The Year in Beer: The 2014 Chicago Craft Beer Almanac

In Chicago Craft Beer Almanac by Karl

2014 CCBA

You know, we kinda thought that 2014 would be a slowdown from the insane year that was 2013, but guess what — the openings, expansions, line extensions, canning announcements (and yes, a closing) just kept on coming nonstop. It’s almost like craft beer is a popular thing that lots of people are interested in creating!

For the third year in a row, we present to you a full list of the ins and outs of craft beer news around Chicago. Almost all of this is culled from our weekly newsletter, so if any of this is handy you should consider seeing it every week!

Here we go. The 2014 Chicago Craft Beer Almanac has a full twelve months of brewing information just for you. (Also, feel free to relive 2012 and 2013, too.)

January:

Jan. 2: Via the “Sloopin” site, the Vice District Brewing Company announces their intention to open their South Loop taproom by June of this year.

Jan. 3: It’d been rumored for months, but we finally nailed down some of the details on the big distribution moves from 3 Floyds, changing from Glunz over to Windy City.

Jan. 6: We report on the first closing of the Chicago craft brewing renaissance — Andersonville’s 4 Paws announced during the weekend that they were getting out of the game, having sold their gear and transferred their lease to Strange Pelican.

In happier news, the Chicago Brew Werks in Plainfield receives their Federal Brewer’s license.

4 Paws Brewing

Jan. 8: We get our first taste (sort of) from the new Uncommon Ground brewery, in a collaboration release with Dryhop called Santo Meets Zeppelin. It’s an organic English IPA with all organic malts and hops.

Jan. 10: DNAInfo Chicago reports that Marz Community Brewing has received their TTB Federal Brewers Notice, and is just a few steps away from pouring their first beers. They expect to be creating and selling beers by spring.

Jan. 13: Both good news and bad news broke on this date — good in that Hamburger Mary’s made news in plans to bring their house-brewed beers and burgers to Oak Park. Bad in that the legal troubles for 5 Rabbit appear to not be done yet.

Jan. 20: CBS This Morning visits Chicago to check in on the Cicerone Program and say hi to the folks at Jerry’s.

Jan. 21: This seems like a real long time coming when you consider the original plans for the New Chicago Beer Company at the Plant started back in like 2011. Ale Syndicate received their brewhouse on this date.

Jan. 22: That restaurant that Half Acre was talking about opening? Not so fast, reports DNAInfo — it’s no longer in the plans for the North Center brewery. (Something is, though…)

Jan. 23: The folks behind the Forbidden Root brewing operation host a community meeting to talk about their plans to change a liquor moratorium. Red Eye reports it attracted over 300 attendees.

Jan. 25: The Begyle Brewing retail space and tasting room opens on this date, making their long-laid plans of a Community Supported Brewery a reality.

Begyle Counter Pressure Growler Filler

Via Begyle’s Facebook page.

Jan. 30: Ratebeer announces that they’ve selected not-super-new-but-new-enough Ale Syndicate as Illinois’ best new brewery, and the still-pretty-brand-new 18th Street as Indiana’s best new brewery.

Also on this date, we noticed (ahead of pretty much everyone else) that 312 Urban Wheat was getting a little sibling, 312 Urban Pale.

Jan. 31: Want some more Bourbon County Stout? How about 130,000 square feet of it? That’s the news today Goose Island done got itself some new warehouse space for bourbon and wine-barrel aged beers. Also, Noon Whistle Brewing gets its first piece of press as they start working towards a summer opening in Oak Park.

February:

Feb. 4: Ale Asylum hits Chicago for the first time today; the Madison-based brewery introduced Hopalicious, Ambergeddon, Madtown Nutbrown and Bedlam! IPA via Wirtz Beverage at a series of events including one at downtown Monk’s Pub.

Feb. 7: A weeklong Ratebeer rollout of the world’s best brewers, beers and beer-related places finishes up on this date, and Goose Island and Three Floyds did the best out of all our Midwestern brewer friends. Also on this date: Gino’s East is opening a brewery? Gino’s East is opening a brewery.

Feb. 13: Atlas Brewing releases the Valentine’s Day inspired (oh, and Zelda too) GDB-collab beer, “It’s Dangerous to Go Alone.” Brewed with a single hop variety, a little rye and infused with hibiscus, we’re happy to report that we enjoyed drinking it. 

dangeroustogoalone

Feb. 15: The Pipeworks folks take to the BeerAdvocate forums to announce an expansion to their brewing facility. They’ll be able to do 15,000 bbl to start, with the space to expand to 40,000 bbl annually (not that they want to be that big, as they say).

Feb. 18: The Hop Review gets a scoop from Haymarket’s Pete Crowley. This year’s FoBAB is moving to the UIC Pavilion, and adding a third session on Friday night.

Feb. 19: The leadership team at Three Floyds earns another semifinalist nod in this year’s James Beard awards for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professionals.

Feb. 24: Add another one to the list — Hailstorm Brewing gets their state permit, and starts brewing immediately.

March

March 5: We all missed it at the time, but it was on this date that the City Council allowed the rezoning requested by Band of Bohemia, clearing the way for them to move forward with their Ravenswood corridor brewpub.

March 10: It’s been a long, strange trip for Strange Pelican — they’ve not even opened and they’ve changed their name. Now they’re Aquanaut, and you can thank Pelican Pub & Brewery in Oregon for forcing that change. (DNAInfo)

March 18: Geneva’s Penrose Brewing opens their taproom for the first time on this date, and a flurry of opening events follow. Yay Penrose.

Penrose's tasting room. Via Penrose's Facebook page.

Penrose’s tasting room. Via Penrose’s Facebook page.

March 23: Happy first birthday to Chris Quinn’s Beer Temple. The tap list for their shindig was pretty insane.

March 24: The Trib breaks the news about an expansion for Half Acre Beer — they were briefly thinking about Pennsylvania, but instead decided to just move a little bit up the street to Balmoral and Lincoln. The new brewery will pump out their big beers, while the current Lincoln space will be used for more experimental beers, which is awesome.

March 27: Well, this was a long time coming. Lagunitas first brew at their Chicago brewery mashed in today.

March 31: The accolades keep adding up for Begyle Brewing. Co-owner and brewer Brendan and Matt are listed as part of Zagat’s 30 Under 30 list. (Begyle’s Kevin Cary missed making the cut by one week. Womp, womp.)

Also on this date, we report on Ten Ninety acquiring Big Chicago.

April

April 1: Despite the date, the 3 minutes it took for General Admission tickets to Beer Under Glass to sell out are no joke.

April 4: Brewbound reports on the Ebel Brothers getting back into the distribution game in Arizona, as well as the first inkling of a new Two Brothers facility to bring their beers to the west coast.

Also on this date: We report on our visit to the first What the Firk event. It was fun.

What the Firk 2014

April 7: 18th Street announces that they’re contract brewing for the newest amalgamation of brewers, Rude Hippo (a combo of Twisted Hippo and Rude Boy).

Also on this date: Our report on the ICBG and ABDI’s combined stance against anyone but breweries and brewpubs filling growlers. The discussion about that continues throughout 2014.

April 8: Did you notice that Hamburger Mary’s Rec Room transformed into Andersonville Brewing? DNAInfo did, and they check in with owners Ashley and Brandon Wright.

April 10: Hailstorm Brewing in Tinley Park opens.

April 11: The World Beer Cup awards are announced, and Illinois breweries walk away with eight medals, including a Gold for Haymarket’s Defender stout and Two Brothers’ Domaine Dupage.

April 16: The first Marz/Dryhop/Lake Effect collabs are released.

April 17: NewCity’s “Big Heat” Food & Drink Top 50 list is out, and only has one Chicago beer related entry — Revolution brewer Jim Cibak.

Also on this date: Temperance announces they’re soon to be canning beers.

April 18: Lagunitas Chicago is FINALLY up and running, with their first real brew taking place on this date. The Trib was there, as was the Sun-Times and Crain’s.

Lagunitas Chicago First Look

From our first look inside the Lagunitas facility back in February.

Also on this date: DNAInfo brings us news about the forthcoming Three Floyds expansion and plans to add a distilling operation, including a little thing called Dark Lord Whiskey.

April 26: We have a Perfectly Pleasant and Positive Pilsner Party at Norse Bar. It was fun. Pilsner was drank.

Oh, and Dark Lord Day happened too.

April 29: RedEye gives us our first look at Moody Tongue.

May

May 1: Wisconsin Brewing Company announces their plans to enter the Illinois market.

May 4: DNAInfo asks, “what craft brewing bubble?”

May 5: The Reader follows up on the Moody Tongue opening, as does the Trib.

May 6: Moxee Restaurant and Mad Mouse Brewing open on this date. Also, Forbidden Root gets a vote of confidence from the neighborhood as they work towards their opening.

May 7: Draft Magazine announces Dusek’s and The Radler as two of the nation’s Best New Beer Restaurants.

May 9: Empirical announces their first bottled brew will be a 100+ IBU hop bomb appropriately called Infinity: IBU Overload.

May 12: Time Out Chicago’s Readers Choice awards include DryHop Brewers as Best New Brewery, while Off Color gets a nod as Best Off-The-Wall brewery.

May 13: Half Acre meets their new Bowmanville neighbors, some of whom aren’t big fans of the new brewing facility, where they repeat their mantra: “We won’t be jerks.”

May 15: Chicago Craft Beer Week kicks off with Beer Under Glass: The Muddy One. Our site coverage is here and our piece at Time Out is here.

Beer Under Glass 2014

Like we said — muddy.

May 16: Imperial Oak opens their taproom for the first time.

May 20: Our third-annual South of 80 event takes place, featuring Rolling Meadows, Little Egypt, DESTIHL, Urban Chestnut, Triptych and 4 Hands Brewing. We had fun. If you were there, we hope you had fun too.

May 22: Une Annee announces they’re heading into Wisconsin.

May 23: We take a look at the new craft can options for summer over at Time Out.

May 24: The first episode of Just Keep Tastin’ debuts. It’s our favorite beer “show” ever.

May 28: The Reader reports on what will become one of the biggest points of contention in beer/brewery law in Illinois — the cap on what can be sold by holders of a brewpub license. On the same date, DNAInfo’s Mark Konkol has this cool story about the “mini-embassy” of German workers building the Lagunitas brewing facility. ALSO on this date, Alarmist (then Panic) Brewing and Arcade Brewing both get licensed.

May 30: We break the news that Lazy Magnolia will begin distributing to Illinois.

June

June 4: We check in on that ruling capping the output of brewpub license holders, with info from the ABDI.

June 5: Crain’s floats the idea that Goose Island (the brewery) may be moving to Goose Island (the place). Aside from this, no one really talks about this ever again.

June 6: DESTIHL announces it’s moving into Ohio.

June 9: We break the news that Schlafly’s plans to move into Illinois with a Chicago brewpub have been shelved.

June 11: Proving that beer and hotdogs go together hand in hand, the Lake Effect/Superdawg collab beer gets some press from the Sun-Times.

June 16: DryHop Brewers turns one.

DryhopVisit21

June 17: Vice District gets their craft brewing license.

June 19: Chef Homaro Cantu and brewer/partner Trevor Rose-Hamblin announce plans for their new brewery (and taco restaurant), which will eventually land on the name Crooked Fork.

June 20: The Sun-Times publishes this piece on new Lagunitas Chicago head brewer and Aurora native Mary Bauer. Also on this date: We host a crazy huge Stone vertical at Green Lady. Like, crazy huge.

June 25: The Chicago Reader releases their Best of Chicago 2014 awards (seems a little early, no?), and gives nods to Penrose, Ten Ninety and Links Taproom.

Oh, and the Lagunitas Taproom opens on this date too. RedEye breaks down the taproom by the numbers a few days later.

June 26: The Evanston Review reports on Smylie Bros. Brewing opening in Evanston.

June 27: News breaks that United will have Goose Island’s 312 Wheat on flights.

June 28: Plainfield’s Werk Force opens their taproom.

July

July 1: After seeing reports of Pumking hitting the shelves, we establish this year’s Fall Beer Freedom Day earlier than ever.

July 5: Crain’s names Nick Floyd one of 2014’s Best Entrepreneurs.

July 11: Begyle announces they’ll be bottling beer in 6-packs soon.

July 14: Panic Brewing announces that it’s now Alarmist Brewing. Also, Chicago Magazine releases their Readers Choice awards, giving Revolution the nod as best local brewery with the best local beer, and Lagunitas as having the best local taproom (already).

July 17: Solemn Oath announces a massive (like, 94% massive) expansion plan, as well as a canning line.

July 23: Goose Island’s Ian Hughes gets a nice writeup from the Washington Post about his efforts to protect our water. (For beer.)

July 24: Pipeworks also announces an expansion plan, also including cans, year-round offerings and a special sour beer focus at their original space.

July 28: The Reader gets a first look at the beers from Aquanaut (nee Strange Pelican).

August

Aug. 4: Another week, another first look at a new brewery by Phil at the Reader, this time it’s Empirical.

Aug. 6: In which we have a problem with a particular beer label. Sounds like many of you did too.

Also on this date: Congressman Mike Quigley spends a day working at Half Acre.

Mike Quigley Half Acre

Via Congressman Quigley’s Facebook page.

Aug. 7: We report on the increased profile of craft beer at the Illinois State Fair. So why is it being run by wine people?

Aug. 9: The Northwest Indiana Times publishes this piece about 18th Street’s major expansion plans.

Aug. 12: This new Old Style can features the Chicago Fire Department and benefits a charitable firefighter’s fund.

Aug. 13: Per a tweet from Josh Noel, John Barley is the new ICBG President.

Aug. 14: After months off the shelves, we ask the question — is a Shelton Bros. return imminent? (More on this later.)

Aug. 18: Phil at the Reader got scoop after scoop this summer — this time it was this first look at Uncommon Ground’s Greenstar brewing.

Aug. 20: That troubling brewpub ruling issued by the ILCC? Well, it was supposed to be up for discussion on this date. In fact, the discussion was temporarily shelved so the ABDI and the ICBG could hash out a compromise.

Aug. 21: We publish a conversation with Ale Syndicate’s Jesse Evans, discussing the route they took (including the original plans for the New Chicago Brewing Company) to get to their first brew at their Diversey location.

Ale Syndicate at the Green Exchange

Also on this date: “News” breaks about Soldier Field having the 4th most “overpriced” beer at NFL stadiums.

Aug. 24: Thrillist ranks every state by their beers. Illinois comes in at 13th.

Aug. 25: Reports come out on this date about the folks upset by the rain-shortened Midwest Brewers Fest.

September

Sept. 9: Once more, Phil at the Reader takes first crack at all the new beers from Marz Community Brewing. There are a lot.

Sept. 15: Citing weather and financial concerns, the first Chicago Ale Fest in Grant Park is cancelled just days before it was scheduled to begin.

Sept. 17: GQ announces that the “Best Drinking City in America” is Chicago. Also on this date, downstate’s Excel announces that they’re scrapping their beer lineup (the Post-Dispatch calls it “rebooting” which seems nicer) and starting with a brand new line of core beers.

Sept. 18: Slapshot’s first bottled offering, Gourd Damn, is released into the world.

Sept. 22: Is a restaurant next for Maria’s Community Bar? DNAInfo says yep, they’re planning to expand and add a new dining option to Bridgeport.

Sept. 24: We take a first look at the cool new comic/beer mashup from Arcade Brewing, called Festus Rotgut. Also on this date: DryHop introduces the term “crowler” to Chicago.

Arcade Festus Rotgut Label

Sept. 25: Goose Island announces that they’ll be closing their Wrigleyville brewpub at the end of the Cubs season.

Sept. 26: Pollyanna Brewing opens, and the readers of GQ name Fountainhead as “Best Chicago Bar.”

Sept. 27: Peoria Brewing Company opens.

Sept. 30: The New York Times publishes this beer crawl across Chicago, hunting for barrel-aged brews.

October

Oct. 1: We release our as-exhaustive-as-possible roundup of wet hopped and harvest ales from around the Midwest.

Oct. 2: Goose Island announces that construction has begun on a taproom at their Fulton Ave. brewery, and tours will start soon.

Oct. 3: We break the news that Schlafly will enter the Chicago market, just in time for pumpkin beer season.

Oct. 3-6: Coverage of our very first GABF can be found here, here and here. We had fun.

Oct. 6: Remember that thing we said earlier about a Shelton Bros. distro return to the area? Well finally, their beers return to Chicago.

Oct. 7: We learn that Ravenswood’s Band of Bohemia is still moving forward, per this report from DNAInfo.

Oct. 10: The Strange Brews podcast from WBEZ takes 1st place in this year’s North American Guild of Beer Writers (NAGBW) writing awards. 

Oct. 11: Beer Hoptacular returns to the Aragon, and Chicago Magazine makes it look pretty cool.

Oct. 13: This neat lookin’ photo essay at Half Acre posts to BrewBokeh.

Oct. 16: Julia Thiel drinks all these pumpkin beers, including locals from Spiteful, Slapshot and the new-to-Chicago Schlafly, all for you.

Oct. 17: This Mouth by Southwest piece details some Two Brothers plans to expand into Arizona.

Oct. 19: Looks like Naperville is getting a Granite City Food & Brewery outpost.

Oct. 20: Alderman Pawar sounds off in favor of the proposed Begyle taproom.

Oct. 21: We report on the Munster Ale Fest. It was a good time. Also, Aleman got their Federal Brewers Notice.

munsteralefest

Oct. 27: Jess at GirlsLikeBeerToo pays a visit to the Vice District taproom.

Oct. 28: Marketwatch tells us that Chicago and Aurora have a ridiculously expensive average price for beer. Also, Paste Magazine says Spiteful is the country’s “angriest beer company out there.”

Oct. 29: The Harbor County News reports on the plans for Haymarket to open a production facility in Southwest Michigan, namely at an old State Police building.

Oct. 30: After wondering for months what the heck happened to Blue Nose Brewing, the ICBG posts this shot, letting us know they still exist and may even be close to opening.

November

Nov. 1: The Big Hurt Brewhouse opens.

Nov. 10: The Tribune breaks the news about the new brewpub member of the DryHop family, Corridor Brewing on Southport.

Nov. 12: Want a growler? Over at TOC, we give you the rundown on who/what/how much/will they fill other growlers.

Nov. 14: Moody Tongue’s $120 Black Truffle Pilsner sign ups open today.

November 14-15: FoBAB, at the new UIC location, takes place. We have opinions about it here and here.

FoBAB 2014

Nov. 19: How did a couple of homebrewers go all the way to Springfield and get the laws about homebrew festivals changed in Illinois? Our conversation with them is here, so you should read it and find out.

Also on this date, Crain’s brings us this report about the plans for the new Exit Strategy Brewing.

Nov. 20: DNAInfo’s Mark Konkol says that Spiteful’s absinthe-barrel-aged saison with cherries might be the city’s weirdest beer. Also: Breakroom’s brewhouse is in!

Nov. 21: Sketchbook Brewing opens in Evanston.

Nov. 23: Okay, so it’s not specifically Chicago beer news, but Budweiser ditching the Clydesdales seems like a large enough deal to include here. They’re pretty iconic. Like, if this was around in the 90s we’d include Spuds McKenzie being retired.

Nov. 27: USAToday (the McPaper) profiles Nick Floyd.

Nov. 28: Black Friday. We have a few details on the release here, BCBS tasting notes from the Reader and the Trib are there, and coverage spanned from CNBC to CBS to everywhere in between. BTW, it’s not “a cult.”

Nov. 29: Archer Liquors avoided the whalehunters and resellers with their Wooden Nickel day BCBS release. More here.

December

Dec. 9: Hop Review has a nice chat with Spiteful’s Calvin Frederickson, where they discuss a newer (bigger) production facility for the brewery, among other things.

Dec. 10: DNAInfo brings us news of a proposed ciderhouse and brewpub in Old Irving called Eris. Speedbumps are expected. Also, Arcade’s first “sixpack story” of Festus Rotgut releases today, which gets tons of press all over the place because it’s super cool.

 Dec. 12: Finch’s has a new riverside brewery in the planning stages, and the Reader posts a big feature on Solemn Oath’s John Barley in their People Issue.

Dec. 16: Ale Syndicate announces that brewer Brian Shimkos is moving on; new brewer Byron Moore joins the team.

Dec. 17: Baderbrau announces a new South Loop brewing facility is also in planning. Also on this date, Sweetwater Brewing announces it’s on its way to Chicago.

Dec. 18: Over at Thrillist, we put together this compelling list of why Chicago is America’s best beer town.

Dec. 20: Happy first birthday, Temperance taproom.

chi best thrillist


Like we said…it’s been a busy year. Did we miss anything? Let us know, and we’ll add it in.

Here’s to 2015!

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About the Author

Karl

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Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, comes out in late 2017, and if you’re buying, he’s likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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