Visited on: Tuesday 19th June 2018
As it should be for all Bavarian-inspired breweries, the two founders of this one met in Munich. Hagan Dost and Bill Wesselink were both studying for a Master Brewer’s degree at the prestigious Doeman’s Institute. What’s more, they were both Chicagoans.
It was in Germany that they decided to combine forces and move forward to form their own brewery back at home. With such similar ideals they believed their combined talents fitted together like a Dovetail Joint, hence the name.
The collaboration reached its natural conclusion when the Dovetail Brewery’s Taproom opened to the public for the first time at 11.00 on Saturday 11th June 2016.
The pub is actually in the Ravenswood district and has an interesting location on the other side of the street to the elevated tracks of the RTA Metra Kenosha line. On the next block behind the brewery is another elevated railway. The Brown line of the CTA. An added bonus is that it is only one short block away from Begyle Brewing, making a visit even more attractive.
Inside we found a very modern bar room with the bar counter on the left. There is a lot of room and I’m sure they get more seats in here if needed.
To the left of the entrance door there were a number of tables, then the counter with a lot of high chairs. Facing this are more fitted seats and high seats.
Along the back wall are even more fitted seats with loose high seats. One interesting piece of decoration is the large pretzel sitting on one of the tables. I would guess it is made of plastic.
The building has 22,000 square feet of customer and brewery space. The brewery itself is made up of some very traditional pieces. The four fermentation vessels are open and the copper is over one hundred years old and was once an integral part of the Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising, Bavaria serving as its pilot plant. The brewery is heavily into wooden barrel ageing and is lucky it has so much space to store them.
One of most fascinating features is the coolship. In small village breweries in Bavaria it is used to cool the wort overnight in the absence of modern cooling equipment. It is a very shallow open tank and here it referred to as a fermentation vessel.
This is because they make Belgian Lambic style beers and these a fermented by wild yeasts found in the atmosphere. There’s not a lot of controllable science involved here. It is done on a “wait and see” basis as to what type of beer comes out.
In keeping with their Germanic / Czech / Belgian preferences we found the beer list to reflect that. No ales, but some of their Belgian-style beers are close to that category. We had a choice of Altbier (5.1%); Helles (4.4%); Lager (4.8%); Maibock (6.2%); Pilsner (4.6%); Rauchbier (5.3%); Rauchdoppelbock (10.0%); Vienna Lager (5.1%); Framboise (6.5%); and Petit Gueuze (6.5%).
We tried four of these and the following is what we thought of them: Firstly we had Chicago Lager which was quite innocuous in taste. I suppose I couldn’t expect anything else following the assertive taste of other Chicago breweries. But we really didn’t like the Vienna Lager. We knew that it is a malty style but this had only a bland malt taste and after taste.
The Rauchbier was very intense with a very smoky body taste and after taste. Finally, the best: Rauchdoppelbock tasted strong (it is!) yet the smokiness was not overpowering.
So this is the Chicago home of well-crafted lager beers brewed as close as is possible to the originals. Well worth a visit.
Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W Belle Plaine Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60613. Tel: 773 683 1414
Hours: Monday 16.00-22.00; Tuesday-Thursday 12.00-22.00; Friday: 12.00-23:00;
Saturday 11:00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-20.00
From the Loop catch the CTA Brown Line northwards and alight at Irving Park station.
Exit the station to the street and walk east along West Irving Park Road.
You will then be at the Metra overbridge. Turn left into West Belle Plaine Avenue.
After one block you will pass Begyle Brewing on your left.
On the corner of the next block is Dovetail Brewery.