Chicago Craft Beer Almanac 2013 – The Year in Beer

In Beer News, Chicago Craft Beer Almanac by The Guys

Holy hell, has it been a busy year in beer.

Not just for beer, but for us here at the GDB desk as well. The Saveur nom. The Chicago Magazine cover piece. Starting all that shit about “girl beer”. Oh, and one of us had a kid, too. That’s kind of important, right? (Little Julia already has some cellared beer, including a Westy, set aside for her 21st b-day. Dad of the year, right there.)

So without further ado, let’s see where the hell we’ve been in the last 12 months or so. Behold, our Chicago Craft Beer Almanac for 2013, the biggest year in Chicago beer news (since last year, which you can remind yourself of here)!

Here we go:

January 3: Talk about starting the year off with a bang. After the departures of Greg and John Hall from the brewery in 2012 as well as barrelmaster John Laffler to start Off Color, today the Trib breaks the news that brewpub brewmaster Jared Rouben is leaving to start his own brewery as well.

January 4: With more than 50 events in the weeks following, much-loved west coast brewery Deschutes hits Chicago store shelves in a big way today. Chicagoans immediately make numerous “Black Butte” jokes, years after their humor wore off for those west of the Mississippi.

January 9: Crain’s breaks the news that the two founders of 5 Rabbit Brewery are heading to court, with CEO Andres Araya suing COO Issac Showaki for defamation.

January 13: Begyle bottles hit shelves for the first time with an event at West Lakeview Liquors. The Crash Landed wheat pale ale and Flannel Pajamas stout are the first beers to be released.

January 31: Pipeworks earns extremely high honors from RateBeer as not only the best New Brewery from Illinois, but as the best new brewery overall. Like, in the whole world.

Best New Brewers - ratebeer best 2013January 28: This one took a lot of us by surprise, didn’t it? Cleetus Friedman sends out an email stating that effective immediately, City Provisions would be closed. Known for its locavore and sustainable focus, but mostly known to folks like us for his brewery collaborations, he stated plans “to keep pushing the boundaries of the local food movement and keeping you excited about the world I am living in…so stay tuned.”

Feb. 8: Goose Island announces that four beers will be available nationally in bottles – Honkers Ale, 312, IPA and a rotating seasonal (Mild Winter, Summertime or Harvest). Previously, Goose Island was only available nationwide on draft.

Feb. 15: On the same day that Lake Effect and Dryhop release their “Shot a Man in Simcoe” collaboration, Fountainhead announces that their new beer director will be Mike Maloney, who previously did good work at Clark Street Ale House and the Grafton. After a short-term in office there, he departs to head the craft beer and spirits division for Stoller, making it two Fountainhead beer directors to get peeled off by a distributor. Apparently, if you want to work in distro, get yourself a job at Damen and Montrose.

Feb. 19: Three Floyd’s earns a nomination from the James Beard Awards for Outstanding Wine, Spirits & Beer Professional. (They don’t win.)

Feb. 21: Goose Island announces that their brewpub beers will be created by Flossmoor brewer and new GI brewmaster Nick Barron. On the same day, news breaks that Metropolitan is on the search for a new space in the hopes of expanding production by a significant amount.

Feb. 25: Jesse and Samuel Evans, the brothers behind New Chicago Beer Company (the oft-discussed but brewery-in-eternal-planning once scheduled to open in The Plant), announce their new name and new brews – Ale Syndicate. They begin pouring their beers — initially contracted through Big Shoulders in Zion, then at 5 Rabbit’s space in Bedford Park but soon to be on their own — shortly thereafter.

Feb. 28: A busy day in Chicago for beer. First, we publish our Q&A with the “Brewer’s Alderman,” 47th ward Alderman Ameya Pawar. Then news breaks that Ballast Point will be hitting the Chicago market May 1st, brought here by Wirtz Beverage. Finally, we learn that the first time to try the brews from much-anticipated Off Color will be at a pop-up event at Black Rock Pub.

March 4: Superchef Rick Bayless announces plans to create a “craft beer” for Crown Imports, which doesn’t sit well with some folks.

March 12: Revolution Brewing announces a huge capacity increase and a distributor change, with an eye to expand into Wisconsin, Indiana and Kentucky.

March 14: Another busy day — craft beer megarestaurant Howells & Hood opens their doors to media to take a look, which we did and found…a LOT of beer.

That’s a lot of kegs.

March 21: Just six weeks after shuttering City Provisions, Chef Cleetus Friedman and the Fountainhead announce that they’ve partnered up. Friedman will become the restaurant/bar’s executive chef, making the noted beer bar even more of a destination than it already was.

Also on this date, the gents of Hopcast announce the coming of Penrose Brewing in Geneva.

March 29: Lagunitas announces (via Twitter, in traditional relaxed-and-groovy Lagunitas style) that the super-brewery that they’re building on Chicago’s southwest side just got even bigger. Like, huge, big. On the same day, we get the news that Vander Mill ciders will be coming to Chicago in cans starting in May, which is also awesome news.

April 1: Happy birthday, us! We turn 3 years old on this date, and as ever, wonder why we started this on April Fool’s Day. Ah, well.

April 12: Plans were posted illuminating some of the details about the Ravenswood brewpub to be called Band of Bohemia, and we were nominated (alongside fellow Chicagoan Good Beer Hunting) as one of SAVEUR Magazine’s Best Beer/Wine Blogs of 2013. So that was a good day.

April 23: So, we didn’t win that SAVEUR thing, but Michael Kiser’s GoodBeerHunting did, which is of course quite well deserved. Congrats again, sir.

April 29: In a swirl of other #CCBW announcements, we release our plans for Chicago’s Craft Beer Week. South of 80 2.0 is back and better than ever, set to take place on May 21.

May 4: We post about Dark Horse Brewing’s employment page, which has only the best job listings ever.

May 15: Crain’s posts this piece about “Craft Beer’s Conundrum,” essentially a shot across the bow at the barrel limits established by SB 754.

May 17: Beer Under Glass kicks off Chicago Craft Beer Week, and a good time was had by all. Until the next day, when some bad times were presumably had as well.

May 21: Our South of 80 2.0 event takes place! In attendance: DESTIHL, Scratch, Six Row, Rolling Meadows and Urban Chestnut, all pouring their beers and some for the very first time in the city. It was fun!

May 26: Chicago Craft Beer Week draws to a close. Most of us appear to have survived.

June 4: We check in with Michael McAvena, beer director at The Publican, where he totally doesn’t deny that they may possibly be thinking about opening a brewpub.

June 6: Add another one to the list — Big Shoulders Beer Company releases their Hopapalooza at the Beer Bistro on this date. Their 2nd beer, the Crosstown Wheat, follows in October.

June 8: Dryhop Brewers pours growlers for the first time, and 400 of their newest friends show up.

June 23-28: A big week for Off Color as they roll out their beer in a few different ways — via in-brewery open house, pouring at the Hopleaf, and…with dinosaurs.

July 2: We kinda started some shit after stumbling across this Womensforum “beer recommendations for women” post, and followed up a day later with this little treatise on beer, gender and what women should/shouldn’t drink. (Chicagoist and a whole other bunch of folks picked up on it too.)

"Let's face it, sometimes, beer can be so confusing!" That one line started a whole lot of shit, didn't it?

“Let’s face it, sometimes, beer can be so confusing!” That one line started a whole lot of trouble, didn’t it?

July 8: Governor Quinn signs into law a bill amending the rules about homebrew competitions in Illinois, allowing them to legally do pretty much everything they were doing before. Also posted on that day: Really? A review of Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita? Yeah, we did. For science.

July 16: Chicago Magazine names Begyle Brewing as the city’s best new brewery, and Half Acre the Best Overall. Nice job, y’all.

July 29: We hope you marked your calendars for Fall Beer Freedom Day. It was on this day that, after seeing Sam Adams Oktoberfest on the shelves in freaking July, we had to institute the second annual #FBFD for the day after Labor Day, Sept. 3rd.

July 31: Strange Brews, a craft beer podcast hosted by WBEZ talent, posts its very first episode on this date, which features Dryhop Brewers.

August 7: Remember the first entry to this year’s list? Where Jared Rouben announced that he’s leaving Goose? Well, today the Tribune publishes this piece, with details about Rouben’s new brewery — Moody Tongue.

August 13: Via this Brewbound post, we learn that two downstate craft breweries are aiming for Chicago. Chicago Beverage will bring DESTIHL to Chicago officially (just a few months after appearing on draft at The Green Lady during our South of 80 2.0 event), along with wider release for Brickstone from Bourbonnais.

August 16: Governor Pat Quinn signs the amendment expanding the barrel cap for Craft Brewers into law. Craft brewers can now brew 30,000 barrels annually, but the limit for self-distribution stays at 7,500. Will 2014 see some new legislation to clarify the issue of holding a craft brewers and brewpub license simultaneously?

August 19: Chicago Magazine publishes to the web a massive piece about the amazing rise of Chicago’s craft brewing scene in just the past couple years, and all the amazing beers we have to drink these days. Oh, and much of it was written by our own Karl Klockars. NBD. Print versions hit newsstands a few days later and immediately sold out because beer is awesome (we assume this is true).

August 22: Tickets for the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers are released at noon on this date, and sell out literally three minutes later. Much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments ensues. And hey, remember this jerk hawking a ticket that evening for $500?  Worth noting: Per a conversation with the Beer Temple’s Chris Quinn, it took FoBAB 2012 a week to sell out tickets, and FoBAB 2011 was still up for sale until a week prior to the event. This year? 3 minutes. If you need a metaphor for how big craft beer has gotten this year, that’s it.

August 23: Add another one to the list. Urban Legend in Westmont opens their taproom for the first time on this date.

August 26: Add another one to the list. Only Child Brewing posts this photo to Facebook of their very first bottled beer, a pale wheat ale.

182350_358503000949118_1615513594_nSeptember 3: Add another one to the list. Une Annee Brewing hosts their first event at Fountainhead, pouring their beers for the very first time.

September 3: The second Fall Beer Freedom Day. The sound you heard throughout today was the opening of pumpkin ales, Oktoberfests, harvest ales and other various porters and such.

September 5: Anheuser-Busch and the Cubs announce a new 10-year exclusive partnership, meaning Old Style is no longer the official beer of the Cubs.

September 7: Add another one to the list. Slapshot Brewing debuts at The Beer Bistro on this date.

September 9: At the 2-year birthday for one of our favorite bars, The Green Lady, Spiteful debuts their beer in cans — Alley Time and In The Weeds.

September 13: IT seems somewhat appropriate that Pipeworks picked Friday the 13th to announce that they’re planning to open a bottle show and growler fill store in an old jiujitsu dojo. Lower-ABV beers are also promised, along with a new “sloppy seconds” followup program to Friends with Benefits.

September 18: Empirical Brewing announces plans to move into the Ravenswood Corridor.

September 23: Whew. Goose Clybourn gets to stay put, according to this piece from Chicago Real Estate Daily. Glad that’s over.

September 25: Less than a month after WBEZ starts its podcast, the Chicago Beer Pass podcast kicks off with its inaugural episode featuring a chat about the Chi Festiv-Ale and the 312 Block Party (among other things).

September 26: Crain’s breaks the news that Uncommon Ground is joining the brewery revolution, announcing their Greenstar Brewing project.

September 30: Time Out Chicago publishes this story covering many (certainly not all) of the breweries slated to open in the next six months or so. (Oh yeah, also, it was by our Karl Klockars too, who followed up with some other thoughts posted here.)

Chicago’s brew future  new breweries on the horizon - Restaurants + Bars - Time Out Chicago Oct. 1: The government shuts down. You’d think this wouldn’t merit mention in a craft beer roundup, but the TTB closure had a direct effect on brewers in Illinois, especially the ones who were trying to open their doors and get new beer labels or ingredients approved. Penrose, 350 Brewing and Two Brothers all reported issues related to the shutdown. We finally had enough a little over a week later, and asked you to start calling folks in Washington.

Oct. 10: The Great American Beer Festival kicks off in Denver. IL breweries in attendance include Solemn Oath, Church Street, DESTIHL and our friends at Scratch. We posted our “fantasy draft” picks here, and medals eventually went to these guys here. Congrats.

Oct. 15: Congrats also go out to Evanston’s Cesar Marron, who was named one of the winners of the Sam Adams Longshot homebrew competition. His Gratzer beer will be produced and distributed in Spring of 2014.

Oct. 17: In the biggest craft brewery acquisition since A-B bought Goose Island, Duvel announces that they’ve reached a deal to purchase Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City for $100 million.

Oct. 21: Bringing craft beer to Albany Park, Breakroom Brewery receives their TTB license today. That prompted a visit from Kate Bernot for this RedEye piece.

Oct. 30: Today we watched Lagunitas’ Tony Magee parade their 30-foot-wide, 68,000-lb. lauter tun through the streets of Chicago. Even the Sun-Times got into the fun with a video of part of the trip.

Nov. 2: Happy first birthday, Half Acre Taproom.

Nov. 14: After years of absence, Surly announces their return to Chicago.

Nov. 16: The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers takes place in Bridgeport. It was awesome. Remind yourself of why with writeups from us, from Karl at Time Out Chicago, Phil Montoro from the Reader, the Hopcast folks, Jess at GirlsLikeBeerToo, Chicago Beer Geeks as well as medal listings from BeerDownload.

Nov. 21: We start our “exit interview” with Bill Olson, outgoing head of the ABDI. Posted in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and a response from Revolution Brewing. The ABDI, or Associated Beverage Distributors of Illinois, is one of the largest lobbying groups in Springfield, and play a major role in how you get the beer you drink. If you didn’t read this before, you’ll want to give it a run-through now.

Nov. 29: Black Friday arrives, and with it are lines of hundreds of people ready to buy, drink and cellar Bourbon County Brand Stout. Reviews are their usual glowing selves, but unsurprisingly, some people insist on being jerks and reselling it like they’re scalping concert tickets.

Dec. 2: Having begun brewing on their own system at their space in Lyons, the BuckleDown Brewing gents release their first round of beers at a Beer Bistro event, and then open their taproom to the public on Friday, the 6th. Busy week for those dudes.

Dec. 4: It took a while, but Begyle Brewing finally announced plans for their Community Supported Brewing (or CSB) program, including subscriptions for growlers and Sixtels.

Dec. 10: When Karl talked to Aleman Brewing in September, they said they were just waiting to find the right space — as of this photo posted to Facebook, looks like they’ve found it.

Dec. 11: One week and one hour later, those aforementioned Begyle subscriptions sell out. A waiting list is available at the moment, with more slots to open in summer of 2014.

Dec. 13: Solemn Oath announces that they’re ready to start bottling their beer. The first two releases in 22oz. bombers will be their Ravaged By Vikings DIPA and a double stout called Combat Marshmallow.

Dec. 14: The city of Gary gets a little bit brighter today — Drew Fox’s 18th Street Brewery opens their taproom and brewery for business today.

Dec. 20: And to round out the year, Temperance Beer Company opens their taproom with an event on this date.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Did we miss anything major? Let us know!

More From Guys Drinking Beer


Sign Up For the GDB Beer News Email!

Know Your Beer. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter to get beer news from around Chicago, throughout the Midwest and beyond.

About the Author

The Guys

Facebook Twitter

Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.

Share this Story