The 2017 Chicagoland Craft Beer Almanac

In Beer News, Chicago Craft Beer Almanac by Karl

Looks like another year has about come to an end. Let’s round up all the hazy, divisive beer news of 2017.

It was another busy year in the world of beer — not so much in openings and acquisitions (though those definitely happened) but moreso about a couple dividing lines being drawn. Lines between those who like hazy beers and who don’t, and those who are independent and not.

A major thread throughout 2017 was the ongoing battle between AB/InBev’s High End division and the Brewers Association — throughout the year we saw the two camps go back and forth about “independent craft,” labels, logos, buyouts and transparency. The whole battle reached its peak midway through the year, starting with the purchase of Wicked Weed on May 3 and bookended in late June with the release of a video featuring A-B High End brewers pushing back against the waves of bad buyout press trying to redefine wine and spirits as a common enemy.

That is encapsulated perhaps nowhere better than the now-famous quote from Wicked Weed’s Walt Dickinson:

“Meanwhile this armada of boats is coming across the Atlantic to crush us and we are shooting each other with, you know, muskets and slingshots.”

Following that, the rest of 2017 saw breweries taking sides over the BA’s decision to create a logo proclaiming who was “independent craft” and more importantly, who wasn’t.

The second major thing that happened throughout the year was watching the parade of all that sweet, sweet juicy dryhop haze as NEIPAs doubled down on their dominance, starting the year as more or less a large fad and ending the year as a fully established style of beer that had breweries like Sam Adams, Ballast Point and Sierra Nevada all announcing plans to roll out hazy brews for 2018.

As a style, it ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Beyond that on a more level, we saw a continuing parade of brewery openings, taproom expansions and the occasional closing to announce. It’s been another busy year — and it’s all recapped right here.

Before we dive in to 2017, why not relive past beer news with almanacs from previous years? We’ve been putting these together for five freaking years:

Here it comes: The 2017 Chicagoland Craft Beer Almanac.


January

January 3: BeerAdvocate announces their 38 best new breweries to open in 2016, which includes Dovetail and Cruz Blanca. 

January 7: On Tour Brewing opens, bringing the number of West Loop breweries within about 3 blocks of each other up to five.

January 8: The Goose Island Clybourn brewpub closes for five months of renovations on this date.

January 11: Pipeworks canned their two-millionth can of beer on this date.

January 12: The taproom at Haymarket Brewing’s Bridgman facility opens on this date.

January 13: News breaks that Finch Beer will be taking over the Like Minds facility in the West Loop, and Like Minds will move north to focus on their smaller Milwaukee brewhouse and taproom.

January 18: The distilled products from Maplewood including their Maris Otter whiskey are served for the first time at an event at Fountainhead.

January 24: Chicago Magazine publishes their Best Bars issue, and Maria’s is named the best bar in the city.

January 31: Beers from Half Acre are released in Wisconsin to store shelves and draft lines.

Photo credit: Lynn Millspaugh

February

February 2: The Une Annee/Hubbards Cave taproom opens in Niles. Also on this date, Pipeworks announces that Claudia Jendron will join their team to build their quality control processes, leaving her position as head brewer at Temperance.

February 9: The Werk Force team in Plainfield announces their plans to open a second location which would allow for a huge expansion. Also, Eater gives us our first peek in quite a while at the brewery/cider house to be known as Eris.

February 15: Beers from Revolution hit Indiana store shelves and tap lines.

February 27: All About Beer releases a list of what they think are 10 of the country’s Most Interesting Breweries, including downstate’s Scratch.

March

March 1: Craftbeer.com announces the winners of its Great American Beer Bar roundup, and Links Taproom is named tops in Illinois.

March 5: News breaks about plans for an expansion for Werk Force.

March 8: The Lake Zurich Courier reports that Black Belt Brewery has closed.

March 10: The city’s first pour-your-own-beer-bar opens in Wicker Park. Welcome, Tapster.

March 16: The Tribune publishes their list of the 15 Most Important Chicago Beers, ever.

March 17: The results of the USAToday Best New Brewery vote are released — Cruz Blanca and Dovetail were in the running for Best New Brewery, which didn’t go their way, but the Best Beer Bar in America is…Lisle’s Bavarian Inn.

March 18: Mikerphone’s long-awaited taproom and bottleshop opens to the public.

March 23: Beers from Burnt City hit store shelves in Michigan. Also, Begyle announces a move into cans, and plans emerge about adding a kitchen to Baderbrau’s taproom.

March 24: Pilsen’s ALULU brewpub opens on this date.

March 28: Dovetail Brewery announces plans to work with Artisinal Imports to expand their reach.

March 30: In an Instagram post from a restaurant in China, Moody Tongue announces their plans to go international and begin sending beers to the nation — including a special China-only brew.

March 31: We learn about the plans of Lake Bluff Brewing Company to renovate and expand their brewery, as well as work with contract brewer Octopi to get more beer into the world.

April

April 3: Eater delivers some early details about the new Marz facility. Also on this date: Brewbound writes up the ever-evolving Finch Beer Co., detailing plans to bring back beers after shuttering their original brewery four months prior. Also also on this date: The Trib announces their Readers Choice winner for Best Brewery is Half Acre.

April 5: The newly rebranded Gino’s East Brewpub reopens, after years of operating as a pizza place that also had a brewery.

April 9: The Alarmist Brewing taproom opens.

April 13: We publish our story giving the world the first look at the forthcoming Beer Temple Taproom and revamped bottle shop.

April 21: Beers from Goose Island land in Australia.

May

May 2: Kinlahger announces that they’re expanding their brewing capacity (by 4x) and also working with Great Central to get some more canned beers into the world.

May 3: News breaks that Ravinia Brewing is moving into the former BreakRoom/Finch Beer space on Montrose. Also on this date, Revolution announces a new partnership with the White Sox.

May 4: The news breaks that the other 50% of Lagunitas was sold to Heineken, meaning the global brewer owns the craft company outright. We post our big ol’ Growler Fill roundup full of info about 60+ breweries.

May 12: In advance of Dark Lord Day, we publish a nice big roundup of things to do before and after the big festival.

May 15: A stretch of Ravenswood Avenue is rechristened as Malt Row thanks to the prevalence of breweries and a distillery in the North Center area.

May 16: Flesk has their first brew day at their Barrington taproom location.

May 18: In conjunction with the ICBG, the city announces a series of Friday Night Flights events bringing beer fests to the streets of Chicago neighborhoods.

May 23: Pollyanna announces plans to open a second “brewery/fermentarium/taproom” in Rosell to expand their barrel program and mixed culture fermentations.

May 25: Berwyn’s Flapjack Brewery opens.

May 27: The huge DESTIHL expansion production facility opens to the public.

May 29: The Cook County Record reports that 5Rabbit is being sued over failure to repay a large loan.

June

June 2: News breaks that ZX Ventures — the venture capital arm of AnheuserBusch — acquired a minority stake in Ratebeer. The Beer Internet immediately freaks out.

June 4: The collaborative brewpub WarPigs, an effort pairing Three Floyds and Mikkeller, announce that they’ll be bringing three of their beers to Chicagoland, and they’ll be brewed at contract locations as FFF is fully at capacity.

June 5: Predating the eventual summer hype on Old Nation, we venture to the Michigan brewery to sample their haziest of hazy beers.

June 8: After beginning brewing and distributing in September 2016, the taproom for Pilsen’s Lo-Rez Brewing opens on this date.

June 11: The Tribune breaks the news on the many new Goose Island Bourbon County Stout variants we can expect to see at this year’s Black Friday release.

June 17: The new taproom and brewery from Flesk Brewing opens in Barrington.

June 22: The Chicago Reader released their Best of 2017 awards, which include Hopleaf as best beer bar, Half Acre as best local brewery and best local beer (Daisy Cutter), and Revolution for best brewpub and best brewery tour.

June 26: We publish our piece about Goose Island changing two little words on their new Bourbon County Stout labels, and what that means for the beer’s origin story.

June 27: The Brewers Association unveils their new “Certified Independent” labeling for breweries to add to their packaging as they see fit. Brewers from A-B’s High End along with the division’s president strike back almost immediately with an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune and the now-infamous video pushback as documented by the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

June 30: Not a great day — Maxwell Street’s Mad Mouse Brewery and Moxee Restaurant closes their doors as does longtime West Loop beer destination Jak’s Tap.

July

July 1: Logan Square’s pour-your-own-beer bar Navigator Taproom opens.

July 11: The new beer-focused bar and restaurant outside Wrigley Field known as Lucky Dorr opens on this date.

July 14: Willowbrook’s Black Horizon Brewing Company opens. We dug their habanero stout at this year’s Beer Under Glass.

July 15: Villa Park’s More Brewing opens.

July 21: Morgan Park’s new brewpub, Open Outcry Brewing Company opens. Eater has more here.

July 23: The Roscoe Village Bangers & Lace closes.

July 27: News breaks about Constellation’s plans to open a Ballast Point brewpub in Fulton Market. On the same day, the Goose Island brewpub in Toronto opens their doors.

July 28: Tinley Park’s Soundgrowler Brewing opens.

August

Aug. 3: The first brew day on the new system at Spiteful Brewing‘s new facility takes place. Also on this date: San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing is acquired by Sapporo.

Aug. 4: The first cans from Haymarket’s Michigan brewing facility hit Chicago store shelves this week.

Aug. 9: Wondering where your candidates for Governor stand on alcohol/beer legislation issues? We post our roundup of responses to questions we posed regarding growler fills, the three tier system and what local beers they prefer.

Aug. 10: News about a new line of 12oz. cans of barrel-aged beers rolls out from Revolution.

Aug. 14: The Daily Herald brings us the news that breweries can use 12oz. cans with pull-off lids thanks to the efforts of Noon Whistle Brewing.

Aug. 15: Brew Camp announces they’re closing their Damen Avenue storefront.

Aug. 17: The Tied House, a pub in Oak Park from the Wild Onion brewing group, opens.

Aug. 18: The West Loop taproom from Great Central opens on this date. Also: the first draft offerings from Saint Errant make themselves available to the public.

Aug. 22: The Beer Temple Taproom opens to the public on this date.

Aug. 25: The Wine Enthusiast publication lists One Off Hospitality beer director Adam Vavrick as one of their “40 under 40” tastemakers for the year. Also on this date: Lake Zurich’s Roaring Table Brewery opens.

Aug. 30: All About Beer announces they’re acquiring Draft Magazine.

Great Central Brewing Company Taproom

September

Sept. 6: After jumping up over $20 from last year, we ask the question: Why are tickets to this year’s FoBAB so expensive? Also on this date: Joliet’s MyGrain Brewing opens, and Draft Magazine features Mikerphone.

Sept. 9: The Balmoral Avenue Half Acre facility opens their taproom and beer garden to the public.

Sept. 13: We follow up our FoBAB ticket pricing story with a piece on why costs to contribute to the festival quadrupled for brewers as well.

Sept. 25: Goose Island announces that they’ve got a new president — who was at one time a bartender at the Clybourn brewpub — and that they’ve acquired the rest of Virtue Cider to take 100% ownership.

Sept. 28: Bookending the month with major taproom openings, Metropolitan Brewing‘s Rockwell Avenue taproom finally opens to the public. Also on this date: The taproom release of 350 Brewing’s special Bill Murray beer.

Sept. 29: DNA Info reports that the Logan Square Beer Fest was abruptly cancelled.

Sept. 30: The first Festival of Funk from Penrose Brewing takes place on this date.

October

Oct. 6: Canned beers from Ravinia Brewing launch at an event at The Fountainhead.

Oct. 7: Awards at the Great American Beer Fest are handed out, and two Illinois breweries won big among the many medals won in the state — On Tour was named Very Small Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year, while the new IPA kings are the folks at Hailstorm, who took gold for their Prairie Madness atop about 400 other entries.

Oct. 9: The Trib reports on a flurry of new Lagunitas handles going on at Wrigley field, just in time for playoff baseball — and just around the same time that the TTB was investigating pay-to-play in Chicago.

Oct. 13: In Homewood, Rabid Brewing opens on this date.

Oct. 22: For the first release event at the Revolution Brewing Kedzie taproom (in advance of the barrel-aged can rollout), Coffee Eugene porter goes on sale in cans for the first time. Our story on the beer is here.

Oct. 24: In Hyde Park, the new Jolly Pumpkin brewpub and distillery opens its doors.

Oct. 27: After months of rehab, the Goose Island Clybourn Brewhouse (nee brewpub) reopened.

Oct. 31: Revolution Brewing announces that silo cans (19.2oz.) of Antihero IPA are now available.

November

Nov. 2: Head brewer Tim Marshall announces that he’s leaving Solemn Oath to move to Florida with his family for “their next adventure.”

Nov. 6: The new bar, brewery and tavern from Off Color, dubbed the Mousetrap, opens on this date.

Nov. 10: Two breweries open on one day — first, the second brewery from Pollyanna, a barrel- and mixed-fermentation focused facility in Roselle called the Roselare Brewery & Tap Room, opens today. In Joliet, the town’s second brewery debuted on this date when Elder Brewing opened their doors.

Nov. 10-11: This year’s much-discussed Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB) takes place at the UIC Forum. Our recap is here.

Nov. 15: Per this Chicago Reader writeup, they confirm what we believed all alongRhine Hall distilled Bourbon County Stout for their “bierschnapps.”

Nov. 16: Two weeks after their original brewery announced their departure, Solemn Oath announces their new Director of Brewing Operations is Andrew Mason, fresh from four years directing brewing ops at Three Floyds.

December

Dec. 6: Nevin’s Brewing Co. rebrands a line of their beers under the moniker of “Midnight Pig”.

Dec. 15: The Maplewood Lounge opens, featuring house-brewed Maplewood Brewing beers as well as cocktails made with Maplewood spirits.

Dec. 16: The Spiteful Brewing taproom at their new brewery up on Balmoral finally opens on this date.


Did we miss anything? Let us know by publicly shaming us on Twitter! See you here in 2018.

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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, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers.If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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