In a hoppy place
Don’t try this at home
10/14/2012 3:27 PM
The process for brewing craft beer is slow and methodical. And very, very clean. I learned this during the weekly tour of the brewery and fermentation rooms at Haymarket Pub & Brewery on the corner of Halsted and West Randolph.
Chad Daugherty leads the tour, which includes a 12-oz. beer and four 4-oz. tasters. Even if you don’t remember much about the brewing process, you’ll leave the tour in a happy place. Or, perhaps a hoppy place.
Hops, you see, are one of the three main ingredients in beer. The others are malt barley, yeast and perhaps most important, water.
“Beer is made of 95 percent water,” Daughtery said. “We are very fortunate that in Chicago we get Lake Michigan tap water, which is clean and free of hard deposits.”
The water goes through a commercial-grade charcoal filter to remove chloride and fluoride deposits, then directly into the brewing tanks. Daugherty explained how the brewing process requires patience and cleanliness. The tanks he showed us were indeed spotless, and reminded me of the superlab on “Breaking Bad.” I expected Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to emerge in their yellow cleansuits. Perhaps that was a result of the pilsner I drank during the tour.
Pilsners, like Rodney Dangerfield, don’t get much respect. But, they are in fact some of the most difficult beers to produce.
“It may not have the most extreme flavor profile but brewing a crisp pilsner is very difficult to get right,” Daugherty said. “That’s one of the beers we’re most proud of here at Haymarket.”
Their other craft beers aren't too shabby, either. The brewpub doesn’t distribute its product outside the West Loop location because it’s always running at near capacity. Such is the popularity of its Belgian-style beers.
You can take the Haymarket tour at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sundays. The $15 fee includes the beer samples. Reservations are available by calling 312-638-0700.
For the true craft beer aficionado, Haymarket is hosting the annual Drinking & Writing Festival on Sat., Oct. 20, from noon to 6 p.m. For $30, participants can see performances by 16th Street Theater’s show “The Beats,” sample local craft beers, listen to live jazz and eat roasted beets.
The latter is a nod to the beat movement (Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, et al). It will feature NeoFuturist alumni Steve Mosqueda and Sean Benjamin, hosts of a monthly radio show on WLUW, 88.7 FM.