Regular taproom visits — one of life’s simple pleasures as recently as six weeks ago — have been rendered impossible due to the state’s shelter-in-place mandate.
And while national beer sales (through grocery and liquor stores, anyway) are actually up, independent breweries across the country are faced with exceedingly difficult times. Some of them won’t make it out of this crisis, as evidenced by the sudden closing of Argus Brewery on the far south side last month.
It’s a troublesome notion for craft beer lovers who dream of, at some point this summer, emerging from isolation into the sunshine and frollicking to the local brewpub to celebrate the end of quarantine. For that dream to become reality, we’re going to have to help some of our favorite spots stay afloat through donations and continued pick-up and delivery orders.
Since this whole thing started, we’ve often eschewed the grocery store six pack in favor of buying directly from the source — and I’d like to give a shout out to a couple establishments with which we’ve had a particularly outstanding experience.
District Brew Yards
Though I’ve visited several times, I’ve yet to cover Brew Yards on this blog. The “collaborative” taproom, located on Ashland near the Brewing District, opened just over a year ago to immediate success. Originally consisting of Burnt City, Around the Bend and Bold Dog breweries, newcomer Casa Humilde was added to the mix in October of last year.
In normal times, an on-site visit would expose you to a fresh, innovative concept: dozens of individual tappers line the edges of the space, each wall designated to one of the four breweries who call the place home. It’s a pour-your-own system, allowing you to enjoy anything from a small, experimental sample to a full pint.
For a beer hall whose foundation is built on social interaction, the swiftness with which District Brew Yards pivoted to delivery and curbside pickup was impressive. During that first full weekend of quarantine, it was the only brewery in our area offering same-day delivery. Since then, we’ve ordered Burnt City’s Face Melter IPA so often that not only do the delivery guys recognize us, they even slipped us a couple bonus brews on a particularly large haul.
If Andrew and the team are reading this — you guys are the best. We love you.
- Don’t take our word for it. Eater Chicago’s piece on District Brew Yards’ opening gives you some great insight on their unique pour-your-own system and collaborative approach.
I first posted about Midwest Coast following our first visit back in November, and my fondness for the place has grown like a weed ever since.
Very early on the crisis, when the stay-at-home order was brand new, Katie came across some frustrating, heartbreaking news: Midwest Coast had been robbed overnight.
I’ll forego ranting about the type of person you’d have to be to burglarize an independent microbrewery during an economic disaster; suffice to say, we wanted to help. More than a dozen growler fills later, Vaguely Stylish Plaid is still one of the best new Midwestern IPAs we’ve tasted in a long time.
If you’d like to give it a try, Midwest Coast is open every day for pickup and delivery, with 25-ounce crowlers now available as well. Their team is outstanding, the space is immaculate, and the pickup process is as close to “no-contact” as you can get.
Oh, and some positive news about the aforementioned robbery: the guilty party was caught and arrested. How was the case cracked, you ask?
A giant bag of gummy bears, obviously.