7 Reasons Why the Midwest Beer Scene Is America’s Best

Photo by Bill Manley

The fourth stop on Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America tour is Chicago, Illinois, the emerging epicenter of Midwestern craft beer. We walked the grounds to find out from brewmasters, enthusiasts, and the experts running the booths why they think, when it comes to beer, the Midwest is the best.

1. It Has the Most Earnest Brewers
“The Midwest has alway been a hard working, blue collar region. We don’t brew for the glamour, we brew for the satisfaction of a job well done.” — Steve Miller, Founder and Brewer, SlapShot Brewing, Chicago, IL

2. It’s the Lakes
“Giant lakes! We have fresh water oceans all over the place. Beer is water, post raw material juicing and yeast explosion, so we’re basically sitting on the banks of a colossal fermentation oasis.” — Gabriel Magliaro, Co-Founder, Half Ace Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

3. It’s in the Center
“We are our nation’s bosom. We can affordably make beer in the center of America while pushing it east and west with relative ease. The midwest is a logistical power play.” — Gabriel Magliaro, Co-Founder, Half Ace Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

4. It’s the Education
“Chicago is home to the Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest technical brewing school in the U.S. as well as the Cicerone Certification Program.” — Gary Valentine, Siebel Instructor and Illinois Craft Brewers Guild Events Director

5. It Prioritizes Brews
“We don’t like to walk far for beer. Wisconsin has three times as many bars as it does grocery stores!” — Phil Kuhl, Craft Beer Specialist, Wirtz Beverage, Wisconsin

6. It Enjoys Actual Seasons
“Unlike some other regions, the Midwest experiences significant, and often extreme, weather changes during the changing seasons, and that makes it the best region for enjoying craft beer.  A thirst-quenching hefeweizen or saison in the hot summer, a malty Oktoberfest in the autumn when it’s cooling down, a warming bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout in the dead of a cold winter, and a maibock or pale ale in the spring to help segue from cold to warmer weather.” — Mike Siegel, Innovation Manager, Goose Island Brewing Co, Chicago, IL

7. It Has the Highest-Rated Beers
“If you want to get technical, then Ratebeer.com says so. In their annual list of best breweries in the world, the Midwest routinely fields several of the top 5 breweries world wide. In 2012, the Midwest swept the top three spots, with Three Floyds, Founders, and Bell’s coming in first, second and third respectively, awarding top beer honors for IPAs (Bell’s Two Hearted), Pale Ales (FFF Zombie Dust), Stouts (Founders KBS), Barleywines (Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine), Sours (New Glarus R&D Sour), and Fruit Beers (New Glarus Raspberry Tart). Pretty much an open-and-shut case.” — Chris Quinn, Owner of the Beer Temple


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