In this week’s Hoplinks, chicken and beer come together, this year’s Black Friday is set to be a tasty (and expensive) one, a country music festival gets a beer lineup, Belgian tradition recognizes the US, there’s a new king of the beer hill, and the fastest growing US breweries are highlighted.

NORTHCENTER, CHICAGO — Fried chicken and beer are a tried and true pairing, and now two of Chicago’s go-to’s for each are getting together. Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Half Acre have collaborated to brew a beer using corn muffins from the restaurant. It’s unlikely the muffins will contribute much flavor, according to Half Acre’s head brewer, but it’s more about the collaboration itself. [Chicago Tribune]

WEST TOWN, CHICAGO — Goose Island is hitting their Black Friday stride again this year with the release of seven Bourbon County variants. After releasing just four in 2016 following the infection issues in 2015, this year’s lineup features some interesting new ingredients and even “reserve” variations on yearly releases. Which one of the 2017 lineup are you most looking forward to?  [THR Wire]

CHICAGO — If barbecue, beer, and country music are your things, then you should probably check out the Windy City Smokeout, taking place July 14-16th near downtown along the river. The festival has put together an impressive beer lineup that features a mix of local and national brands. [THR Wire]

AUSTIN, TX — Belgian Trappist brewery

La Trappe has named their first US bar as part of their Governorship program. The program, which aims to highlight restaurants and bars that make extraordinary efforts to promote and sell La Trappe and other Trappist beers, named Austin’s Mort Subite as the first American member. What other US bars do you think qualify for this recognition? [THR Wire]

USA — There’s a new king of the beer hill in the US for the first time in eight years. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale surpassed Russian River’s Pliny the Elder for the top spot in Zymurgy Magazine’s annual Best Beers in America survey. The complete lists from the homebrewing magazine are also worth a look as there are some surprising inclusions. [Brewers Association]

USA — It’s no secret the American craft beer scene is in the midst of an explosion of growth, but who is growing the quickest? Porch Drinking lists the top 30 fastest growing breweries by volume, according to numbers released earlier this month by the Brewers Association. Looking at percent growth rather than total production highlights some interesting smaller breweries that are certainly ones to watch in 2017. [Porch Drinking]


Photo of Goose Island Bourbon County variants from 2016 from our fall preview. This year’s lineup features seven releases. — by Nick Costa.