Karl Klockars of Guys Drinking Beer covers all things beer for Time Out Chicago.
10 fantastic Black-owned breweries and wineries in the USA
From restaurants and shops to Black-owned Airbnbs, it’s becoming easier to seek out Black-owned businesses across the USA. In a small but growing sector, Black-owned breweries and Black-owned wineries are gaining traction. Black-owned breweries in America make up less than 1 percent of the nearly 8,5000 craft breweries in America, but these breweries are worth seeking out. Expect unique flavors such as African vanilla and Ghanian honey, a celebration of African and African-American culture and support for social justice initiatives. Black-owned wineries are few and far between, though our list includes standout producers. Whether born of a passion for wine or through longtime experience in the field, these California and Oregon wines can hold their own next to the big names. The wine industry lacks diversity on every level, but these producers are working to change that. By supporting Black-owned breweries and wineries in the USA, we will see the industries become increasingly diverse, injecting fresh perspectives and flavors into the scene.
The 16 best brewery tours in Chicago
With so many amazing Chicago breweries situated throughout the city, everything from extra-hoppy IPAs to dark, decadent stouts are being produced at a breakneck pace. As much as we love heading to the best bars in Chicago to sample the latest local creations, sometimes it’s nice to have sip a beer while learning about how it was made. Walk among the fermentation tanks, taste some raw grains and learn more about the beer-making process on a Chicago brewery tour, where experts will explain how your favorite beverages are crafted. Whether you prefer a Chicago brewery tour that's short and sweet or one that offers plenty of complimentary samples, you'll probably learn something along the way. Pro tip: Hit up one of the best restaurants in Chicago to pad your stomach before you embark on this journey. No need to research malts, hops and yeast—you'll get a crash course on some of the best Chicago brewery tours. RECOMMENDED: Find more to explore on the best Chicago tours
5 under the radar breweries in the Chicago area
Just a few years ago, every brewery opening in Chicagoland was a banner event. Now, it’s hard to keep up with the city’s vibrant brewery scene: The number has topped 100. Chicago craft beer lovers, we got lucky. But for every Lagunitas and Half Acre, you’ll also find an amazing lesser-known brewery that could blow your mind and palate—if only you knew about it. These five Chicago breweries may not be household names yet, but with one sip, you’ll see why they deserve more attention. Trust us. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Chicago craft beer
10 Midwestern fall beers to drink
The plummeting temperatures have one major upside: Chicago is absolutely awash in new seasonal beers. But among the many Oktoberfest brews, stouts, boozy barrel-aged beers and, yes, pumpkin beers out there, some clear winners rise to the top. We, along with some top Chicago beer pros, have selected 10 can't-miss Midwestern craft beers to sip and savor at beer bars (or at home) this fall.
The South Loop craft beer guide
While many of us would consider Ravenswood or Logan Square Chicago’s top craft beer neighborhood, the South Loop is rapidly redefining itself by the beer being produced and poured within its boundaries. In the past six months alone, the area saw the opening of the Vice District and Motor Row breweries and taprooms, along with the neighborhood beer bar First Draft. With the recent re-opening of craft beer bar Villains and the coming Baderbrau brewing facility, the Sloop suddenly has a lot more going for it than high-rise condos and convention traffic. The cherry on top of this beery sundae will be once the beermaker actually named for the neighborhood—South Loop Brewing Company—finds itself a home. (The outfit is currently brewing in Andersonville at the Aquanaut space, which ironically might be the farthest-north brewing facility inside city limits.) Until then, should you find yourself south of Congress, don’t feel like you have to rush back north for a pint with options like these.
Drink this now: Session beer
If 2014 was the Summer of the Radler, shandy and other low-alcohol fruity beer concoctions, 2015 is most assuredly the Summer of the Session Beer. The fuse to this year’s obsession was lit in 2012, when Founders released its All Day IPA and drinkers went crazy for a beer that’s light and drinkable, but with a wallop of hoppy flavor. All Day is now Founders’ top seller, and many large-scale craft brewers followed suit with sessions of their own. We rounded up 14 of them, including some from Chicago breweries, which provides a good cross section of what you’ll see on shelves around Chicago this summer. Then a tasting panel of four tried them all, with nary a buzz—"session" means you can drink these beers over the course of an afternoon without feeling it too much, thanks to a low ABV. While the lineup of sessions was pretty solid on the whole, there were five clear standouts, which you’ll want to seek out for your next summer party. RECOMMENDED: Chicago craft beer guide
Unexpected spots for great craft beer
This city is most assuredly not lacking for great places to drink great craft beer. Want a temple to Belgian beers, pints with your pinball or a rare draft pour with awesome burgers? Check, check and check again. We live in a city where even dive bars have plenty of local draft options, where restaurants are adding taphandles by the dozen and awesome beer lists are showing up in the damnedest places. From a casino to Whirlyball, these are some of the most surprising places you’ll stumble across a great beer. RECOMMENDED: Chicago craft beer guide
How to navigate Chicago Craft Beer Week 2017
This year’s Chicago Craft Beer Week is, so far as we can tell, the first one since 2011 where "week" actually means “week.” Most other celebrations this decade have run up to 11 days long, and for the past three years, the whole thing has closed out with a big shebang of a neighborhood beer fest. For 2017, however, CCBW's dialing back a bit, just going Thursday to Thursday with no crazy gathering in the West Loop or Welles Park. After the official opening Beer Under Glass event, we beer drinkers are on our own to dive headfirst into the madness that can be CCBW. You can, as always, define your own experience with the list of events on the CCBW page here, but it can be a bit difficult to fish through the random Bourbon County tappings, uninspiring tap takeovers, $4 pint specials and other random noise. That’s why we're here to help. There continue to be a few beer week traditions that have been well discussed in past years—Haymarket’s Beerfly Alley Fight and Goose Island’s Sunday Funday, for example—and they remain great events to attend. For this year, though, we've got all the new, interesting, weird, crazy, helpful, fresh-faced fun stuff. That said, we're kicking the week off with an oldie but a goodie: Thursday, May 18: Beer Under Glass Held at the Garfield Park Conservatory and sponsored by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, this festival has grown from a whopping 27 breweries in attendance to around 110. It’s always a great way to check out beers from places you haven’t
Band of Bohemia created a beer for Next's Hollywood-themed menu
When two breweries collaborate on a beer, that’s just another day on the brew deck—and rarely news. But, when the brewer for the world’s only Michelin-starred brewpub teams up with one of Chicago’s top restaurants for a collaboration beer paired with an upcoming tasting menu... well, that’s when things get interesting. Band of Bohemia’s Michael Carroll has produced a beer for the upcoming Next Hollywood menu that’s right in line with its culinary-inspired house beers flavored with ingredients like apples and tarragon, roasted beet and thyme or (my favorite) persimmon honey biscuit. The latest is Constellation’s Kiss, a special 10-barrel batch (just twenty kegs worth) brewed especially for Next with lemongrass, Thai basil and... rice? Yes, the most derided adjunct in brewing, used mainly in macro-American lager to lighten up the body and cut grain costs, takes center stage in this new beer. “I kind of like putting rice in beer for some reason and nobody else really does it,” Carroll explains. Fifty pounds of jasmine rice—some toasted, some not—goes into the boil and the mash to extrude a light, delicate flavor and body that carries the lemongrass and Thai basil “to finish off a little bit of that licoricey, anise, floral, herbacious note to it.” It’s topped off with just ten pounds of noble Saaz, Hallertauer, Tettnanger hops from Germany, “which is nothing in the grand scheme of hoppy beer these days,” Carroll says. The beer will be paired with a block of dishes at Next in
The winners and losers of Chicago Craft Beer Week
We’ve already run down the events you should strongly consider attending during Chicago Craft Beer Week, but after poring through the list of events, tap takeovers, brewery features, beer dinners and style showcases, we’ve noticed a few themes emerge this year, and a few things that you won’t be seeing. Winner: Sour beer fans If you want to really strip the enamel from your teeth on a parade of Flanders reds, lambics, goses, Berliner weisses and oud bruins, you’ve got lots of options. No less than five events take place over this week dedicated to the showcase of sour beers. Delilah’s features a whole bunch of crazy imports, Fountainhead is showing off the highly praised sours from DESTIHL, Monk’s Pub features all of Goose Island’s Sour Sisters, Jerry’s Sandwiches has a Jolly Pumpkin sour feature set up and The Green Lady... well, we don’t know exactly what will be on tap, but we do know that owner Melani Domingues loves her sours and knows how to find the good ones. Loser: People looking for beers from pretty much anywhere else other than Illinois There are a handful of events showing off beers from the big guys—breweries like Stone, New Belgium, Bells—but this is Chicago Craft Beer Week. The city and suburbs are right to be pretty provincial for this ten day stretch of beer insanity, so feel free to dabble in the beers from Michigan, Colorado and California for the rest of the year, but double down on the local stuff during CCBW. Winner: Fans of floating while drinkin
The best events during Chicago Craft Beer Week 2016
If it feels like the hype for Chicago Craft Beer Week has been a little muted this year, you’re not alone—the frenzied rush of brewery openings in Chicago hasn’t slowed as simply dropped in volume. It doesn’t help that this spring’s near-constant gloomy weather has us strongly considering leaving the flannel sheets on the bed forever and curling up with a six pack of winter porter. But, that doesn’t mean that the city’s many beer-friendly outlets, from the biggest mega-brewery to the tiniest nano and all-beer bars, restaurants and enthusiasts between haven’t put together a damn good looking stretch of 10 days full of beer-based education, entertainment, and imbibement. Which leads to the next question—what the hell should I be doing this week? We’re here to help. Thursday, May 19: Beer Under Glass (because, duh) This is the official CCBW kickoff, and as such, you should already have your tickets to one of the best beer events of the year. About 200 different breweries call the state of Illinois home, and nearly half of them will be on hand in one place for Beer Under Glass at the Garfield Park Conservatory—this is definitely your best chance to get a good cross section of what the state’s beer scene looks (and tastes) like. Also, lest we repeat ourselves too much here, we told you to go to Beer Under Tin at Paddy Long’s last year and we were tempted to let it slide this year until we noticed that Metropolitan is tapping a rum-barrel-aged “Logganbier,” which you probably a
South Loop Brewing Company is brewing Witka, a Mike Ditka beer
Considering the love Chicago has for Mike Ditka and the beer-friendly nature of professional football, it’s surprising that there hasn’t yet been a local brewery to marry the two together (An Iron Mike’s Ale does exist, which is actually a blonde ale made by Oregon's Deschutes Brewery, but a locally created brew has been absent until now.) That’s an oversight soon to be corrected by the South Loop Brewing Company along with Ditka’s Restaurants with the release of Witka, a witbier brewed with the zest of more than 300 limes. South Loop Brewing’s Jeremiah Zimmer said the collaboration plans began as a result of the Ditka’s beer buyer becoming a fan of one of SLBC’s beers, the similarly sports-y and Sox-centric Good Ryes Wear Black. “I kind of mentioned the Witka in passing, and he said that was above his pay grade, but... we thought it would be a good fit.” Wikta is an immediate winner on name alone—“we’re connoisseurs of fine portmanteaus,” Zimmer said—but a light, citrusy wheat beer might not be the style one immediately has in mind for Da Coach. Certainly something like a roasty stout or a smoky rauchbier would work, especially as we enter fall and winter, but the Ditka’s team was very specific on why they thought this particular beer would work. Originally conceived as a more traditional orangey witbier, they pivoted the recipe to pair with the restaurant’s signature pork chops. “They use a Michigan cherry marmalade-type glaze on their pork chops, and we really felt like li
6 awesome new beers to seek out from Beer Under Glass
A steady drizzle outside the Garfield Park Conservatory didn’t stop the faithful craft beer acolytes at this year’s Beer Under Glass, the kickoff to Chicago Craft Beer Week, with lines for cult faves Three Floyds and Pipeworks remaining dozens deep into the damp evening. A stark contrast from last year’s event, which saw people trudging through ankle-deep muck to sip beers in a massive tent, versus the glass-roofed Conservatory that was still being refurbished. This year, however, saw a better balance between indoor stations and out, as well as some more food options indoors; much needed at events like these. It seemed like there were more dump buckets, water stations and signage on hand pointing to restrooms throughout the fest; all improvements over last year. BUG is a great way to try a variety of suburban breweries, like Werk Force, Scorched Earth, Flesk and Hopvine, which aren’t in places I tend to get to. Impressive beers came from all over—we found brews we liked from basically our backyard all the way to downstate Illinois. Here’s what we dug. Around the Bend’s Silk RoadThis was a coming out party for the brand-new Around the Bend, since they received their final license just hours before this year’s festival. Around the Bend currently operates out of the Ale Syndicate space and offers a kolsch and Silk Road, a pale ale with galangal, or Thai ginger. Hugely aromatic with a burst of rich, almost red floral notes backed up by a parade of hops that play very nicely wit
19 can't-miss events during Chicago Craft Beer Week
Gird your livers and pre-apologize to your significant others, beer fans—Chicago Craft Beer Week kicks off on Thursday. While we don’t have as many highly anticipated openings like Moody Tongue, Penrose and Off Color coming up, new operations pop up seemingly every week, and Chicago Craft Beer Week is a great way to get to know these newcomers. This year’s 11-day beer marathon features some favorite annual events and some new ones, too. These are the ones you can't miss. Thursday, May 14Beer Under Glass is like going to see a Springsteen show. You basically know what you’re going to get: a lot of hits mixed in with some fun rarities; it’s going to last a long time; and you're probably going to be exhausted at the end. It’ll be interesting to see how the Illinois Craft Beer Guild rebounds after last year’s event, which rainy weather turned into "Beer in the Mud." But you should still totally go. Garfield Park Conservatory, 5:30pm. However, if you’re looking for something a little smaller, Beer Under Tin, with brewers and beers from Metropolitan Brewing and Off Color, is where you want to be, if only for the live taping of the city’s best beer Web series, Just Keep Tastin’. Paddy Long’s, 7pm. Friday, May 15For our money, the place to be Friday is Beauty and the Brews. You might be surprised to learn how many women are involved in making the beers you drink all summer. Fourteen of those beers will be on hand, as well as the women who make them. We’ll keep saying it until everyon
Gino’s East River North now brews its own (really good) beer
Given how beer and pizza is a perfect pairing, it’s astonishing that it’s taken Chicago so long to get its second pizzeria/brewery. Piece Brewery & Pizzeria has had that slice (pun intended) of the market to itself since 2001, but with the December opening of the brewing facility at Gino’s East River North, the city finally has a place for our deep dish pizza and craft beer crossover dreams. The initial beers are a bit of a departure from what you’d traditionally expect to partner with pizza, like an amber, a pale ale or an American light lager, but brewer Kevin McMahon (a Two Brothers and Abita alum) offers up four somewhat surprising choices—a Helles lager, a heavily spiced witbier, an English-style IPA and a black IPA. The Helles lager is light, easy drinking and ideal for anyone who wants a Bud Light–like beer with their pizza, while the wit is its Blue Moon understudy kicked up with a big bite of sharp spices on the front. There’s nothing wrong with either of them, but Gino’s hoppier offerings distinguish themselves much more successfully. The black rye IPA lacks the roasty malt flavors and massive punches I expect from the style, but I don’t mind, since this is one of the few black hoppy beers that actually tastes balanced. But it’s the English-style IPA that’s the big winner here. Made true to the style, the approachable beer is a very traditional take on a beer in a city that mostly believes the weirder the beer, the better. The earthy, herbal hops slightly overpower