This past weekend I was lucky enough to have my parents in town, which meant that brewery hopping was on the menu. To us, there’s nothing better than finding the new spot, the craziest IPA or the coolest outdoor patio. So, after touring a few popular spots on the west side (wink wink Lagunitas) we decided to check out a smaller, new brewpub called Dovetail Brewery.
Dovetail is different than other breweries that I’ve been to. First off, it’s a very small operation run by co-brewers Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink – it’s a passion project. Not only did Hagen and Bill make every table, chair and tap handle by hand, but they also made it by using reclaimed wood from the old building. Each table and tap handle is made with a dovetail joint, which is a sturdy craftsmanship joint that gets its strength from two different joints coming together – much like the brewers who came together to create the brewery. Secondly. Dovetail’s beer comes from the Belgian lambic style, meaning that the beer is fermented in open air using wild yeast. Lastly, don’t expect any IPAs or heavy beers from Dovetail, as the beer list focuses on European-style lagers and ales, staying true to their European brew education.
The interior is cozy, with small tables and table tops adorning the open spaces – making it a great spot for both large groups and one-off visits. The dominant feature behind the bar is the beautiful old copper lauderton, which Bill and Hagen brought back with them after their stint in Germany. The beer list is simple, as it includes a hefeweizen, lager and rauchbier, along with a radler and a few other beer/soda concoctions that use Filbert’s Chicago soda.
When I went to Dovetail, I tried out their Rauchbier and Radler, which couldn’t be more opposite in the taste, smell and color spectrum. Here are my verdicts:
Stats: 5.3% ABV, 22 IBUs
Thoughts: Rauchbier’s are as German as it gets, and Dovetail created a great replication of this style with their own variety. As you move the glass close you’re immediately hit by a strong, smokey smell that permeates throughout the tasting process, along with hits of chocolate throughout. But unlikely heavier stouts that have smoke but also have thickness, this Rauchbier was easy to drink and almost refreshing in a way. Definitely something to try if you go to Dovetail as it’s the first one I’ve ever had in my life.
Verdict: If you’re a seasoned craft beer drinker, definitely pursue this one not only for its uncharacteristic taste, but also its uniqueness
Stats: 50/50 mix of Dovetail Lager (4.8% ABV) and Lemon Lime Filbert’s Soda
Thoughts: Radlers are quickly becoming my summer BBQ beer, and there’s no doubt I’d bring Dovetail’s variety to my next cookout if I’m able to find both Dovetail lager and Filbert’s Lemon Lime on shelves. Imagine a bright, tart lemonade flavor twisted with a delicious lager that gives the drink a full body, but doesn’t overpower it. It’s refreshing in every sense and is made for consumption on a hot summer day. That said, it’s not for everyone. My parents quickly put the drink back after complaining about its overly-sweet taste.
Verdict: Worth a try for its flavor alone, but you definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to try as it pushes the boundaries of what a beer can consist of.
So, after leaving Dovetail, I was left appreciating the uniqueness the new brewery embodied. Not only did the co-owners have a very compelling story, but the beer they brewed also represented a complete step outside of the norm of what’s expected at Chicago breweries. It was different than the hop-heavy IPAs and barrel-aged stouts that surround the current market. The European brew style makes you appreciate the vast complexity that goes into the beer making process and made me reconsider my personal beer preferences. Next time I’m at my local hangout, I’m definitely looking to see if radlers are on the menu.
Check it out if you’re looking for something new in Chicago!
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