Its that time of year again for this column to transform into one about the beers we drink on a regular basis to the beers we gather around for on special occasions.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year travelling to different breweries in the area and recommending a lot of flagship beer. Flagship beers are specific beers that a brand produces to anticipate their high-volume selling beer. Brickstone Brewery’s flagship beers are APA and Hopskip. You see them everywhere Brickstone beer is sold.

Revolution Brewing flagship beer is Anti-Hero. Some places will not have any other Revolution beer, but if they have one – they will have Anti-Hero. This column will not be featuring these easy drinking beers people can get behind until the end – stay tuned. These beers are the breweries high-end ventures, the small-batch, the passion project of beers.

I bring up Revolution Brewing because they are the first brewery to release their fleet of barrel-aged beers in Chicago this year. Hailstorm Brewing got into the game this year with a suite of big beers they are releasing over the barrel-aged beer season which I will preview as well.

Revolution Brewing plans to release their 10-barrel beers over the course of four weeks beginning this weekends.

Starting at 4 p.m. on Friday at its Kedzie Taproom, 3340 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago. They will also be a release party starting at noon today. There was a preview night where you can get these variants on draft only at bars around the city on Thursday. The closest location to get a sip of these beers is Craft’d, 16031 S. Lincoln Hwy., Plainfield.

The first three beers that will be released this weekend are: Deth’s Tar, bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, is as close to the flagship of their Deep Woods Series of beers they release. The other one to expect is Deth by Plums, which is a close cousin to the fantastic Deth by Currants last year which was one of my favorites of the bunch. I’m super excited for this one. The other standby beer coming out this time is Deth by Café which is a must have of the whole series.

The next weekend Rev is releasing Deep Woods Series beer is Nov. 14-15. Two fantastic beers are debuting that weekend, Straight Jacket their bourbon barrel-aged barleywine which is fast becoming one of my favorite beers in general, and V.S.O.R. which is Very Special Old Ryeway which is another regular feature for Rev.

Ryeway is a rye barleywine that is aged for one year in rye whiskey barrels. The Very Special Old means they aged this beer for two years in these special barrels.

The weekend of Dec. 13 will see four more released in a similar fashion as the first weekend. The four to be released are Ryeway to Heaven, V.S.O.D. (Very Special Old Deth), and Boss Jacket. V.S.O.D. is the original Deth’s Tar aged for an extra year in bourbon barrels.

Boss Jacket is a brand new beer debuting after the success of Boss Ryeway released last year. Boss Jacket is your regular old Straight Jacket barleywine aged in Calvados barrels which at the time of typing this column I didn’t know what those are. I googled it and apparently Calvados is an apple Brandy. That sounds lovely.

The final weekend of releases is Jan. 24, 2020. This weekend feels like the championship round of releases with Cuvee de Grace and 10-Year Beer. Cuvee de Grace is a blend (cuvee) of seven different barrel-aged beers. I’m excited for this one. 10-Year Beer is a blend of 1- and 2-year barrel aged barleywine aged on cherries for good measure. I can’t contain my excitement.

I don’t have the space here to describe all of the beers that will be available on draft during these release parties, but I can give you some names like Maple Deth, V.S.O.Lynotts, Supermassive Café Deth, Sanctuary No. 9 (look it up), Olde Gravedigger (barrel aged Scotch ale), Deth’s Tar Limited 19. This is worth the trek to get after these very limited special releases when you can.

The other Chicagoland brewery that is releasing an intense amount of barrel-aged beers over the course of a couple of months is our local Hailstorm Brewing. Hailstorm’s “flagship” barrel aged-beer is their Vlad Russian imperial stout.

Hailstorm Brewing goes after a different set of tastes with their barrel aged variants like this weekend’s, starting at noon Saturday at the taproom 8060 186th St., Tinley Park, first release in the series is Bourbon Barrel-Aged Spumoni Vlad which is an imperial stout aged for a good long while in bourbon barrels that features pistachio, chocolate and cherries.

You check out all the details on Hailstorm’s facebook page. Beers will be sold on site, cash only, no ATM, in brand new 12-ounce cans. You can buy 8 cans per person and when possible, you can mix and match any one of the cans. I’m very excited for this opportunity.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Vlad under the same circumstances as the first will be relased Oct. 26. Hailstorm will be releasing their acclaimed Artic Ale Barleywine Nov. 2, and they plan on releasing Rose’s Imperial Stout Nov. 16.

On Nov. 23, they will be releasing their BBA Blueberry-Maple Vlad. I’ve had a blueberry Vlad in the past and loved every drop of it. On Nov. 30, Hailstorm will release their annual collaboration beer with The Open Bottle with a twist, this year we have a bourbon barrel aged variation of Santa’s Cookies and Milk imperial stout.

On Dec. 7, they’re releasing BBA Lumberjack Breakfast. Then on Dec. 14, Hailstorm is putting out BBA Artic Ale Barleywine with Cinnamon and Oranges. My most hotly anticipated release of the season is Dec. 21, a bourbon barrel-aged Vlad’s Day Off which is an incredible beer they brewed awhile ago with the kings of old imperial stouts Listermann’s Brewing out of Ohio. On Dec. 28, we are looking forward to the last release of the season Double BBA Mexican Chocolate Vlad.

If all of that wasn’t enough. Tonight is the release of my collaboration brew with Steam Hollow Brewing Company in Manteno. Some weeks ago, I helped Blane White, brewer of Steam Hollow, brew a batch of what used to be called Penelope’s Pale Ale when we brewed it back in the garage.

The beer is finally ready and will be pouring out in Manteno at 7 p.m. tonight. Tortuga Tacos will be present slinging some high-quality tacos. The band Anthem, a Chicago-based classic rock cover band, starts at 8 pm. There is no cover for the event.

You can find the event details: facebook.com/events/456400995212324/.

Pale Ale from Steam Hollow Brewing

ABV: 5%

IBUs: 35

Style: Pale Ale – American

Notes: Cascade hops and a solid malt backbone make this pale ale a balanced, crisp, and refreshing which is rich in citrus, almost grapefruit notes from the pacific northwest hop.

Where to Buy: Steam Hollow Brewing, 450 S. Spruce St., Unit C, Manteno, starting at 7 pm Saturday in 16-ounce pint pours for $6.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to join in the fun of Bennett-Curtis House Halloween Wizard Theme dinner event. The event is both inside and outside the Hogwart’s mansion, featuring scenes and activities for all to enjoy.

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