#ChicagoCraftBeer – PorchDrinking.com
The women of Mikerphone Brewing do not play the role of background singers at the musical-inspired brewery, but instead work harmoniously with the men; they are integral to the entire operation. And, on February 8, Mike Pallen and his skilled assistants handed over the brewhouse to the women of Mikerphone in order to brew Drippin’ So Much Sauce Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA. The beer will not only be tasty but also support The Wings Program, which aims to end the cycle of domestic violence and give aid to those who have suffered.
Suburban Chicago’s Imperial Oak Brewing will celebrate its 6th anniversary this May, and that will be the last one as a single-location brewery. Imperial Oak will open a second location about ten miles north of its current taproom this summer; the brewery purchased Brixie’s Craft Beer Bar, a family-run bar that first opened in 1934.
Imperial Oak (Willow Springs) joins several other of Chicago’s west- and south-suburban breweries that opened in a roughly fifteen-month stretch from late 2013 though early 2015 in expanding, and in the process have grow into name-brands. Imperial Oak, Hailstorm, Pollyanna, Noon Whistle, and Werk Force have all expanded their original spaces, and some are now adding second and third locations.
Move over Cupid. Oswego Brewing, Riverlands Brewing, Skeleton Key Brewing and Wolfden Brewing have concocted the perfect method for which to achieve romantic bliss: the Box of Chocolates Beer Collaboration. The multi-brewery Valentine’s Day beer package is more than just a treat, though, because the beers also serve as beautiful demonstrations of the versatility of stouts (or stout-like ales), which is fitting for February (a.k.a. Stout Month).
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
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.
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.
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. …
The GABF Gold Medal awarded to Begyle Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas validated what many already knew: in a town abound in exceptional bourbon-barrel-aged beer, Begyle’s has risen to become one of the best. The 2019 release on Friday, November 15, will be the first for the Community Supported Brewery (CSB) since winning the medal. They graciously hosted PorchDrinking a couple of days early, offering to provide us with a few tastes and plenty of discussion about its barreling program.
The nation’s first all-in-one brewery collaborative, Chicago’s District Brew Yards, has added a forth member to its team of breweries. The Latin American-inspired Casa Humilde Cervecería will join Burnt City, Around the Bend and Bold Dog in the unique pour-your-own beer hall and retail shop on Chicago’s West Side. The announcement of the fourth brewery comes on the heals of the Brew Yards’ unique Kveik Fest and Bold Dog Brewing winning the 2020 Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” award, which was announced at the Great American Fest in early October. The four breweries will officially kick off their new partnership with a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration on November 1.
It’s only a matter of time before Chicago’s craft-community routinely lists Burnt City Brewing as one of the city’s most innovative and creative breweries. And that day may inch closer after it hosts Kveik Fest. Thirty Breweries from around the country will descend upon Chicago to showcase beer brewed with kveik, a traditional and unique Norwegian farmhouse brewing yeast. The festival will occur on September 7 at the (also innovative) District Brew Yards, a spot shared by Burnt City, Around the Bend and Bold Dog Brewery.
“Kveik is a Norwegian dialect word for ‘yeast’,” explained Lance Shaner, owner at Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago. “In the brewing context, kveik are Norwegian farmhouse brewing yeasts that collectively share a lot of common traits, most notably high temperature tolerance (not unusual for them to produce good beer in the upper 90sF), high alcohol tolerance and fast fermentation. They were brought to the attention of the world by Norwegian blogger Lars Marius Garshol.”
The second annual Metal Monkey Brewing Artisan Market hosted by Metal Monkey Brewing celebrates â€œcraft” in its many forms. The event allows patrons to shop for unique gifts created by more than 30 local artists while sipping on craft beer, enjoying meals from local food trucks and listening to live, local music. Moreover, a percentage of all event proceeds will be donated to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
One artist, John E. Streetz, of Bead Streetz, is a well-known figure among Chicagoâ€™s brewing scene, both because of frequent visitations to Chicago-area breweries and because he regularly displays his artwork there. John is heavily involved in the Artisan Market event. He spoke with us about his work, the connection between artists and craft beer and the event at Metal Monkey.
Have you ever had a beer that changed your mind about that entire style of beer? I’ll admit, I’m a fan of a huge variety of beer styles and I’m usually try something new. That said, Saisons have never done it for me. I’d go as far as to say I despise them but that feels a tad dramatic.
This opinion quickly changed at the recent Square Roots Festival in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. Like most summer street festivals, this one had no shortage of food and drink options. To really show off, Square Roots Festival had a “Brew Lounge” for attendees to try more “exotic” options, which happened to be mostly local to the Ravenswood neighborhood (how exotic). It was there that I tried Flight of the Rooster by Ravina Brewing Company.
Refer to it as mid-summer; the dog days; the height of summertime. Call it whatever you want, but the fact is that it’s hot outside in the Windy City. And so to beat the heat; we need a few refreshing beers. Whether you drink it watching a ball game while grilling or just basking in some air conditioning, it’s satisfying to have a beer that fits the season. Here are six Chicago summer beers sure to help keep the mind off the endless beads of sweat forming all over your skin.
Crystal Lake Brewing may be located on the outer edges of the Chicago Metropolitan region, but the brewery is as much a “Chicago beer” as any brewery located within the city limits. So much so, the Crystal Lake Beach Blonde Lager has become a staple at the Signature Room, a posh restaurant & lounge located 1,000 feet above Chicago on the 95th & 96th floor of the John Hancock Center. And now, the brewery has created Top View Brew Golden Wheat Ale exclusively for the Signature Room and Signature Lounge. “Aside from occasionally being on draft at the Crystal Lake Tap Room, it’s only available 95 floors up in the Hancock building. Guests at the restaurant will be able to order this beer year-round while they enjoy the great menu and amazing views of Chicago,” explained Crystal Lake Sales Manager, Jesse Able.
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]
A few of the featured events occurring from July 8 – 21 are listed here. Enjoy.
A Saturday filled with thunderstorms and unseasonably cold weather did not stop a large crowd of craft beer enthusiasts from descending upon Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo after hours to enjoy the annual Crafts Brews at the Zoo.
The event featured several local Chicagoland breweries including a select few from across the country and beyond. VIP ticket holders were welcomed with a half hour-early admission complete with access to a light appetizer bar and special tappings from Pollyanna Brewing (including a thick, delicious Malted Milk Ball Pastry Stout). As we’ve come to expect from a Lou Dog Events! festival, the event was very well organized with brewery pouring stations located throughout the park, embedded into many of the zoo’s animal exhibits. This allowed ample space to move around, see some animals and sample some great beer.
The weather kept a few of the animals indoors, but festival attendees had the opportunity to see an eastern black rhinoceros, Japanese Macaque and, of course… penguins! In addition to entertainment, we had some great beers being poured from breweries both local and beyond.
Located 60 miles south of Chicago, the quiet village of Bourbanais, Illinois, might be the last place you’d expect to find an award-winning brewery and brewpub. Brickstone Brewery is well-known nationally for its award-winning APA, and the brewery emerged well before Chicago became the brewery capital of the nation. Recently, Brickstone began experimenting with the new “trendier” styles of IPAs to great success. Brickstone’s Shak’d Up series of Milkshake IPAs gives the brewery a chance to have some fun and experiment with this new style.
Deep Woods. Boathouse Reserve. Bourbon County. Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas. Quiet Giant. The maturation and evolution of Chicago-Area craft breweries has not included a drift away from the style created in the Windy City — Bourbon Barrel Aging. And, breweries that have gained named recognition in the past few years commonly release of a lauded, coveted and oft-cellared BBA. For Imperial Oak Brewing, a continually expanding suburban-Chicago brewery that’s recently added an entire space dedicated to Foeders and other barrels (The Savage Oak Room), its best-selling beer is Quiet Giant. Each year, the beer once deemed a PorchDrinking.com favorite at Beer Under Glass (BUG) in 2017 arrives just in time for both BUG and its summertime anniversary party. This year Imperial Oak has five variants; one for each year its been open.
We at PorchDrinking were privvy to a special preview before Beer Under Glass, and are pleased to share our findings with you.
Creativity breeds creativity, so it’s no wonder that Katie and Krys Wolf, with their pension for design and art, have turned an 1850s home into a profoundly unique craft brewery — Wolfden Brewing. The exterior is that of a spacious, suburban home while the inside reminds one of a lodge one enters in Wisconsin or the mountains of Wyoming — with plenty of beer, to boot.
“We wanted it to feel like home, or like a vacation getaway spot,” explained Katie Wolf.
The innovative and imaginative District Brew Yards, new home to Burnt City Brewing, Around the Bend Beer and Bold Dog Beer, stands as the nation’s first brewery collective, pour-your-own beer hall, eatery and swag shop all operating under one roof. With an ability to provide customers an expansive — and routinely experimental — beer menu, Brew Yards (opening Friday, April 12) adds tremendous allure to the already impressive Chicago Brewing District on the west side comprised of nearby All Rise Brewing, as well as On Tour, Great Central, Finch and Goose Island.