The American Midwest is a region steeped in a strong tradition of beer culture. The beer that is most readily associated with the region is likely the Anheuser-Busch line out of St. Louis, Missouri. Anheuser-Busch has earned this association by passing the test of time, as they have been in operation for well over a century. However, over the past decade the region has become densely populated with a number of burgeoning Midwestern craft breweries looking to stake their claim to the hearts and taste buds of the beer drinking public.
Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois has been around for over a decade and is a legitimately large scale operation, with three brewery outposts in Chicago and over two dozen beers circulating in bars and stores throughout the Midwest. In fact, Goose Island was recently bought out by Anheuser-Busch, a move that is expected to greatly increase their nationwide distribution.
Conversely, Half Acre Beer Company, also in Chicago, keeps things small. They generally have three beers on tap at their Chicago storefront, with a much more modest regional distribution than Goose Island. However, there are a number of things that make Half Acre unique. One is the weekly free tour of their brewery (with samples included), and another is their eco-friendly practice of growlers, which are half gallon jugs that customers purchase to be filled and refilled directly from the brewery’s own taps.
New Glarus Brewing Company, located in New Glarus, Wisconsin has built a reputation for being a bit of an enigma. The company takes special care to limit the distribution of their beers to bars or liquor stores within Wisconsin state lines. For the uninitiated this might paint a picture of a mom and pop operation that is reliant on state pride to generate beer sales. However, New Glarus is a surprisingly large operation, and they continually push the envelope with dozens of different styles of beers, including their renowned Raspberry Tart Framboise. The location and small scale distribution make this one of the most unique Midwestern craft breweries.
Three Floyd’s Brewery in Munster Indiana, is a short trip from Chicago and a long trip away from the standard brewery. Each spring the brewery holds Dark Lord Day, an event to celebrate the brewery’s Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout. The beer is unique because it is only available for purchase on the day of the event. The event is special because it has evolved from a celebration of one beer into essentially a craft beer Woodstock. The brewery has loads of unique offerings all year round, but Dark Lord Day is consistently the flagship event for Three Floyd’s.
These breweries represent just a sampling of the delectable and under the radar beers that Midwestern craft breweries have to offer beer drinkers. As an aspiring connoisseur, it is important to focus on trying new beers. This way you can discover the breweries that you deem worthy of a visit. Remember to drink responsibly, and happy travels.