Walking into the 11th annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer, and Food festival was an overwhelming sensory experience. The excitement and chatter of thousands of festival goers filled the air, in addition to music being provided by local musicians. The smell of tacos from Lindo Mexico and pulled pork from Slows Bar Bq, just a few of the local eateries on site, teased my taste buds. Although I enjoy wine and cider, my eyes were drawn immediately to “Beer City Station,” the area of the festival dedicated to over 60 brewery tents lined with taps and ready for me to explore. My husband and I bought our tasting tickets and set out on our culinary adventure.
Once deemed “Black Out Wednesday,” to differentiate it from Black Friday and because the day before Thanksgiving ranks as one of the busiest drinking nights of the year, Black Wednesday has grown to become one of the craft beer industry’s biggest days. Chicago’s breweries and bars are regaling patrons with plenty of special beer, most of it as black as a winter night. So, to help you navigate Black Wednesday in Chicago, we’ve compiled a list to help you.
We can’t detail every event, but we tried to hit on the big releases and offerings. Did we miss something grand? Let us know via comments here or on social media. Have a great Thanksgiving Week!
Over the past 16 years, Chicago’s Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers has quickly established itself as one of the preeminent showcases of barrel-aged beers in the country. This two-day festival not only allows festival goers the chance to sample from some of …
Tis the season for barrel-aged beers. While many fervent craft beer fans will flock to the annual barrel-focused release parties of their favorite local brewer this month, there is only one event that brings more than 200 of the best barrel-aged brewers from around the country together for one decadent event. The Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers is now in its 16th year and has quickly established itself as one of the best beer – not just for stouts and barleywines – festival in the states.
The event is held at the UIC Forum in Chicago on Friday November 16 and Saturday November 17 and already has the attention of many beer fans, myself included, excited to indulge in all of the great one-off and unique barrel-aged offerings served two ounces at a time.
Seward, Nebraska is known as “The Fourth of July City.” With just over 7,000 denizens, Seward is not a “small” town by Nebraska standards, where towns with less than 1,000 people are still common around the state. And so it was nice to see this town get its own independent brewery in 2015 when Bottle Rocket Brewing Company opened its doors.
For the past four years, Detroit area breweries have teamed up in October to collaborate on innovative beers in honor of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Fall Beer Festival. However, this year’s theme took experimentation to the next level. Seven breweries decided to pay homage to the cornerstone of Michigan pop (not soda), Faygo, the beloved pop brand of Michiganders and Juggalos alike. While Faygo has been covered in the national press, usually as a side-story to the oddities of the Insane Clown Posse, the Detroit Beer Experiment, a collective of Detroit-based breweries, decided to give the product it’s culinary due by way of beer. Stephen Rogonson of Batch Brewing Co and Robert Orler of Brew Detroit were nice enough to answer some questions about the Detroit Beer Experiment.
Ryan Blandford, head brewer at Cincinnati’s Taft’s Ale House, won his first gold medal at the World Beer Cup while working for crosstown brewery Fifty West in 2016. When he heard Fifty West’s 10 & 2 Barleywine announced, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I was jumping up and down and swearing,” laughed Blandford when we spoke on the phone last week. “As a young brewer you look up to these guys who are winning all these medals and when you’re fortunate enough to win one, well, you’re kind of freaking out.”
Two releases in and this year’s version of Revolution Brewing Deep Wood Series is shaping up to be its best so far. After the daring idea to can its barrel-aged creations last year, the Chicago-based brewery decided to push the limits even further in 2018 by expanding the lineup to 10 ambitious beers, including new offerings such as Code Switch and Deth by Currants. The second release happens this Friday, November 16 at its Kedzie Taproom location (3340 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL) and will feature the popular Deth’s Tar, the highly-acclaimed Cafe Deth and the new Deth by Currants, which won the fan vote for best fruited variant.
We were lucky enough to get early access to these three Deth-inspired stouts and came away wholly impressed. Here are our initial thoughts.
Chicago’s largest craft brewery will be searching for a new head brewpub brewer as Revolution Brewing’s Wil Turner is making the move to the Southside where he will become Open Outcry’s new head of brewery operations.
“We’ve been incredibly lucky to have Wil as our Head Pub Brewer the past seven years,” Revolution’s Director of Retail Operations Meg Rutledge said. “Someone with his talent and decades of experience is hard to find, and it will be tough to see him go. At the same time, Open Outcry is getting a great brewer, and we wish Wil all the success in the world.”
The first shot of Jeppson’s Malört induces a reaction akin to sucking in one’s entire face, and that’s followed by a look of despair as one hopes and prays the aftertaste resembling something close to insect repellent will give way to something better. It doesn’t. Malört is awful. It’s vile. It’s nasty. And it’s beloved by an abundance of Chicago drinkers. The cult-like drink is part “bad decision,” part “right of passage.” These days, craft breweries and craft-friendly bars in Chicago regularly pair Malört with craft beer—or offering it to you after a night of craft beer. A communal sharing of Malört forges friendships and kinship. Simply, Malört is bonding in a bottle.
Born of the Great Depression, Jeppson’s Malört (now owned by Chicago’s C.H. Distillery ) was developed by a Swedish immigrant in Chicago (although it dates back to medieval times). The Swedish-style Bäsk liquor (Swedish for bitter liquor) flavored with “malört” (Swedish for wormwood), has been known to offer medicinal benefits such as settling one’s stomach. Indeed, our Midwest Editor, Mike Zoller, can confirm this — he swears it recently worked for him.
This is it, my friends. We are in November. At least for many of you throughout the country, the weather has shifted. The jet stream has begun to re-calibrate. Winds are picking up, the clouds are more uniform, and the precipitation has already started to solidify into the four-letter word most people loath to use. It’s inevitable, though. Unless you are in Yuma or Miami, or you have your sights set on Hawaii for a month, that thermometer isn’t going to budge much over 60 degrees for awhile. Your bright and sunny days are going to be at a minimum. Thankfully, a well-known brewery has just the antidote to shoo away the clouds and bring back the warmth for a little while. Fat Head’s Brewery’s Sunshine Daydream is at your beck and call; this session IPA is available all year long, rain or shine.
We have officially entered that time of year where breweries begin releasing their big, barrel-aged beers. Many come with massive release events that can draw large crowds and (of course) long lines. The beers might be hard to get and if you don’t get them on release day…you’re out of luck.
Quick Sips is our way of highlighting beer events, tap takeovers and other notable beer news around the city of Chicago. If you’d like to submit something to be included in the next Quick Sips, please email us at [email protected].
Surly Brewing Darkness has always been a highly coveted stout come the fall. The Russian imperial stout typically is available in a non barrel-aged version and a barrel-aged version. To change things up, Surly announced three variants, each in a different type of barrel and available only at Darkness Day.
“Cider is too sweet. Cider isn’t beer.” If that’s your thought on the matter of ciders, I would implore you first to refrain from comparing cider to beer. Beer is beer. Whiskey is whiskey. Wine is wine. And cider is cider. Yes, the packaging and crafted nature of the business has often allowed the two imbibe industries to converge, but they are not the same. I would then suggest next that you explore ciders as its own entity; you’ll find that the ciders of today are nothing like the jugged-cider sold at family pumpkin fests, and they differ greatly from the hard cider that first emerged fifteen to twenty years ago. Cider today is innovative, nuanced and balanced, demonstrated exquisitely by Stem Ciders‘ Chile Guava Apple Cider.
Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood is home to some of the city’s most iconic restaurants. From Girl and the Goat to Au Cheval, followed by an endlessly growing list, it’s a Chicago hot spot for eating but also drinking. While there are a lot of places to get great cocktails in the West Loop, the craft beer scene is also becoming more prominent in the area and starting to make a name for itself.
The 11th annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer, and Food Festival is quickly approaching, and there is no better way to spend a cold fall night than with these tasty comforts. With over 1,500 different beers, wines, ciders, and spirits from the around the world, there is something for everyone to enjoy- not to mention the delicious local food samplings! The festival takes place over the course of three days (Thursday, November 15-Saturday, November 17), and live music from local musicians will be provided throughout.
Ah, CBS. Founder’s highly-praised Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout returns for a second consecutive year starting November 2nd across their distribution footprint. This year’s version is different than the 2017 variant for several reasons.
First and most obviously, the iconic “mountie” is missing from the bottle and branding. Why? Everyone has ideas and Twitter has seen its fair share of wild speculation. My guess is they just wanted to refresh the brand and focus on this year’s beer. Which, by the way, is very very good. After a six-year hiatus, the CBS that returned in 2017 was good, but its maple syrup sweetness dominated the palate. That said, this year’s version is great, dare I say exceptional, because it brings this insanely complex beer back to equilibrium. It’s much more balanced than year’s past, which lets several flavors shine.
Off Color Brewing is well-known in the Chicago market for pushing the limits of beer, but now they’re pushing the limits of packaging as well. Not content with traditional bottles, bombers and draft options, John Laffler and the rest of the Off Color crew are rolling out new 4-packs of 250ml (about 8oz) bottles to appease the thirsty masses.
Brickstone Brewery has won medals at FoBAB, the World Cup, and GABF. One can find Brickstone at every Jewel, several Buffalo Wild Wings, throughout Guaranteed Rate Field (White Sox games), at beer fests — and even gas stations these days. It’s tough to find a Chicago-area bar without some tap handles adorned by Brickstone artwork. Yet, most Chicago-area beer fans have never been to Brickstone. Born of a family-restaurant in the 1990s, the Bourbonnais business added a brewery in 2006 and has since evolved into a dually-located, full-fledged, 9k to 10k barrel-per-year brewery (with a capacity for 18k) and, as it always has been, family restaurant. Located 45 miles south of downtown Chicago, Brickstone has simultaneously discovered a way to cater to its local clientele while also existing among the biggest names in Chicago beer.