Lil Beaver Brewery comes from Bloomington, Illinois—a town nearly smack dab in the middle of the state—and has been brewing up tasty treats since 2017.
They are fresh off their great performance at FoBAB, when we listed them as one of the best newcomers, and are finally starting to expand more and more throughout Illinois. The vast majority of their brews are Stouts but they have also made a name for themselves producing some tasty hazy Pale Ales and IPAs.
As the Chicago-area craft scene inches its way towards 200 breweries, the annual task of summarizing the year’s best beer stories has grown ever so daunting — and exhilarating. To peer through one’s pictures of the beers, events, and interviews and re-discover the year in beer offers a reminder of how enriching the job of a beer writer can be. Indeed, the pick the minds of brewers and industry folks, and drink the fruits of their labor, is satisfying to no end. Mike Zoller, Chicago and Midwest Editor and I, Chicago writer and National Content Editor, decided to provide some of our highlights this year. Without further ado, enjoy our 2019 Best of Chicago Craft Brewing
Christmas came early for Midwest craft beer enthusiasts this year as Minneapolis’ Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Munster, Indiana’s 3 Floyds Brewing gave us Partying Past Burning Bridges, a collaborative dip-hopped IPA.
2019 was a fun year for me in the beer world. I attended the Great American Beer Festival for the first time, published a lot of articles and drank a lot of great beer.
Here are my thoughts on the best beer of 2019, and the many happenings that occurred this past year in the world of craft beer.
It’s a well regarded fact that the best beer to make you recall fond memories of Christmases of yore is a terrifically dark, malty ale. Perhaps it’s spiced, like Great Lake Christmas Ale. Maybe it’s minty with deep chocolate notes. Or it could be barrel-aged, resulting in a boozy, syrupy confection that’s meant to inoculate you from the inevitable holiday hangover. But what if, just this one time, you wanted to enjoy a Christmas beer that embodies the current haze craze? Well, we’ve found the beer for you.
As another year comes to a close, we’d like to look back at the past 12 months on some of our favorite beers we had that came out of Midwest breweries.
With the number of breweries increasing, it becomes harder and harder to narrow down a list, but we have a handful of Midwest writers who contributed their favorite beers of 2019.
Craft beer’s shift into alternative beverages has been one of the biggest trends of 2019. The most notable addition to many brewing portfolios has been spiked seltzer, which appeals to a new subset of drinkers, expanding the brewery’s revenue stream in the process. Craft breweries rolling out new spiked seltzer lines doesn’t generate the same type of headlines it did earlier this year, but mead spritzer? That’s a different story entirely. With many brewers zigging into seltzer, St. Louis-based Schlafly Beer has decided to zag, unveiling Boomerang Mead Spritzer, a new-age beverage that amplifies Schafly’s desire to differentiate themselves from the brewing competition. To learn more about what inspired Schlafly to delve into mead spritzer, we asked Schlafly Lead Brewer Jared Williamson.
Sara Stathes co-owns The Barrel House in Dayton, Ohio, with her husband, Gus. The Barrel House is a beer bar and bottle shop with 17 beer taps and shelves stocked with amazing bottles and cans, and it’s become something of a second living room for Dayton beer lovers. Sara is the beer buyer for The Barrel House, and folks like Sara who are in charge of buying packaged and draft beer have a unique perspective on what’s popular in the beer world at any given moment. I sat down with her recently to get her insight about craft beer in 2019.
While the barrel-aged releases are dying down as we get closer to the end of the year, Chicago’s Revolution Brewing still has two more for their Deep Wood series and the third release (of four) happens this Friday at the taproom on Kedzie.
Ohio’s Little Fish Brewing has partnered with a non-profit group supporting survivors of sexual assault to promote the importance of consent.
For the last two years, this brewery from the small college town of Athens has worked with Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program (SAOP) to release Consent, a barrel-aged sour ale brewed with tea. The beer was released on draft during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April, and was released in bottles for the first time during the last week of November.
The annual release of Great Lakes Brewing Co.‘s Christmas Ale is a big deal in Ohio, and that excitement extends all the way up to the man responsible for its creation.
“When I take a sip, it’s like I’m wearing a sweater,” says Pat Conway, co-founder of Great Lakes in Cleveland, Ohio.
His brewery first brewed Christmas Ale in 1992, but Conway is still like a kid on Christmas when asked about this celebrated holiday seasonal. The beer helped define the Christmas beer style for the early craft beer movement.
Minnesota’s Hammerheart Brewing Company is devoted in every facet of their existence to the holy trinity of Vikings, heavy metal and beer. These are all passions I share, so when I first caught a glimpse of a row of their …
Well it seems the billion-dollar Ballast Point experiment with Constellation Brands is over. The maker of Corona and Modelo which first purchased the California-based brewery in November 2015, announced today, that it has sold Ballast Point Brewing, along with several …
The fourth annual release of Santa’s Cookies Imperial Milk (and Cookie) Stout, a collaborative effort by Hailstorm Brewing and The Open Bottle in Tinley Park (Chicago), arrives November 30. Since its first release in 2016, Santa’s Cookies popularity has grown and expanded to include variants, which is good news because part of the proceeds of the beer goes towards the Tinley Wish Foundation, who help local, needy families.
For years, Black Friday has been a day for craft beer fans to hunt down Goose Island Bourbon County and its variants.
But as more and more breweries pop-up, the options for prolific barrel-aged beers are becoming greater and greater. If you don’t want to stand in line or feed big beer’s coffers by purchasing BCBS in Chicago, you have plenty of other options. Here’s our roundup of barrel-aged beers available in the Chicagoland area that you don’t have to wait in line for.
On Black Wednesday (Nov 27), BuckleDown Brewing in Lyons, IL (just outside of Chicago proper) will release the third edition of its Significant BBA (Bourbon-Barrel-Aged) Imperial Milk Stout. The three-year-old program has transitioned from bombers to cans, and has grown from one bottled variety to four canned offerings: the base and three variants. Each year, the brewery has used different barrels to store the beer with this year relying on Few Spirits, located in Chicago.
Being a fan of spicy food, I’ve tried to like chili beers. Some are too mild, some blast out my taste buds; I rarely finish a full pint before tapping out. But when I heard that the GABF Gold Medal Winner for Chili Beer was a quick drive away in Omaha, Nebraska, I knew I had to try it.
When you take your first sip of Brickway Brewery & Distillery’s Jalapeno Pineapple Pils, you will set down your glass and say, “Oh, I get it. That’s what a chili beer is supposed to taste like.”
The brewery that took gold in the hazy IPA category at the Great American Beer Festival is getting ready to release its barrel-aged series this week as Old Irving Brewing’s Krampus is out of the barrels.
Upon walking into the new Moody Tongue space, the only thing that would slightly remind you that the building once housed the old Baderbrau brewery would be the stairs you walk up. Otherwise, a full transformation has brought the feel of the Pilsen location to the South Loop.
The new space opened just a couple of weeks ago and allows for owner and head brewer Jared Rouben to finally pair his two passions of food and beer together.
Fresh off its Silver Medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB) for its Rye Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Crystal Lake Brewing has unveiled its 2019 Boathouse Reserve barrel-aged series, which will formally be released on Saturday, November 23. …