By Ben Kramer
Beer brings bliss. Summer is bliss. Pair them and you’ll have a wonderful time. Since we are blessed with such a beer-conscious city, Chicago breweries produce hundreds of ales and lagers, all easily accessible to our taste buds and many now use the hot season to release some cool limited releases. For each beer we’ve highlighted one of, in most cases many, places to taste it.
Rosa Hibiscus Ale (Revolution Brewing)
Available at Revolution’s brewpub, 2323 North Milwaukee, until September
Named after Civil Rights hero Rosa Parks, this beer was a tag-team effort by Revolution owner Josh Deth and head brewer Jim Cibak. Deth suggested brewing with hibiscus flowers (along with coining the beer’s name), and Cibak crafted the recipe. Carrying a floral aroma, with hints of cherry and cranberry, the hibiscus provides a natural tartness, which is subtle in the mix. A crisp, refreshing beverage, Rosa bears a pinkish hue (achieved by steeping the flowers in the wort before fermentation), which gives it an appearance that’s well, Rosie.
Akari Shogun (Half Acre)
Available at Half Acre’s taproom, 4257 North Lincoln, until September
One can infer a wheat ale is going to taste like wheat, at least a little bit. For Half Acre, their Akari Shogun packs so much more. Using Galaxy hops to add a tropical fruit flavor, and Motueka hops for a citrusy feel, Shogun is a tangy summer quencher. Owing its name to brewery president Gabriel Magliaro, the name does more than just sound cool. In Japanese, akari means “light,” and this represents the beer’s drinkability, along with the golden haze produced by the white wheat malts inside it.
Devon Ave. (Goose Island)
Available at Goose Island’s Clybourn brewpub, 1800 North Clybourn, on June 2
If you ask a stranger what Devon Ave. is, they’ll tell you it’s a street. If you ask Goose Island, they’ll tell you it’s a harmonious mix of chai, cinnamon, spicy earthiness and a golden maple hue. Inspired by Indian cuisine, Goose Island’s latest brew features amchoor spice, cardamom and ajowan, picked from the Patel Brothers Spice House on Devon. Collaborating with David’s Tea for the chai, this beer is dry, and possesses a creamy mouth feel.
Dog Days (Two Brothers)
Available at Kasey’s Tavern, 701 South Dearborn, until the end of August
Ain’t it funny how things turn around? Twenty years old and living in France, Jason Ebel tried his first Dortmunder beer. He hated it. After giving the style a second chance several months later, the hatred fizzled. Once Ebel opened Two Brothers with brother Jim in 1997, he noticed no one was making Dortmund Style Lagers in the US. This spawned the birth of Dog Days. Brewed with German noble hops, this gives the beer a pleasant bitterness, and an aroma that’s both herbal and spicy. Along with having a caramel character, this beer pairs well with many foods, including curry, cheese and hamburgers.
P.A.C. Forever Hefeweizen (Spiteful Brewing)
Available at Warehouse Liquors, 634 South Wabash, the second week of June
The People Against Colin—that’s what P.A.C. stands for. Spiteful doesn’t recognize the number 26 because it is Colin’s hockey number. (Colin is their friend.) Since this is technically batch 126 for Spiteful, they choose to call it batch 125b to spite him. If you ask them, they’ll tell you he’s an idiot, which may be true, but the same cannot be said for this Hefeweizen. Accompanied by lemon and banana notes, a touch of clove, and a bready malt base, this Hefe was brewed specifically for a hot summer’s day.
Fierce (Off Color Brewing)
Available at Binny’s, 1720 Marcey, in early July
Most breweries try to avoid having lactobacillus in their beer. Off Color embraces it. Lacto is what gives Fierce, and its older cousin Troublesome, its sour edge. This beer is like punk rock since it’s presented in a basic form. It’s only wheat, barley, a teeny tiny bit of hops and, of course, lactobacillus. It’s sour, tart, lemony and absolutely refreshing, ideal for a heat-ridden day. A youngling in the Chicago craft beer scene, Fierce is going on its second batch, with plans to be bottled and released in early July.