News & Features

3 Reasons DryHop Is Your New Fav

April 08 2013 - 1:00 PM

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending emerging brewer DryHop Brewers’ pre-opening
party, which occurred at the site of their soon-to-be open Lakeview brewpub. Behind a Violet-Hour-esque plywood storefront, with a painted-on message bearing the DryHop Brewing name and logo, and almost apologetically noting the imminent opening, a party blossomed.  Beer appreciators from all walks of life poured in from behind the plywood door to celebrate this latest entrant into Chicago’s exploding brewery constellation.  But do not let the nondescript storefront fool you into thinking that this particular brewer is some brown dwarf.  DryHop’s star is certain to outshine that of most, if not all, in theWindyCity’s galaxy of burgeoning breweries.  Here are three reasons why DryHop is the next brewery you need to know:

1. Irresistibly Unique Beers.

There would be no point in writing this piece if DryHop’s brewing team was not so gifted at their core capabilities.  I’ve tried a number of their offerings at various tappings, including events at Fountainhead and Northdown.  Few other brewers achieve such palpably superior quality.  But what truly sets them apart is each offering’s uniqueness.  Each of their beers presents an uncanny take on a major brewing concept.  Walk into the tap rooms of some other craft brewers and, chances are, you’ll end up with something that looks and tastes all-too familiar.  Try our stout, they’ll say.  Here’s our pale ale.  This is our mild.  Too often, these beers are pleasant, but forgettable, by-the-numbers beer styles.

In contrast, it’s hard to find anything conventional about DryHop. Similar to how The Beatles inverted popular music into something unique but easily digestible, the DryHop crew offers nothing ordinary, yet their beers remain accessible. At the party, they tapped Shark vs. Hipster, a 4.9% cream ale, Shot A Man In Simcoe, a Belgian IPA collaboration with Lake Effect Brewing, and Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts, a black IPA collaboration with Begyle Brewing.

The cream ale had a nicely unexpected burst of spicy hops on the finish.  Shot A Man melded the banana notes from the yeasts with floral notes from the hops to create the most seamless take on the Belgian IPA concept I’ve had to date.  It reflected a remarkable understanding of subtleties of the interaction between the two styles.  Meanwhile, Johnny Quest’s initial notes of roasted smokiness goad you into expecting a bitter imperial stout, then it defenselessly socks you with puckering hop bitterness.

Beers such as these will make DryHop a more-than-welcome addition to theChicagobrewing family.  Much of their 1,500 barrel-a-year capacity will be dedicated to IPA-centric beers, or at least beers with a strong hop profile; but the menu will include non-hoppy varieties as well. Most often, the handles will feature six DryHop beers and two guest beers. Nothing will be offered in bottles.  Customers will have the option of drinking in the pub or taking growlers to go from one of the three growler fillers.  Shelf life for growlers is expected to be up to two months thanks to DryHop’s pressurization methods, but good luck sitting on beers of this quality for that long.

  1. Great Food: Need I Say More than Fried Chicken and Waffles?

As they say, you can attract more bees with honey, and DryHop expects their kitchen to keep many a hungry beer lover hanging around the restaurant’s 50 table seats, in addition to 20 more at the bar.  Chef Pete Repak expects the dining options to emulate the beer: nothing but the unconventional.  Thanks to DryHop’s relationships with local farmers and ranchers, all food will be locally sourced, so don’t be surprised if the food is uncannily fresh.  Although the restaurant theme will have a “front porch feel”, the food probably won’t resemble your usual nibblings while you sit on Aunt Mabel’s swing.

Bar snacks will include mussels, wild boar porchetta, scallops, and various takes on goat, lamb, and other upscale gastro food.  Under a veritable edict from DryHop management, chicken and waffles will be a menu fixture along with other shared plates.  Read all that again and salivate.  Recipes will often feature beer as an ingredient, which, as Pete points out, presents a greater challenge than wine-based cooking.  Beer, he says, dominates the flavor of food to a greater extent than wine, leaving the unwary chef with a thinner margin for error in choosing a beer with the appropriate flavor profile.  Yet Pete looks forward to the challenge of balancing DryHop’s often bold beers with some of the more delicate flavors on the menu.

  1. Community, Thy Name Is DryHop.

As stated, the local sourcing, the front porch feel, and the general attitude of the brewers each suggest a sense of community.  This is underscored in DryHop’s business model. They don’t want you to experience their beer by opening a bottle purchased from some remote liquor store out inBolingbrook.  Instead, customers are encouraged to stop by and personally engage the DryHop experience, which explains the decision to style the establishment as brewpub-only.  Walk-ins will be a good portion of DryHop’s traffic as the brewpub is nestled in the heart of the Belmont/Broadway business district, amidst an array of restaurant choices ranging from Vietnamese to Greek.

DryHop Brewing
3155 N. Broadway
Opening Soon