA (typically double digits). Some IPAs that are 10% ABV or higher can be very boozy and wouldn’t be something you’d consider “easy drinking.” However, Wren House Brewing Company in Phoenix has cracked the code.
These guys have brewed a hazy triple IPA that is very easy drinking (almost too easy) not just once — but four times. Those four tantalizing IPAs are what you’ll find in their Wally’s World IPA series: Good Boy Wally, Bad Boy Wally, Sad Boy Wally and Where’s Wally. The beers were named after one of the founder’s dogs, Wally. Each brew ranges from 10%-11.2% ABV and drinks like the ABV is half that amount. Grab a mixed four pack, sit back and enjoy the series — just maybe not all in one sitting.
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.
Electricity pulsed through the growing line outside of Fremont Brewing’s Frēlard Production Facility in Seattle, Washington. Growing by the minute, fanatics of Fremont Brewing eagerly hopped up and down, greeted old friends and excitedly developing strategies around bottle purchases. Though it would be a safe assumption that the people in line weren’t strangers to the concept of waiting for craft beer, this line was for a reward much greater than any special release. This line was for the crème de la crème of craft beer events in the city – the Heron Hunting Club’s annual get-together.
This event, put on in celebration of Fremont’s Heron Hunting Club – a group comprised of and dedicated to the breweries’ most loyal and ardent fans, is a prime example of a trend sweeping through craft beer: Programs and clubs, sponsored and created by breweries, that reward their most diehard patrons by offering exclusive, intimate experiences and benefits.
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.
Happy National Wine Day! With May 25 denoting a day dedicated to wine, it was time for the PorchDrinking to think about how it could be flipped to involve beer. What better way to shift the focus than to incorporate both? Wine barrel-aged beers have become increasingly popular in recent years as craft beer drinkers are seeking for something different and something to expand their horizons. Below we’ll discuss some of the most notable wine barrel-aged beers that I’ve had the chance to try to date, and how the aging process has impacted the quality and characteristics of these beers.
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.