My friends and I are always down for meeting up at a local brewery to relax and catch up or just goof off. Even on those nights where I just want to be a bum at home, you can probably get me to leave the house by dangling a brewery carrot. My husband used to be known for not doing anything outside of the house weekday evenings after work and Sunday evenings. He preferred to take it easy at home. I went so many places without him!
Thankfully, he’s off the couch and out the house more. Oftentimes, you’ll find us hanging at a local brewery, having a beer with friends.
If you told me that we’d be this way years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.
We just get happy, cozy, feelzzz at breweries and pubs. It’s so easy to lose track of time.
Our favorite hangouts essentially have good beer, but then there are factors beyond the beer that keeps you coming back!
Revolution Brewing’s production facility and taproom located in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood is a delightful spot for gathering, unwinding, and relaxing for hours.
They’ve laid out their German Beer Hall inspired taproom as if to say “welcome, come on it! There’s plenty of room so stay awhile!
Safety First! It was HOT under these goggles!
Named one of the top 50 craft brewery companies in the United States, in 2015, Revolution Brewing is the largest independently owned brewery in Illinois. They opened their brewpub in Logan Square in 2010. The production facility and taproom where I got a behind-the-scenes peek opened in 2012. A noteworthy fact that I learned during my tour is, Josh Deth, the founder actually trademarked the name Revolution, the logo, Anti-Hero, Bottom Up Wit, and Eugene Porter in the late 90’s, over 10 years before he opened the brewpub. Talk about having vision!
They’ve experienced tremendous growth in the seven years since opening. Just 2 years ago they produced about 65,000 barrels of beer a year. They should hit about 100,000 barrels by the end of 2017 with distribution in Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York City, Wisconsin, and most recently Michigan
I gained so much insight from my behind-the-scenes peek at operations; now I’m a beer know-it-all…..NOT!
Here are a few things though that I learned from my tour with Quintin:
Beer is made up of 4 basic components: Water, Malt, Hops, and Yeast.
- Malts: Supplying flavors like toast, toffee, caramel, chocolate, and expresso, malts are essentially the baker of beer. The roasting time of malts determines the intricacy of flavor with darker roasted malts providing more complexity.
- Water: The milled malts are steeped in hot water like a big bag of tea. The grain is then separated from the liquid. Revolution provides a second use for their grain waste by supplying it to local farmers for cattle feed. After separation, the liquid is then moved to the brewer’s kettle to boil and sanitize while hop additions are added at different points of the boil to give beer varying characteristics.
- Hops: Revolution uses pelletized hops instead of the leafy format. Experience has shown them that the flavors and aromas of these hops are more even, concentrated, and easier to measure, producing a more consistent product. Many perceive hops as only bitter, however, you also get tropical fruits, citrus, pine, grass; a lot of flavor and aromas aside from bitterness. There’s so much room for creativity. After hops are added, the liquid goes through a process in the whirlpool. The finished product is called Wort; a sweet sugar water. You get the sweetness from the malt and flavor and aroma from the hops; it’s just not beer because it doesn’t have alcohol or co2. It needs to ferment after that. That’s where the yeast comes in.
- Yeast: Fermentation begins when yeast is pitched into the wort in the fermentation tank. The yeast eats the fermentable sugar and produces CO2 and alcohol. After fermentation, the temperature is lowered so that the yeast goes to sleep and falls to the bottom. The co2 is then released out of tanks….We now have BEER!
The beer is now ready to be packaged and consumed. Got all of that? Are you ready to make your own beer?
I’ll just keep drinking Revolution’s beer, they’re the experts!
Kegs are available for purchase
The cans are loaded, rinsed, and hit with a bit of nitrogen before heading to the filler head where 300 cans a minute are filled with beer. All Revolution beer is canned. Quintin stated that cans are like mini-kegs and they keep the air out more than capped bottles which over time seep air. They’re also 100% opaque so they keep the light out. Light struck beer tastes skunky. Have you ever taken a swig of skunky beer? Not pleasant.
I was always under the impression that all canned beer had a bad taste, so I asked Quentin why that was so. He explained that cans got a bad stigma in the past for a couple of reasons:
- Metallic flavor was common. That no longer is an issue as today’s cans are higher quality and lined.
- Breweries used to put products that they thought were inferior in cans, therefore, people associated cans with cheap beer.
After the beer is canned the production date is applied by laser and the beer is now ready for distribution. Revolution only uses companies with refrigerated trucks to distribute their beer ensuring freshness up to delivery.
Mural by artist Won Kim of Bridgeport, IL
For me as a customer, I know why I love Revolution but I asked Quintin what he enjoys about working for Revolution Brewing and here’s what he said:
“Revolution is a fun, progressive company that takes care of their employees. Everyone has been here for years and we’re like a big family.”
Happy employees treat customers well. Well treated customers are happy and loyal. Happy employees and happy customers make a fun environment. A formula for success. It’s no surprise that Revolution has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years.
Another thing that I appreciated from what Quintin shared was that Revolution supports others in the brewery community by drinking their products and paying their brewpubs visits. In the blogging world, we have a hashtag #communityovercompetition which basically means there’s room for everyone so let’s encourage and support each other to succeed. I like that Revolution Brewery believes in that.
They certainly have a loyal follower in me!
My appreciation for the company, product, and people behind the curtain was greatly enhanced by my tour. A true gem!
Make sure that you pay them a visit!
The production and tap facility are located at 3340 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
Or visit the brewpub at 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Some things to keep in mind in regards to the production facility and taproom:
- Free first come first serve tours are offered for up to 30 people and you get a free beer.
- Private tours are also available: $50 for the tour and $5 per head.
- The taproom is family friendly even on weekends. I saw a stroller in the taproom during my visit, lol. Doesn’t get any more family friendly than that!
- The only food you’ll find here is good old salty popcorn. Is it just me or are beer and popcorn perfect together? If you need more than popcorn to stave off the hanger or bigger problems you can bring in your own food or order from the menus that they have in the taproom.
- Closed Mondays and Tuesdays…opened Wednesday-Sunday
Its a fun, unique place to visit. And I liked the community over competition value you talked about. Good job.
I miss Revolution. My wife and I loved going there with friends for brunch. We live in Dallas now, but luckily friends will bring us some of our favorite mid western beers when visiting. Just enjoyed a Eugene Porter with dinner last night. Delicious!
You have some pretty cool friends! I think that I’d require mine to come bearing the same brew gifts if I ever moved away from the area, lol.