Wet Hopped Beers in Illinois – 2014

wet hoppedWhile Illinois only has a handful of places where you can find bines and cones creeping upward on farms and patches of land around the state, there’s actually a surprising amount of harvest beers around Illinois. The question is, will you be able to get them? Limited amounts and small batches are almost the rule here, but if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to stumble into a few of these wet hopped beers in Illinois.

In The Bottle

Two Brothers’ Heavy Handed IPA and Heavier Handed Double IPA will both be available in bottles this year, with the 6.7% ABV Heavy featuring fresh Centennial, Cascade and Chinook. The 8.1% Heavier features nothing but Cascade, hand-picked from Vermillion Valley Farm in Pontiac, IL.

Revolution Brewing’s latecomer of the harvest season is Local Hero, which will be released in November.

The Half Acre crew recently announced the return of their fan-favorite Sticky Fat — a dark ale made with 300 pounds. of Chinook hops from Michigan. Described as “brown as the bear’s hind quarters, and laced with piney, resinous hop character, backed up by plunging levels of chocolate and roast”, the beer hits shelves this weekend.

For the second year in a row Lake Effect Brewing has released 45th Ward Fresh Hopped Pale Ale. Bottles were at Fischman Liquors for about a week but they are gone now. You can still find it on tap at a handful of bars. 45th Ward was brewed with donated hops from local farms dotted across the city.

Rolling Meadows Brewery recently plucked hops, grown on-site, for its Slamdunkel. The wet hopped dunkelweizen, clocking in at 5.5% ABV, should be released in about a month.

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From the Tap

To celebrate the end of the growing season at Irie Farms in Crete, Aleman will be collaborating with Plainfield’s Werk Force Brewing on a wet hopped beer that will include locally foraged ingredients like honey. And while the recipe isn’t complete it may incorporate wild fermentation as well. Hops at Irie include Centennial, Chinook, Pacific Gem and Zeus along with Cascades from outside sources; the final product may not have all those included, but after all that madness, who even cares?

Goose Island brewed a wet hopped IPA, Sticky Feathers, using all Michigan-grown hops. Expect the beer to be tapped in early October.

Marz Community Brewing and Antithesis Brewing collaborated on a Harvest Ale. The IPA was tapped at Marz’s launch party on September 8th at Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar and is long gone. However, a pair of Antithesis kegs were tapped a few days ago at Geneva Ale House and Porter’s Pub at Bowes Creek.

One Trick Pony opened up their new tap room recently and rolled out some harvest beers to celebrate. The first, Saddle Bags, is a brown ale wet hopped with Centennial hops and Spotted Saddle, a version of their flagship American Pale Ale, was wet hopped start to finish with Simcoe hops from the Pacific Northwest.

If you’ve been following Penrose on Instagram for the last couple weeks, you’ve been seemingly inundated with teasing shots of tons of fresh, wet, sticky hops. Those will pay off with two beers for taproom and limited release. The first is a wet hopped version of P-2 with Cascades from Michigan’s Hop Head farms. The second is a Harvest Saison with fresh Empire hops from Empire Farms, also in Michigan.

Because Scratch Brewing is Scratch Brewing, they’ve already brewed a variety of wet-hopped beers in the past few weeks and months, including a Pale Ale brewed with Chinook hops from their own farm. Owner Marika Josephson tells Guys Drinking Beer a Sumac Farmhouse Saison brewed with their own farm-grown Cascade hops and a wild-hop Belgian Pale Ale, brewed with wild hops foraged from near the brewery, will be tapped this month..

Transient Artisan Ales has unleashed its all-Cascade Harvest Saison into the world with hops from (you guessed it) Hop Head farms in Michigan.

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Gone but not Forgotten

Looking for a harvest beer from Pete Crowley and crew at Haymarket? Well, if you didn’t get the fresh-hopped version of Matthias, “made with Oak Park hops!” per Haymarket’s Janna Mestan, you missed out — it kicked last week.

Scorched Earth Brewing, in Algonquin, had a couple of harvest brews — one of which was named Wet Willie — but these small-batch brews are sadly no longer with us.

While we scoured brewery websites and social media and sent emails and filled out contact forms we know there’s a chance we missed a beer or two. However we feel this is a pretty comprehensive rundown of wet hopped beers in Illinois. If we missed something feel free to chime in below with a comment. To find out what other state’s are up to, follow the links below.

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Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago, AskMen 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.