The Fifth Ingredient: Talking collaborations, brewpubs and beer with Dryhop Brewmaster Brant Dubovick

Dry Hop Brewers, located in Chicago Illinois
Brant Dubovick_© Lindsay Gallup (1)
Credit: Dryhop Brewers

Dryhop Brewers feels like a friendly Lakeview neighborhood bar, and that’s exactly what head brewmaster Brant Dubovick wanted it to be when the brewpub launched back in Summer 2013. I got the chance to chat with Brant recently where we talked through his thoughts on brewpubs as neighborhood bars, the popularity of crowlers, what beers he expects to be hot this summer, along with his thoughts for the future. And with Dryhop’s 3-year anniversary celebration staring June 13th, there was no better time to talk to the man behind the Northside craft beer staple.

So, with no further ado, here’s my Fifth Ingredient interview with Brant Dubovick!

  • How did you get started in brewing?
    • BD: My inspiration started in the early 90’s when I was hanging out in brewpubs in the NYC/Pittsburgh area. I really enjoyed drinking craft beer at the bar which naturally led me to get me interested in making my own. So, I started home-brewing in ’98, made the leap to breweries in 2004, and the rest is history.

Community:

Dryhop operates in a unique spot in the brewery realm, as its brewpub setup means that it acts as both a local bar/restaurant and esteemed craft beer spot. This was the thought in mind when Dryhop launched back in 2013.

DryHop Brewers_Beer
Credit: Dryhop Brewers
  • What was your vision when opening DryHop?
    • BD: I view DryHop 100% as a neighborhood pub and bar, as that’s what we set out to make. We want to be the place where everyone can hang out, talk about themselves, with their friends, and with the brewers. That’s why we don’t have TVs.
  • Thoughts on the craft beer scene when you started in Lakeview and how it’s changed since then?
    • BD: When we started we were the only brew pub on the block, now we see a lot of different craft beer bars lining the streets. What’s really cool is that because of the craft beer boom, you can walk into any dive bar and see a few local craft lines on tap– even at your grandfather’s old spot, and that’s cool. We love calling Lakeview our home.

Crowlers, Cans and Collabs

DryHop Brewers Interior2_Photo by Michael Kiser_www.GoodBeerHunting.com
Credit: Dryhop Brewers

One of the coolest things about the craft beer boom is the influx in creativity it has allowed for brewmasters. Not only has It has generated new partnership opportunities for bars, restaurants and charitable organizations that benefit the local communities these breweries serve in, but it has also allowed for some creative thinking as to how these beers can be consumed.

Can you talk about some of the recent collaborations you’ve done and the reason you do them?

  • BD: We like doing collaborations with people we respect and have good relationships with – that’s the starting point for us. In regards to the recent Big Star collaboration. We have a a great admiration for Big Star; their bar manager Laurent Lebec is actually a regular at Dryhop. Collaborations to us are about friendship and working with each other: ‘I respect you, I like what you’re brewing, let’s have some fun.’

That thinking comes from my first couple years in Chicago when I didn’t have a brewery, so a couple of the other breweries like Haymarket let me brew with them and now we’re paying it forward to brewers and businesses in similar positions.

DryHop Brewers 32oz Can
Credit: Dryhop Brewers
  • What are your thoughts on the crowler system you implemented?
    • BD: I think crowlers (32oz cans) are a great option for beer drinkers. I was never a big fan of growlers but I like the alternative as canning gives the beer added shelf-life. That said, I do recommend taking it home and drinking it ASAP. In terms of popularity, crowlers have been great for us, it immediately took off when we introduced it in 2014 and outsells our 64oz growlers at Dryhop, which shows how much people like it. Aesthetically, it’s cool, looks cool, people like being seen with it, and it has great graphics on it. I see it as the future of growlers.
  • Any chance we’ll see more conventional bottles/cans of DryHop beers soon or are you keeping it local?
    • No, our business plan is to open brewpubs, so we don’t have any plans to bottle or can our beers.

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With craft beer sales up 18 percent in 2015 and that number looking to rise in 2016, there’s no doubt that there is opportunity for growth, innovation and volatility in the craft beer scene as the new generation of beer drinkers continue to make craft beer anything but niche. That said, Brant believes in staying true to what he knows and what he knows works well for his customers.

  • Any new releases you’re excited about? 
    • DB: We have some fun stuff coming up this summer that we’re excited about; in particular, with next week being our third anniversary, we’re bringing back part of our original lineup which we had when we opened in 2013
      • Vampire For Your Love Saison – Made with Tasmanian pepper berries and crude lime
      • Angry Samoan – Coconut milk stout
      • The Judge – Dryhop’s original APA, it will be hugely popular according to Brant
  • What new beer style do you see taking the torch from IPAs? Saisons?
    • DB: Personally I don’t think IPA’s are going anywhere, I’ve been hearing their death toll for years but they’re still a best seller for brewpubs – American IPA’s in particular. That said I do think sour beers are next in line to take off with experienced drinkers but IPAs just make more sense and have more appeal for the general drinker. Oh, and I 100% see well-crafted lagers coming back as well, they’re very approachable, and are good for new beer drinkers
  • Thoughts on expanding?
    • DB: We’re definitely thinking about a third brewpub location with a different feel than Dryhop and Corridor and are currently talking through some ideas and locations but nothing has been set in motion yet. I can guarantee it’ll be in Chicago.

If you want to check out Dryhop (and I highly recommend you do), you can find more info on hours, menus and food options on their website. And be sure to come out to Lakeview to help celebrate their anniversary week, June 13th-18th!

 

 

Taylor Laabs

Taylor Laabs

23, Chicagoan, lover of (most) beers due to my Wisconsin-based education and craving of brewpubs. Cheers!
Taylor Laabs