“South of 80″ Wrapup

And a good time was had by all.

We weren’t exactly sure what we were in for when we started setting this thing up months ago, but it culminated last night in an evening of great beer and a great crowd at a great place.

Flights were pouring pretty much nonstop as a healthy mix of note-taking beer guys & gals dove headfirst into a previously undiscovered region of beer-making, while other downstate expats got reacquainted with some beer from home that maybe they hadn’t had since the last time they themselves had traveled…south of 80.

Personally, we were surprised at the relatively mellow spice on the Jalapeño Ale from Bent River in comparison to the one we sampled before the event (which, to be honest, probably made it infinitely more palatable to everyone who doesn’t adore spicy beers the way we do). Joel Krogman and Steve Cogdill made the trek from Moline and spent most of the night at the corner of the bar tossing out Bent River t-shirts to those ordering a pint of their beer.

And how about those cask beers? Boy, did they impress once they warmed up. All that vanilla in Six Row’s porter really popped in a way we hoped would happen but couldn’t be sure of until it actually emerged. We also saw a lot of people trying the Double IPA and dry-hopped Double IPA on cask, side-by-side, with the cask version seemingly being a favorite of the two more-often-than-not.

It was nice to see one of Six Row’s owners, Mike Rami, make the trip up from St. Louis. He was joined by Six Row’s social media manager Tim McGinnis and plenty of family and friends, many of whom call the Chicago area home.

In a bar with a tap list full of big beers with some big ABV’s, Big Muddy’s Muddy Monster and Dunkeldog seemed to find a nice niche with those who were looking to session their way through the evening.

But as we understand, it was Rolling Meadows’ Lincoln’s Lager that won the day, presumably much to the delight of brewer Chris Trudeau who was found camped out at the bar delighting people with the cones of hops, fresh from the family farm, he invited people to get a good whiff of.

All in all, I think we all had a pretty good time.

The lions share of the thanks and praise should of course be directed to the brewers who participated, but also the distributors who helped us work within the boundaries of the three-tier system to pull this off. Naturally, Melani at The Green Lady deserves a hearty round of applause as well (go back today and buy her a pint of the jalapeño beer, no really, she looooooves the stuff) and our very own Ryan for playing ringmaster and wrangling all these things together over countless phone calls, emails, brewery visits and more.

And finally, we very much appreciate everyone who took the time to come out on an extremely busy night of Chicago Craft Beer Week. You all had many options to choose from; we’re honored you opted to spend some time with us.

See you next year?

“SOUTH OF 80” SNAPSHOT: Rolling Meadows Brewery

In the days leading up to our “South of 80″ event at The Green Lady, we wanted to make you a little more familiar with the attending breweries, most of which are being made available in Chicago for the first time. Today we take a look at Springfield’s Rolling Meadows Brewery.

There’s something uniquely Midwestern about the beers created by Rolling Meadows, right down to the minimalist and even Prairie-style labels on their bottles. Another brewery that we were made aware of during the “Save the Craft” campaign, owner and head brewer Chris Trudeau testified before the House Executive Committee on SB 754.

After the bill was signed in to law, Rolling Meadows became the first Illinois brewery to apply for a Craft Brewer’s license and currently self-distributes their beer to around 25 different Springfield-area accounts. Per our downstate sources, we understand that as soon as kegs of Rolling Meadows beer makes it onto a tap handle, it doesn’t last long at all.

Rolling Meadows will be offering the following, for the first time ever in Chicago, at “South of 80:” Continue reading

“SOUTH OF 80” SNAPSHOT: Big Muddy Brewing

In the days leading up to our “South of 80″ event at The Green Lady, we wanted to make you a little more familiar with the attending breweries, most of which are being made available in Chicago for the first time. Today we take a look at Murphysboro’s Big Muddy Brewing:

The beers being created by Chuck Stuhrenberg first came on our radar as we learned more about self-distribution rights in Illinois and the breweries that wouldn’t exist without it. One of those is Murphysboro’s Big Muddy Brewing.

The outspoken Stuhrenberg was in regular contact with us during the Save The Craft campaign and often attended meetings involving high-powered lobbyists during the self-distro battle. His tenacity and stable of flavorful, low ABV beers made Big Muddy the poster-child in the fight for the small brewers right to self-distribute. Because that is exactly what Chuck is. His brewery was pumping out about 500 barrels of beer and year, and that beer was being delivered to bars, restaurants and liquor stores in the back of Chuck’s pickup truck.

Now, Chuck works with a distributor to get his brews in to the Chicago area. Often seen in bombers but rarely on tap, we’re excited to offer the following: Continue reading

“SOUTH OF 80” SNAPSHOT: Bent River Brewing Company

In the days leading up to our “South of 80″ event at The Green Lady, we wanted to make you a little more familiar with the attending breweries, most of which are being made available in Chicago for the first time. Today we take a look at Moline’s Bent River Brewing Company.

Named for the only section of the Mississippi River to run east to west, Bent River has been serving beer to the Quad Cities area (which consists of five cities in close proximity; Davenport, IA, Bettendorf, IA, Rock Island, IL, Moline, IL and East Moline, IL) from their historic-district located brewpub since 1997. Brewer Steve Radcliff’s offerings have earned medals at the Brew Ha Ha event in Davenport, IA and the Great American Brew Fest, but despite that they remain mostly off the radar for Chicagoans.

We hope to help change that. Bent River brews have never been north of I-80…until Tuesday, that is.

Available, on tap, at the event: Continue reading

“SOUTH OF 80” SNAPSHOT: Six Row Brewing Company

In the days leading up to our “South of 80″ event at The Green Lady, we wanted to make you a little more familiar with the attending breweries, most of which are being made available in Chicago for the first time. Today we take a look at St. Louis’ Six Row Brewing Company.

Part of the growing craft beer scene in St. Louis, Six Row opened in October last year and has quickly grown to be one of the most prominent brewpubs in town, with local food magazine Sauce even calling their whiskey barrel porter an instant “gotta-have-it beer.” We managed to get our hands on that whiskey-barrel porter and can back up Sauce’s big talk; it’s very smooth and chalked full of whiskey flavor while clocking in at an easy drinking 6% ABV.

Named for both the six people involved in created the brewery and the sixrow style of malt used in brewing, Six Row distributes around St. Louis and in the Metro East area of Illinois, and can even be found as far north as Effingham – but for one night only, the beer, the brewer and one of the owners will be north of 80.

We’ve sampled the beers to be offered from tap pours and bombers, but even we haven’t had any of these offerings on cask – and that’s exactly how they’ll be poured on Tuesday. These beers will be a rare treat for any beer lover, even for those who may be familiar with their wares downstate. We’re looking forward to seeing what the following will be like: Continue reading

ANNOUNCING: The “South of 80″ Taplist

In advance of the “South of 80″ event organized by The Green Lady and GuysDrinkingBeer.com for Chicago Craft Beer Week, we are excited to announce the beers that will be available from the 4 participating downstate breweries – Big Muddy, Rolling Meadows, Bent River and Six Row.

Representatives from The Green Lady and GuysDrinkingBeer.com are proud to say that they’ve sampled nearly all of the following, and look forward to making many of them available to Chicago for the first time, including specialty beers and cask options. Look for brewery “snapshots” to follow on GuysDrinkingBeer.com with more info on the breweries and beers to be poured.

Tickets are not required for this event, and the following beers scheduled to appear will be available in flights or full pours. Continue reading

ANNOUNCING: The Green Lady and GuysDrinkingBeer.com Team Up For a Unique Craft Beer Week Event: “South of 80″


For months, the respective ladies and gentlemen behind the new craft beer bar The Green Lady and noted Chicago-based beer blog GuysDrinkingBeer.com have been working behind the scenes to put together a unique event full of beers from an underappreciated area of the Midwest: Downstate Illinois and the St. Louis area.

Now, it can finally be announced:

Join us Tuesday, May 22 starting at 7 p.m. for “South of 80: A Celebration of Downstate Brewers.” Its going to be a night of incredible beers rarely available in the metro area, with many of these unique beers available for the very first time anywhere in Chicago!

Scheduled To Participate: Continue reading