Amid an Ugly Year, Craft Beer Perseveres
today at 7:08 am
For obvious reasons, 2020 has been the suckiest, weirdest, most unpredictable and stress-filled year of recent memory. At times, it has seemed as though society is legitimately teetering on the brink of collapse.
I mean, I’ve spent the past several days captivated by a disheveled Jay Cutler as he narrates the unfolding saga of a chicken serial killer terrorizing his Nashville property via Instagram story — if that’s not a sign of the forthcoming apocalypse, I don’t know what is.
Thankfully, we still have beer. And not only are Chicagoland’s breweries hanging in there, many are finding creative ways to continue serving customers despite myriad challenges.
An Industry Regaining its Footing
As mentioned in a previous post, District Brew Yards was way ahead of the beer delivery game, launching an intuitive online ordering platform seemingly within minutes of the lockdown going into effect. An absolute lifesaver during the first few weeks of quarantine.
Delivery and curbside pickup are now par for the course, but reopening plans for some local taprooms are still a bit murky. To help with that, Choose Chicago has compiled a useful list (which appears to be updated frequently) of city breweries with outdoor seating.
The only one of these we’ve visited thus far is Midwest Coast, and the experience was fantastic. As always, it’s dog friendly, and the tables are positioned at least ten feet from each other, which allows you to breathe a bit easier. I highly recommend Song of the Summer, their new pale wheat ale, as a crushable (I hate that term, but it’s apropos here) easy-drinker for the 4th of July.
It’s also worth noting that the list leaves off Begyle Brewing, which opened a new physically distanced outdoor area this past weekend to great success. Paired with their convenient pickup window, Begyle offers a prime example of how taprooms are continuing to adapt to the evolving situation.
Father’s Day Flights
In a normal year, our family Father’s Day celebration would have involved brewery visits, numerous flights, and a sloppy Uber ride home (remember ride share?). None of that seemed appropriate this year.
Instead, we attempted to replicate the taproom taster experience, and overall it went surprisingly well.
Here’s a little run-through of what was sampled:
For the Hop Heads: From the expert New England makers at Illuminated Brew Works, Spoonful of Sugar is like a hoppy, sweet, creamy liquid candy. While indeed tasty, one pint is enough.
For the Dark Beer Folks: When I say for the dark beer folks, I really mean it on this one: Hubbard Cave Say Nut Again imperial/double stout. While most of us were intimidated by the aggressive booziness (12-percent ABV), my cousin gave it an enthusiastic seal of approval, so at least someone loved it.
For the Serious Snobs: Strawberry Lemon Yakool — a funky wild ale from Marz — caused some faces around the socially distant table to pucker up and others to smile in delight.
For the People Who Are Going to Ask “What Tastes the Most like Bud Light?”: We didn’t dabble much in the lighter styles, but Trust by Illuminated (at a robust 6 percent) really hit the spot on a hot day. A crisp, refreshing lager.
Consensus Favorite: Marz does everything well, but The Yuice is next level stuff. Super hazy/juicy, with tropical flavors and a nice murky body. Goes down scary smooth.
Beers for a Cause
Very soon, you can plan to start seeing releases from Black is Beautiful, one of the largest new brewers’ collaborations in the country.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between participating breweries and customers to bring awareness to the injustices that many people of color face daily, creating a platform to show that the brewing community is an inclusive place for everyone.
Participating breweries will donate 100% of the beer’s proceeds to local foundations that support police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged, as well as local organizations that support equality and inclusion.
In addition, Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing in April spearheaded the creation of All Together, a global IPA collaboration to support the hospitality industry during the pandemic and beyond. Pilot Project and other Chicagoland breweries have hopped on board to offer this in their taprooms, with proceeds going to help organizations that support hospitality professionals.
Visit this website for more information and to look up which breweries are involved in the All Together project.
Featured image courtesy of facebook.com/midwestcoastbrewingco.