#icbw – PorchDrinking.com
Illinois Craft Beer Week my be postponed due to the COVID19 lockdown, but that’s not stopping six suburban-Chicago breweries and one bottle shop from celebrating craft week in spirit. Together, they have put together the 0th Annual Suburban Beer Hunt. From May 15 to May 30, beer fans can solve a series of puzzles that will take them on a to-go journey to six breweries and one bottle shop located in Chicago’s western suburbs. If they can solve each puzzle correctly, and in the correct order, prizes await the participants.
In 2018 a lot of changes happened to Illinois’ celebration of craft beer. For the first time, Chicago Craft Beer Week was renamed to Illinois Craft Beer Week (ICBW), Beer Under Glass (BUG) moved to a Friday and the event lasted two weeks.
2019’s Illinois Craft Beer Week will follow suit to the 2018 event as BUG will continue to kick-off the festivities on Friday, May 10, at the Garfield Park Conservatory. However, ICBW will last just one week.
The inaugural Illinois Craft Beer Week (ICBW) replaced the former, annual Chicago Craft Beer Week (CCBW), but both the kick-off and closing festivals took place on Chicago’s north side, and most of the intra-week events occurred within the nation’s third-biggest market, which also happens to be where the vast majority of Illinois breweries operate. So, as they say, “A rose by any other name.” Nevertheless, the 2018 version is in the books and once again demonstrated that the enthusiasm for craft beer remains high. There are nuances to the industry and week-long festivities worthy of mentioning, so let’s take the time to note a few observations made during ICBW.
Haymarket Brewing in Chicago (and now also in Michigan) owes its name to one of the most notable moments in labor history: The Haymarket Affair. But, this is no time for a history lesson, this is a time to get to know a brewery renowned for creating beer intended for drinking, not sipping; for enjoying after a hard day’s work, not kept in cellars. And Pink Sock Monkey Raspberry Wheat Ale is one of those beers.
Haymarket commits itself to workers — no matter the color of the collar — and Pink Sock Monkey Raspberry Wheat reminds us all that artisans and craftspeople enjoy a long legacy of cherished American professions, from blacksmith to brewer. Haymarket deftly weaves its way through the craft beer world by creating beers that simultaneously exude refinement and also approachability. Yes, those are often overused buzz words, but in this case they are perfect descriptors.
The vast majority of craft brewers take immense pride in every beer they produce, and it shows in the exuberance they demonstrate while discussing their creations to patrons during Illinois Craft Beer Week. Sure, beer releases, festivals, events and tap takeovers during craft week are wrought with stressful, logistical challenges. Nonetheless, whatever might betide, in those moments when a beer fan inquires as to the details of a beer served, sheer joy routinely arises. In fact, all those associated with the brewery exude palpable excitement when presented with an opportunity to speak about their products.
All that hard work. All that cleaning. All that blood and sweat is worth it when it gets boiled down to the very essence of beer making — the beer, itself.
Scroll through your Instagram these days and you’re sure to find a wide selection of hazy beers in tulip glasses, strategically positioned to capture the faintest glimmer of sunlight on the glass. For many, the fanfare around the NE-style IPA is as much about the visuals as it is about the beer’s inherently juicy sweetness. Humans are visual eaters after all, so creating a beer that delights both your eyeballs and tastebuds makes sense. When I scrolled through my feed a few months back, my finger stopped on a post from Chicago-based Forbidden Root. The West-side brewery has made a name for itself with their botanical brews and hazy concoctions, but this newest endeavor, dubbed Assembly Required, was daring even for them. It was a sour NE-style IPA, more opaque than hazy, with a bright rosy red hue that departed from the typical orange juice color of a traditional haze bomb. Their new Assembly Required line is a bold evolution to the must-make trend of the present. After tasting the next batch, I’m confident in saying that the sour haze trend is alive and well in Chicago
While it seems that Illinois is celebrating craft beer every week of the year, there’s one week in May that is set aside to specifically recognize the role that the Prairie State is playing in the greater world of craft brewing.
This year PorchDrinking.com is pairing up with two local Chicago bottle shops for two great events during Illinois Craft Beer Week. Both events are designed to introduce the city to breweries that are new to Chicago or are out in the suburbs and might not be well-known to people living in the downtown area.