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 2013, 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.
The final (for now) South of 80 was in 2016, ending a fun-filled five-year run of introducing Chicago beer lovers to some of the best craft beer downstate Illinois and St. Louis have to offer.
Whether it was for "Save the Craft" or "South of 80" or our three Saveur "Best Blog" nominations, we've been quoted in the following online and print publications and broadcast news outlets over the years:
Over the last seven-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.