Despite its neighbor to the south being named Beer Capital of America, Wisconsin’s breweries are plentiful and still sling some pretty damn good beer. While New Glarus might be the destination of choice for those on a Wisconsin beercation, braving the shivering Midwest January weather and making the drive a little farther north brings you to the small town of Amherst, home of Central Waters Brewing. Expect the journey to be arduous as you attempt to avoid snowdrifts, slippery country roads, rogue cows and Green Bay Packer Fans. However, you’ll be rewarded by visiting a brewery that brews one of my favorite winter beers from America’s Dairyland.
When the chill of winer sets in, in the Midwest, we all pile on the layers. Wool socks, scarves, non-ironic stocking caps. But with the sun still setting before you can make it home from work, there’s one more trick to help warm you up – bourbon. One sip warms you from the inside out and takes away that chill that never seems to subside.
We’re entering another Chicago winter. The wind, lack of sun and bitter cold tend to keep Chicagoans indoors. But before you enter hibernation mode, it’s time to drink some of Chicago’s finest winter beers. What better place to do so than at the Chicago Ale Fest on February 2. This year, the festival makes its way to Pilsen, where Lacuna Artist’s Lofts will host. The festival boasts live music, food trucks and more than 100 beer pours from over 40 breweries. It will be a day off full of fun, surprises, mouth-watering munchies and plenty of strong, hearty ale to keep you warm until spring.
Have you heard? Schlafly Beer will be releasing their flagship beer, Pale Ale, in 12 packs of 16 oz. cans! This is a big move from the largest, locally owned St. Louis brewery, that introduced the Midwest to craft beer in 1991. This announcement comes just ahead of Can Appreciation Day, which is coming up on January 24. Since their flagship beer has stood well over the test of time, Schlafly made the move to distribute in cans so that it’d be even more accessible to current and future craft beer lovers.
When most people hear the word Minnesota, I can imagine that a few stereotypes are top of mind. Some people might imagine a frigid Antarctic-like landscape. Others may have a vision of, Scandinavian men and women, blonde and blue-eyed, dressed in floor-length jackets and Vikings gear screaming skol. Thanks to the Coen brothers and their brilliant Fargo, some might immediately hear Francis McDormand’s spot-on accent in their ears and get a vision of an unfortunate woodchipper in their minds. But when I think of Minnesota, I think of my home and my wholesome, Midwestern parents and my not-so-little bearded brother – three people who enjoy nothing more than enjoying a craft, Minnesotan brew around our fireplace.
When calendars turn to a new year, the barrel-aged beer craze tends to die down just a little with most of the breweries having already released their clean bourbon barrel-aged rarities to the public. With so many breweries now producing barrel-aged beers not just in the winter months, but year-round, where does this style go from here?
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].
The latest brew from St. Louis’ 4 Hands Brewing Company comes just in time for a palate switch up. After getting my fill of bourbon barrel stouts the past few weeks, I’m ready for the switch to big coffee stouts. In the case of St. Louis beer lovers, we have two biggies coming out, both with a common link: St. Louis’ own Sump Coffee Company. One of which being 4 Hands’ Single Origin.
Katy was the beer that introduced me to 2nd Shift Brewing Company, back in late 2013, when they were based in New Haven, Missouri. Their reputation proceeded them, as I had been looking to try their beers in St. Louis, but had no luck until I found Katy at a house beer tasting event for Pedal The Cause.
It’s the holiday season and everyone is buzzing around trying to find the best beer to share with friends and family. Most of us are also traveling to visit family—which means planes, trains and automobiles (like the movie, but hopefully less crazy). I personally took Amtrak to Grand Junction, Colorado, to visit family and it was great! What I did miss was the gas station coffee during pit stops. Thankfully, I was able to get the flavor without the hectic drive from California to Colorado!
What a year for Chicago (and it’s neighboring suburbs). Amid winning a bevy of medals from high-profile events like GABF and FOBAB, the Windy City also took home the title for most breweries (167) within the metro region – an impressive feat indeed. With so many breweries making so many amazing beers, it’s safe to say Chicago beer drinkers were more than spoiled this year as they indulged in some of the best barrel-aged stouts and hazy IPAs in the U.S.
PorchDrinking’s Chicago crew diligently drank through many amazing beers this year. Some wowed us, others impressed with their creativity and several just made us warm and fuzzy.
Schlafly is releasing a Barrel Aged Barleywine, the last “From The Ibex Cellar” series of 2018. The Schlafly Ibex Cellar series is one for which I’ve grown antiquated since my first visit to the Ibex Cellar in 2017, located beneath the historic Schlafly taproom in downtown St. Louis with friend and local brewing legend, Stephen Hale.
Growing up in Michigan, I have always found myself amazed at the power of snow. An overnight snowfall has the strength to shut down roads, schools, businesses, and any plans that I have for the day. As an employee of the public school system, I am one of those blessed adults who is still able to enjoy the thrill of having the phone ring at 5:30 a.m. to tell me that it is a snow day. My favorite winter days are those where the snow falls so quickly and in such great amounts that we have no choice but to stay home cozied up under blankets by our fireplace. With West Michigan’s “lake-effect snow,” it is not uncommon to have blizzards that last for several days in a row, making even a simple run to the grocery store a hazardous undertaking. Therefore, from November through March, I have learned to always be prepared by stocking our home with the essentials: a space heater, frozen pizzas, and of course, a few beers to keep us warm and cozy throughout these snowy days.
Living in Michigan as a beer lover is pretty much the best. You can’t throw a beer bottle without hitting a brewery, particularly in West Michigan. Because of this, our standards are quite high, and we do not suffer bad beer to live. In the same note, to stand out, breweries must be more than above average at something. Saugatuck Brewing Company is one such brewery, and what they excel at is making layered, complex and all around tasty beers. One of their mainstays is Neapolitan Milk Stout, a beer I particularly like, and have said so on this website. Because of my nice profile, Saugatuck contacted PorchDrinking.com and asked if we’d like to profile the barrel aged version of Neapolitan, their Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Neapolitian MIlk Stout, to which I immediately said hell yes.
When brewmaster Eymard Freire first joined the BiXi Beer project he wasn’t married and had no kids. But by the time BiXi opened, Freire was married and his daughter was six months old. Plagued by multiple setbacks, BiXi finally opened in August 2018. The wait was worth it.
With Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout now fully released and Revolution’s Deep Wood series with one more small release in January, we can take a step back and see how these beers stacked up against one another this year.
In no way am I saying that these are the best and only barrel-aged Stouts coming out of Chicago that we should talk about this season. However, when you have two behemoths like Revolution and Goose Island in one city, it’s hard not to compare them side-by-side with their biggest releases.
The addition of suburban-Chicago’s Oswego Brewing Company (May, 2018) further demonstrates that the craft beer industry is far from “too crowded.” Oswego Brewing has fit in nicely, thank you, and is drawing in its own new loyal crowd of craft beer fans. Operating out of spacious building — the town’s former fire station — and under the direction of the multi-award winning head brewer, Marc Wilson, Oswego Brewing deftly balances the art of offering sophisticated special releases alongside solid, versatile year-round and seasonal choices.
Born in 1988, the 30-year-old independent and employee-owned brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) has announced its 2019 lineup. Alongside favorites such as Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and Burning River Pale Ale, GLBC unveils its new, year-round Great Lakes IPA, an IPA that honors its employee owners. As well, GLBC has a new cocktail-inspired Buckin’ Mule Moscow Mule Ale, and the Moses Mix Variety Pack, which features Holy Moses White Ale alongside two variants. But, that’s not all. New cans, new branding and new beers highlight the schedule for next year.
Given the fact that its buried in snow and doesn’t see the sun for 6 months out of the year, It comes to no surprise the Chicago doesn’t even rank in American’s top 50 fittest cities. But where Chicago lacks in fitness, friendliness, honest politicians, and low taxes, it makes up with its food and beer scene.
New Year’s Eve is a time for renewal, a time for hope. And, a time for beer and drinks. Don’t miss out on some of Chicago’s best craft-brewery NYE events. Each one invites drinkers to have some food, beer, fun activities and, of course, a midnight countdown. This summary gives you the scoop, but we encourage you to click on the links to read some of the finer print.
Here’s to 2019!