CHICAGO BEAT :: Revolution Brewing Company

by Paul Ciminero on January 31, 2011

Having traveled extensively as a winery representative throughout the country for the past 20 years, I can say unequivocally that folks in the wine bizz (be it makers or sales) more than relish a cold beer at the end of the day. Does that make them beer experts? In most cases, yes, as they approach beer with the same passion as that of wine. In my case however, no.

I love beer but have serious issues with hops due to my battle with rheumatoid arthritis. Having said this, and having the history of a guy who went to Kent State “back in the day,” my history of cultural depravity compelled me to make a test run with my friend Debbie to Revolution Brewing Company, the newest brew pub in Chicago, located in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Brewmaster Jim Cibak began his career over 15 years ago at Chicago’s Goose Island Brew pub and moved on to Three Floyd’s Brewery before deciding on small barrel aging as his signature style while working at the Firestone-Walker Brewery in Paso Robles, California. His partner is Josh Dent, whose background is equally impressive, having worked at Goose Island, Handlebar, and Golden Prairie. Twice weekly they make a batch of a particular brew and load it into 15 barrels.

We arrived about 2 pm in the afternoon, an ideal time for a slacker like me to enjoy a late afternoon lunch of hoppy alcohol enlightenment and return home to sleep off the pain with an hour-long nap. Brew pubs and beer restaurants have evolved from the early days of “fish and chips” and other greasy accompaniments to sophisticated menu’s using local food sources. Revolution Brewing is no exception. In keeping up with demands from customers to try as many types as possible, Revolution Brewing offers a 2-ounce taste of each available beer for $2 each. For $12, Debbie and I got 6 2-ounce pours of each beer and additional glasses to taste each.

Revolution maintains an evolving menu. We began with what else? Bacon Fat Popcorn ($4). OK…heavy handed you might say; well, not really. It was a wonderful balance of popcorn, farm raised bacon from the Boe farm in Ottawa, Illinois, lightly dusted with grated Reggiano Parmesan and deep-fried sage. The richness of the pig fat was cut through nicely with the first two brews, “Workingman’s Mild” and “Cross of Gold.” The former is listed as an “English Luncheon Beer” and had aromas of toffee and caramel, with light maple flavors and a tart, slightly citrus finish. The latter, “Cross of Gold,” was a creamy, slightly hopped golden ale. We had also ordered the House Made Sausages and Ham sampler ($14), which arrived in time for the 4 remaining beers. This part of the menu, like the beer, is constantly evolving. The plate consisted of Fennel Summer Sausage, Curry Sausage, Polectwica Losoiosa (Polish Smoked Pork Loin), and Jalapeño Jagerwurst.

The “Bottom up Wit,” Belgian style wheat ale with orange peel and coriander spices, really worked well with the heartier sausages. It was refreshing even with its dense, yeasty tones and wonderfully subtle orange notes. “Logan Pride,” seasonal ale made with East Kent Goldings hops from the U.K., was balanced enough in weight and flavor to match with the elegance of the Polish pork loin. The “Anti-Hero IPA,” on the other hand, yearned for the Curry Sausage match up and worked even better with the Roast Beet and Feta Salad. It’s an extremely hoppy IPA with lovely notes of caramel in mid-palate. Debbie remarked (and I concur) that this might have been the best salad we’ve had in a long time. Large beets were interspersed with vinaigrette that was ever so subtle with thinly sliced, deep-fried beet strips, lettuce, feta, and olives sprinkled throughout. It’s a revelation to find a wine and food match, and even more so to find a beer and food match as unexpectedly as was the case with the IPA and salad.

Finally it was time for dessert and to try the last of their seasonal “Eugene” porter. Porters are thick, slightly sweet ales with chocolaty notes and malty overtones. Like drinking chocolate malt from “Super Dawg” you say?? Not really, as the sweetness is ever so subtle but this brew is made to warm bones on a cold day (as it turned out, it was 86 degrees during this warm mid-May day). Although the Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding may have been a better choice, we stuck with and were pleasantly surprised by, how well the Cherry Bourbon Pudding worked as a complement to the porter.

Revolution Brewing Company has an extensive menu that any “foodie” would love. In addition to what we chose that day, they offer a large selection of reasonably priced sandwiches and gourmet burgers, pizzas, salads, and a selection of entrée’s that’s sure to please anyone including such brew pub stalwarts as Fish and Chips (with red pepper remoulade and jalapeño cole slaw), Flemish Beef Stew, and a 16 ounce Porterhouse steak.

They also have an excellent whiskey list, a 30+ bottle and glass selection of wines, guest beers on tap, and a large bottle and can list that includes New Belgian, Three Floyds, Great Lakes, Two Brothers, Goose Island, Dog Fish Head, and – as is the rage at every eatery in the city these days – PBR (that’s Pabst Blue Ribbon for us non-millennial types). Its worth several return visits any day of the year.

Revolution Brewing / 2323 N. Milwaukee, Chicago IL 60647 / (773) 227-BREW

Ed: Paul Ciminero is not only a wine expert, but a former DJ and current musicologist, a cartoon aficionado, and a skilled, award winning photographer, to name only a few attributes and interests. Thus, we see him as something of a Renaissance Guy. Just do NOT talk politics with him. He’s smart and well read, but you’ll never get those hours, days, and weeks back, y’know? We’re pleased that he agreed to be a YBN contributor, especially since he receives no compensation for doing so!

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