In this week’s Hoplinks, one of Chicago’s original beer bars counts down its final days, a San Diego behemoth opens up shop in the West Loop, a local brewery wants out, barrels roll out north of the boarder, and 2017 production numbers. 

BUCKTOWN, CHICAGO – One of Chicago’s original beer bars, Quenchers Saloon, is counting down the days to its unfortunate closing on June 16th. After 39 years, owner Earl Johnson, has decided it is time for retirement. So go pay tribute to Earl with a Chicago Handshake one last time.

WEST LOOP, CHICAGO  San Diego’s and Constellation Brands owned, Ballast Point, has opened the doors to their Fulton Market brewpub, Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen. The 12,000-square-foot restaurant and bar has a menu full of San Diego favorites with some Chicago exclusives, but more importantly the tap list will feature a full array of BP staples as well as exclusive barrel aged beers not found in stores or other bars around the city.

EVANTSTON, IL — In an evolving story, Evantson’s Smylie Brothers is at odds with the city they call home, trying to terminate a lease on a property they never occupied. After failing to raise funds to expand their brewing operation, the brewery has asked the alderman to cancel their lease that they have paid nothing on since signing in 2016. Further interesting is reports of the brewery scooping up the former Aquanaut brewery in Chicago’s north side neighborhood of Bowmanville.

TORONTO, ON – Goose Island’s Brewpub outpost north of the border rolled out its first barrel aged beer. The first offering, Mature Situations, is a brett fermented Belgian golden ale aged in Niagra Pinot Noir barrels. The result is a fruity, funky ale with hints of oak that is refreshingly acidic. Only time will tell if these GI brewpubs can capture the same magic the original did 30 years prior.

USA — The Brewer’s Association has published its craft production numbers for 2017. As a whole, the craft beer category was up 5%, but many of the biggest craft brewers in the country were down significantly, including Sierra Nevada, Deschutes, and Rouge. 2017 did see significant growth from some major players; Three Floyds, Surly, Bell’s, Stone, Dogfish, and Revolution were all up double digits. The biggest mover in the top 50 producers was Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist, which increased production by 53%.


Photo from our 2017 interview at Quenchers — by Nick Costa.