WBEZ | beer http://www.wbez.org/tags/beer Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Beer tours big business for small brewer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/beer-tours-big-business-small-brewer-109820 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/P1150205.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Among all the benefits of Illinois&rsquo; fast growing craft beer scene is the proliferation of brewery tours.</p><p>Tours have the potential to be big business for small brewers. They draw customers and build brand identification. For inspiration, Illinois-based brewers would do well to look north, to <a href="http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com/">Lakefront Brewery</a> in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.</p><p>Lakefront is Milwaukee&rsquo;s largest craft brewer. Its beers are available in Chicago, but many people make the trek to take its brewery tour, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2012/10/02/10-best-beer-cities-in-the-world/1608885/">one of the most popular stops</a> on the American craft beer circuit.</p><p>On a recent Friday afternoon, I toured the facility with my colleagues and <em><a href="http://strangebrewspodcast.tumblr.com/">Strange Brews</a> </em>co-hosts Tim Akimoff, Andrew Gill and WBEZ producer Joe Deceault. We were among a group of about twenty, many of them repeat customers. One Chicago woman has taken the tour five times. When I asked why she kept coming back she had a simple answer - because you can drink.</p><p>Lakefront is proud of the fact that unlike those other tours, they start you off with a beer in hand. There&rsquo;s a stop for beer midway through the tour &ndash;and a cold one waiting at the end.</p><p>Russ and Jim Klisch started Lakefront in 1987, after experimenting with home brewing.The brothers&rsquo; beer roots are deep - their grandfather delivered beer for Schlitz. It was the big four - Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and of course Miller - that once made Milwaukee the beer capital of the world. Now only MillerCoors is still brewing in Milwaukee. So small independents like Lakefront are starting to fill the gap.</p><p>Last year, Lakefront topped 40,000 barrels. It&#39;s the second largest craft brewery in Wisconsin. And tours have helped drive their business. Russ Klisch says the idea came early on.</p><p>&ldquo;I gave a real technical tour,&rdquo; remembered Klisch. &ldquo;I have a chemistry degree and I thought everybody who took the tour wanted to learn about how to make beer. My brother really didn&rsquo;t know anything about that. He just started telling jokes on the tour and gave away beer free. And everybody took his tour and nobody took mine.&rdquo;</p><p>Our guide was Evan Koepnick, Lakefront&rsquo;s tour supervisor, improv comedy performer and self-proclaimed class clown. He called himself our &ldquo;brewery dungeon master.&rdquo;</p><p>There is something dungeonesque to Lakefront. The brewery&rsquo;s housed in an old coal-fired power plant. A winding flight of stairs led us into a room crowded with big steel tanks, vats and barrels. There Evan gave us a speed history of beer.</p><p>He got people to yell out &lsquo;reinheitsgebot!&rsquo;, &nbsp;the term for the ancient German beer purity laws. He demonstrated the role of yeast in fermentation by aggressively cuddling one of the guys on the tour.</p><p>The big finish involved an old bottling line once featured in the television show Laverne and Shirley. There was karaoke, a reenactment of some of the show&rsquo;s opening credits and a group selfie.</p><p>There are a few other historic markers at Lakefront. The large tasting room has some stunning light fixtures from a long-gone beer garden, plus the chalet that the Milwaukee Brewers mascot Bernie used to slide out of when the team scored a home run.</p><p>That history drew Leanne and Dean Anderson from Antioch Illinois. They&rsquo;ve toured Miller and the Pabst mansions. They think Lakefront follows in that tradition.</p><p>&ldquo;I like Miller but it&rsquo;s too international now,&rdquo; said Leanne. &ldquo;I like the hometown craft breweries.&rdquo;</p><p>History and tour hijinks aside, these events are important to Lakefront&rsquo;s future. Evan Koepnick said they&rsquo;ve helped pay for new equipment and brewing experiments. Last year Lakefront &nbsp;extended the number and hours of the tours, including Sunday. And Koepnick said they&rsquo;re always busy, even during football season.</p><p>And that has Lakefront rising&mdash;<a href="http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-22766-lakefront-brewery-on-the-rise-%7C-eat-drink-%7C-shepherd-express.html">to the top of craft beers in the Midwest.</a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy</a>&nbsp;is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/beer-tours-big-business-small-brewer-109820 Schoenhofen Brewery: Of suds and (unfounded) suspicions http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3228849121_80a727e9d1_o[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ted Land asked Curious City to clear up rumors about the old Schoenhofen Brewery in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood.</p><p>Besides wanting to get a snapshot of the brewery in its heyday, Land also wanted someone to get to the bottom of persistent hearsay about the facility.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s his entire request, in his own words:</p><blockquote><p><em>My brother lives next door to the old Schoenhofen Brewery on W. 18th st. near Pilsen. I&#39;ve often wondered about the now-shuttered facility -- how busy it was and what they produced there. A quick internet search reveals some websites stating that Schoenhofen was once one of the largest brewers in the Midwest, which even had its own spring supplying fresh water to the operation. Another site mentions something about how federal agents seized the brewery during WWI because members of the Schoenhofen family were broadcasting radio messages to Germany from the brewery&#39;s tower. Any truth to this?</em></p></blockquote><p>My own investigation didn&rsquo;t get far; I found many anecdotes about the brewery, but no definitive source could end the confusion for good.</p><p>But then I found a relevant story in Mash Tun Journal. Paul Durica, a recent University of Chicago Ph.D. and frequent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994">Curious City collaborator</a>, brought his immense research skills to bear on the Schoenhofen rumors &mdash; once and for all.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Durica shared his findings on an episode of the <a href="http://wbez.org/strangebrews">Strange Brews </a>podcast, joining Ted Land, me and my co-host, Alison Cuddy, for a taping in Pilsen, just a few blocks from the Schoenhofen Brewery. Among the points he took up:&nbsp;</div><ul><li class="image-insert-image ">Rumors of radio signals being broadcast to the German enemy during WWI.</li><li class="image-insert-image ">Claims about the brewery&#39;s water purity</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s appearance in the Blues Brother movie</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s creation of Green River soda pop</li></ul><p>After the conversation Land said, &ldquo;That&rsquo;s well more than I thought I&rsquo;d learn about this building. I still want to see the artesian springs, though.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Strange Brews is WBEZ&#39;s podcast covering craft beer and related culture. Hosted by Andrew Gill, Alison Cuddy and Tim Akimoff, episodes are recorded on location around the Midwest and include interesting guests including brewers, artists and craft beer lovers.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Follow web producer Andrew Gill on Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 17:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 Evanston’s first craft brewery is Temperance in name only http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/evanston%E2%80%99s-first-craft-brewery-temperance-name-only-109416 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/evanston liquor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The first-ever craft brewery in the Chicago suburb of Evanston is officially going public.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://temperancebeer.com/">Temperance Beer Company</a>, which just started production this year, is opening its tap room tonight.</p><p dir="ltr">The space is small but smart, with sleek, light wood fixtures and exposed brick walls. That is thanks to owner Josh Gilbert&rsquo;s first career as an architect.</p><p dir="ltr">But the brewery&rsquo;s name is a reference to Evanston&rsquo;s past. The city was founded as a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; community -- meaning production and sales of alcoholic beverages were forbidden. In the late 19th century, it became home to the <a href="http://www.wctu.org/frances_willard.html">Women&rsquo;s Christian Temperance Union.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Led by Frances E. Willard, the organization fought for social reforms, such as the eight-hour work day, and tried to stamp out tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.</p><p dir="ltr">That history had a huge and lasting impact on Evanston, which only issued its first liquor license in the early 1970s. Plenty of liquor stores and bars have come and gone since then. But even today getting alcohol into Evanston is not easy.</p><p dir="ltr">The path to Temperance was first cleared by Paul Hletko, who owns the craft distillery <a href="http://fewspirits.com/">Few Spirits</a> in Evanston. Few just opened in 2011, but Hletko&rsquo;s products already have won a number of major awards.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, his rye whiskey was just <a href="http://whiskyadvocate.com/whisky/2013/12/11/whisky-advocate-award-craft-whiskey-of-the-year/">named craft whiskey of the year</a> by Whiskey Advocate magazine. To get there, Hletko had to persuade Evanston officials to change the city&rsquo;s laws so a distillery could be set up and licensed.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I lost track of the hearings after 15,&rdquo; said Hletko. &ldquo;But I never took a &lsquo;no&rsquo; vote.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Gilbert says he got the same treatment from lawmakers, which he described as much better than in the bigger city next door.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Dealing with permits of any kind is way more difficult in Chicago than in Evanston,&rdquo; said Gilbert. &ldquo;Here, there was no pushback. Everyone was helpful and in favor of the project.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Gilbert grew up in Evanston, which is probably best known as the home of Northwestern University. He started thinking about a brewery in 2008, when he says the economic downturn &ldquo;gave me a lot of free time to explore other projects.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He found head brewer Claudia Jendron at a bowling party hosted by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. Jendron&rsquo;s ball got stuck halfway down the lane, and Gilbert watched in horror and awe as she walked down the lane to get it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was great, I&rsquo;m such a good bowler,&rdquo; joked Jendron. &ldquo;I killed it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Jendron at the time was brewing at Goose Island Beer Company, long the dominant craft brewery in Chicago (and, since 2011, a division of mega-beer corporation Anheuser-Busch InBev). It was a skill she picked up after starting out as the company&rsquo;s receptionist.</p><p dir="ltr">She and Gilbert found they had similar tastes in beers, and thoughts about how to run a brewery. Despite Jendron&rsquo;s tenure at the famed Goose Island, Temperance&rsquo;s recipes came from Josh&rsquo;s experiments in home brewing.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Home brews are home brews,&rdquo; said Jendron. &ldquo;But I saw something in them. The flavor was awesome.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Jendron and Gilbert say they will serve all of the Temperance beers in the tap room (there are six, including a wheat beer, an ESB and a porter) and small &ldquo;tastes&rdquo; made from local foods.</p><p dir="ltr">And though Evanston has changed, Gilbert still sees a connection between their current efforts and the Temperance movement of the past.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think we are reformers on a micro scale here in Evanston,&rdquo; said Gilbert. &ldquo;Because it was historically dry. And we&rsquo;re dampening it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Temperance Tap Room opens tonight at 2000 W. Dempster Street.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 17:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/evanston%E2%80%99s-first-craft-brewery-temperance-name-only-109416 Handpicked: Radler sausage party, Mole de Mayo and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-05/handpicked-radler-sausage-party-mole-de-mayo-and-more-107349 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bangbangchocolate.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Chocolate pie on side yard picnic table at Bang Bang Pie Shop in Chicago (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><p><strong>Friday, May 24</strong><br /><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/air-events-wbezs-day-service-102174">Inaugural WBEZ Day of Service registration deadline</a></em>. Presented by WBEZ and <a href="http://www.chicagocares.org/"><u>Chicago Cares</u></a>, volunteer for service projects with a range of non-profits across Chicagoland. Food-wise, on Wednesday (May 29), sort and pack donations for food pantries and soup kitchens at the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer"><u>Greater Chicago Food Depository</u></a>; and Thursday (May 30) throw a Bingo and Birthday Party for 40 seniors with food, balloons, and lots of fun at the <a href="http://www.thecha.org/pages/Flannery_Apartments/50.php?devID=221"><u>CHA&rsquo;s Flannery Apartments</u></a>. On Saturday (June 1) celebrate service with your first Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale on the house at Schubas. Admission FREE, but <a href="https://www.kintera.org/AutoGen/Register/ECReg.asp?ievent=1071750&amp;en=efJEKMMrFcJHJPOxE7IDJQMyGnIXJ4NCKiLTKYMwFaIKITMyGtG"><u>reservations required here</u></a>.</p><p><strong>Saturday, May 25</strong><br /><a href="http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/378235"><u><em>Inaugural West Loop Craft Beer Fest</em></u></a> on Clinton between Lake and Washington.&nbsp;Last call for Chicago Craft Beer Week 2013 with the city&#39;s largest craft beer outdoor block party. There will be local craft beer of course plus food for purchase by participating Chicago French Market vendors Lillie&#39;s Q, Saigon Sisters, Beavers Coffee &amp; Donuts, Fumare Meats, and Ovie Bar &amp; Grill. Admission $40 general, $65 VIP including one hour of free food.</p><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/MoleDeMayo"><u><em>Fifth anniversary Mole de Mayo</em></u></a> at Halsted and 16th. The mole cook-off and outdoor festival will feature mole judging, food vendors, a beer garden, open-air market, lucha libre, and more. Admission FREE, food and drink additional.</p><p><strong>Sunday, May 26</strong><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/153776991463938/"><u><em>The Radler Kickstarter Kickoff Party</em></u></a> at Heineman Bar Company. Former Vie chef de cuisine and sausage meister Nathan Sears hosts this highly anticipated first taste of his upcoming modern Bavarian beer hall. There will be handmade sausages, German potato salad, and Flesk Brewing beer. Your donation will be used to protect the existing 120 year old mural discovered in the space, commissioning local artists for new work, and much more. Admission FREE, but please donate at the event or <a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1171962748/the-radler"><u>The Radler Kickstarter</u></a>.</p><p><strong>Monday, May 27</strong><br /><em>Happy Memorial Day!</em></p><p><strong>Tuesday, May 28</strong><br /><a href="http://www.wbez.org/chemistry-chocolate-107081"><em><u>Chemistry of Chocolate</u></em></a> at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Presented in partnership with Illinois Science Council, this chocolate chemistry workshop will be led by Northwestern University chemistry lecturer Dr. Shelby Hatch and Blommer Chocolate R&amp;D Specialist Melissa Tisoncik. The adults-only night will feature a local craft beer cash bar, plus access to the new exhibit Food: The Nature of Eating, live animal interactions, live music, and more. This event will be recorded for WBEZ&rsquo;s Chicago Amplified. Admission $35, $25 for Nature Museum members.</p><p><strong>Wednesday, May 29</strong><br /><a href="http://www.greencitymarket.org/calendar/event.asp?id=692"><u><em>Rick Bayless chef demonstration </em></u></a>at the Green City Market. Watch the Top Chef Master demo ingredients from the market. In case you were wondering, yes, his Taste of Chicago turn as Celebrity Chef du Jour sold out. But you can always listen to his turn on WBEZ&#39;s own Lauren Chooljian&rsquo;s <em>Year 25</em> series: &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rick-bayless-25-106967"><u>Where was Rick Bayless at 25</u></a>?&quot; Admission FREE.</p><p><em>Follow Louisa Chu on <a href="https://twitter.com/louisachu"><u>Twitter at @louisachu</u></a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-05/handpicked-radler-sausage-party-mole-de-mayo-and-more-107349 Midwest breweries lead environmental group's charge to fortify water laws http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/midwest-breweries-lead-environmental-groups-charge-fortify-water-laws <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chollsjr/8031541422/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lakefront-beer-by-carlton-holls.jpg" title="Beer from Lakefront Brewery, one of 21 breweries to sign the Natural Resources Defense Council's clean water pledge. (Flickr/Carlton Holls) " /></a></div><p>Raise a cold one this weekend and make a toast to the Clean Water Act.</p><p><a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/khobbs/cheers_to_brewers_for_clean_wa.html">That&rsquo;s the advice</a> of the Natural Resources Defense Council as they <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/brewers-for-clean-water/">team up with 21 craft breweries</a> in an effort to raise awareness of threats to the key ingredient in beer.</p><p>As any beginning homebrewer&rsquo;s kitchen floor will attest, the brewing process requires a lot of water. Beer is 90 percent water, and including all the water it takes to clean brewing materials and rinse the packaged product, it can take 7 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer.</p><p>&ldquo;When you talk about beer, you have to talk about water. It&rsquo;s not as sexy as talking about hops and malt,&rdquo; said Jason Spaulding, co-owner of <a href="http://www.breweryvivant.com/">Brewery Vivant</a> in Grand Rapids, Mich. &ldquo;If we don&rsquo;t look after [our water] long-term, it&rsquo;s going to directly hurt our industry and our livelihood.&rdquo;</p><p>Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, following a series of high-profile pollution incidents including <a href="http://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/63">the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969</a>. Citing recent congressional attempts to tinker with the law or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/us/01water.html?pagewanted=all">erode the Environmental Protection Agency&#39;s authority to enforce clean water provisions</a>, NRDC&rsquo;s senior policy analyst Karen Hobbs said the coalition of brewers isn&rsquo;t united for or against any particular policy proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re hoping to work with the brewers to have a consistent industry voice in support of clean water,&rdquo; Hobbs said. &ldquo;Some brewers will want to enter into specific policy issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Two supreme court decisions in 2001 and 2006 questioned the EPA&rsquo;s jurisdiction to enforce the Clean Water Act. <a href="http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm">The agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are waiting for clarification</a> from the Obama administration before they enter into legal battles over water pollution where the legal definition of what waters are covered in the act is unclear. In Arizona, for example, storm water containing grease and oil from nearby construction sites pours into the San Pedro River for only part of the year. Since the tributaries carrying pollution do not flow year-round, the EPA dropped its enforcement efforts there to avoid a long and costly legal battle.</p><p>The bottom line for the nation&rsquo;s craft brewers and their customers, however, is straightforward.</p><p>&ldquo;If your water&rsquo;s not good, your beer&rsquo;s not going to be good,&rdquo;&nbsp;Spaulding said.</p><p>Goose Island uses more than 18 million gallons of water each year, racking up a hefty water bill. Some large water users negotiate for a flat monthly fee for water, but many craft breweries, including Goose Island, pay a monthly rate based on how much water they actually use. Like any ratepayer in Chicago, Goose Island gets their water from Lake Michigan.</p><p>&ldquo;Lake Michigan water has a really great chemical content to it to use as your blank canvas,&rdquo; said Goose Island&rsquo;s Ian Hughes.</p><p>Like many breweries, Goose Island is pursuing water conservation efforts, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=e_HVUQW20Vs">reusing water that rinses beer bottles</a> after they&rsquo;ve been filled and commissioning a life-cycle assessment of their product&#39;s environmental footprint.</p><p>Despite some recent rate hikes, water in the Great Lakes region <a href="http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2010/world/the-price-of-water-a-comparison-of-water-rates-usage-in-30-u-s-cities/">is among the cheapest in the country</a>. Even where rates are higher, many argue <a href="http://www.glc.org/announce/11/11vglwi.html">they don&#39;t reflect the true cost</a> of water. If ensuring clean water costs more, Brewery Vivant&rsquo;s Spaulding said he is prepared to pay.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a cost we&rsquo;d be happy to pay,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Without that clean water you don&rsquo;t have a viable business.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 12 Apr 2013 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/midwest-breweries-lead-environmental-groups-charge-fortify-water-laws Echo of past to help with the Blue Island’s future? http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/echo-past-help-blue-island%E2%80%99s-future-105883 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BlueIslandMain.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="775" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/March/BlueIsland/2013_03_06_BLUEISLAND_620_INTERACTIVE.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Dave Brown, the owner of Rock Island Public House in south suburban Blue Island, hopes to prove people wrong when it comes to getting good beer in his area.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason we actually opened this bar was in part because everybody said it couldn&rsquo;t be done,&rdquo; said Brown. &ldquo;Everybody said there&rsquo;s no room for craft beer on the South Side. We feel that Blue Island&rsquo;s kind of gotten lost or gets a bad reputation.&rdquo;</p><p>Selling craft beer is not novel, of course, but it is part of what Brown sees as a new back-to-the future strategy of development along <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205386033664818854506.0004d74bb50b3198d595a&amp;msa=0&amp;ll=41.652689,-87.682421&amp;spn=0.006381,0.009645">his stretch of Blue Island&rsquo;s Olde Western Avenue and Broadway Street</a>.</p><p>His building, like many on the block, has historic value and hearkens back to a time when Blue Island was teeming with industry and a sense of community. Blue Island was once home to many blue collar workers, but industry in the region has struggled. Residents have recently tried to revitalize the city through environmental initiatives and artist outreach &mdash;&nbsp;all while cautioning against the label of &ldquo;hipster destination.&quot; The large Latino population is strongly blue collar, as is the ethos.</p><p>And when you meet Brown and other area business owners, they&rsquo;re not shy about telling you so.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to emphasize there&rsquo;s much more down here than public perception leads to,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>The 35-year-old former resident of New Orleans moved to Blue Island in 2005 with his wife, Jennifer, who has been a longtime resident. Brown is also a part-time firefighter for the city.</p><p>Jason Berry, a city planner for Blue Island, told WBEZ &ldquo;You have a chance to be pretty progressive. We&rsquo;ve tried to do that with active transportation stuff with environmental stuff with music and the arts.&rdquo; He added that the city&#39;s trying trying to push, and it&#39;s great that &quot;The community all along seems to be saying yeah, keep doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>Business operators told WBEZ that there will soon be an opportunity for Blue Island to consider playing up its past and rejuvenating the retail environment, as Republican Mayor Donald Peloquin is leaving after a tenure of nearly 30 years.</p><p>&ldquo;This area of Olde Western Avenue could be really something special in this town because it&rsquo;s a historic district,&rdquo; said Mario Mendez, a lifelong resident and owner of Mario&rsquo;s restaurant.</p><p>&ldquo;This building was built before Abraham Lincoln became president,&quot; he said. &quot;This area could be very special if it was taken care of if the city devoted money and time into making it something that no one has around here.&rdquo;</p><p>Mendez pointed out several historic photos on the wall of his Mexican restaurant. Such photos are also shown prominently at Brown&#39;s public house as well.</p><p>That kind of civic pride is also on display at neighboring Jeben&rsquo;s Hardware, where customers can stand beneath antique airplanes suspended from the ceiling. A whistle can surprise visitors, too. The source? A model train that circles the store shelves.</p><p>&ldquo;I hope to see a new mayor that comes in to all of the businesses because even the chamber of commerce. This is what makes this community,&rdquo; said Judy Tuma, the hardware store&#39;s manager.</p><p>Tuma and Mendez both think the city could do more for Olde Western Avenue to help increase local business.</p><p>&ldquo;What I see is we&rsquo;re down here cut off from main street Blue Island and sometimes this area can be more prosperous and buildings full compared to what&rsquo;s going on uptown&hellip;. We need to clean up,&rdquo; Tuma said.</p></p> Thu, 07 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/echo-past-help-blue-island%E2%80%99s-future-105883 Booming craft breweries attract new beer makers to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/booming-craft-breweries-attract-new-beer-makers-chicago-102528 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6350_alyssa_cornett-scr.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Bartender Alyssa Cornett pours a beer at Revolution Brewing in Logan Square. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F60535402&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Wil Turner loves beer.</p><p>He gushes about its flavorful notes and tones like a seasoned sommelier. But he does it while wearing a baseball cap and listening to the punk rock band Black Flag.</p><p>Turner is head brewer at <a href="http://revbrew.com/" target="_blank">Revolution Brewing</a> in Logan Square and a member of the <a href="http://www.illinoisbeer.com/" target="_blank">Illinois Craft Brewers&rsquo; Guild</a>.</p><p>These guys take beer seriously.</p><p>&ldquo;We exchange raw materials, information and we love to go sample each other&rsquo;s beer,&rdquo; Turner said about the guild. &ldquo;I like to call (it) liquid inspiration.&rdquo;</p><p>Turner isn&rsquo;t the only one feeling inspired lately.</p><p>The burgeoning craft brewery industry has led a growing number of Chicago beer lovers to start their own businesses.</p><p>The guild reports 57 craft breweries currently operate in Illinois and counts a whopping 67 more in planning.</p><p>The planning number includes some still wading through paperwork and setting up facilities.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6352_stairsbrew-scr.jpg" style="height: 195px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="Head brewer Wil Turner sanitizes tanks at Revolution Brewing in Logan Square. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" />It may take them months or years to open for business. But others are almost ready to pour pints.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Clint Bautz of <a href="http://www.lakeeffectbrewing.com/" target="_blank">Lake Effect Brewing</a> has set up shop in Portage Park. He will distribute just a few kegs at a time.</p></div><p>It&#39;s taken him about a year and a half to set up a brewing facility, file all the necessary paperwork and find partnering pubs to carry his product.</p><p>Soon he&rsquo;ll be able to sit down at a neighborhood bar and order his own beer.</p><p>&ldquo;Definitely it will be a moment,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It will be a bit surreal. Definitely looking forward to that.&rdquo;</p><p>Bautz decided it was time to go pro after realizing his homebrew hobby had taken over the house.</p><p>&ldquo;We have three bedrooms,&rdquo; Bautz said. &ldquo;Fermentation was in one bedroom, and then I bought a few more fermenters and and started brewing beer in the other bedroom.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6351_fourglasses-scr.jpg" style="height: 205px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Taster portion of four beers made in-house at Revolution Brewing in Logan Square. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" />Then it grew to a storage unit in the basement. And the deck.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The brewing process took over the kitchen and the boil over process left surfaces a sticky mess.</div><p>Bautz said brewing is part art, part science and a whole lot of janitorial labor.</p><p>The guild reports overall beer sales in the US dipped about one percent in 2011.</p><p>But craft brewing grew 13 percent last year, continuing the industry&#39;s trend toward double digit annual expansion.</p><p>Major players like California brewery Lagunitas <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-10/features/chi-lagunitas-to-open-new-brewery-in-chicago-20120410_1_brewery-beer-lagunitas-brewing" target="_blank">recently announced</a> plans to open a Chicago brewery and tap room.</p><p>And for now, it seems like there is still room for upstarts like Greg Shuff too.</p><p>Shuff will open <a href="http://www.dryhopchicago.com/" target="_blank">Dryhop Brewers</a> in Lakeview this winter.</p><p>The gastropub will tailor its food menu around seasonal brews made with locally sourced ingredients.</p><p>He thinks there is plenty of room for craft brewers to grow in Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an industry where no one wants anyone to do anything but make great beer,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We all look at it from the perspective of if one of us does well, it really elevates the whole craft beer scene and we all benefit from it.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 20 Sep 2012 15:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/booming-craft-breweries-attract-new-beer-makers-chicago-102528 Lost landmark: Peter Hand Brewery http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-02/lost-landmark-peter-hand-brewery-96532 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-27/Peter Hand Brewery_Schmidt.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has many micro-breweries to quench the discerning thirst. Our subject here is the city's last "macro-brewery."</p><p>Peter Hand was a Prussian-born Civil War veteran who came to Chicago to work in the brewing industry. In 1891 he opened a small brewery of his own at North and Sheffield. His leading brand was called Meister Bräu--"master brew."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-20/02-27--1977.JPG" style="width: 495px; height: 324px;" title="Lost Landmark: 1000 W. North Ave."></p><p>Hand died in 1899, but his brewery survived. Between 1920 and 1933 it was officially closed because of Prohibition. After repeal the plant was expanded several times. Meanwhile, dozens of other Chicago breweries came and went.</p><p>In 1965 a group of investors purchased the brewery and changed the name to Meister Bräu Inc., with the intention of going national. In Chicago, they launched an aggressive advertising campaign.</p><p>Meister Bräu sponsored Sox, Hawks and Bulls broadcasts. Franklyn MacCormack's "All Night Meister Bräu Showcase" became a popular radio program. Bottle openers, coasters, beer steins, and posters were given away. The number of Meister Bräu billboards around town was exceded only by those reading "Daley for Mayor."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="320" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-21/02-27--Beer Brands.JPG" title="some deceased Chicago beers" width="461"></p><p>All was well for a while. The brewery was producing over 1 million barrels of brew a year, with the new Lite Beer a big seller. But management had over-reached. The company started losing serious money. In 1972 the Meister Bräu brands were sold to Miller Brewing of Milwaukee.</p><p>The North Avenue plant went back to the Peter Hand name and rolled out a new beer called Old Chicago. The slide continued. Early in 1973 the company declared bankruptcy. The brewery was sold at auction to a new partnership led by an experienced brewer.</p><p>That lasted five years. Old Chicago Dark won a few blind-taste tests, yet never caught on. In 1978 the Peter Hand Brewery closed. Today the property at North and Sheffield is a strip mall.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Mar 2012 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-02/lost-landmark-peter-hand-brewery-96532 Goose Island Brewery's acquisition: the exit interview (podcast) http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-04-13/goose-island-brewerys-acquisition-exit-interview-podcast-84987 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/Greg Hall.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-09/Greg Hall.jpg" style="width: 336px; height: 223px;" title="Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall (not for too much longer) (photo: Steven E. Gross)"><br> &nbsp;</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483433-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Greg Hall.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Everyone in Chicago may have been shocked by the news recently that <a href="http://www.gooseisland.com/">Goose Island</a> had been bought by <a href="http://www.anheuser-busch.com/">Anheuser-Busch InBev</a> for a cool $39 million, but the deal - according to the family who started the local craft brewer - makes a lot of sense. While local beer drinkers were writing the epitaph for yet another local brand, the company's current (and soon to be former) Brewmaster says if they wanted to continue to meet demand for their specialty brands like Matilda and Pere Jacques, they had to either take on a huge amount of debt, or let A-B help them do it. The Hall family will retain ownership of their two local brewpubs, and while the purchase means the end of an already successful career for Greg Hall, it just might lead to something exciting in the future as well. I spoke with Hall last week at length about what the purchase means for the company and for its legions of loyal beer drinkers.</p></p> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-04-13/goose-island-brewerys-acquisition-exit-interview-podcast-84987 Why Anheuser-Busch bought Goose Island beer http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-03-29/why-anheuser-busch-bought-goose-island-beer-84396 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-29/goose-island-pic1.jpg" alt="" /><p><!--StartFragment--><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-29/goose-island-pic1.jpg" title="" width="400" height="326"></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="">Some fans of craft beers are foaming over the news that industry giant <a href="http://www.anheuser-busch.com/">Anheuser-Busch</a> plans to buy 23 year-old Chicago-based, brewing powerhouse <a href="http://www.gooseisland.com/">Goose Island Beer Co.</a>&nbsp; The $38.8 million deal was announced Monday, but is set to close in June.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="">On the surface, the two brewers couldn't be more different:&nbsp; One is known for mass-marketed and mass appeal brands like Budweiser and Busch; the other is known for microbrews and specialty ales like 312 and Matilda.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style=""><strong>So why would Anheuser-Busch gobble up Goose Island?&nbsp;</strong> Two words: craft brews.</p><p>“These critically acclaimed beers are the hometown pride of Chicagoans,” said Dave Peacock, president of the St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch in a statement. “We are very committed to expanding in the high-end beer segment, and this deal expands our portfolio of brands with high-quality, regional beers. “As we share ideas and bring our different strengths and experiences together, we can accelerate the growth of these brands.”<o:p></o:p></p><p>As overall U.S. beer sales have fallen in recent years, the fast-growing craft brew market is expected to make up 11 percent of total beer consumption this year. “We just need to be more competitive there,” Peacock said. Led by its signature brew, <a href="http://www.gooseisland.com/pages/honker_s_ale/17.php">Honkers Ale</a>, last year sales of Goose Island grew 24 percent, selling $4.2 million in beer up from $3.4 million in 2004. Goose Island sold approximately 127,000 barrels of beer in 2010.<o:p></o:p></p><p>“Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers, and beer lovers,” said Goose Island CEO John Hall in a statement. “This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success.”&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p><p><strong>So what's next for Goose Island beer?</strong></p><p>Goose Island’s beer will continue to be brewed in Chicago, and A-B plans to invest $1.3 million by this summer to boost production capacity by 10 percent, said Peacock. The deal does not include the acquisition of two Goose Island <a href="http://www.gooseisland.com/pages/our_brewpubs/4.php">brewpubs</a>, which will remain open, and no disruption to supply will occur in current markets.</p><p>Hall, who will stay on as CEO, added that the “new structure will preserve the qualities that make Goose Island’s beers unique, strictly maintaining our recipes and brewing processes.” Effective May 1st, Brewmaster Greg Hall will be step down, and will be replaced by Brett Porter, Head Brewer at <a href="http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/splash/default.aspx">Deschutes Brewery</a> in Bend, Oregon where his beers have earned more than 150 awards.</p><p><o:p></o:p>As one of the Midwest’s first craft breweries creating acclaimed ales including 312 Urban Wheat Ale, India Pale Ale, Matilda, Pere Jacques and Sofie, as well as a wide variety of seasonal, draft-only and barrel-aged releases including Bourbon County Brand Stout - the original bourbon barrel-aged beer – followers who fear for the future of Goose Island Beer should rest easy.<o:p></o:p></p><p>"The beers will not change," said Goose Island Brand Ambassador, Ken Hunnemeder on <a href="http://twitter.com/hopcastken#">Twitter</a>. Calling the deal, “inevitable," he added, “it will allow us to make great beers that got bumped from the lineup."&nbsp;</p><p><o:p></o:p>Even more beer? Cheers to that.<span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></p><!--EndFragment--></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 21:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-03-29/why-anheuser-busch-bought-goose-island-beer-84396