Part of Chicago's enthusiasm for craft beer comes from a "drink local" ethos. There's a special satisfaction to hoisting a pint brewed mere miles from where you're drinking, and this fall, Chicagoans will welcome some new hometown heroes to their taps. Settle in—preferably with a drink in hand—for the lowdown on six new Chicago-area craft breweries debuting in the city before the end of 2013.
Penrose Brewing Company
Distributor: Windy City
Planned debut: October
Style focus: Belgian-inspired ales and barrel-aging
Tap handle: Three-sided, dark-stained wood handle with the geometric, floral Penrose logo
First beers to debut in Chicago: P-2, a Belgian pale, and Proto Gradus, a Belgian single that means "first step" in Latin
What's next: "Our two other mainstay beers will probably come out a few months after the first two hit. Going into next year, we’re hoping for packaged product and a few more beers as we’re doing that," said brewer Tom Korder.
Urban Legend Brewing Company
Distributor: In negotations
Planned debut: End of September
Style focus: A range of beers, from a 13 percent ABV imperial Russian stout to a 5 percent ABV kolsch
Tap handle: A newspaper-wrapped handle with Urban Legend printed on top
First beers to debut in Chicago: Catherine the Great IPA, God Country kolsch, I'm Coming to Join You Elizabeth red ale, The Wire Transfer pale ale and The Alter Ego aka Tony Clifton alt beer
What's next: Brewer Tim Hoerman will focus on the recently opened small taproom in Westmont and will brew more of the Krispy Karl Russian imperial stout, which placed third in the cask ale tent at Midwest Brewers Fest.
SlapShot Brewing Co.
Chicago, Ill. (Little Village)
Planned debut: Beers contract brewed with Urban Legend's equipment will debut Sept. 7; beers brewed at SlapShot's facilityshould debut within 90 days
Style focus: Session beers in the percent ABV range
Tap handle: Shaped like the top of a hockey stick with the SlapShot logo
First beers to debut in Chicago: Two contract brewed beers—made using Urban Legend's equipment in Westmont, Ill.—will hit taps first: Honey You're Blonde blonde ale and The White Stuff, a hoppy hefeweizen similar to a white IPA
What's next: "We're taking traditional beers and making them something interesting that people want to try," said brewer Steve Miller. "We have a Nut Job nut brown ale; it's a regular nut brown that we use peanut butter in."
Distributor: Wirtz Beverage Group
Planned debut: End of October
Style focus: Hoppy American beers and Belgian styles
Tap handle: Rectangular light wood handles imprinted with the BuckleDown logo
First beers to debut in Chicago: Fiddlesticks Belgian-style IPA, Belt & Suspenders American IPA, Mirth Belgian-style single, Shady Aftermath robust porter. A collaboration beer, BuckleDown and Drink Up extra pale ale, brewed with the West Loop's Haymarket Pub & Brewery, currently is on tap at Haymarket.
What's next: Co-founders Ike Orcutt and Sean Mahoney are finalizing construction on their brewery. In the first month or so of distributing, they plan to be on tap at select craft beer bars with greater expansion in the coming months.
Une Annee Brewery
Chicago, Ill. (West Town)
Planned debut: Sept. 3
Style focus: Seasonally-focused Belgian- and French-inspired styles
Tap handle: Long, thin tap handle with number one-shaped logo at top
First beers to debut in Chicago: Three beers will debut on Sept. 3 at Fountainhead: The Devil's Reign, a Belgian strong golden brewed in collaboration with Lakeview's DryHop Brewers, Maya Belgian IPA and Less is More summer saison. DryHop will tap The Devil's Reign on Sept. 4.
What's next: Brewer Jerry Nelson plans to add more fermentors in the coming months which will facilitate the release of seasonal beers and small-batch creations.
Temperance Beer Company
Distributor: In negotiations
Planned debut: Mid- to late September
Style focus: "Eclectic but memorable styles" is how founder Josh Gilbert describes brewer Claudia Jendron's beers
Tap handle: Still in the works
First beers to debut in Chicago: Root Down porter with chicory and licorice root, Restless Years pale ale, National Anthem red and white wheat ale with blueberries and Smittytown English special bitter with American hops
What's next: "Ultimately, our beers will go wherever our tastes and inspiration take us," Gilbert said. "Whether it becomes their new favorite brew or just another notch in their belt, we want people to remember their brush with Temperance."
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