Guys Drinking Beer began innocently enough; three guys sitting around a handful of cellared beers, tasting glasses being poured, when one of us wondered aloud – “maybe we should start a craft beer website?”
One hosting package, one URL, a bunch of potential site designs and a whole bunch of potential site names later (after a flurry of emails where one of us broke down and said “why don’t we just call the damn thing ‘we’re guys and we like to drink beer and this is us drinking beer and writing about it dot-com‘”) GuysDrinkingBeer.com was born.
That was the spring of 2010. Our little corner of the web grew from a simple beginning; if we drank it, then we wrote about it. Hard to find beers, seasonal beers, beers sitting in the back of our fridge – you name it and we probably reviewed it.
After a year of relentless, and sometimes tiring, beer reviews we shifted – somewhat by choice and somewhat by accident – into advocacy. 2011 was the year of “Save The Craft,” the grassroots movement we launched from the ground up to support self-distribution rights for small craft brewers in Illinois.
The months-long campaign included almost daily coverage of the legislation’s movement in Springfield, outreach to fellow beer bloggers and a full-on educational blitz about the issue. The end result was the passage of a compromise (read not perfect) piece of legislation that kept self-distribution rights intact in Illinois and extended the right to small brewers in other states.
In 2012 we decided to expand on the political coverage that began with “Save The Craft” to include legislation impacting the beverage industry in the state, litigation involving brewers and distributors and the bitter dispute before the Illinois Liquor Control Commission over whether Anheuser-Busch could hold a minority interest in an Illinois distributor.
We also teamed up with one of our favorite craft beer bars, The Green Lady, to sponsor our first Chicago Craft Beer Week Event in May of 2012. “South of 80,” highlighted established and up-and-coming craft brewers south of Chicago, or, south of Interstate 80.
We handled everything from scouting out and securing the breweries to take part, marketing prior to the event and the logistics to get each breweries beers from point A to point B using a chain of distributors.
On the heels of “South of 80″ Six Row Brewing inked a distribution deal with the distributor we worked with for the event, Chicago Beverage Systems, making its beers available in Chicago full-time by the end of the year.
In 2103, we rode the coattails of a successful first South of 80 to a successful second South of 80 — if we do say so ourselves. The event was again held at The Green Lady with tap handles from Rolling Meadows, Six Row, Urban Chestnut (St. Louis, MO), Scratch Brewing (Ava, IL) and Destihl (Normal, IL) gracing the wall behind the bar.
Much like the year prior, another South of 80 participant signed on with CBS to distribute its beers in Chicago after the event. This time it was Destihl.
The third iteration of South of 80 saw Destihl, Rolling Meadows and Urban Chestnut return with newcomers 4 Hands, Little Egypt and Triptych added to the mix. The third annual South of 80 was our most diverse with 21-beers in total on tap and 15-styles represented.
Over the last four-plus years we’ve tinkered with the layout and our news coverage at times, trying our hand at being a news aggregate for a bit, before falling back on what we do best; covering Illinois beer politics. You’d be hard pressed to find anyplace on the web, or in print or broadcast for that matter, with more thorough coverage of the beverage industry from inside the industry. From distributor changes to legislation introduced in Springfield, we draw from years of experience and a wealth of contacts to cover it for you.
We still review beers but have toned down the frequency with a focus on quality over quantity. In fact, we have limited our reviews almost exclusively to new products entering the Illinois market and cellared beers from our personal cellar.
Click around to learn more about our writers:
And while he’s had to step away from writing about beer from Chicago and beyond as well as his love for eccentric ciders, his voice lives on in our archives.
Andrew hopes brewers find this site to be an homage to their work and what they do every day and that maybe it will inspire more people to follow in their footsteps; to take a risk and brew something incredible.
Ben has helped shepherd both Karl and Ryan through a bunch of different beer styles and first introduced them to Founders KBS — back when it was called Kentucky Breakfast Stout.
After spending his formative beer-drinking years consuming all the Busch Light 12-packs the Midwest had to offer, it was a few vanilla ales from the long-closed Prairie Rock Brewing Company along with a number of Oberon pints (as introduced to him by his Michigander wife) that Karl on the path of craft beer discovery.
Since then he’s written for multiple beer-related outlets, including penning the August 2013 Chicago Magazine cover story about the area’s craft beer renaissance, as well as a regular column for Time Out Chicago.
Karl, who runs our Twitter page, prefers a good porter over just about anything.
What started out as a general desire to tell people what beer we were drinking has morphed into a labor of love — one part cellaring experiments, one part news coverage and one part advocacy and event planning/marketing.
My role here at GuysDrinkingBeer runs the gamut. Sometimes I act as the editor, fact-checking posts and ensuring the content fits with our overall goals, and sometimes I’m the one being edited. Other times I’m the content manager, piecing together narratives and photos from our writers. I also serve as the primary manager of our Facebook community.
I’ll be the first to admit that some of our material — like much of the coverage of the City Beverage case before the Illinois Liquor Control Commission — is geared towards a niche audience. But in reality, it’s cases like that and others that could follow that may very well shape the beer industry moving forward.
Much of what we cover here, particularly our foray into beverage industry politics, falls within my wheelhouse as a political reporter.
Growing up in Detroit and Southwest Michigan, Steve spent his younger years oblivious to the craft beer scene slowly emerging around him. Only after accepting a newspaper reporting job in Northwest Indiana and checking out a small local festival – Dark Lord Day (yes, it was once small) – did he realize all he’d been missing.
Since then, he’s developed an affinity for Belgians and quirky beers with character. Though he works in Chicago, he has now lived in Indiana just as long as he lived in Michigan. The Hoosier State’s craft beer scene is slowly emerging around him and he won’t miss it this time.