The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild‘s annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB) competition, which hosts breweries from throughout the nation, is usually one where the Barrel-Aged Stouts get most of the focus. However, it was a surprising, different style that for the first time took home the top honor in FoBAB’s Best of Show category.
The culture of craft beer has always had a strong connection to the communities in which it thrives. For many of us, our neighborhood brewery is far more than merely a place that produces the things we enjoy drinking–it is a community center, a gathering place, and an intrinsic part of our daily lives, not to mention a foundational element for hobbies, relationships, and fostering a sense of place. Enter Cheers, Yinz!, a beer festival built to help beloved local breweries weather the economic (and emotional) effects of decreased sales and temporary closures.
Each year, Chicago’s Cruz Blanca continues to get bolder with its barrel-aged series, Luchador. In 2019 the brewery released six different variants and in 2020 upped that number to eight different masked bottles that will be released this Saturday.
When one thinks about the state of Indiana, a few things may immediately come to mind. Corn, basketball and the show “Parks and Recreation” are all likely answers but for many, craft beer is not necessarily one of them. That is a shame, considering that at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival competition, the Hoosier State picked up an impressive 10 medals and was home to the brewery with the highest number of winning beers overall: Sun King Brewing.
Why do people love craft beer? You could narrow it down to a few major factors: Quality ingredients, community support and promoting a local economy. Those reasons are why people gravitate to craft beer, to be a part of something bigger. If any beer can hold all of that under its belt, it’s El Paseo Pale Ale from south side Chicago-based Lo Rez Brewing.
Have you heard the Juicy Gossip? Turns out, Bell’s Brewery has a new beer just in time for the holidays. Nope, it’s not a coffee or dessert stout, or even a nice Christmas ale. In fact, the only thing Christmasy about this brew is the amount of tea you spill to your family members about how much you love this – pale ale? Yup. Juicy Gossip is just that – a juicy pale ale all ready to squeeze some good stuff out of your holidays.
It’s that time of year in Chicago where none of us are quite sure what season it is. Our 8 A.M. outfit is often inappropriate by noon. ‘BYOB’ now means ‘bring your own blanket’. Our Instagram feeds are either flooded with complaints about snow or praise for a random stint of sunshine. Should you still grasp onto the very few remaining Oktoberfest beers floating around the city, the often-polarizing pumpkin offerings, or go full-on stout season? There’s no wrong answer. However, may I offer a recommendation? Apricot Sour IPA.
Even as COVID restrictions continue to hamper businesses across the country, Chicago’s brewery scene has added another brewery to the always growing roster as Primary Colors Brewing has packaged their first mixed six-pack of eight-ounce beers.
It is no secret that the 2020 Presidential Campaign is an unprecedented one. There has never been such an emphasis on people exercising their right and democratic duty to vote. Everyone from athletes, to singers and actors, to craft breweries are encouraging the public to vote this election season.
One thing that has remained consistent this year in the world of craft beer is the tried and true cadence of much-anticipated seasonal beer releases. While spring, summer and fall releases might be more frequent, a few special beers are released in the build up leading up to Christmas. Great Lakes Brewing Co‘s Christmas Ale, from the OG out of Cleveland, is one of those beers.
If this year’s Halloween has you bummed, Phase Three Brewery in Lake Zurich, IL is here to cheer you up! This year to spread Halloween cheer, Phase Three is making local deliveries to limited Chicagoland zip codes in the form of Trick or Treat beer bags. This might be beer fans’ last chance to get Phase Three’s popular Bushel of Apples. Order yours before it’s gone!
A variant of the brewery’s wildly popular Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and an already fine example of how to use coffee in beer, KBS Espresso gets an extra shot of coffee flavor thanks to being aged on espresso beans after being removed from the barrel.
Innovation is all around us, and there is so much innovation that goes into making great craft beer. Innovation can be the equipment at each brewery, or the hand-selected ingredients by the brewers, or those trendy new labels on each can. You find yourself wondering, how the heck did they do that, or what made them think of that? Doing a Google search for “beer patents” returns 603 patents just in the brewing process alone. If you keep digging down that rabbit hole, you will start to find other patents related to craft beer, items as genius as the Beerbrella. The beauty of craft beer, it will always innovate.
Phase Three Brewing, located northwest suburbs of Chicago (Lake Zurich), is arguably one of the hottest breweries in the nation. Some of their beers lean to the obscure and experimental side (Crème Series, Nectar Series), but they also produce well-executed classics (Helles Lager, Märzen, Pils). that largely receive high grades among beer geeks and professionals alike. The brewery recently garnered attention for its collaboration with Affy Tapple: A Bushel of Apples. We talked with Phase Three about their brewery, the pandemic and the sweet, Halloween-treat beer release.
The famous Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871, in a barn owned by Catherine and Patrick O’Leary. The city went ablaze for 36 hours, destroying 18,000 buildings and leaving 100,000 Chicagoans homeless. A frightful October story, to say the least! But, Spiteful Brewing has taken that story, mixed it with some cow-blaming folklore and turned into a sweet Halloween treat: Mrs. O’Leary’s Chocolate Stout.
Last week, Lock 27 Brewing in Dayton, Ohio, won their first ever medal from the Great American Beer Festival for their Wolk (pronounced “Volk”) Witbier. But that wasn’t really the plan. They’d submitted the refreshing wheat beer and a handful of others mostly to get constructive feedback from the world-class beer experts who judge at GABF. Soon enough, an opportunity for growth turned into a chance to celebrate.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing head brewer Chris Davison found out his brewery had won two medals at the Great American Beer Festival in the most 2020 way possible: over Zoom while getting his daughter ready for bed. The Columbus, Ohio, brewery’s team had a company Zoom call going while the awards were announced virtually from Denver. Chris had bedtime duties, and parenting supersedes brewing.
As the temperatures dip and the days get shorter, barrel-aged season in Chicago continues to ramp up. This weekend, Revolution Brewing will host the second of four releases in their Deep Wood series. A trio of beers highlights this release with two familiar names and a new one to the series.
Cotton candy is one of those sweet treats that’s fitting for so many occasions: carnivals, backyard BBQs, birthday parties and, of course, the packaged version of this treat that you receive while trick-or-treating. 450 North Brewing Co. in Columbus, IN created this “adult” version of a favorite treat with an extra fruity profile of watermelon piña colada. It’s certainly a Halloween beer treat that is fun, light and refreshing to enjoy.
The Open Bottle craft beer shop and taproom in Tinley Park, Illinois, has not only endured the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak but proved successful enough to advance its pre-pandemic plans for opening a second location. This November, work will begin on its second location (a retail-ready store) in Lockport, Illinois, located near the intersection of I-355 and 159th Street.