#ChicagoCraftBeer Archives – PorchDrinking.com
In 2016, I wrote a piece about Pollyanna Brewing Summerly Raspberry Wheat that stated, “Pollyanna Brewing‘s rapid success is almost unfathomable until you try the beer — and then it makes perfect sense. Just shy of two years old, Pollyanna Brewing is already expanding its production.” Well, nearly five years after that story published, the brewery has opened two new locations and won a host of prestigious beer awards, including its Lite Thinking American Lager that won 2019 gold and 2020 bronze at the Great American Beer Fest (GABF).
We’re back and well-rested, yet somehow exhausted, from all of the holiday hustle and bustle and time commitments. While 2020 is officially behind us — good riddance — 2021 isn’t exactly off to the best start it could be. In spite of weather and events on the national stage, the beer industry is still staying afloat despite pandemic shutdowns. That does not mean everyone, and that does not mean thriving. Dry January is popular for many “influencers” and eager resolution starters, but do what you can to continue supporting local. Buy shirts, hats and other merch or gift cards to use at a later date. Grab a beer or browse some online shops while checking out What We’re Drinking.
Good beer tells a story. A brewer could be inspired by a personal experience or possibly by their surroundings. For Riot, it is the latter. The city of Chicago has a dense and complex history. Chicago is known for major historical events such as The Great Chicago Fire, The Columbian Exposition (shout out to the amazing book Devil in the White City), and the Haymarket Affair. But, the story behind this Revolution Brewing beer is hidden in the depths of history.
December is here, so let’s light the trees and count down the days until 2020 are over. This week started with a wintry mix, which is rare in Georgia, but brought a week’s worth of surprises. An elf seemingly wandered from the North Pole to my house as decoration. From the string lights on most surfaces, to the garland-wrapped bar car, I think I’m only missing the sleigh and reindeer. Maybe those are coming in the next few weeks? Until we get there, here is What We’re Drinking.
Forget golden rings. On the fifth year of holiday collaboration, The Open Bottle and Hailstorm Brewing gave to us, Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout. And, it’s adorned in gold labeling, with a special glass to match. The stout is decadent, creamy, full-bodied and somehow still crushable; a real holiday treat. Yet, the real gift goes to Tinley Wish because a portion of sales aids the south-suburban Chicago organization that gives aid to needy families.
The 2019 GABF Gold Medal for Chicago’s Begyle Brewing Barrel-Aged Imperial Pajamas gave credence to those who boasted of its excellence, and the award did wonders for its popularity. However, medals only go so far; Chicago’s beer crowd can be downright snobby about BBAs. The annual Imperial Pajamas release enjoys increasing fanfare because of its consistency, quality and a taproom party consisting of hour-by-hour variant tappings. Sadly, the global pandemic prevented Begyle from throwing its annual gathering. Nevertheless, the three packaged Pajamas stand as exemplary BBAs and evidence of why the program now hangs with the big boys and girls of the strong barrel-aging beer world.
This year’s three Imperial Pajamas release consists of the classic in Heaven Hill barrels, a vanilla variant and a special version aged in Booker Bourbon barrels. “We’ve had a lot of fun with release day variants, the way we handled those hourly releases allowed us to explore many different flavor combinations over the years. With our first foray into canning a barrel aged variant we chose vanilla as it is one of the most versatile ingredients we use in several of the variant combos we have done in the past. From the feedback we’ve gotten vanilla was always the most popular flavor, whether it was just vanilla, or vanilla combined with other ingredients,” said Kevin Cary, Begyle co-founder.
You probably don’t need and don’t want a reminder, but Thanksgiving is next week. Which means that it is basically 2021, because we all know how fast this time of year goes by. While I’m a firm believer that it’s “always Stout season,” breweries are starting to release all the Stouts that we can handle over the next few weeks! That might be one of the only silver linings to end 2020. Travel plans and family/friend hangouts have likely been postponed, for the better. Be mindful about supporting local as the weather continues to challenge outdoor options for your favorite breweries and restaurants. Some of our local favorites are present this week, so here is What We’re Drinking.
We’re getting ready for playoffs in most Fantasy Football seasons, and despite how your record looks, I’m sure that you could use a beer or six to finish out the season. Some of us are blitzing through our schedule with no issues, while others of us are cursing because of bad luck with matchups despite the points you consistently score.
Who says you can’t have your coffee and cakes… and drink them, too? The folks over at Hubbard’s Cave are here to prove that you can, in fact, do just that. This Chicago-based brewery has dished up something straight out of boozy brunch dreams and let’s just say: We’re here for it.
Young people and old folks across the nation may not agree on much these days, but we can agree that brunch is the best meal. Sure, you’ve got 2nd breakfast, elevensies, afternoon tea and 4th meal, but none of them can compete with brunch. Mimosas, Screwdrivers, and Bloody Marys are frequently the weapon of choice at brunch. However, for the beer fanatics, a coffee-imbued porter with breakfast focused adjuncts will be an enticing option.
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.
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!
Just when I thought fall weather and championships were coming to Georgia, I was let down. Again. It’s been 80 degrees on average and the Atlanta Braves are back home from the playoffs. Alas, that’s how it goes sometimes. This week seemed to be a little more relaxing for my counterparts as you’ll see from the nature views to the cozy autumn vibes. Everyone is busy now more than ever, and with the holidays approaching fast, let’s do our best to slow it down. In the meantime, here is What We’re Drinking.
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.
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.
Maplewood Brewing & Distilling in Chicago, IL offered a dual homage to Bavaria this year with Festbier and Fest Whiskey, demonstrating its prowess in both realms of the imbibe world. Though Maplewood may have added distilling to its repertoire after opening its lauded brewery, creating spirits has always been part of the plan. Indeed, in 2016, Ari Megalis, co-founder and distiller, commented to PorchDrinking.com: “When we started, we almost considered only distilling, but it obviously takes some time before you can get your product on the market. But we love beer, and we ended up doing that, too. It worked out great because now we can do a lot of things with it.”
It’s tempting to bemoan the fact that the industry remains in a lengthy pandemic-induced pivot. However, it’s time to start focusing on what is instead of what isn’t happening. For this year’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF), beer drinkers will have a chance to purchase a GABF Passport that gives them access to a host of good deals (an idea similar to Chicago and Illinois Craft Beer Weeks held in previous years). One can purchase the $20 GABF Passport and start enjoying brewery deals October 1 through October 18. As well, the passport gives beer drinkers an opportunity to attend (view) the star-studded Virtual GABF Festival (October 16-17) (which includes the awards ceremony).
When Roaring Table Brewery won the 2020 USA Today Readers’ Choice “Best New Brewery” award, it didn’t come because the brewery engaged heavily in a marketing strategies, nor did it come from chasing trends or a producing a series of sexy releases. Beth May and Lane Fearing, married couple and founders of Roaring Table Brewing, created a brewery that at its heart and soul is a neighborhood tavern or pub that just happens to serve some of the best beer in town.
“Beer is more than just a drink; it’s an experience,” said Lane, who serves as Roaring Table head brewer.
It’s certainly well-known that there’s been an explosion of breweries and distilleries offering alternative beverages such as hard seltzers, ready-to-drink cocktails, hard sodas, and malt-based fruited drinks the past few years—and COVID19 has helped boost that category. Craft breweries have not been shy in cashing in on that trend, and finding their patrons to be quite receptive to their efforts. Two examples of how diverse that trend has evolved comes from Chicago’s Burnt City Brewing and Casa Humilde, two of the four breweries that make up the city’s unique District Brew Yards. They now offer their patrons a hard soda and a michelada-inspired beverage.
Seasonal beers are bittersweet. While they often use fresh, quality ingredients and are perfect for the time of year, it also means you only get to drink them for a limited time. Whiner Beer, a brewery on Chicago’s Southside, specializes in barrel-aged beer inspired by Belgium and French practices and has a few seasonal beers their patrons look forward to throughout the year.
Rifting off their permanent Saison LeTub, Bleu Tub is a barrel-aged Saison brewed with blueberries and is only available for half the year. With a dusty purple-ish hue and foamy head, the beer gives off scents of citrus, florals and it perks the nose up. With a smell that is clean, refreshing and inviting, Bleu Tub provides the perfect balance of comfort and excitement.