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Fox was raised in Humboldt Park and fell in love with Pilsen (hence the brewery's name); he moved to Gary six years ago and has been homebrewing pretty much ever since. More important for his present purposes, since last spring Fox has been learning his way around a commercial-scale brewing system at Pipeworks—he came aboard at batch eight (they're into the 70s now), and he's been on Pipeworks' payroll since the summer. He and the Pipeworks guys have brewed lots of 18th Street beers there as well.
Fox quit a job managing a restaurant in a tony hotel to start his brewery, and he hopes to have an operation in Gary up and running by August. He's looking at locations in the Miller Beach area, near the South Shore Line—he wants the spot to be within a ten-minute walk from the train. One of the leading candidates is an old schoolhouse.
The core staff at 18th Street currently includes only two other people: social-media guy Michael Pallen, a homebrewer of ten years who uses the name Mikerphone Brewing, and PR wrangler Calvin Frederickson, who runs the lavishly illustrated blog Whoa Tender (which ran a lovely story on 18th Street, written before Frederickson was hired).
The 18th Street Kickstarter campaign, which closes Mon 2/4, has already met its $12,000 goal. Fox and company intend to use that money to buy a seven-barrel jacketed fermenter, a glycol chiller, labels, and bottles—equipment they can use to continue brewing at Pipeworks without putting a strain on their friends' facilities. Once they're set up in Gary, they'll relocate it all.
Right now the 18th Street folks hope to push on to $20,000 in donations using the time they have left, and they've almost reached 17 grand. The extra money will go toward a four-barrel brewing rig, taproom construction, build-out costs for a cold room and eight-head tap system, and licensing fees.
Many beers have borne the 18th Street name already, but only one has been bottled and distributed. The Brotherhood, brewed in collaboration with Pipeworks, is a Belgian abbey singel made with Saaz hops and zest from lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit. (Stanley's Fresh Fruit & Vegetables provided the citrus gratis.) The label on the bottle calls it a "patersbier," which isn't a style as such but rather a word for the beer the monks at Trappist breweries make for themselves (it means "fathers' beer"). It's usually a less strong version of a regular-rotation brew, and the Brotherhood is indeed rather mild at 4.5 percent alcohol.
So let's get started with the review, shall we? The Brotherhood pours a pale honey color, with a respectable head that recedes quickly to a persistent ring that leaves lacing on the glass. It smells like lemonade, tangerine, and grapefruit, with a bit of banana and clove and a sweet, rich breadiness like brioche.
The flavor includes everything from the aroma, but the citrus comes forward much more strongly—I get lime and grapefruit in with the lemon, plus a little peach and apricot and an aftertaste that reminds me of Chinese chrysanthemum tea. Plus if you pour your beer as carelessly as I do, you'll end up with a nice sprinkling of spicy yeast sediment in the bottom of the glass.
The malts contribute pastrylike flavors up front, but fleetingly—they're quickly overtaken by a clean hop bitterness, so that the overall impression is crisp, not cloying. The Brotherhood is generously effervescent, and with its low alcohol content, it would work well as what's called a "lawnmower beer" if it weren't for its substantial mouthfeel (argh, sorry, but there's no other good word for that) and its substantial price (I paid seven bucks for a 22-ounce bomber at Binny's, which is roughly equivalent to a 24-dollar six-pack). It's pleasant and pretty uncomplicated—Fox seems to be going for drinkability with this one.
That's not to say that 18th Street doesn't do big beers too. This past Saturday at the Spiteful facility, Fox brewed a douple IPA called Sinister that weighs in at 10 percent alcohol and uses Columbus, Zythos, Chinook, and Falconer's Flight hops, both in the kettle and for dry-hopping; it'll be 18th Street's second bottled release. And the recipes Fox has on deck (at least till August he'll be brewing at Pipeworks and at Spiteful) have piqued my curiosity—they include an imperial stout brewed with ancho chiles and sarsaparilla and aged on oak and cherries; a blonde ale with juniper berries and jicama flowers; an amber with black pepper, piloncillo sugar, and Scottish ale yeast; and an American-style wheat beer with honey, fresh ginger, and roasted Warrior hops. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to those.
To make this a proper "Beer and Metal" post, I was gonna embed Manowar's "Brothers of Metal" here, but you know what? That song is just too fucking corny, even for me. Most of the metal songs I can find that use the word "brotherhood" in their titles are pretty terrible too. Sorry, I'm not in the mood for Winds of Plague or Three Inches of Blood or even Forest of Doom. And that Slovakian pagan folk-metal band called Brotherhood? Nope.
So I guess you'll just have to listen to Motörhead. (Oh, Lemmy. You're the Lemmiest!) This is "Brotherhood of Man," from the 2010 album The Wörld Is Yours. If you're the type of person who likes to argue about metal on the Internet, you can tell me in the comments about all the great "brother" and "brotherhood" songs I overlooked.
Oh wait! I almost forgot High on Fire's "Brother in the Wind," from the excellent 2005 album Blessed Black Wings.