Illinois – PorchDrinking.com
You enter the store and wait through the excruciating line, the fog of early morning clouding your eyes. You get to the counter and place your order, saying, “I’ll take a grande, nonfat, Porter with a side of vanilla.”
It may not be Starbucks, but Phase Three Brewing Company, in Lake Zurich, Illinois, is brewing a series of beers that blur the line between coffee shop and brewery. Maple. Vanilla. Chocolate. Hazelnut. Coffee. Each is incredible on its own, but when brewed into a beer, they can become amazing if approached correctly. Phase Three is remarkable, and is fighting its way into your glass.
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.
In any industry, to be recognized for exemplary work is an incredible feeling. To win a medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB), one of the country’s premier barrel-aged beer festivals, is a massive accomplishment.
There will be more than 4,000 beers poured at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. It is impossible to try every beer there, it would even be a feat if you tried 3% of all the beers being poured at the event.
I went through the pour list of every Illinois brewery pouring at GABF this year and picked out a handful of beers that if you’re not from the state, should be on your list to try. Keep in mind that pour lists do change and so I’m going off of what is available on the festival’s website. I’ll also give you an honorable mention beer from each brewery that may not be the most hyped up beer they have, but it’s still worth trying.
Also, know that a lot of breweries submit beer for judging but don’t make the trip out to Denver to pour their beer. So if you saw that your favorite brewery sent beer to GABF, it doesn’t mean that they are actually going to be there for you to try.
In June, I made the trip to New Glarus Brewing to visit the iconic Wisconsin-only brewery that’s coveted all over the midwest. While there, I overheard two guys talking about how they wish New Glarus distributed to Illinois and so they could buy it all the time. But would they?
Triptych Brewing started from a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 but didn’t push out their first beers until February of 2013. Located in Savoy, IL (a small village just south of Champaign, in the middle of the state), the brewery has released more than 200 beers in the past six years and recently just expanded distribution so you can find them all across central and northern Illinois.
With the brewery’s recent expansion, I am finally able to enjoy its beers. Today, I found a four-pack of Triptych Brewing Wake Up, Neo: a Double IPA “brewed the hazy way.” This variation was brewed with Citra, Ekuanot and Mosaic hops and is sold in four-packs of 16-ounce cans that cost $17. The good news is each pint has a solid 8.4% ABV.
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.
Two years to the day Mikerphone Brewing opened its taproom, the brewery officially opened its new addition, called the Mikerphone Blue Room. The expansion more than doubles the total square footage of the brewery, triples the seating capacity, and opens the door to a future that founder and owner Mike Pallen never could have imagined.
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.
Kerri Gatz, general manager of the 2018 Craftbeer.com Illinois’ Best Beer Bar, has cultivated a craft-beer environment that showcases small, local brewers with as much enthusiasm as it does well-known brands. Though operating under the umbrella of the Brass Tap franchise name, the independence offered to Gatz at her Orland Park (Chicago) location has allowed her to provide patrons with beer choices, events and an overall vibe that reflects her personality and love for beer. She’s more than a bar operator; she is a craft beer ambassador.
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.
With the 15th annual Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beers (FoBAB) less than a week away, the weeks and months leading up to this year’s event have been different than in the past. With a price increase and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild releasing the brewery lineup before the event for the first time ever, there seems to be more talk about FoBAB than in recent years.
Every November since 2003, the craft beer world descends on Chicago for the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers – more commonly known as FoBAB. It’s the largest festival celebrating barrel-aged and wood-aged beers featuring more than 150 brewers and more than 400 beers for fans to try.
Walk into a bar in Chicago and you’re more than likely to see the colorful fist tap handles at the bar. Those fists let you know that Revolution Brewing is on tap and have become synonymous with Chicago craft beer.
The fourth annual Tribes Alehouse & Beer Company Fest (Tribes Fest IV) was for beer aficionados, as demonstrated by the abundance of guests adorned in craft-brewing shwag and who routinely engaged in beer-centric conversations. Don’t think of Tribes Fest IV as pretentious or snobby — that’s not even close. Instead, imagine enthusiastic, passionate, and nerdy beer lovers enjoying their hobby in the same manner car lovers enjoy car shows and roller coaster enthusiasts enjoy amusement parks. Tribes Fest IV offered tremendous fun, but also a place to revel in superbly crafted beer.
Would you like to play a game?
If so, Darien’s Miskatonic Brewing Company has a Chicago Craft Beer Week (CCBW) challenge for you. They explain, “We are infusing three Miskatonic beers with interesting ingredients. Order a flight and get a scorecard, for every beer and infusion ingredient you guess correctly, you get a raffle ticket for great prizes! Come out and test your palate!” If you fancy yourself a true beer aficionado and think you’re adept at judging and describing beer on Untappd or similar sites, this is the event for you. The party starts at 3 pm on Friday, May 27th at the Miskatonic Brewing taproom.
Chicago Craft Beer Week
Nevin’s Brewing Co: 4th Annual 21 Beer Salute
12337 South Rt. 59, Plainfield, Illinois
Sat, 5/21: 6 – 10pm
Fee: $1 per sample (4 oz), $8 cover after 8pm.
Music: 9:30pm: Keith Semple
Food: $10.99 unlimited wings
Craft brewers love to be innovative. So, naturally, Chicago Craft Beer Week (CCBW) involves an event where one brewer provides patrons with a celebration of experimentation. Indeed, Marc Wilson, brewmaster at Nevin’s Brewing Co. in Plainfield, explained, “I wanted to play with some styles/techniques that I’m a little less familiar.” And he’ll leave it up to you to be the judge, explaining, “I give our guests scorecards that they can return to me at the end of the evening so I can see what went well and what bombed.”