beer showcase – PorchDrinking.com
Whether you’re from the Chicagoland area or beyond, you’ve likely heard of Pollyanna Brewing Company. My introduction to the brand was through their Fun Size series, which never fails to impress with all of the unique variants. While I’m familiar with the brand, I hadn’t visited either of the brewery’s two Chicagoland locations until recently when I visited and toured Pollyanna’s second location in Roselle, IL.
How many of you grew up eating Fruity Pebbles cereal for breakfast? I know I indulged as a child. When I heard Something Brewery was releasing a cereal-beer crowler pack that included a Fruity Pebbles beer, I knew I had to get my hands on some. I mean, who doesn’t want to enjoy beer for breakfast?
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.
It’s been a season of surprises in North Carolina. First, we have one of the biggest December snow storms I’ve ever seen. Then, I discover a new brewery — Preyer Brewing — that managed to fly under my radar for the past 3 years.
This fall and winter, if you’re looking for a dark beer without the thick texture of a stout or porter, look no further than Keweenaw Brewing Company Widow Maker Black Ale.
Located in Houghton, Michigan at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Keweenaw Brewing Company was an early entry in the craft beer boom of the 2000s. This is unsurprising, given that Houghton is not only a college town (home to Michigan Technological University), but a cold and snowy one, with little to do in the winters but ski, snowmobile and drink. Founders Dick Gray and Paul Boissevain opened up their tap room in the heart of downtown Houghton, and it was an immediate hit with students and staff alike. Widow Maker is one of their “core ales, ” alongside Pick Axe Blonde Ale, Red Jacket Amber Ale and November Gale Pale Ale.
My passion for beer has been full of trial and error, forced experiments and a lot of stubbornness. That picky five-year old appetite can still be found 22 years later. Try and give me a sliver of tomato? Don’t even think about it. And if those Sour Patch Kids aren’t the watermelon ones—no thank you. I mean honestly, the watermelon Sour Patch Kids are life. The fact I’m sitting here with a sour beer in hand deserves at least one high-five (or maybe an award)?
While my fridge is stocked up with all the winter goodies I could possibly want, I’m still on this huge sour beer kick that doesn’t seem to be going away! While visiting San Francisco over the summer before the big move, Almanac Beer Co. wasn’t actually even on my mind. And let me tell you… that was a mistake! While hunting for donuts in the Mission District, I got a glimpse of the Almanac taproom and had to stop in. Not only do they have an amazing and beautiful bar, but also their tap list of 15 beers is seriously on point and so is their food menu!
ABV: 4.3 | IBU: 40
New to the strong craft beer arsenal at Begyle Brewing is Lakeview, a dry yet drinkable American pale ale. Begyle is so much a part of the local community that they brewed Lakeview specifically to coincide with the Whole Foods store opening in the neighborhood.
Here at PorchDrinking, while beer will always be our first love, we also enjoy occasionally dabbling in other forms of imbibing such as bourbon, rum, mead and cider. And there is one Colorado cidery that has risen to prominence in recent years, it’s Stem Ciders in Denver’s River North Art District. Lucky enough for me, one of my closest friends is the assistant cider maker over at Stem Ciders and she was willing to talk to me about the cidery’s newest offering.
ABV: 6.7% | IBU: 30
When I heard that one of my favorite Kentucky breweries, Braxton Brewing Co., was creating a “beer baby” to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of one of the most awesome local beer events of the year—Cincy Winter Beerfest—I was immediately excited. When I heard it was a stout beer, I was even more intrigued.
ABV: 8.7% | IBU: 35
The Marigold Strong Ale from Cervecería Cruz Blanca, a Chef Rick Bayless restaurant, is a dry, very fresh tasting beer. One thing of note was that it’s also unexpectedly drinkable and lacked any alcohol taste, which was shocking after I learned that the ABV was nearly 9 percent! It had a bubbly mouthfeel, which was very pronounced. It was similar to that of a sparkling wine. When the bubbles reach your nose, they release a fruity fragrance of blackberries and a hint of apple. I could have easily gulped down two glasses without trying, but it is sneakily strong.
ABV: 6.1% | IBU: 26
Jester King Brewery is one of those American breweries that always seems to be making big waves in the beer world. Their unique spins on Belgian and wild styles and their limited availability makes them always in hidemand for die hard fans. Thankfully, I was in Austin, Texas for the first time this past summer and was able to finally try them out in person at their stunning ranch-like brewery and tasting room. On the toasty summer day that it was, I sampled Bière de Miel for the first time and decided to bring a bottle back home with me.
Eddyline’s 14’er Java Stout with Papua New Guinea coffee from Buena Vista Roastery. (Photo ©Sarah Haughey)
Since 2009, Eddyline has been inconspicuously brewing beers for outdoor enthusiasts in Buena Vista, a small town in the Arkansas River valley of Colorado with a population of under 3,000 people. Surrounded by the towering Collegiate Peaks, it’s easy to see how Eddyline brewers can be inspired to craft “beers for any adventure.” Packaged in 16oz cans, Eddyline’s River Runners Pale Ale, Crank Yanker IPA and Boater Beer Pilsner are meant to be drank outside, Chaco feet in the river.
Style: Finnish Sahti
For the average American, a sauna inspires images of scantily clad, sweaty old men at the gym. Either that or Florida in August. Fortunately for us, the wonderful citizens of Finland have a much different perspective on the sauna, and found it a perfect environment for brewing beer. With over 200 days of winter-like conditions every year, they could stay warm while brewing beer, which meant they had beer to keep them warm while they went outside for materials to brew more beer! At least that’s my theory…
It’s February in Chicago and by this point, we all have the same stinging feeling the mayor of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin is experiencing. But also, it’s February in Chicago which means you’re running out of time to boast about grilling outdoors in the dead of winter. So in the spirit of flipping off the polar vortex, throw on your knit cap, fire up the grill, grab a beer and pretend Spring is right around the corner. I find that the best way to achieve this mindset is to dive into a Gatecrasher IPA by Evanston, IL brewery, Temperance Beer Co.
Since everyone has already hopped on (pun intended) the pumpkin train, I thought I would instead giddy up on the often forgotten Pilsner train because we hardly get autumn in Southern California. And few perform better in the Pilsner department than Moonlight Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, Ca.
English Style Porter
I’ve realized over the past year that porters, stouts and dark beer in general is where my taste buds find their happy place. And Left Hand Brewing seems to have my number as every brew I find from them becomes the liquid heaven we all search for in a beer. Plus, they seem to have more than enough choices in the deep, dark colored arena. So when I noticed this previously untasted option on the shelf, it was an easy choice.