Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brewery Review: Haymarket Pub & Brewery - Chicago, IL

This was the decision maker of whether I came home for Easter or not. My stepfather bribed me that we could hit up the three breweries that I had yet to go to if I came home...I did. We started at Metropolitan Brewery, then made our way a mile southwest to Half Acre. Finally we headed all the way into Chicago to Haymarket. I had heard about this brewery a couple times, but made a plan to visit when someone brought a growler of their beer into Great River. I tried it and looked them up only to find out they were brand new. Then, on the Saturday before Easter we arrived around 3:30 to find the bulls game on and a 20 minute wait which turned out to be beneficial on our part. Things aside, these are the beers I tried:

Six Point Star Golden Lager - Clear amber with a dense foamy white head. No activity within. Mildly sweet with a subtle pungence. Fruit undertones. Spicy and leafy with a bitter puckering floral flavor. Sticky white lacing. Amazingly spiced for a lager! and one of the best I've had on location at a brewpub.
Speakerswagon Pilsner - Pale golden straw that fuels a white foam ring. No activity within the glass. Lemony citrus nose that leaves a zesty profile. Phenolic aroma. Minimal lacing. Smooth and crispy but sweet that is equally balanced. Dry and spicy with an above average carbonation at the tip of the tongue. Peppery at the finish
The Saison Also Rises - Clarity is exceptional. Golden. No head. Yeasty pungency with a grassy aroma. Spiced and bitter but clean and refreshing. Some clove and honey overtones as well as a grainy malt backbone. Lightest body ever but flavor to recon with. High carbonation.
I'm Still Lonely Belgian Style Abbey Single - Straw turbidity and blonde in color. Thick white foam ring. Fruity aroma with a biscuity malt foundation. Taste is still a little grainy but with lemon in the mid to aftertaste. Dry but bready. Belgian phenols very apparent.
Mother Jones Belgian Style Abbey Dubbel - Mahogany with absolute turbidity. Malted and caramel prominent in the bill. Diluted molasses and brown sugar. Extremely sweet with mild phenolic undertones. Alcohol finish nicely balances malt.
Emma Belgian Style Trippel - Clouded but full looking. Straw with a coppered hue. Big fruity nose. Graininess apparent in both scent and flavor. Bready. Dry and warming. Alcohol well incorporated. Complex and still spicy.
The Living Wage Belgo Pale Ale - (Dry Hopped) Pale, Yes. Cloudy, Yes. Yellowed, Yes. Fine white foam ring. Tropical and sweet with notes of grapefruit. Dry finish with a boost of grassiness. Fine fizz carbonation. Minimal malt is completely masked. Prevalent yeastiness and lemon (notice a theme?) Zesty and citrus.
Come Back And Guzzle Spiced Belgian Dark Ale - Brown with a nice clarity, but with a color inhibiting haze. Some orange pigmentation. Spicy scent! Nutmeg and cinnamon (predominantly) and coriander (maybe even some ginger). Sweet toffee malt and orange holds up to the spicing but in a very distinguishable way. Finishes dry with the tannins from the nutmeg. A great winter beer, though maybe a little less nutmeg is needed. Some tartness/fruitiness present as the beer warms.
Bronzeville American IPA - Robust orange hue set atop a dense foam ring borders the glass. Hazed. An enormous orange and grapefruit aroma of fresh hops and fruitiness of apricots and plums. Biscuity malt base melds well with the zest and citrus. Bigger body though very balanced and drinkable..Melon is right!
Mathias Imperial IPA - Similar in hue to the Bronzeville but more rubied/amber. Huge tropical nose - Ruby Red Grapefruit peel. Boasts a large ABV but nicely compliments the tropical bitterness to the point it goes quite unrecognizable. Bitterness is more sweet than anything. Candied sugar contribute to body/attenuated sweetness and alcohol! Fantastic and well worth the penny.

Haymarket is a brewpub located just West of the loop in the old market district. Standing at the end of a restaurant ladened street, the outside is very visible to the passerby. The building maintains a history dating back to the early 1900's and was not in the greatest shape when it was first seen as a prospective location. Today, it sees a whole new look. While still maintaining elements of the old - Warehouse and Industrial - like the admirable light fixtures and the square plated ceiling. The pub itself is very space accommodating with an immediate bar to the right as you walk in the entrance, while ahead opens into a spacious dining room. Layering the perimeter of the entire pub are enormous flat screen TV's of which I found a bit deterring and unnecessary, but to the right crowd can certainly be a plus. On a sunny day, the windows from the outside provide a great natural lighting, while further into the bar may get a little dark (especially in the booths on the far side where we sat). The brewhouse and the fermentors reside in the back, yet fully visible to the patrons view. I wondered if they were at capacity for the number of brews they had available and the time needed to make Belgian beers (A definite theme). But nevertheless everything was apparently going quite smoothly, according to Ian, a knowledgeable employee.
      Service is exceptional and thanks to Alicja for being a great waitress. The menu is reasonably priced with pizzas running $12-15 and very vegetarian friendly. An entree runs $7-10 (with one at 12) and burgers at $8. Even a cheese sampler is available! and I give big points if you can mix and complement the beer with the food.
     As for the beers...Given the theme of lemon in many of them, I assume there was extensive use of similar hops (Centennial hops?). And with six of the ten beers being of Belgian or like origin, there is a big pride that falls into that category as well. I enjoyed the fact that the beer volumes to order were very customer friendly in that they provide 4, 12, 16 and 20 Oz order sizes ranging from $1.25-2.25, $3.75-6.75, $5-7 (9) and $6.25-7.50 respectively. Nevertheless the beer is exceptionally good with high quality flavor and variety. Finally they boast a great guest menu as well. With over 15 taps at the front bar ranging from Three Floyds to Bear Republic and supporting their locals (Half Acre), there is no way to go wrong at this place. Finally, as of right now and their drawn pressure to keep the public content with their beer, there isn't room for cask ales...yet.
What it takes to write these things...
      A few things I'd recommend. I understand that the Bulls game was currently playing, but it was overwhelmingly loud. Whether it was the fans cheering or the TV's. Again the # of TV's was deterring as well because I primarily think of a brewery/brewpub, if confident enough, to be proud of their beers and the fact that they brew on location to be the center of conversation and fuel a social atmosphere without any distractions (my personal opinion). I'd also like to see more food made with the beer. Perhaps some complimentary bread made with the pale ale, or pizza crust with the Golden Lager? Maybe some more Organic foods? People are always willing to pay the extra cost for that, especially now. What about some more snack appetizers? Hummus? Beer bread or bar chips? These are all things that would really parallel the themes of today and the history of yesterday.
      Ultimately this was a fantastic experience, the beer was amazing not only in variety but in complexity and quality. Service is exceptional and Peter Crowley (the brewer) is very outgoing and accommodating to his customers. I thank him for explaining the beers and his devotion to the craft beer industry.
Check them out:
Haymarket Facebook

Brewery Review: 47/50


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