‘Twas one year ago tomorrow that Half Acre threw open their doors and welcomed the world to their tap room.
Beer labels approved so far this month from Bent River, Church Street, Finch’s, Half Acre, JT Walker’s, Lake Bluff, Metropolitan, Off Color, Only Child, Revolution and Two Brothers. Continue reading
5/31 – The bill has cleared both the Illinois House Executive Committee and the full House and now heads to the governor’s desk.
5/30 – The legislation has passed the Illinois Senate, 57-0, and now moves to the IL House.
Via Ryan, our man in Springfield, comes this news:
HB 1573 has been amended, to double the production cap for craft brewers from 465,000 gallons to 930,000 gallons, or in brewer-speak, 15,000 barrels to 30,000 barrels.
The amended bill
is scheduled to go before passed out of the Senate Executive Committee late Wednesday afternoon on a unanimous vote.
This is far shy of the Illinois Craft Brewer Guild’s proposed 200,000 barrel limit, but puts it roughly on par with last year’s “Three Floyds Amendment” in Indiana.
The bill likely will have an immediate impact on at least three breweries; Destihl, Half Acre and Revolution Brewing.
We spend a lot of time talking about malts, and hops, and yeast and pretty much everything else that goes into making a beer, but one thing we don’t spend a lot of time considering is the water that makes up the majority of the brew.
Maybe this is because of the huge body of water directly to our east, maybe it’s because we have come to think of fresh water as a given; something that simply “is.” Sadly, fresh water is not necessarily as much of a “given” as perhaps it should be.
That’s why some brewers from Chicago and the suburbs are joining other brewers from around the Midwest in support of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) “Brewers For Clean Water” campaign, which advocates for tougher pollution rules for wetlands and streams.
The NRDC rounded up nearly two dozen breweries from across the country, including eight from the Chicago area, to support the cause. The Chicago area breweries include DryHop Brewers, Finch’s, Flossmoor Station, Goose Island, Half Acre, Revolution, Temperance Beer Company and Wild Onion.
We reached out to a few of the folks around town to ask why they’re taking part. DryHop Brewers owner Greg Shuff tells us that the campaign isn’t just about beer.
“By joining the ‘Brewers for Clean Water’ campaign, we’re able to expand the scope of our investment in our mission to improve people’s lives. Now we’re a part of improving people’s drinking water, improving water for farmers and ultimately we can make better craft beer here at DryHop,” said Shuff.
Revolution Brewing’s owner Josh Deth, whose brewery pulls water from the Great Lakes to brew its beer, sees protecting the nation’s waterways a no-brainer. ”We joined with NRDC because we care deeply about water quality, in particular the Great Lakes just outside our doorstep,” Deth told us.
Other Midwest breweries include: Arbor Brewing, Arcadia, Brewery Vivant, Cranker’s, Founders, Harmony Brewing Company, Right Brain and Short’s in Michigan and Central Waters and Lakefront in Wisconsin.
You can see more of the breweries stories in support of the campaign HERE.
If you’d like to contribute to the cause (and drink beer simultaneously), Revolution will be among the breweries pouring at an Earth Day event Monday April 22nd at Galleria Marchetti in support of “Brewers for Clean Water.” Tickets are $50 (half of that is tax-deductible) and can be purchased HERE.
Chicago, IL – AlphaBeersm is the only event that teaches craft beer lovers about 26 beers – one for every letter of the alphabet. It’s a three-hour tour of hops and barley and lagers and ales, and everything is crafted by masters who are passionate about their beers.
The 10th AlphaBeer takes place on April 20 from 12p.m. to 3p.m. at John Barleycorn River North (149 W. Kinzie St.) in downtown Chicago. At this very special event breweries from the Great Lakes area, including Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and of course, Chicagoland, are being highlighted.
Several special guests will be joining the event to talk about their beers, including representatives from 5 Rabbit, Brewery Vivant, Founders, Goose Island Brewing Company, and New Holland. Chef Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead is also scheduled to talk about Loudmouth Soup, the beer he produced in collaboration with Greenbush. Other guests on the roster are Chicago Beer Geeks and the Chicago chapter of Barley’s Angels, a beer club for women.
Attendees won’t just be tasting the beers. Chef Jill Houk is returning as the emcee, or AlphaBeerMaster, for the fourth time. She’ll educate guests on the ABV, the IBU and what to eat with each brew. Notes on each beer are broadcast on multiple screens so everyone can learn their A-BEER-C’s.
“On tap” for the event are the following beers (subject to change based on availability):
- A All Day IPA, Founders
- B Breakfast Stout, Founders
- C Curmudgeon, Founders
- D Dynamo, Metropolitan
- E Eugene Porter, Revolution
- F Farmhand Ale, Brewery Vivant
- G Goose Island, Pepe Nero
- H Huitzi, 5 Rabbit
- I Iron Works Alt, Metropolitan
- J Jinx Proof, Three Floyds
- K Kalamazoo Stout, Bell’s
- L Loudmouth Soup, Greenbush & Cleetus Friedman
- M Monkey King, New Holland
- N New Grist, Lakefront
- O Over Ale, Half Acre
- P Paleooza, New Holland
- Q Coming Soon
- R Revolution, A Little Crazy
- S Sky High Rye, Arcadia
- T Tiny Dancer, Goose Island
- U Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Boulevard
- V Hammer, Bullet, Vice; Half Acre
- W White Chapel Wit, Haymarket
- X “X” Fidy, Oskar Blues
- Y GFY Stout, Spiteful Brewing
- Z Zaison, Brewery Vivant
Tickets are $45 to try 26 different craft beers. A limited number of tables of 6 are available for only $225. Tickets can be purchased at http://thelocaltourist.com/
What: AlphaBeer X
When: April 20, 2013, 12p.m. to 3p.m.
Where: John Barleycorn River North, 149 W Kinzie St., Chicago, IL
AlphaBeer is hosted by Theresa Carter, founder and publisher of The Local Tourist, LLC. The first event was in 2009 and it was inspired Ms. Carter’s mother, who each week would drink a beer from a different letter of the alphabet with fellow commuters on their Friday night train ride. Since then AlphaBeer has appeared at multiple venues in Chicago and has featured over 200 different beers.
About The Local Tourist
TheLocalTourist.com, or TLT as it’s affectionately known, is Chicago’s one-stop-spot for things to do, events, restaurants, nightlife, news, reviews, photos and more. It’s a business directory, an events calendar, and a multi-contributor magazine filled with news from the TLTeam of city experts. Its mission is to help locals experience the fascination of a tourist, and tourists feel the comfort of the local.
(Editor’s Note: We receive a ton of beer-related press releases, but we’ll only bring you the ones we think are relevant, fun, interesting, cool, newsworthy, or offer something we’d be interested in checking out ourselves. Rest assured we’re not just posting these to churn out content – take this as a tacit endorsement from the staff of GDB.)
Beer labels, this month, from 4 Paws, Ale Syndicate, Atlas, Begyle, Church Street, Flesk Brewing, Flossmoor Station, Goose Island, Half Acre, Lake Effect/DryHop Brewers and Two Brothers.
Today dawns a new day for the Fountainhead crew, one seeing new Beer Director Mike Maloney take the helm to steer the place into further uncharted beer waters. (I don’t know why I went all nautical here, but it just seems to fit.)
They’ve arranged for nearly a dozen excellent Half Acre brews to pour to celebrate, including the awesome Akari Shogun (first time we’ve seen this one in a while) and a firkin of coffee-infused Over Ale. This is also a good time to state that the more Alpenglow you drink this season, the better.
Also just announced in the Fountainhead Newsletter: The scheduled open date (weather permitting) for Fountainhead’s awesome Rooftop Patio is March 16. Beer Geek Spring officially arrives that day.
Cheers, Mike. Looking forward to seeing what you can do with the place.
Event starts at 7 p.m., Fountainhead’s info follows.
As many of you all know our incoming Beer Director Mike Maloney will be starting March 1st! We are beyond excited to begin this next phase of Fountainhead! Our great friends at Half Acre are coming in to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Mike, as it were! Please come out and join us in welcoming Mike!
On Tap for the Night!
- Akari Shogun – 5.5% ABV – American Wheat Ale – A ridable ale hosting some wheatey nuts & Motueka hop bolts.
- Alpenglow – 5% ABV – Winter Dark Ale – Roast punch and hop slice make this black ale your solution to the final push through winter.
- Big Hugs – 10% ABV – Imperial Stout w/ Coffee – Chock full of coffee and tender embrace, a thug.
- Bones + All – 5.4% ABV – Belgian Brown Ale – Cloves in the aroma,
- Canyon of Heroes – 6.1% ABV – India Pale Ale – Screams at your senses and pushes into you with the grace of a blade. Citrus punch aroma.
- Coffee Supreme Over Ale (firkin) – 6% ABV – Ale w/ coffee – Our genreless brown ale, dipped with “A Love Supreme” coffee from our friends at Dark Matter.
- Dripping – 5% ABV – Saison – Slammable saison, reminiscent of warmer times.
- Gossamer – 4.2% ABV – Golden Ale – Lightly hopped golden ale.
- The Hammer, The Bullet, The Vise – 6% ABV – English Brown Ale – All German malts, all English hops,
- Haptera – 7% ABV – Spiced Ale – We combined toasted rice and Szechuan peppercorns to craft a delectable, spicy golden ale.
- Van Horn – 5.8% ABV – English Bitter Ale – Copper in color, pleasant & balanced in taste.
We talk a lot about beer politics here, but we don’t seem to discuss the politicians who influence our beer very much. I’ve been interested in why Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, North Center and the 47th ward seems to be the destination for new breweries, tap rooms, and distilleries like Begyle, Spiteful, Letherbee, the Half Acre taproom, stores like Bottles & Cans, upstarts along the Ravenswood line like 4Paws, as well as (comparatively) longtime residents like Metropolitan and Koval.
We’ve spoken to our alderman, Ameya Pawar, in the past for Center Square Journal. But it was this tweet, asking Three Floyd’s to give a shot to the neighborhood, that made us think that he’d be interesting to talk to about beer. (We’ll get to that Twitter outreach later.)
What role does politics, and an Aldermanic office, play in opening a brewery? Or a tap room? Or a beer store? We wanted to ask.
So we did.
GDB: We’ve got a lot to discuss, but I’m quite interested right off the bat about what you guys had to do to get Half Acre into their tap room. You helped them get on of the first tavern licenses in the city in a while, right? Tell me about what went into that process.
Ameya Pawar: So, a lot of areas in the city have liquor license moratoriums, and they vary based on the kind of license. On some blocks, you might find a moratorium on package goods, or taverns, or sometimes both. And we had a lot of that in the ward.
One thing that we’re trying to do as we organize block clubs and community organizations and start to work with them on zoning decisions, we’re also working with them on some of the policies related to liquor licenses. There are instances where we’ve heard from restauranteurs or bar owners, where they’re saying we want to open an upscale establishment but it feels like the hoops that we have to jump through to get a moratorium lifted is just too much.
On the other hand, those protections have also limited certain types of establishments to enter the ward. What I’m trying to do is make sure we don’t go with a one size fits all policy for the entire ward, but actually work with the community and work with them hand in hand as we make those kinds of decisions. So with Half Acre, we worked with the North Center Neighborhood Association and with the guys from Half Acre to make sure that people understood what the plan was, what they wanted to do, what their concept was, and I think the end result is great. People absolutely love the tap room.
I think it’s a win, win for everybody.
GDB: That leads me to another question. Over the past decade or so, the neighborhood tavern culture has really been diminished in this city. Could something like that be on the way back, in your opinion, based on the experience with the tap room?
AP: It just depends on perspective. I know for a long time the neighborhood taverns were looked down on, and the sort of “corporate style” establishments were in favor. I don’t take sides, but one thing that I do think is important is some of the neighborhood taverns. We’ve got G&L Fire Escape [in the ward], [which] is they’re really supported by the community. People like them. So again, I try not to look at this as [favoring] one type of establishment over the other. We try to make sure we look at each individual establishment’s owner, what they’re proposing, what their concept is, go to the community and get their feedback, and make sure they’re a good fit.
Centro, for example, was an establishment that we shut down 6 months after getting into office. They were supposed to be a restaurant/bar, when in fact what they were a nightclub that happened to serve food. That wasn’t a fit for our community – they weren’t good neighbors. They were actually terrible neighbors. And we worked with he community to shut them down. That was the fastest closer that the city is aware of – six months, from start to finish.
My point here is that we want to make sure that everything aligns. That the owners and their concept is a good fit with what the community is looking to support. If you get off on the wrong foot, everyone’s looking at each other and staring each other down looking for problems. That’s why I think community engagement on the front end with the prospective restaurateur or bar owner is important.
GDB: You’ve been in office for a while now, and it seems like the area is opening a new brewery every 4 months or so at this point. What is it, do you think, about the ward, or the neighborhood, or about even the Ravenswood Corridor in specific, that attracts people?
AP: You’ve got building stock that works. You’ve got one of the busiest Metra stops on the entire line. We’ve got a lot of Brown Line stops. This is a very transit friendly ward. I think that makes for an eclectic mix of folks that live in the area and I think that is great for people who are looking to buy craft beer. It kinda matches up really well.
One of the things that we’ve been trying to do is to go out and try to be proactive. If someone wants to open a brewery and we work with them to make sure they’re out there in the community getting to know the community and make sure it’s a good fit – Begyle, for example.
I think initially when they presented their concept, people were really nervous about having a beer production facility near their homes. By the end of the community meeting, as people get to know each other, people were really excited about the prospect of having a brewery on their block. I think it worked out really well. I think that’s why making sure you have your pulse on the community [is important] but also making sure that the entrepreneurs that are coming to your office – that you’re linking them to the community on the front end. Because what you don’t want to do is set up a situation where they’re separate. We try to avoid that to the extent that we can, so people felt like they had a role.
Ultimately it works out for the business, because people want to be a good neighbor to their business, and actually spend their dollars there. I think Begyle, they had a good experience working with the community and our office. So did Half Acre. And we’ve made it clear to folks around the city that Lawrence Avenue – if you’re interested, and you’ve got a great concept, come talk to us. I think we’ve tried to make sure we’re out there, we’re aggressive and recruiting the right kind of businesses.
GDB: When you came into office, I’m assuming that brewery law was probably not your forte. Was there a learning curve for what your office could do to help facilitate brewers come to the ward? And what the office of Alderman can do to move that forward?
AP: The big thing that we’ve discovered is that…well, normally there’s a zoning change that’s involved. One thing we did when we got in is we created a zoning advisory committee. What’s good about the committee is that everyone lives in the ward, and a lot of people that have land use expertise and zoning expertise and practice in this area of City Hall also happen to live in the ward. So they know the ins and outs, they know the tricks of the trade, and they also know what to look for if someone is putting forward a proposal that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So we’ve got these folks that are advising my decisions, informing my decisions.
So when we have people come in that want to put forward a concept, they vet it, I vet it, and then we have a conversation with the business owner to make sure that it’s going to work for our community. Again, it goes back to Half Acre, right? So, a tap room sounds great. You’ve got Bad Apple, you’ve got Gannon’s in the area.
But a tap room means you need a tavern license, so people automatically feel like, “hey, it’s a new tavern, it’s totally unregulated, what are we going to do here.” But we got the guys from Half Acre to go and meet with the North Center Neighborhood Association at a community meeting. And a lot of people already loved Half Acre. Once they heard about the concept, everyone was all on board. And then everything went smoothly. And if you go there now on any given night, I’m sure you know this – they’re packed. Every night that they’re open.
So, I think one thing that we’ve learned, is the policy and the zoning piece – some of that just, you learn that over time. You know the right designation for the right amount of space for the right operation – you can learn all that stuff. But getting to understand what the community is willing to support and what they’d like to see – that’s the important piece.
AP: Yeah, I sent them an email! I called their offices, and I said, “I will personally give you a tour. Why don’t you come on down.”
GDB: Was there any follow-up on their end from that? Or was it more done in the spirit of simple invitation?
AP: I just wanted to extend a welcome, and say if you’re interested, we’d love to have you. But there’s some really cool concepts that are being thrown around in the ward. We’re working with a couple businesses that want to open here along Lawrence Avenue, and in other areas of the ward, and they’re still really conceptual, and the owner doesn’t want to talk about it publicly, so I can’t say anything about it just yet. But there’s some really cool stuff, and a lot of really cool ideas being thrown around, so I’m really excited about it.
I mean, Andersonville is great. Lincoln Square is great. And now Lawrence Avenue can connect those two neighborhoods. And I think the Mariano’s, and the LA Fitness, and the new housing that’s going in in the Sears lot, coupled with the Streetscape, it’s creating a lot of interest in the open spaces along Lawrence Avenue. I think you’ll see some really cool stuff happening in the next 2-4 years on Lawrence.
[At this point the Alderman confirms that we are talking about the spaces previously mentioned in this post, referencing the property at Lawrence and Wolcott, and the old Chicago Ale House space. All attempts to ferret out any other additional information were met only with this:]
AP: It’ll be worth the wait, once you find out.
GDB: I’m not sure if you’re much of a craft beer drinker, but do you have any personal favorites?
AP: I am, I love craft beer. What’s cool about craft beer, is that…I remember, there was a show, it was on like, HDNet. It was like, “The Beer Guy?” Do you remember that show?
GDB: Are you talking about the Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters?”
AP: No, this was like…7 years ago. I remember watching it, and they used to talk a lot about how beer, and craft beer, pairs better with food than most wines. And I remember watching this show, and thinking, “This is really cool.” And I just started from there. I love IPA’s. I’m always up for trying new IPA’s. Kristina Bozic has a great store in West Lakeview Liquors. I’ll stop in and grab a beer there, or Bad Apple, and even [Mrs. Murphy and Sons] Irish Bistro has a great selection.
GDB: Since you mention West Lakeview Liquors, that brings up Bottles and Cans. The owners seem to have been pretty pleased with the opening process [as mentioned in this Hail 2 the Ale piece] – was that another example of the community engagement process that you mentioned?
AP: Exactly. Exactly. Bottles & Cans, again – in a stretch of North Center, where there was a moratorium. You know, and I think people were kind of nervous about lifting that moratorium, and what that might mean. Again, we went on the front end, we went out to the community.
The owners went out, they actually live in the ward, they talk about what kind of stuff they want to carry – they’re not going to be carrying highboys of…I don’t know. Old English. They’re not carrying 40′s. They’re catering to a crowd that buys craft beers and high-end wines, and so people embraced that concept immediately. And they’re doing well.
Again, we get folks to come in and say, this is our pitch. This what we want to do in the ward. And we try to link them up with a community group in the area right away. I feel like people want to at least be a part of the conversation, and not feel like they go to a community meeting when it’s a done deal. Because at that point, you’re either saying “eh, I guess I’m okay with it” or “I absolutely hate it, and now I have to figure out what to do about it.”
If you’re in on the front end of it, you might say, “well, I’m not really sure about it, but I’m glad you’re coming to me on the front end, and we can talk through some of the issues.” And it’s not a done deal at that point. You can talk through the issues. Talk through hours. And not everyone is happy at the end of the day. But they feel like they were part of the process, and the process was honest.
Brewers and brewpubs who wish to contact Alderman Pawar and give us more awesome stuff to drink right in our neighborhood, visit Chicago47.org. This means you, Three Floyds.
Beer labels, to date, from 4 Paws, 5 Rabbit, Bent River, Big Muddy, Big Shoulders, Goose Island, Half Acre, Lake Effect, Revolution and Spiteful.
Chicago-based Pipeworks cleaned house in RateBeer’s annual awards claiming the title for the top brewer and top new brewer in Illinois, top new brewer in the entire U S of A AND top new brewer IN THE WORLD, among other accolades, according to RateBeer reviewers.
Three Floyds, meanwhile, placed in just about every style category possible.
Below is the full rundown of Illinois (area) winners:
Best Beer, Brewer & New Brewer By Subregion
Top Beer (IL):
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
Top Beer (IN):
Three Floyds Dreadnaught
Top Brewer (IL):
Top Brewer (IN):
Top New Brewer:
Best Beer Retailers By Subregion
Revolution Brewing, Chicago
Tribes Alehouse, Mokena
Brewer Tap Room:
Half Acre Beer Company & Tap Room, Chicago
West Lakeview Liquors, Chicago
Logli Supermarket, Rockford
The Local Option, Chicago
Top New Brewers In The World
Top 50 Beers of 2013
#8 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
#21 Three Floyds Dreadnaught
#22 Three Floyds Zombie Dust
#25 Three Floyds Dark Lord (Bourbon Vanilla Bean)
BEST BY STYLE 2013
English Style Pale & Bitter
#5 Pipeworks At Her Majesty’s Pleasure
#6 Three Floyds Dreadnaught
#4 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
#9 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout
#15 Three Floyds Dark Lord (Bourbon Vanilla Bean)
#13 Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine
Imperial, Baltic Porter
#12 Three Floyds Alpha Klaus
American Amber/Pale Ale
#1 Three Floyds Zombie Dust
#4 Three Floyds Alpha King
#10 Half Acre Daisy Cutter
#3 Three Floyds Gumballhead
#5 Flossmoor Station Barrel Aged Imperial Schwartz
#13 Three Floyds Das Kleine Schwarz Einhorn
2012′s Best New Releases
#33 Pipeworks Ninja vs Unicorn Double IPA
#38 Three Floyds Rye’d da Lightning
#41 Three Floyds Rye Da Tiger
#46 Goose Island Cherry Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout
Best Beer, Brewer & New Brewer By Country
New Brewery (United States)
Best Brewers In The World
#2 Three Floyds
#60 Goose Island
#66 Half Acre
#90 Revolution Brewing
(Editors note: Yes, we are well aware that Three Floyds is not in Illinois but their close proximity and quality of beer brewed most certainly warrants a mention.)