#IllinoisCraftBeer Archives – PorchDrinking.com
A multitude of bottle shops and breweries are celebrating the entire Thanksgiving weekend with beer releases, special cellar finds and offering a host of indulgences. While the bulk of the activities will occur on Black Wednesday and Black Friday, one can find good beer from Wednesday through Sunday. And, although dark beer (notably strong, barrel-aged) reigns supreme this weekend, there are a few alternative beer choices, too. If we missed an event, by all means let us know — the idea is to make sure everyone knows where to go this weekend to satisfy their beer cravings. Without further ado, here’s the comprehensive 2022 Chicago Area Black Wednesday and Black Friday beer events guide.
Located in Chicago’s near-north suburbs, Temperance Beer Co. and FEW Spirits enjoy distinction as Evanston, Illinois’ first brewery and distillery. They have come together to create the 2022 Temperance Might …
The Brewers Association introduced the Hazy/Juicy IPA category for the Great American Beer Fest awards in 2018, reflecting the style’s presence and impact within the brewing world — and the first gold medal went to Chicago’s Alarmist Brewing with its Le Jus. Eris Brewery & Cider won bronze in that same category for its Folken Haze. The next year, Old Irving followed with another gold for its ever-popular Beezer. Indeed, Chicago stood as king of the hazy-beer hill. All told, seven Illinois breweries have received a total of nine medals (four gold) in five years for the hazy/juicy Pale Ale, Strong Pale Ale, IPA and Imperial IPA categories. Here are the The Illinois Breweries that Produce GABF-winning Hazy Beers, and a little more about what they brew, serve, and offer.
Illinois breweries, including nine within the Chicago metro area, came away with 10 medals at the Great American Beer Fest, with Double Clutch Brewing emulating what On Tour Brewing did in 2017: win two beer medals and the “Brewery of the Year” for a small brewery award (0-250 barrels). The only gold went to Maplewood Brewing for its Oatmeal Stout. The 10 beer medals is down from the robust 16 Illinois breweries won in 2021, but still a more than respectable showing.
Homewood, Illinois’ Rabid Brewing has combined quality beer production with a love of mythology since 2017, and a celebration of that time will arrive Saturday, July 22 with its Feast of the Goat Queen festival. Among the beers that will be released is a chocolate beer as part of a collaborative effort between Rabid and Bean to Barstool, run by the award-winning writer and podcaster, David Nilsen. The beer, a Chocolate Vanilla Cream Ale named Crown of Horns, uses ethically-sourced cacao from Ethereal Confections. Meanwhile, the festival, a “Fest for Fae Folk,” is perfect for those that to like to dawn some horns, honor their Roman gods, pet some goats, listen to live music, check out some artists, and otherwise have some fun.
The Imperial Oak Brewing BBA Quiet Giant series doesn’t quite get the attention that other Chicago-area BBA releases receive, but its quality is on par with some of the best in the metro area. And the brewery’s annual, crowded anniversary party and Quiet Giant release speak to the love affair many have with the series. Though we have covered the release as a preview each year, we wanted to appeal to those beer-cellar lovers by opening a 2020 Quiet Giant Aged Two Years in Bourbon (and then aged in this writer’s basement “BBA fridge” for two additional years) to see how well Quiet Giant ages.
We know them. We are them. Fierce Female by Scorched Earth is a West Coast Style IPA brewed to highlight the contributions of women within the industry and around the world. This year, Fierce Female was reimagined. This beer recognizes strong women past and present, while also empowering the next generation of fierce females.
Maplewood Brewery & Distillery has quickly become one of the best places in Chicago to find delicious beers and spirits. And they have continued to show that they can make any style of beer and make them really well.
One of their newest beers, Sidewalk Surfer, is no exception. This West Coast Double IPA takes it back to the days when IPAs weren’t all hazy and infiltrated with lactose and fruits.
When Katherine and Chris Valleau say they built Exit Strategy Brewing Co. from scratch, they’re not kidding. “When we first walked into the building, the skylight was hanging down from the ceiling and there were birds flying around. Everything had been stripped. No plugs. No running water. Only four walls,” said Katherine. Nearly six years later, the couple has turned that once empty space into a popular, name-brand brewpub (food and beer), frequented by locals and often visited by traveling craft-beer aficionados.
In Episode 24 of the “Boys Are From Märzen” podcast, Kindsey Bernhard is joined by Danielle D’Alessandro, executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.
D’Alessandro was hired as the executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild in September 2016, and currently has over 200 brewery members in the Guild.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.”
With the 2019-20 global pandemic still at-hand, The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has announced details for a re-imagined 18th annual Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB). Brewers from all over the nation have submitted beers for judging, and this year people can purchase 6 packs to-go, with 100% of the funds going to the host of FoBAB, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. The money will ultimately support the broader Illinois craft-beer community.
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).
If you’re currently in the mindset that it’s too early for pumpkin beer but too late for summer-only releases, then we’re on the same page. This often means it’s Oktoberfest season, the best season of all! Oktoberfest styles (usually in the form of a Festbier and Märzen) are popping up at the majority of breweries across the city and suburbs, and while it feels slightly earlier than normal (what day is it anyway?), I’m not upset about the early arrival.
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.