Chicago Beer Week

The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild is also celebrating its first annual Chicago Craft Beer Week, a city-wide celebration of the art of craft brewing. Chicago Beer Week has a heavy list of events for its first year. If you haven’t celebrated yet, don’t miss some upcoming events!

Wednesday, May 19

Chicago Beer Society Authors Night at the Map Room
Join Ray Daniels, author of Designing Great Beers (and founder of the Cicerone Certification program); Steve Hamburg, writer of many articles on real ale and British beer; Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer; and Jeff Sparrow, author of Wild Brews, on the traditional CBS Third Wednesday social for a night featuring the beers they know best. Each writer will select a special beer to be on tap and speak on its relevance. Daniels, Hamburg, Mosher and Sparrow will be available throughout the evening to discuss beer, the universe, and everything in between. They’ll also have books and periodicals on hand for those looking to complete their libraries.

Metropolitan Brewing Tasting at Fizz Bar and Grill (3220 N. Lincoln)
Metropolitan’s Doug and Tracy Hurst will be on hand to talk about their beers. Metropolitan’s bottles will be on special for $4 and they’ll be tapping a special India Pale Lager, brewed with a ton of Hallertau hops.

Half Acre Beer Dinner at Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark)
Chef Ben Sheagren will craft a five course dinner starting at 7:30 p.m. with beers paired by Half Acre’s Gabriel Magliaro. $50 per person. Seating is limited! Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets

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Thursday, May 20

Crown Valley Brewer Tasting at Binny’s South Loop (1132 W. Jefferson)
Come meet Bryan Siddle, owner, operator, brewer of Crown Valley Brewing out of Ste. Genevieve, MO, from 6-8 p.m. Siddle will discuss his beers, including a couple of specialty beers that are not yet available in Illinois.

Historic Bars of Chicago book signing at John Barleycorn (658 W. Belden)
Sean Parnell of the Chicago Beer Project (and former Chicagoist interview subject) will be on hand to sign copies of his newly-released book, Historic Bars of Chicago (Lake Claremont Press). The book includes reviews of the Top 100 most historic bars, taverns, nightclubs, lounges, dives, and bierstubes in Chicago.

Big Sky Brewmaster and Special Beers at Quenchers (2401 N. Western)
Meet Big Sky Brewery brewmaster Matt Long while enjoying Big Sky beer specials all night, including specialty beers not currently available in Illinois.

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Saturday, May 22

The Drinking & Writing Brewery Presents The 4th Annual Beerfly Alleyfight at Rock Bottom Chicago
The Drinking & Writing Brewery holds its Fourth Annual Beerfly Alleyfight — a “pairing” of homebrewed beer, home-cooked food, and homegrown art — from noon to 4:00 p.m. The Beerfly Alleyfight competition goes one step further than other pairings by adding an artist to the mix. Tickets to the Beerfly Alleyfight are $30.00 online at Brown Paper Tickets or $35.00 at the door if available.

CCBW Closing Event w/ICBG @ Half Acre
Tickets will be sold to this event at Half Acre Brewery, with many brewers from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild present, pouring their beers.

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Atlanta Beer Week

Atlanta is joining other states around the country by having a week celebrating beer! This week, bars, beverage stores, restaurants, brewpubs and breweries in Atlanta and Athens will be holding dinners, tastings, and seminars.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Crawford Moran brewer of Five Seasons Brewing Co. joined other local beer enthusiasts to plan the first annual Atlanta Beer Week.

“Trying to get anything off the ground is always a challenge but the response has been pretty good,” Moran said. “It’s kind of like the All-Star Game. You have all these people who might be rivals on the same team working together for a week. We have a nice mix of places doing different things and it’s a great foundation to get things going toward next year.”

The week kicked off Sunday at Brick Store Pub with rare beers on draft and a ceremonial cask tapping. The week continues with a five-course beer dinner featuring five different beers aged in wine barrels at Five Seasons Westside on May 20.  For a complete listing, go to www.atlantabeerweek.com.

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Clever Bottle Opener at Hotel

Picture this: You’re on vacation at a hotel. You have you’re beer. You’re ready to relax, but you don’t have a bottle opener! What to do? This beer lover utilizes the towel rack in the bathroom to get his Spaten open. I always have my key chain bottle opener on me, but just in case I don’t, I’ll take a lesson from this guy. You should too.

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2010 World Beer Cup Results

The Brewers Association just announced the winners for the 2010 World Beer Cup. Brewers from six continents earned awards from an international panel of judges. The eighth bi-annual competition announced awards to brewers from 19 countries ranging from Australia and Italy to Iceland and Japan.

This year, 642 breweries from 44 countries and 47 U.S. states vied for awards with 3,330 beers entered in 90 beer style categories. The entries in each category were eligible for gold, silver and bronze awards. Judges presented a total of 268 awards.

I am proud to announce that two New York breweries took home a few medals.

In the Belgian-Style Dubbel category, the gold medal was awarded to Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown for their Abbey Ale Dubbe. Ommegang also won silver medals for Ommegang Biere de Mars in American-Belgo-Style Ale and Ommegang Witte Wheat Ale in the Belgian-Style Witbier category.

Hitting closer to home, Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Local 2, which is one of my favorites, won the bronze medal for the  Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale.

Congratulations to all of the contestants and winners! I look forward to seeing more New York breweries win next year!

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Labatt Brewing Company Down Sizing

I hate it when breweries downsize or shut down. It’s so hard for small business to survive as it is today, and it’s a shame because many of these breweries offer such wonderful beers! Labatt Brewing Company will be shutting down its Lakeport plant in Hamilton by the end of this week. Hamilton is one of Canada’s oldest towns of beer makers. The first brewery in Hamilton dates back to the 1840s. But now there’s a strong possibility that it is about to run dry unless someone will save it from closing.

Good news though! Labatt has been offered up to $50 million for the beer-making equipment from Calgary-based Minhas Creek Brewing Company, a company which has been looking for a chance to break into the discount beer business in Ontario.

Minhas President Ravinder Minhas said if Labatt takes his offer he could have the Hamilton plant and its 143 employees shipping beer again within four months. Minhas also said the Hamilton plant could produce about 14 million cases of beer — a fraction of the 88.8 million cases sold by The Beer Store in 2008. Labatt reportedly has about 45 per cent of the Ontario market, or 39.6 million cases a year.

Hamilton will still have a brewery in town, at least for now.

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Totally Naked

New Glarus Brewing came out with a new beer that will want you to run free with all of this warm weather. Break out the BBQ, pack a picnic basket, and delight in the warmth of the summer sun. Shed some layers and get ‘Totally Naked’ with New Glarus Brewing all summer long.

Totally Naked is made with two-row barley malt with a mellow and smooth body. Imported Noble Hop varieties from Germany and the Czech Republic ensure a fine mature aroma with no coarse bitterness. Expect this beer to pour a delicate golden hue that sparkles in the summer sun. This lager (4.2% ABV) is brewed using all natural ingredients with no artificial additives of any kind. Kick back, relax and enjoy the simple unadorned flavor. You can find this beer at your favorite market into the Fall, then not again until next summer.

When New Glarus Brewing was founded in 1993 there was a long held notion that only mega brewers were able to brew pale lager beers. Craft brewers had up until that time only brewed hoppy dark ales. It was speculated that craft brewers lack of precision and proper equipment made them ill suited to brew such a precise beer style. Due to this commonly held belief, Daniel Carey, Diploma Master Brewer at New Glarus Brewing, was dared to brew an American lager. True to his understanding that “all beer styles are legitimate and worth exploring”, the result of this challenge thankfully allows all in Wisconsin to get ‘Totally Naked’ throughout the summer.

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Top 50 Craft Breweries

Last week, the Brewers Association released a list of craft beer’s top 50 breweries, ranked by 2009 beer sales volume. The top five include: Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (no surprise there!), New Belgium Brewing Company, Spoetzl Brewery, and Pyramid Breweries Inc.

Also on the list was Blue Point Brewing Company, a local Long Island brewery, which was ranked #43. Congrats Blue Point!

Click here to view the complete list, which also has the top 50 overall brewing companies.

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