Arts & Culture » Fall Preview

Rick Bayless's Cruz Blanca and more brewpubs opening this fall in Chicago

New options for spots to drink beer this fall include Corridor Brewing & Provisions, Like Minds Brewery, Band of Bohemia, and Bixi.



Five years ago Chicago's brewpub scene was as quiet as its brewery scene—and since then it's grown almost as quickly. The original stalwarts—Piece, Goose Island, and Rock Bottom (plus Moonshine, which closed last year)—now have lots of company. Hamburger Mary's began brewing its own beer in 2009 (the brewery side is now called Andersonville Brewing), followed by the higher-profile Revolution Brewing in 2010 and Haymarket Pub & Brewery in early 2011. Hard on their heels came Atlas, Horse Thief Hollow, DryHop, and Birreria Chicago (inside Eataly), then Mad Mouse Brewery (part of Moxee restaurant), All Rise Brewing (in Cobra Lounge), Greenstar Brewing (in Uncommon Ground), and Lagunitas Taproom—plus Smylie Brothers and the Peckish Pig up in Evanston. And while Breakroom Brewery is so far the sole brewpub that's opened in 2015, that's not likely to last: there are a handful of openings planned for the fall.

One is a new project from the people behind DryHop Brewers. Owner Greg Shuff has followed the lead of restaurant groups; instead of expanding DryHop, he's starting a completely different brewpub. Corridor Brewing & Provisions is slated to open in early October in Lakeview, and while DryHop focuses on hoppy beers, Corridor will have mostly Belgian-style and farmhouse ales. Shuff says they're styles he's "particularly fond of"; that, combined with the public's growing interest in yeast-oriented beers, made him want to build a place around that style of brewing (DryHop head brewer Brant Dubovick will also be doing the brewing for Corridor). As at DryHop, the menu will follow the beer: Shuff says that "with farmhouse-style brewing, it's really easy to make that jump to rustic-style food. Our kitchen is based around this large clay hearth oven." In addition to flatbreads, they'll have baked sandwiches and entrees.

Rick Bayless's Cruz Blanca (900 W. Randolph), opening this fall in the West Loop, is also a new project from a well-established restaurant owner—but for Bayless, who only recently got into brewing, it's also a new direction. Named after the label started by a French brewer in Mexico in the mid-19th century, Cruz Blanca already has a flagship beer: La Guardia, brewed by Bayless in collaboration with Phil Wymore of Perennial Artisan Ales in Saint Louis. It's made with hominy, epazote, lime peel, and coriander in the style of a biere de garde—a traditional French farmhouse ale—and is already available at Bayless's Xoco Bistro in Wicker Park. In addition to a tasting room for the beer, the brewery will offer food; no details are available yet on what'll be served.

Less well-known locally (so far) is Justin Aprahamian, James Beard award-winning chef-owner of Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee, who's opening Like Minds Brewery (1800 W. Walnut) with business partner John Lavelle just west of the West Loop. The brewpub was originally planned for Milwaukee, but Wisconsin state law doesn't allow brewery owners to hold retail liquor licenses for other businesses—and Aprahamian has a liquor license for Sanford. Like Minds had been contract brewing at Hinterland Brewery in Green Bay for about a year before Aprahamian and Lavelle realized this spring that if they wanted to build their own brewery, they'd have to do it outside Wisconsin. They quickly settled on Chicago, and this summer hired Matt Brower, formerly of Dogfish Head, as the head brewer. Aprahamian says the beers will be influenced by the way he sees flavor combinations as a chef (the beers he contract brewed included ingredients like rhubarb, black currants, and lemon verbena); the food will come later—he's hoping for the end of the year—and be similar to the seasonally focused fare he serves at Sanford. At the end of August, the Like Minds brewers began making their first four offerings on their new equipment: an IPA, a saison, a cucumber pilsner, and an oatmeal stout brewed with Intelligentsia coffee.

Lack of name recognition shouldn't be a problem for Band of Bohemia (4710 N. Ravenswood), a "culinary brewhouse" (like a brewpub, but fancier) slated to open in October or November in Ravenswood. Former Alinea head sommelier Craig Sindelar and former Alinea baker and Half Acre brewer Michael Carroll recently hired Matt DuBois of Inovasi as their executive chef—but the business partners emphasize that the food will be created to complement the beer, rather than vice versa. The focus will be on session beers brewed with spices, vegetables, and fruits, like a beet/thyme combination and, in the summer, a wheat beer with lemon, lavender, and cardamom. Located in a 6,000-square-foot former cookie factory, Band of Bohemia will have 110 seats, chandeliers, and a wood-fired grill. No TVs, no hamburgers, no french fries—though they'll offer cocktails and wine along with the beer, and eventually hope to create a rooftop garden where they can grow some of their own ingredients.

And while the opening date hasn't yet been announced, Logan Square will eventually get a brewpub from the owners of Owen & Engine, tentatively called Bixi. A huge two-level space at 2515 N. Milwaukee with a partially enclosed rooftop deck, it'll offer Asian-inspired food—an influence that'll also be reflected in the beer, which could involve tea infusions.

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