Revolution Brewing Company
While I take great pride in my UPchicago brewery series, there’s a notion that these articles are antiquated the moment they’re released. That’s not to put down their validity as a reflection on Chicago’s brewery scene, rather it’s a testament to just how evolutionary each brewery and brew pub are as they develop new types of beer and perfect the old ones. Revolution Brewing Company is a classic example of this, with an immediate popularity that consumed their beer almost faster than they could make it. The long anticipation of this establishment’s rehabbed space, combined with the hot trend of local micro-beer and an overdue Logan Square fervor, has jolted this place into immediate success. The first time I visited — on a Tuesday night — they were so slammed they’d run out of a number of their signature brews and were holding hour-long waits for a table. Needless to say their boasting Chicago’s “freshest beer around” made me chuckle. But one must allow for a brewery to gain its stride, and with notorious brewmaster Jim Cibek (former brewmaster of 3 Floyds) working the barrels I knew it was just a matter of time before their beers took the spotlight from the impeccably refurbished space and dramatic decor.
The rumors said it took Logan preservationist and historical buff Josh Deth (owner of Handlebar and former Goose Island cellerman) twice as long as anticipated to build out the expensively rehabbed outfit of Revolution, with it’s restored tin ceiling and dramatic wood bar. You could say it was worth the wait and price, as they’ve had to add another barrel just to keep up with demand. The left-handed fists of revolution lining the taps and anchoring the bar are undeniably badass even if they do start to look a little phallic by the third beer. The food consists of upscale bar eats, though after repeated ordering failures I’ve decided it’s best to keep it simple with items like their smoked pulled pork or their decent burgers. It’s worth noting, though, they do serve vegetarian options and more avant-garde choices like bacon fat popcorn (a nice concept but it just failed to come together, literally). In that sense I’d say the beer and food take opposite travels, the simpler the food the better, while the ales stand out with their more original and eccentric efforts.
For instance, the Iron Fist appears as their icon ale, but while it’s drinkable and balanced, it struck me as lacking in character, which admittedly could mean it was too mild for me. Same would be said for their Golden Ale. And while their Rosie (a spiced beer) punched me in the nose with exceptional floral notes, the followup taste was a bit lacking. Meanwhile the Working Man Mild has tremendous flavor for a beer that’s only 3.5% alcohol, making it a good Sunday sipper in my book. We treat alcohol in beer the way we treat fat in food — but they don’t always mean more taste. As far as their IPA’s go, I’m a big fan of the Anti-Hero, but we’ve already established I’m a hop head. I love that they already have two Belgium beers on tap with the Bottom Up Wit and the Coup De Grace, proving that just because the establishment is new doesn’t mean the brewmaster is. Cecil is known for his IPA’s and his porters, and the Eugene Porter is about as clean tasting as a porter gets with a very light mouth feel.
I have a feeling the best is yet to come with this brew house dynamo, as they’ve just begun to release their cask strength ales. Wine barrels, bourbon barrels, a fermenting batch of Michigan cherries and a few collaborative beers with the 3 Floyds boys all promise for some crazy concoctions. Clearly these Logan Square bicyclists-turned-brewers knew what they were doing when they released the tamer classic ales to build their initial reputation (much like Piece does) only to then delve into the more loco libations to please the taste adventurers.
I’ve almost made it through a full article without some romantic waxing about how truly exciting it is for beer lovers in Chicago to have nationally recognized brew pubs popping up left and right to exclusively supply us with specialized craft beer. Well, it was inevitable I suppose. Chicago isn’t alone in the beer craze, but trust me when I say the Midwest is holding it’s own for some of the most respected and savored breweries in the country. Revolution Brewery Company is another notch in that belt and certainly one of the finest recent additions to Logan Square. Keep ’em coming Chicago.