#IllinoisCraftBeer Archives – PorchDrinking.com
Pure barrel flavoring. No extracts. No syrups. No sugar bombs. The Imperial Oak Brewing Quiet Giant (strong) Barrel-Aged American Imperial Stout series, now in its sixth year, celebrates the artistry of barrel-aging in its purest form.
Yes, there are varieties with adjuncts, but only as complementary flavors. “Why put a beer in a barrel for a year and then completely cover it up? That’s why the two-year [BBA] is still my personal favorite. But, I do like our variants. They aren’t going to knock you in the face. That’s not our thing. None of them are going to be a chocolate bomb, coconut bomb..that type of terminology. I like adjuncts. But, I want it to be subtle and complement the beer,” said Brett Semenske co-owner and brewer.
Quiet Giant arrives each year for its anniversary, which this year enjoys the theme: Six years, Six Feet Apart (details can be found at the end of this story). The party slogan speaks to the challenges presented to breweries in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, Illinois’ case numbers are declining, patios are open and the beer remains consistent as ever. Going forward, most can expect five variants to arrive each May (this year in June due to the COVID-19 lockdown), with more two-year BBA for 2021. However, this year, Imperial Oak also has a one-time special beer from its Savage Oak room, offered in bottles.
On Friday, May 29, the full COVID-19 lockdown came to an end for numerous breweries across suburban Chicago, as long as they could offer outdoor seating and follow social distancing protocols (The city proper would have to wait a little longer). The questions were: How would breweries adjust to operating during a pandemic and would beer drinkers comply and behave?
The beauty of craft beer is in how intensely local it feels. Supporting your local brewery means supporting your city. While many breweries expand and grow in distribution, there’s something unique and familiar about drinking a beer that’s brewed close to you. With unique names and labels, breweries across the country lean into this understanding of what it means to be fiercely local. Illinois’ largest independently-owned brewery, Revolution Brewing, is interwoven into the tapestry of Chicago’s rich beer scene. Now, it’s going one step farther with the release of its City Series packaging refresh, which pairs iconic images of Chicago with some Revolution’s most popular session beers.
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
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. …
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.
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.
If you needed strong ales to keep you comfortable and warm in winter, then warm weather calls for light, crisp, flavorful session ales that keep you satisfied throughout a day of yard work. Let’s face it, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds are much better with a cold beer in hand, and Chicago’s Revolution Brewing is ready with just the beer for the occasion!
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.
Would you be willing to fall in love with a new beer? Maybe even reconnect with a beer you already tasted before? February is a short month, but enough time to show our craft beer community some love. This week was interesting since I tried new beers as well as a beer spa experience. I wanted to celebrate a birthday in a different way, and I definitely accomplished that. Cheers to trying new beer experiences, even if it means submerging yourself in a hot tub full of beer ingredients! PorchDrinkers have a cool lineup of diverse beers and we are all over the country sharing this week’s What We’re Drinking.
The addition of suburban-Chicago’s Oswego Brewing Company (May, 2018) further demonstrates that the craft beer industry is far from “too crowded.” Oswego Brewing has fit in nicely, thank you, and is drawing in its own new loyal crowd of craft beer fans. Operating out of spacious building — the town’s former fire station — and under the direction of the multi-award winning head brewer, Marc Wilson, Oswego Brewing deftly balances the art of offering sophisticated special releases alongside solid, versatile year-round and seasonal choices.
Brickstone Brewery has won medals at FoBAB, the World Cup, and GABF. One can find Brickstone at every Jewel, several Buffalo Wild Wings, throughout Guaranteed Rate Field (White Sox games), at beer fests — and even gas stations these days. It’s tough to find a Chicago-area bar without some tap handles adorned by Brickstone artwork. Yet, most Chicago-area beer fans have never been to Brickstone. Born of a family-restaurant in the 1990s, the Bourbonnais business added a brewery in 2006 and has since evolved into a dually-located, full-fledged, 9k to 10k barrel-per-year brewery (with a capacity for 18k) and, as it always has been, family restaurant. Located 45 miles south of downtown Chicago, Brickstone has simultaneously discovered a way to cater to its local clientele while also existing among the biggest names in Chicago beer.
Solemn Oath Brewing, located in the large and populous Chicago suburb of Naperville, has remained a stabilizing force within the broader, changing Chicago craft beer market. Since opening in 2012, the brewery has adapted to internal and external changes without ever losing its identity, nor its popularity among beer fans; that’s what good people serving well-executed beer will do for a brewery.
Solemn Oath is now ready to take the next step in its craft beer journey by expanding to a second location and joining a slew of breweries in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. But first, a pop-up bar is in the works.
First, a piece of advice. Do not speed as you travel the picturesque country roads of southern Illinois. The first reason is, of course, the cops. The speed limits drop quickly from 55 to 35 as you near and enter the small farming towns along Highway 158. The second reason is the simple beauty of the drive. Country roads should be cherished and with the debut of Lieferbräu Brewery as a reward for heading in this direction, you’ll be driving with a smile the whole time.