Review: DryHop Brewers
3155 N. Broadway 773-857-3155
Rating: !!! (out of four) Off to a good start
Oh, DryHop, where were you when I lived in Lakeview? Now that I've moved to a 'hood further west, my brewpub options have improved—shoutout to Revolution, Piece and Haymarket—but for two long years in Wrigleyville, my craft beer options were Sheffield's or bust. DryHop first whet my appetite in April of 2012 when brewer Brant Dubovick and chef Pete Repak announced that they had teamed up to open a Broadway brewpub—by winter 2012, they said.
A year and a half later, a spray-paint stenciled message on the pub's still-under-construction facade read: "Brewing Spring 2013. Promise." Lakeview and Chicago's larger craft beer community waited patiently as details about the brewpub, and a few collaboration beers made in partnership with other breweries trickled out. OK, I thought, our interest is officially piqued ... now open already.
Finally, on June 13, DryHop unlocked the doors and greeted the thirsty masses. Reportedly large crowds kept me away for the first weeks, but I was enthusiastic to return to my former neighborhood for a taste of made-on-site beer and a locally sourced menu. But great anticipation also can lead to disappointment: Would DryHop prove worth the wait?
I'd bike across town for: The sandwiches. The current dinner menu only includes three of them, but having sampled, er, devoured, two of those, I'm smitten. The lamb pastrami on grilled multi-grain ($13) was properly salty, and the grilled bread surprised me by managing to hold together despite the two-fingers-worth of meat. The best part of that between-bread business, though, was the spread: a sweet fig-shallot jam that brightened up an otherwise meat-centric sandwich. Don't neglect the frites that accompany the meal, either—these are no sideshow. Hand-cut and beef fat-fried, these thick potato sticks are satisfying on their own, but also come with a sweet-and-sour Dragon dipping sauce and a thick garlic-parmesan aioli.
Oh, and a burger as good as Kuma's Corner? That was my server's borderline-heretical description of the DryHop burger ($12).Though the patty was indeed perfectly cooked and made from a high-quality blend of brisket and short rib, it's unfair to compare this relatively simple sandwich to the topping-crazy versions at Kuma's. My favorite aspect of this arugula-and-sweet-onion-topped burger was the cheese—a creamy, almost sour aged raw milk cheddar that surprised me with its punch of flavor. If you prefer a milder cheese, steer clear.
I'd walk across the neighborhood for: The beer. Brewer Brant Dubovick loves himself a hoppy beer, so I went straight for the Head Full of Zombies pale ale and the single-hop Aces High IPA (both $5 per pint), brewed only with Sorachi Ace hops. It's easy to browse the beers, since many are available by the flight ($12), 10-ounce pour, pint or 21-ounce Frankfurt mug. I also tried the Batch 001 ($5 for 21 ounces), a rarely seen style called Chicago common that is a hybrid of a Midwest cream ale and a California common. I narrowly missed trying the Angry Samoan coconut stout, which ran out while I was mid-meal. That's no surprise, given the relatively petite size of the gleaming silver beer tanks, which are visible from the dining room and located just behind the bar. And demand's been huge, too. "It's amazing how many beers we're going through," Dubovick said. "We're going through beers so fast; it's great. I thought we'd be busy, but this is pure insanity." Though DryHop doesn't bottle its beers, bartenders will fill 64- and 32-ounce to-go growlers, and on one Saturday each month—this month it's July 13—one of the beers is chosen for $10, 64-ounce growler fills (and that includes the glass jug).
I'd skip: More meat and carbs. Though printed info on the menus suggests ordering two to three plates per person to share, my friend and I couldn't find many lighter options to order alongside our heavy sandwiches. Poutine? Prosciutto-wrapped, cheese-stuffed peppers? Sausage? Even the lone vegetarian shared plate, a tower of parmesan grits ($11), seemed on the heavier side. There are a few seafood options, such as shrimp and grits ($11) and a sea scallop with chorizo-shrimp hash ($11), but these too seemed like a lot to eat alongside our sandwiches. In the end, we chose an order of mussels ($9), which was indeed on the smaller side at only 14 small mollusks to an order.
Bottom line: Lakeview residents should definitely check out this already popular oasis of accessible craft beer. Come on a sunny day when the front accordion-style windows are open and groups of young friends are glowing from the summer weather and multiple pints—and don't forget to bring your biggest appetite.
Still thirsty? Because the turnover on beers is so quick at DryHop, we asked Brant Dubovick to clue us in to what's tapping next. Expect the second installment in the brewery's American pale ale series, called The Jury, to tap Friday or Saturday. Each of the pale ales in that series, which began with The Judge and will end with The Executioner, began with the same malt bill, but the three beers are brewed with different hop combinations. The series eventually will culminate in a double American pale ale that uses all six hops. Expect a Belgian cherry wheat ale to tap Monday, with an oatmeal stout and a traditional German kolsch coming soon.
Reporters visit restaurants unannounced and meals are paid for by RedEye. firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyeeatdrink
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