Here we re at the start of a new year. With more and more brewers opening, expanding, and whatnot, and more craft beer festivals being put on, I am going to try and run down some of the things we can look forward to.
I have previewed some of this info in my Twitter chat with Headquarters Beercade on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Last week's "#BrewAndA" was with chef and brewer Cleetus Friedman. Next Wednesday, a chat with Blogger and Cicerone Jessica Murphy of GirlsLikeBeerToo.
Frankly, these are just the few that I had handy on my social media contact list, and I've skipped a few that had not posted updates during 2014
- The South Loop/Bronzeville area should see more activity with the opening of brewhouses for South Loop and Motor Row brewing companies.
- Alarmist Brewing, on W. Peterson, may be brewing as early as next week.
- Antithesis, a gyspsy/collaborative project
- Arrowhead Ales, a long-gestating project that may blossom forth yet
- Banging Gavel has been pouring at festivals, and expects to make the jump to full production this year.
- Blue Island Beer Co.: Bryan Shimkos, lately brewmaster at Ale Syndicate and previously at Flossmoor Station, finally launches his own brewery down the block from the Maple Tree Inn and Rock Island Public House.
- Exit Strategy, now building out in Forest Park
- Low Rez Brewing, a Chicago brewer shooting for a spring opening
- Monochrome Brewing has a test release Feb. 7. They are getting steel on the floor.
- Pokro Bros., early this year in Griffith, IN. St. John Malt Brothers, St. John, Indiana, late January.
- Rude Hippo, a combined homebrew collective, is finally looking ahead to a brewing space, then a taproom.
- Update: Now that they've made the announcement (1/27), I can mention that Tribes Alehouse is building a brewery at their Mokena location with brewmaster David Kerns coming over from Haymarket.
The Hop Review has recently revised its list of current and upcoming brewers, with some more names you may be hearing from later.
Finch's Beer has announced plans for a new brewing facility and tap room along the Chicago River, with a hoped-for opening later this year.
Robert Sama's Baderbräu revival will go from a contract account to its own brewery in the South Loop, just south of the 290 near McCormick Place.
Ale Syndicate opened their own brewery in 2014, and hopes to get its tap room open this year.
Goose Island is planning a taproom for their Fulton St. Production brewery. Expect to see more events being hosted at their barrel aging warehouse as well.
BriskStone Brewpub in Bourbonnais will open its production brewery.
The Northman, Cletus Freedman's Cider Bar, should hold its much delayed opening soon.
- January 24: Brewpub Shootout. A premier event judging brewpub beers with pairings from their menus. Open to members of the Chicago Beer Society, and one of many reasons to join. Ticket link is here if you have the secret member code!
- Jan 31: Winter Brew 2015 in Lincoln Square, at DANK Haus. Six local brewers represented. Tickets on sale now at this link; details here.
- End of January: Sour & Funk Fest at the Green Lady. The first edition of this was held last year, have not seen any indication yet of its return.
- Feb. 7: Cider Summit Chicago. Navy Pier. Over 40 cidermakers from around the country will be sampling! Info here!
- Feb 28: Naperville Winter Ale Fest
- Feb 28: Chicago Beer Society's Day of the Living Ales. Confirmed for the Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St. This event needed a new venue, since it has resided at the now-closed Goose Island Wrigleyville. Watch the CBS website for ticket info.
- March: What the Firk?, Headquarters Beercade's Firkin Fest. Details and date should be added shortly.
- March: Windy City Brewhaha (not confirmed)
- March 30: Chicago area release of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Tickets for Grand Rapids release events on March 9-14 go on sale Feb. 14.
- March: Grayslake Craft Beer Festival. Dates tba.
- Mid-March: Ticket sales for Dark Lord Day.
- March 21: The Chicago Beer Festival at Union Station.
- End of March: Stoutfest, hosted by Goose Island. This event may be at the Clybourn Brewpub, but may move if the Fulton St. tap room opens. Tickets for this one go instantly.
- End of March: Firkin Fest at Headquarters Beercade, River North
- Late April: Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds. Last year's extravaganza was Saturday, April 26.
- May 14-24: Chicago Craft Beer Week opens with Beer Under Glass at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Tickets go on sale early in March and sell out in a snap.
- May 2: Tinley Park Brew & Vine Fest.
- May 2: Ballpark Brew Fest at Schaumburg Boomers Stadium. "100 craft beers from 50 breweries." The date is set, tickets already available at the event link.
- May 5: American Beer Classic, Soldier Field
- May 16: Crown Beer Fest, Lake Co., IN, Fairgrounds. A great chance to taste some Indiana beers that have not crossed the border. Tickets now on sale.
- May: Lagunitas Beer Circus. Last year's event marked the opening of their public tap room. This year's date is TBA.
- Early June: Mundelein Craft Beer Festival at Tighthead Brewing.
- Mid June: Elgin Public House Annual Beer Fest, Lombard Ale Fest, Two Brothers Summer Festival at the Aurora Roundhouse, Berwyn Brew Fest. The first event was in 2014. Will it come back? Summer Solstice Festival at Blarney Stone Pub in Oak Forest.
- Late June: Mega Beer Fest, Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Arranmore Ale Fest, Oswego. Threatening weather forced cancellation of the first event. Will they make a second try?
- Mid July: Square Roots festival in Lincoln Square. Chicago Craft Beer Festival benefit for the Sheffield Neighborhood Association. May be replaced by a music festival.
- July 18: Naperville Ale Fest. Tickets on sale in April
- Late July: Tribes Fest at Tribes Alehouse, Tinley Park.
- August: Great Taste of the Midwest, Madison, Wisconsin. Mail order ticket sales take place in May
- Early August: Brookfield ZooBrew. Highwood Craft Beer Festival. Wheaton Brew Fest. The Facebook page says the 2015 event is coming.
- Mid August: Oak Park Microbrew Review, sponsored by Seven Generations Ahead.
- Late August: Beverly Brews Fest at the Beverly Arts Center on the far South Side. Soon, every Chicago neighborhood will have its own beer festival!
- September: Oktoberfest… The Berghoff Oktoberfest in the Loop should be back in full swing.
- Mid September: The Chicago Beer Festival at Union Station. They seem to be set now on a twice-yearly schedule. And you may be lucky to take the train home to avoid a DWI. Belgian Fest at Goose Island Clybourn.
- Late Sept.: Lisle Ale Fest
- Early October: Morton Arboretum Craft Beer Festival, Woodstock Ale Fest
- Mid November: Festival of Wood & Barrel Aged Beers. Watch for tickets to go on sale late August.
- After Thanksgiving: Goose Island's Back Friday Bourbon County Stout release, at the brewpub, at other tap houses around town, and in stores, if you're very early.
- December: Winter Solstice Beer Festival at Blarney Stone. Beer Fest Beatdown at Sears Center, Hoffman Estates: Organizers told me their first fest last year was pretty well received, and watch for it to return next year. Will it keep the Lucha Libre wrestlers and the beer fountain? Time will tell…
And throughout the year, watch for new beer tappings or humongo-sized draft list events at your favorite beer bars. As the number of brewers grows, it will be interesting to see how soon they try to have their own annual release parties for their big barrel-aged stouts.
I will be doing my best to keep you informed of more events. And if I'm missing your place, please click the e-mail link up top to tell me all about it! I will also be working on a brewpub and taproom guide for Groupon; see the link below for the latest. And goodness knows, there may be a book coming out of me. Hmm, that didn't sound like too much fun!