This Week in Chicago Craft Beer, June 22-25

This Week in Chicago Craft Beer, June 22-25
The slow reopening from social isolation is going on, virus willing. Mayor Lightfoot announced Friday that bars and restaurants in Chicago would be able to open for limited indoor seating on Friday, the 26th. This date is also the soonest that the rest of Illinois will be able to enter the Phase 4 recovery stage, so watch for more suburban spots to expand service, too. Original article from Block Club Chicago.
I mentioned the return of Conrad Seipp Brewing, coming up next week. Now another retro brand has appeared this week. Thornton Lager Beer, which was last made 89 years ago at the current site of Thornton Distillery, is now being made in collaboration with Evil Horse Brewing. The namesake brewery was built in 1857, drawing water from an artesian well, and went under several different names before shutting down due to Prohibition… and being one of the brewers that were in fact taken over by Capone's crew...

Chicago Craft Beer Father's Day Weekend, June 19-21

Chicago Craft Beer Father's Day Weekend, June 19-21
I have not yet been overwhelmed by announcements of  Chicago brewers opening their outdoor taprooms once they were given the green light. Some just popped out the "Open" sign, others still need to get their spaces worked out. My weekend list of events is nearly back up to pre-isolation levels, thanks to Father's Day brunches and carryouts. I've also added a lot of live music events, just to mention places that are indeed open. As we get on into summer, and barring any relapse in our area infectiousness, I might go to re-focus strictly on beer events. Meanwhile, some of these weekend carryout deals will be cutting off orders by Thursday, so please take a look at them now. Could Rock Bottom be coming back? In the past weeks, Craftworks Holdings, the bankrupt company that oversaw the brewpub chain and the Old Chicago restaurants, was acquired by SPB Hospitality. This firm, an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, has already listed the Craftworks concepts on its website. SPB group acquired the brands for $93 million in waived debt and assumed liabilities. Other Craftworks concepts include Gordon Biersch, ChopHouse & Brewery, and Big River Grille & Brewing Works. The grapevine suggests that Rock Bottom locations in our area are shooting for a late June opening. Could it be? They furloughed all of their staff, and so would have to start from scratch, including bringing on brewers....

Luna Bay Hard Kombucha: One-Man Taste Panel

Luna Bay Hard Kombucha: One-Man Taste Panel
Earlier this month, I ran my interview with Bridget Connelly, co-founder of Luna Bay Booch. This brand of hard kombucha was developed in Chicago, tested and scaled up at Pilot Project Brewing, and is now expanding nationwide in cans from Denver’s Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. My disclosure: the request to cover this brand came with... Read more »
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The Week in Chicago Craft Beer, June 15-18

The Week in Chicago Craft Beer, June 15-18
Breaking, June 15: Mayor Lightfoot's office has announced bars and breweries without a food license will be able to reopen starting Wednesday, June 17. According to a city press release, the new rule states that "bars, lounges, taverns, breweries and other drinking establishments that sell alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food License will be able to open for outdoor service only." As I said below, I will attempt to push the opening as they are announced.
There are a few more events on my weekday schedule from week to week. That's partly because I've been including in-house concerts and food trucks, which I might not usually do when there are so many more taproom events and beer dinners.  But I'm now hopeful that we'll get to those. There are still a few establishments that are getting their construction and permits together to open to outdoor seating. And it is hoped that Chicago will soon allow taprooms without a food license to open soon. As these openings may occur last minute, I'll post them as I find out about them. [caption id="attachment_12455" align="alignright" width="300"]Seipp Brewing old & new bottles Conrad Seipp Brewing returns[/caption] This craft beer thing has been pretty full tilt for a few decades now, and once in a while one of the historical brands is brought back to try out the market. The latest one is Conrad Seipp Brewing, named for a brewer who started making beer in Chicago in 1854. His brewery survived the Chicago Fire, perhaps being located in 27th Street by the Lake (this was before the Burnham Plan renumbered the South Side streets), and was Chicago's largest brewery in the 1890s before being killed off in Prohibition. One of Seipp's descendants has been working to bring the band back. They're starting with a modern version their original Extra Pale Lager, being made at Metropolitan Brewing. They are planning to go on tap at Metro on July 2...

Beer Review: Toppling Goliath King Sue

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One of the “whalez” of Midwestern beers turned up at my local Binny’s. So I snagged a 4-pack for a new “One Take Beer Review.” Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. is situated in the  town of Decorah, in Eastern Iowa. Since their founding in 2009, they have become famous for sought-after imperial stouts and hoppy pale... Read more »

Chicago Craft Beer Weekend, June 12-14

Chicago Craft Beer Weekend, June 12-14
There's a lot of ground to cover before we get to the weekend but here goes: More restaurants and bars are opening cautiously in Chicago. But apparently that permission has not extended to breweries with only tap rooms, and no food license. If you live in Chicago, you may want to drop a polite note to the Mayor's office and your alderperson to remedy this situation. A new brewer is bringing out its cans this weekend: Liquid Love Brewing is a group of three brewers doing collaborations and contract beers. Their first release will be at the Prairie Krafts location in Buffalo Grove. Waiting on some more new brewers to come later. Apparently, the closed Argus Brewery in the far South Side has been listed for sale since May on Craigslist, but this was only brought to our attention this week. The asking price of $2.5 million covers the building, any remaining equipment, and Argus' intellectual property (brands). Josh Noel reports that there have been some inquiries. Now, a clarification. Brewers as a group make up a number of opinions and political persuasions, some of which play in to why they wanted to make their own beer in the first place. Nearly all brewers and managers of establishments have responded positively to the questions raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, which pledges to do better as businesses. But others have used the occasion to raise display some ugly personal views.  They have been called out by social media, as summarized this article in PorchDrinking.com. I have decided to continue posting events from everybody for now, and see where the chips fall...
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Chicago Week in Craft Beer, June 8-11

Chicago Week in Craft Beer, June 8-11
My birthday weekend has been more active than I might have expected. We finally got new shingles on the house, we tried to take part in some of the justice rallies in our area. I even got the wife, who does not drink, to sit at the outdoor section at Black Horizon with draft beers and cheese boards for just an hour or two. The current Phase 3 restrictions actually suit her. There are still some Phase 3 reopenings that may come about the day before, or even the day of. If I catch them, I''ll be adding to this article. Also, One Trick Pony Brewing announces in this Facebook post that they have approval from the village of Lansing to relocate from their current industrial park location to a building in doscreen-shot-2020-06-06-at-11-22-56-pmwntown Lansing. Of course, under the present circumstances there's no way to be sure when this would really happen. But checking Google Streetview of the location, I found one of those odd vehicles that gets created when Google Maps stitches two photos together...

Chicago Area Craft Beer Weekend, June 5-7

Chicago Area Craft Beer Weekend, June 5-7
With more establishments moving toward limited reopening in Phase 3 of the COVID-19 virus shut down, I'm taking the optimistic step of removing my articles detailing self-quarantine business hours from the "sticky" status on my blogroll. Part of this is due to the fact that decisions on re-opening are being made at the last minute. These events could change again at the last minute due to curfews or management concern from the current civic unrest in the area. I will try to keep up by updating status here. As places are reopening, I have been listing live music shows and food truck events, which was not my custom during the times when the calendar was much more crowded. But I want to give our beer joints a shout out for any event that might bring us out for some socially distant socializing...

Luna Bay Hard Kombucha: Talking with Co-Founder Bridget Connelly

Luna Bay Hard Kombucha: Talking with Co-Founder Bridget Connelly
Preface: I'll probably remove this paragraph later. If it seems odd for me to be posting about new products, sold at stores that are probably closed during the current pandemic and the civic unrest; well, I agree. But catching up to articles I've been writing is just my own kind of therapy. My attempt to manage some order here in the Upside-Down. I can only keep doing what I do here. Reserve my bigger rants for my personal social media. And prepare for better days to come.
Another player in specialty brewing is expanding into the Chicago market and elsewhere. Luna Bay Booch is notable in that they are producing "hard" kombucha, and because they are headed by women. Bridget Connelly is co-founder and CEO of the company. She worked with brewer Claire Ridge to formulate recipes in the Chicago, where they were scaled up to commercial batches at Pilot Project Brewing on Milwaukee Avenue...
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Will Chicago Open for Craft Beer the Week of June 1-4

Will Chicago Open for Craft Beer the Week of June 1-4
The city of Chicago had set June 3 as the date restaurants can open for patio service. I only have a few of these listed as of Saturday night. We can expect more of these to be announced much closer to the exact date, so I'll add them as I find out. No doubt there are many local and neighborhood hurdles to clear, and not the least of them is finding space for outdoor seating in some streets. No doubt some of these reopenings may be delayed owing to the current unpleasantness in downtown. I will try to keep up with changes as well as additions...
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    Mark McDermott

    Writer, trivia maven, fan of many things. I thought to learn all there is to know about beer as a way to stay interested in learning. It is my pleasure to bring Chicago's craft beer scene to you.

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