Chicago Brewery Tour: Part 3, The Southside

Part 3 of 3, The Southside A few years ago no one would believe the south side of Chicago would host this many microbreweries or taprooms. From the late 90s until 2010, most of the city’s best craft beer bars and the only breweries in town were located north of Roosevelt Road, my personal dividing line between the North and South sides of the city.   The very first southside craft brewery was Argus, opening in 2009. Then in 2012-2013 a new generation of breweries popped up all over Chicago including the second to be located in the southside: Horse Thief Hollow. In the following years many more incubated brewery projects came to life. Including one founded by myself, a few family members, and friends called Marz Community Brewing Co. Today there are sixty five breweries in Chicago proper and at least a dozen of them are located below the Eisenhower expressway.   This Southside tour might not be possible for most people to do in one day, but I think it is! Just don’t drink as much as you want to and eat lunch dinner and dessert when I suggest while on this tour. One other caveat: I didn’t include Argus because it doesn’t have regular hours and tours are by appointment. So take a train to that joint when ya have a minute. So let’s get on with it! – By EdMar   Horse Thief Hollow   Our first stop in our South Side brewery tour is a brewpub located in the neighborhood of Beverly and its where we suggest you have lunch at 11:30am. When Illinois competes at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado each year, Horse Thief always brings home a medal. Last year they won a Bronze for their Prunkle’s Dunkle, a European-Style Dark Lager that kicks ass. One of the first breweries to open in the very South Side of Chicago, Horse Thief Hollow defied expectations and has become a must visit brewpub for any visitor to the windy city.   They have earned this reputation by making tasty suds. Brewmaster, David Williams, was a graduate of the legendary C.H.A.O.S Homebrew club and is the definition of the weird turning pro. We expect him to keep making the award winning brews which complement his solid pale ales, kolschs and IPAs.     Whiner Brewing   Whiner Brewery opened up in the ecologically minded manufacturing complex called The Plant, located in The Back of The Yards, a hardscrabble working class neighborhood. A few years back I saw the area in which the new brewery would be situated and it was an abandoned shit hole of a space. Today, after the Whiner construction team of Heizler Group did their magic it’s an industrial palace. The completely utilized facility has equipment in places that you make wonder what engineering feat they used to install the system and tanks ( I think they blew a huge hole in the wall to get all the stuff in). The lighting is sexy and the overall concrete vibe delightfully urban decay chic. And the beer is fantastic too. Besides their solid saison and brettanomyces beers try some of the barrel aged experiments they have on draft.   Whiner is the anchor tenant for The Plant, a vertical farm and food business incubator. Try to visit them on a Saturday when their market is happening and enjoy some tasty bread and treats from Pleasant House Bakery, coffee from a Whiner brewery Sister project, Four Letter Word, and check out Bike A Bee honey.     Marz Community Brewing   The experience of writing for, editing, and publishing Mash Tun Journal is one of the reasons Marz Community Brewing Co came into existence. We were inspired by craft beer and the culture that surrounds it. And somehow our love of beer and the brewers we interviewed talked us into it!   So it’s been almost three years since we started our own contribution to brewing in Chicago and we are pleased to announce that our new facility will be open in late spring. The new brewery is located in the first organized manufacturing district in Chicago right off Bubbly Creek.   Marz will have a tasting room, a bottle/merch shop and more. Since our tap room most likely won’t be open soon due to licensing, permitting and construction delays (the uholy trinity of the brewing biz), we will be open for tours. If yer in the hood, just stop by and knock on the side door. If we hear it we will let ya in and show ya around. Or just email or call us and we will hook ya up.     Baderbräu   After contracting beer for a few years with the recipe from the original craft pilsner revered by old-timers in Chicagoland, Baderbrau has opened their new plant a stone’s throw from Mc Cormack Place. The spacious brewing floor is complemented by a second floor tap room featuring local street art. Their beers have massively improved since they opened up the new joint.   I love the Gunsmoke, a lightly smoked hefeweizen and their Pilsners and Lagers are top notch. Grab a taste of each of these and get ready to check out a few more nearby joints.     Motor Row Brewing   Motor Row is part of the burgeoning development of the South Loop and is also close to the Mc Cormack Convention Center Complex. If yer planing a trip to Millenial park or the Art Institute, this is a great place to get yourself sorted. Motor Row is in a landmark South Loop building and the warehouse-like space has a retail/tasting room and an upstairs taproom for enjoying a few. You can order food in our bring your own. We dig their seasonal IPAs and the Schwarzbier. If you are continuing on, don’t eat yet!     Vice District Brewing Company   Just a mile up the block from Motor Row is Vice District. This south…

Chicago Brewery Tour: Part 2, The North Side

Part 2, The North Side – Read Part 1: The West Side here. Chicago’s North Side is teeming with brewery taprooms. Thanks to a comprehensive public transit system and (mostly) bike-friendly roadways, drinkers can navigate North Side brewery taprooms with ease. Seriously, get a bike or a Ventra card. Cycling is ideal, but the CTA’s buses and trains (Blue, Brown, and Red lines) can take folks from one North Side brewery to another in a jiffy. – Calvin Fredrickson     Half Acre   Start here. You’ll probably end here, too. If you didn’t already know, Half Acre is a Chicago beer institution. Their 16-ounce cans of Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, Pony Pils, and rotating seasonal IPAs are icons of Chicago’s obsession with hoppy beer. At Half Acre, aesthetic and concept can be as important as the liquid itself. Their social media and blog posts are a testament to the eccentricity that runs in the water over there. Rest assured, the beer’s as good as its story.   Finding a table or seat at Half Acre’s taproom is tough some evenings, so get there early and let the staff guide your choices. When in doubt, order a pint of Pony or freshly-released Tuna extra pale ale and coast into a reliably delicious experience.     Dovetail   Ales – mainly IPAs and big stouts – have long dominated Chicago’s tap lines. That domination may be due to a lack of representation of lager, limited mainly to elder statesman Metropolitan and, more recently, Baderbrau. Add to the lager-brewing movement newcomer Dovetail, your continental European-inspired huckleberry. Take the Brown Line to Irving Park and stroll over to their brewery/taproom, where tradition, balance, and patience are sacrosanct brewing tenets. With crowds at Dovetail often reaching capacity on weekends, and seeing an increasing number of Dovetail tap handles at bars around town, Chicago may well be falling for lager.   An amicable mix of big 10 bros, regular Janes and Joes, and old money tickers will find themselves rubbing elbows at Dovetail’s relaxed taproom. Food trucks are usually parked nearby, but if you don’t feel like getting off your barstool, order a dried sausage and a pretzel. If you’re lucky, Jenny will have some stinky cheese on hand. Be nice and she’ll save you a wedge, on the house.   Saturday brewery tours at Dovetail allow guests to drink beer straight from the fermentation and brite tanks while listening to the story of liquid dreams turned reality from co-founders Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink themselves, offering an up-close view and taste of Dovetail’s heart and soul, fermentation. Buy a ticket to their tour, ya’ Scrooge – if it isn’t already sold out. Photograph their brewhouse – a 106-year-old copper vessel formerly of Weihenstephaner may catch your eye – coolship room, open top fermenters, horizontal conditioning tanks, and barrel cellar, filled with barrels of spontaneously-fermented beer brewed in the tradition of lambic.     Old Irving Brewing Co.   At last, the Northwest Side finally gets a brewery/taproom. Take the Blue Line to Montrose. Excellent food and great beers are the game at Old Irving Brewing. Formed in the wake of the Crooked Fork concept – a project put forth by now-deceased Homaro Cantu – Old Irving feels like a vision carried out by Cantu’s friends. Highlights from our visit include a few hoppy numbers and the dessert-like Krampus Cookies, a double chocolate stout brewed with cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla bean.   Looking to play some drinking games while you, err, drink? Hold my beer, Old Irving has cornhole boards for casual gameplay, and a bocce league for the serious player. They also rent out space for birthdays and other events. Parents without a sitter will be glad to find Old Irving offers several kid-friendly food options, along with an attentive waitstaff. Their elevated, wood-fired pub fare and sound contemporary American beers make Old Irving a fine addition to Chicago’s North Side brewing scene.     Hopewell   This clean, airy brewery/taproom is the 2017 zeitgeist of Logan Square. Spacious as it is, Hopewell’s taproom is packed most nights, due in part to their central location and selection of thoughtful, peppy beers, brewed with the consideration of seasonality. Take the Blue Line to Logan Square. Order a Squad – quad brewed for Hopewell’s one year anniversary – and scribble on a coaster while soaking in the bubbly atmosphere of Hopwell’s taproom, marked by well curated music and conversation of area socialites.   As a brewer at Brooklyn Brewery, Hopewell co-founder Stephen Bossu gained an appreciation for brewing lager – an appreciation that informs Hopewell’s lager-friendly portfolio, including year-round First Lager and several other rotating lagers. Their kettle-soured Clover Club – brewed in collaboration with The Whistler – is a gin botanical and raspberry puree-infused saison, and tastes like an invitation to spring. Lately, Hopewell has been hosting pop-ups with area restaurants like Parson’s, Green Street Smoked Meats, and Dimo’s Pizza. Indeed, the Hopewell folks have made fast friends with Logan Square/Avondale businesses and residents alike – stop in for a beer and count yourself among them.   Revolution   In 2010, Revolution’s brewpub invigorated the food and beverage scene in Logan Square, attracting droves of thirsty patrons to a once quiet strip of Milwaukee Ave. Located steps from the California Blue Line, the brewpub sees a lot of foot traffic – it’s a packed house most nights after 5 p.m. If you’re solo, grab a seat at the bar, order a Workingman Mild, and thank your lucky stars the reuben sandwich is back on the menu. And by Jove, don’t forget to order it, either.   You won’t find a barrel aged beer as consistently good and affordable as theirs, made possible, in part, by the opening of their production facility in 2012, located near the Belmont Blue Line stop. Connected to Rev’s production facility is a sizeable taproom, where you can ogle their prodigious barrel aging program and take pictures in front of a gigantic American flag. Ask for a…

Chicago Brewery Tour: Part 1, The West Side

Part 1 of 3 Chicago’s reputation for making great beers is on the ascendancy. And this a reason you might be noticing why a lot of people visiting the windy city are here for the beer. There are sixty six breweries in Chicago and another hundred or so in the burbs. And whether you like it or not Chicago has become one of the top cities for craft beer in America. Not only do we have enough local breweries that would take you a year to try all of their beer, but Chicago has an incredibly diverse range of beers from around the country and the world making it one of the primary markets for the over hundreds of regional and national craft breweries to break into. The explosion of breweries in Chicagoland is a relatively recent phenomena. In the past few years you can find a brewery in many of the high traffic hospitality and entertainment districts in the city. But there are also breweries opening up in out of the way industrial corridors and neighborhoods you have never visited before. This is great for Chicago and craft beer drinkers everywhere. You can drink hyper local and regional brews that are high quality, rad and fresh. Some of the first craft breweries started here in the city and a dozen or so advanced and innovative breweries are making beers sought after all over the world. We have some of the best bars in the world, and restaurants that make food to pair with beer that are internationally renowned. For those of you with your favorite breweries and watering holes, you probably know where you like to go to have a cold one. But have you every considered doing a tour of some of the historic and brand new breweries that have popped up in the last few months and revisited ones you checked out a while ago? Where would you take out visitors from out of town? Well, let us help. We created a few tours in which to investigate our city’s microbreweries and brewpubs that a reasonable person could finish in a day or two. And we picked breweries that have tap rooms or tasting rooms and have left out most production only facilities. You don’t like our picks? The Chicago Reader recently put out a guide to the best Brewery Tours in the city and The Hop Review has a comprehensive google map of all of our metropolitan breweries. We encourage you to design your own tours and guides to drinking beer and want you to share them with us. Enjoy the ride. If you have one day to fill on a brewery tour of Chicago and are not going to Indiana to visit Three Floyd’s then this might be your best option. It’s close to the loop, the distances between them are not too far. It’s bike-able, walkable and taxi friendly. The tour includes a range of small brewpubs to the second largest craft brewing facility in Chicago. It also has a lot of food options. And if you want to eat your way through all this beer, this route maximizes your options. Enjoy.  – Edmar Haymarket Pub & Brewery   Let’s start our West Side Tour with brunch or lunch in the heart of the Chicago Food Zone. Before the West Loop Randolph St corridor became the eating and drinking freak show that it is today, there was Haymarket Pub and Brewery. Opened by one of the OGs of the 90s brewing scene, Pete Crowley, Haymarket became one of the second wave of breweries in Chicago that helped push craft beer’s expansion into the mainstream.   Pete has one dozens of awards for his brews. I suggest you try a First Chance American IPA or their Mathis Imperial IPA and then get some classic pub grub. The Riot Sandwich is the jam. Housemade Italian sausage patties, mozzarella cheese, house made apple bacon BBQ sauce and giardinara all smoosh together onto a brioche bun. A hot mess. I would also recommend the smoked then fried wings, the sausage sampler, and do not miss out on the cheese curds with house made marinara.   Haymarket probably learned that opening a brewery in Chicago is a nightmare. After a few years of success on Randolph they embarked on opening a production facility in Western Michigan, a big suburb of Chicago. Look for their beer outside the tap room and on shelves everywhere in Chicagoland soon.     Cruz Blanca   Rick Bayless has a nationally distributed line of beers called Tocayo. They are ok, but they’re nothing super special. Which surprised me because Rick should know better. But maybe he noticed he couldn’t control that aspect of his brand. So, being a Business Genius, Rick opened his own brewing joint in the middle of the Randolph Street food zone to make up for the contract brew. First thing I like most of all is the Cruz Blanca branding. It is some of the freshest and best stuff in town. I love the nod to the Mexico Olympics of 1968 because it reminds me of the Revolution, man, with fists help high in the air, the Paris revolt, etc. Second best thing I love about Rick is that he is a leader in sustainable business practices. His Frontera Farmer Foundation invested over $2 Million in local farms to help them scale up. What’s not to like about this guy? So it’s great that he has a brewpub, purchasing local farmers produce and making locally crafted liquid.   The brewpub crafts small batch European-style house beers imbued with what Rick’s best at: using Mexican flavors. My inside sources working for Rick tell me that the Marigold, a strong ale brewed with coffee and blackberry and the CDMX pilsner are the bomb. They also just perfected a brand new beer called If There Is Smoke, an amber, German-Style ratifier with cold smoked malt. Seems like smoked beers are having a moment…

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