What is a craft brewer?
Illinois sets its craft brewer definition at 30,000 barrels a year, which means Two Brothers Brewing Co. of Warrenville and Revolution Beer LLC of Chicago, both on track to each produce 45,000 barrels this year, are not craft brewers.
How many craft brewers are there in Chicago? The state?
There are about 70 breweries in Illinois, with the bulk — 25 — in Chicago, said Justin Maynard, executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. More are coming, with five in the works for the city and 30 in planning stages throughout the state. "They're popping up all over the place," he said.
Chicago is home to one of the top brewing academies in the world.
The Siebel Institute of Technology, now housed in Kendall College, is to brewing what the Culinary Institute of America is to cooking. It started in Chicago in 1868 by a German chemist who came from Dusseldorf, Germany.
Our town is home to the largest wood- and barrel-aged beer festival.
Aging beer in wine and bourbon barrels may seem like a recent phenomenon, but the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers is headed into its 12th year. The brewing style, which imparts different flavors into beer, has been popularized widely by brewers such as Goose Island and its Bourbon County Stout series.
Not all India pale ales taste the same.
"They all have different seasonings, just like there are different curries and different moles," said Jared Rouben, brewmaster at Moody Tongue Brewing Co. in Pilsen. "Some are going to be bitter and some are going to be aromatic." It's all a matter of when the hops — and all beers have hops — hit the brew. So don't be puzzled if one day an IPA tastes great but another one doesn't have the same appeal, he said.
Where are local brewers getting their hops?
Hop Head Farms LLC of Hickory Corners, Michigan, is the largest hop yard outside of the Pacific Northwest, owner and CEO Nunzino Pizza said. The 30-acre farm, which started three years ago, grows nine varieties of mostly aromatic hops.
More than a dozen Chicago-area brewers get their hops from the farm, including Half Acre Beer Co., BuckleDown Brewing, 3 Floyds Brewing Co. and Pipeworks Brewing Co.
Failure can be a lucrative option.
The proliferation of craft brewing has made the secondary-equipment market nearly non-existent. "Brewing equipment at the moment is extremely liquid," said Greg Shuff, owner of DryHop Brewers. "If I decided to close I could probably sell (my equipment) at 110 percent of what I paid.".