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Micros bloom in Windy City

High spot: brew pub fired by chinese woks....

The astonishing array of beers being brewed in the US is an invitation to explore. The easiest, and least expensive, way is to buy one of the runabout tickets being offered by major airlines.

For a few hundred pounds, it is possible to travel thousands of miles. I choose the "Visit USA" pass available from United Airlines. My preference is for United because its routes seem to cover the greatest number of cities and towns with interesting breweries.

The hubs are Denver, which I discussed last month, and Chicago.

In the "Windy City," I visited a tiny new micro-brewery, Golden Prairie, which is Chicago's third. When I called, it was producing just one beer, in the style of a Dusseldorfer Alt, in a hundred-gallon vessel formerly used in the pharmaceutical industry.


The vessel was propped on a brick support, and heated by gas fired wok burners usually found in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant.


The vessel was propped on a brick support, and heated by gas fired wok burners usually found in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant.

I found the Golden Prairie Altbier very well-balanced, starting malty, becoming fruity, and finishing hoppy. Three or four malts were being used, milled on the premises, and three hop varieties: Fuggles, Northern Brewer and Chinook, all from Oregon, in three additions.

The malt and hop character were excellent, and my only quibble was that the beer was perhaps too crisp and carbonic for the style.

This product is made by Ted Furman, who has quite a colourful career as a home brewer, and whose work is well-appreciated at convenient bars such as the Black Hawk Lodge (41 E Superior, at the intersection with Wabash and Rush).

Furman worked in graphic design and desktop publishing "until the downturn in the economy." His home-brewing skills and connections gave him the chance to gain some experience working in a brewpub, and 18 months ago he set up on his own.

His wife and a friend are partners in the business, which is tucked behind an art gallery, in a former tannery in an industrial neighbourhood on the near North Side of Chicago.

On St Patrick's Day, the brewery produced a well-regarded dry stout, flavoured with maple syrup, and by now the springtime one, Ginger Ale, should be available. Expansion plans have already been announced.

Where to drink in Chicago

The Great Beer Palace, boasting 24 taps, is a newish place at 4128 N. Lincoln Ave. I have made several visits over the past few years and the beers have always been good.

They have included a creamy, chocoIatey, Mild; an aromatic Best Bitter, and an Irish-style ale called Honker's; a sweetish, winey, Winter Warmer; an oily Oatmeal Stout and a dense Imperial Stout. Goose Island is central, at 1800 N. Clybourn, in the Halsted nightlife area.

Farther out, in the Bohemian neighbourhood of Berwyn, the Weinkeller was intended to celebrate the German grape, but somehow switched to grain. It stocks a huge range of beers, and make its own.

Products have included a Berliner Weisse made with a lactic culture; an eclectic Dusseldorfer Doppelbock; a rounded brew called Aberdeen Amber; and a strong (1082) stout made with yeast from Cooper's of Adelaide.

The Weinkeller' is at 6417 W Roesevelt, near Austin, on the Congress line of the elevated metro system.

On the off chance that you ever find yourself in the farther-flung suburb of South Barrington, I shall mention the Mill Rose brewpub. I was there recently and enjoyed a spicy Belgian-style Saison, (455. Barrington Rd).

And in the North-East

Boston: I was impressed with the beers at the Boston Beer Works (61 Brookline Aye, near Fenway Park, where the Red Sox play). I particularly enjoyed the perfumy, hoppy IPA; the flowery Nut brown; and the chocolatey Oatmeal Stout.

New York: Westside is a new brewpub, the third in the city. It is at 340 Amsterdam Ave and 76th St. The building has a long history as a neighbourhood tavern, and has been little altered.

Products include a sweetish Wheat Ale; a Blonde Ale, with good hop flavours; a fruitier, more bitter Pale Ale; a malty ESB; and a syrupy Red Ale.

Philadelphia: As well as seeing Dock Street, visitors should call into the Samuel Adams brew-pub (above the Oyster House at 1516 Sansom, in the city centre). The fruity, hoppy, Amber Ale and a Porter tinged with treacle toffee are regular products. In recent times I have tasted a couple of seasonal beers; a creamy stout and a wheaty Bock. Not new, but a delightfully pubby place.

Washington DC: Capitol City is a brewpub in an Art Deco bus station (110 New York Ave N.W. and H St, near the Metro Center subway). Beers brewed on the premises include a buttery Pils and a malty-fruity Altbier.


Published Online: SEPT 2, 1998
Published in Print: MAY 1, 1994
In: What's Brewing

Brew Travel

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