You’ve been staring at that beer menu for five minutes now and the waitress keeps giving you those anticipatory glances…aren’t you ready to order? It’s just beer after all. But if it’s just beer, why is the draft list starting to look like a wine menu? The kind of heavy hardcover book filled with pages of descriptions and regions some snooty sommelier would dump on you. Suddenly you feel weak when you order that trusty Sam Adams, as if you should know more. Just get the micro brewery beer, you tell yourself. But there are so many now, which one? Lets face it, to just rely on the stocked craft beer of the week isn’t enough anymore; consumers and brewers alike must become discerning. Metropolitan Brewery on the North side is here to help.
We all know Europe makes its booze according to regions. Specific wines, beer and liquor are made in designated areas with century-long traditions of making their specific drink. But we’re Americans damn it! We want it all and we want it everywhere; the craft beer scene is growing stronger by the day and microbreweries can’t just get away with stuffing a small batch of beer with hoppy bombs and expect everyone to fall in love with it. Metropolitan is one of the latest additions to the Chicago craft brewery scene, resisting the urge to be everything at once and instead crafting German Lagers with Chicago style.
Doug and Tracy Hurst have a few friends and family helping them craft their beers, but for the most part it’s just them. From long days of hand labeling their bottles, running tours personally on the weekends to hurrying to finish their beer while the supply truck idles out front, these dreamers are doing it all. But they’re doing it carefully too, happy to create the specific beer they love and supply that beer only to the Chicagoland area (you lucky dog you).
Take the tour and they’ll tell you first hand, they don’t make ales they make lagers. Crisp, pale beers with just lightly toasted hops to give color and spices that comes out to a discerning palate. I’ve said before I’m an ale man and I’m not betraying that stance for the sake of promoting a local establishment. Their Flywheel Lager is too bright for me, but those of you foolishly sucking down Budweiser because you supposedly enjoy “American Lager” should grab one of these and reintroduce yourself to your taste buds. Their Dynamo Copper Lager is something I could drink all day while poking at my grill, that spicy finish just enough to itch my hoppy needs. The Krank Shaft kolsch beer and their seasonal I-Beam Alt are both harder-to-find German beers and really give you a sense of what they’re trying to accomplish. Doug hates stale beer and it’s safe to say the farther you get from Munich the less tasty the German import’s going to be. Frankly, I’d happily spend my day in the Metropolitan beer tent during Oktoberfest.
There’s no brew pub or outlet store for Metropolitan so you’ll have to watch for one of their wickedly cool taps protruding from your favorite bar. It’s nice to know that while Chicago beer menus are getting larger, ultimately you can rely on local Chicago craft breweries and know you’re getting something fresh. Pick a warm Andersonville day and wander up the friendly Ravenswood corridor to spot the cool brick building that hosts Metropolitan and their neighbors Koval, making local booze the way your favorite baker makes local bread. Drinking good craft beer in Chicago doesn’t have to be hard; it’s just a matter of finding a good close provider and sticking to what you love.
5121 N. Ravenswood