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Chicago’s Ravenswood Brewery Corridor: Great Craft Beer Crawls Are Only a Train Ride Away

Monday, November 21, 2016 12:05
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One of Chicago’s better kept secrets is that its Ravenswood Corridor neighborhood (Ravenswood Avenue between Irving and Foster) houses one of the most prolific craft brewing communities in America, to the point where its unofficial name is Ravenswood Brewery Corridor. This magnet for beer enthusiasts is helping the city create a name for itself as a craft beer city, giving its microbreweries more cachet and reinvigorating the community’s respect for good beer.

Ravenswood Brewery Corridor has become a nonstop beer crawl as it is home to a variety of unique taprooms satiating a myriad of beer cravings. From the simply straightforward to the chic and upscale, each taproom serves acclaimed beers Chicagoans love, plus new brews they can’t wait to try.

The corridor is easily accessible by both Metra and CTA trains, making trips to the taprooms easy for locals and visiting out of towners. From the suburbs, take the Metra UP-Northwest line to the Irving Park stop and then walk, bike, cab or Uber three miles to the start of the corridor by Dovetail Brewery and Begyle Brewing Company, or take the Metra UP-North line to the Ravenswood stop, a mere .2 miles from Band of Bohemia, the middle point of the corridor. If you’re coming from the city hop on the L! On the Brown line get off at Damen, .3 miles from Band of Bohemia; Montrose, .4 miles from Band of Bohemia and .5 miles from Dovetail and Begyle; or Irving Park, .2 miles from Dovetail and Begyle. The best Red line stops are Argyle, 1 mile from Empirical Brewery; Wilson, which also serves the Purple line and is located 1 mile from Band of Bohemia; and Sheridan, 1 mile away from Dovetail and Begyle.

If you feel like taking a quick westerly side trip, visit Half Acre Beer Company’s Lincoln Brewery, complete with taproom, located at 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. Another area brewery, Spiteful Brewing, located at 1815 W Berteau, is planning to open a taproom soon.

Start your crawl with corridor’s newest brewery, Dovetail Brewery (1800 West Belle Plaine Avenue, Chicago; 773-683-1414). Industrial cool, dog friendly, and rooted in Continental European beer culture, founders Bill Wesselink and Hagen Dost focus on great German and Belgian-style beer and a comfortable atmosphere. Their current offering includes an authentic German-style lager, a fall/winter Dunkelweizen wheat beer, and a smoky Rauchweizen.

Dovetail remains true to the old-world craft of brewing, going as far as importing rare, authentic equipment from Germany and brewing their beer through open fermentation where the wort is fermented in open-topped vessels. Their dedication to their craft is obvious in their beer’s subtle, interesting flavors that serious beer lovers and beer novices alike will appreciate.

Begyle Brewing Company (1800 West Cuyler Avenue, Chicago; 773-661-6963) is a hop, skip and a jump away from Dovetail. The first taproom in Ravenswood, Begyle is a rustic warehouse brightened up with quirky décor that feels like a fun, funky garage party and approaches the brewing process with a similar, free spirited gusto. A collaboration with Koval Distillery resulted in a no-gimmicks straightforward barrel aged stout while a collaboration with Ipsento Coffee’s Wildfire Espresso gives their Imperial Pajamas Coffee Stout a surprising twist. The micro-brewery also features IPAs, pale ales and blonde ales, attracting beer drinkers ranging from novice to boozy brew buffs.

Band of Bohemia (4710 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago; 773-271-4710) is the halfway marker but a world away from the other taprooms. While the Dovetail and Begyle taprooms are rough around the edges and urban cool, Band of Bohemia is opulent and suave with plush, richly colored, upholstered seats, delicate chandeliers and a full menu courtesy of an in-house executive chef. The menu does not distract from the taproom’s beer, but highlights the beer. Here, instead of the drinks pairing with food, the food pairs with beer, turning the taproom into a “culinary brewhouse,” where rotating menus feature beers like guava-pink peppercorn Belgian ale, cocoa nib-fig-rum black ale and chocolate malt black cherry black lager and plates of beef tartare, jerk chicken and steak sandwiches.

Finally, finish up at Empirical Brewing (1801 West Foster Avenue, Chicago). Their vibe is industrial, thanks to their minimalistic approach in decorating the former warehouse. However, the time saved keeping the décor simple translates into extra effort in brewing beer, a process so meticulous it can only be described as scientific. The brewers at Empirical Brewing went beyond the x’s and o’s of the chemical processes in the tanks and adopted a scientific approach based on empirical evidence—from ratings aggregators such as Rate Beer and Beer Advocate—to develop brewing techniques, beer flavors and scientifically inspired names such Gamma-Ray Ginger Wheat, Heliotropic Hoppy Pale Ale, Electric Blue Cream Ale and Double Helix Imperial IPA.

Half Acre Beer Company’s taproom serves up about a dozen beers on tap, plus their Imperial Brown Ale, aged in bourbon barrels and sold in 22 oz. bottles. The food menu includes a variety of comfort food, small plates, soups, salads, burritos and desserts. Several non-alcoholic beverages also are available.

Thanks to creative and passionate breweries like Dovetail Brewery, Begyle Brewing Company, Band of Bohemia, Empirical Brewing, Half Acre Beer Company and Spiteful Brewing, the local beer scene has changed so much that Goose Island Brewing Co. is no longer considered a craft brewer by the Boulder, Colorado-based Brewers Association. Yet, one thing remains the same—Chicagoans love their craft beer and passionate breweries continue to refine Chicago’s beer culture.

About Dovetail Brewery        

Dovetail Brewery, located at 1800 W. Belle Plaine in Chicago, Illinois, is a craft brewery owned by certified master brewers Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink, specializing in delicious, balanced beers brewed using traditional German and Belgian brewing methods. Signature beers include unfiltered German-style lagers, traditional Hefeweizen, Rauchbier and Lambic-style sour beers. Dovetail Brewery also produces a variety of special seasonal beers.

At Dovetail, we pride ourselves on designing our beers for all the senses. This means that in addition to having great flavor, body, aroma and aftertaste, we also carefully choose the glassware and design our beers for a large, lasting foam-stand with beautiful lacing after every sip. We strongly recommend serving our beers in our glassware and using a flow control faucet in order to present the beer in its best form.

Taproom hours are: Tuesday, 2pm – 10pm; Wednesday, 2pm – 10pm; Thursday, 2pm – 10pm; Friday, 12pm – 11pm; Saturday, 11am – 11pm; Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Dovetail’s new Happy Hour Tuesday through Thursday from 2 – 6:30pm. The taproom is dog-friendly.

The 22,000 square foot brewing facility includes an attractive tap room that is open to the public for drinking and retail sales. The tap room and other brewery areas are also available as a rental space for private events.

Dovetail Brewery delivers beer by the keg to venues near the brewery and also to some select venues closer to the Loop. All bars, taverns and restaurants in the greater Chicagoland area that wish to serve Dovetail beer on tap are welcome to contact the brewery at info@dovetailbrewery.com or visit the taproom during normal business hours.

For more information about Dovetail Brewery, please visit the brewery’s website at http://dovetailbrewery.com and their newsroom at http://www.newsline360.com/dovetailbrewery or contact co-founders Bill Wesselink or Hagen Dost by email. For additional information about special events and promotions, contact Adrianne Dost. For additional information, please call 773-683-1414.

Follow Dovetail Brewery on Twitter (https://twitter.com/dovetailbrewchi; @DovetailBrewChi)

Follow Dovetail Brewery on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DovetailBrewery/)

Follow Dovetail Brewery on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dovetailbrewery/; @dovetailbrewery)

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