It's not every day that I walk into a beer store to find them sampling out Dark Lord. Actually, it's not every day that I walk into a beer store, period, but with the recent explosion of craft beer in Chicago, the Beer Temple
is actually the second beer store to open in just a few months (the first, Bottles and Cans
, is located at 4109 N. Lincoln). I first noticed the sign at California and Belmont a few weeks ago, and stopped in to take a look on Monday, the second day they were open. Apparently Sunday was really the day to be there, because I noticed an empty bottle of Westvleteren XII
on the counter, which owner Chris Quinn said he'd been offering samples of on opening day (the Dark Lord had been out then too, but that lasted until the next day).
He wasn't selling either of them, of course—for those not familiar with the beers, they're extremely rare—but on opening day he did have Bourbon County Coffee Stout, Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary, Pipeworks Abduction Coffee Break, and an experimental IPA from Deschutes called Hop Henge for sale. They didn't last long, but Quinn promises to have more rare beers at the grand opening in a few weeks, both for tasting and for buying.
Quinn says the store has been in the works for about a year and a half, and over the past few years he's been building up his credentials for the job: he's gone to the Siebel Institute and is now a certified cicerone and member of the beer panel at the Beverage Testing Institute. He's also been doing video podcasts since 2011 in which he tastes and talks about various beers. There are now more than 150; the latest, shot in the store just before it opened, focuses on the new-to-Chicago Deschutes brewery.
Margaret Quinn, who runs the store with her husband, says the opening process has been fairly smooth. "We really didn't run into any major roadblocks," she said. "The city has been great, the neighborhood has been really welcoming and friendly."
She says they carry beer from more than a dozen countries and predicts that their specialty will be sour beers, particularly Belgian sours—one of their favorite styles. They also have a good selection of local brews, and are hoping that with all its new breweries, Chicago will become the country's next big beer city.
The Beer Temple (3185 N. Elston, 773-754-0907) is open Monday-Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM and Sunday from noon to 5 PM. More photos below.
- Julia Thiel
- Chris and Margaret Quinn at the counter, which is made from Bourbon County Stout barrels
Julia Thiel writes about booze every Wednesday.