A day that began at the Garfield Park Conservatory (delightful) and continued at Lagunitas (a reliable old standby) ended at Marz Community Brewing’s recently opened taproom, inconspicuously located in a South Side industrial park just west of Guaranteed Rate Field (or Comiskey Park or The Cell or whatever the hell the Sox call their baseball building these days).
Since coming onto the scene in 2014, Marz — which was launched by a co-founder of the iconic Maria’s Packaged Goods liquor store and bar in Bridgeport — has organically grown an impassioned following in Chicago and beyond, despite its lack of a taproom. Until now, that is.
The exterior of the building that houses the taproom is rather unremarkable, which is fine — but it’s also probably the reason we initially walked into the wedding venue across the street instead, drawn to the bubbly crowd like moths to a porchlight.
Naturally, we briefly considered crashing, but once we came to our senses and entered the proper building, it was hard not to be impressed.
Sure, it’s trendy, but you should ignore the negative connotation and instead focus on the positive qualities that term implies. Colorful artwork — the type that catches your eye without making you want to stick a needle in it — adorns some of the walls; the other walls are lined with solid, minimalist table-chair combinations that keep it from feeling cluttered; and a vast, oval-shaped bar serves as the centerpiece, with a golden row of taps in the center churning out creative beers brewed on site.
Atmosphere and Staff
Marz’ creative style and quirky attitude will always draw in the hipster crowd, which was certainly out in full force that evening. But the rest of the crowd was relatively diverse, filling up the space but not overcrowding it.
Which was a relief; the substantial publicity the taproom opening received had me worried I’d have to start throwing elbows for a seat at the bar.
Lacking familiarity with most of the beer menu, we relied on the server for guidance, and she was happy and willing to provide it. Even after wetting our whistle on some crafties at Lagunitas a bit earlier, her recommendations and our own bold choices hit the right note.
Styles Available: The bar offers visitors 24 draft lines to choose from, and Marz certainly doesn’t restrict themselves to a contained list of styles. Stouts, pilsners, farmhouse ales, hazy IPAs — beer drinkers across the spectrum should be able to find a brew that will seduce their palate.
For the Hop Heads: Three cheers for Citra Citra Citra — I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a New England, but this murky, mildly fruity IPA is listed as a double. Either way, it bursts with flavor, finishes with a smooth bitterness and is ridiculously easy drinking for its 8-percent ABV.
For the Dark Beer Folks: I didn’t get a chance to try the Paczki Stout, but others seemed to be enjoying this sweet winter beer, which has been on fire in popularity since its Fat Tuesday release.
For the Serious Snobs: Gose beers aren’t for everyone, but if you’re partial to an offbeat but well-executed combination of a slightly sweet and understated sour taste, check out the Ruby’s Tears.
For the People Who Are Going to Ask Me “What Tastes the Most like Bud Light?”: A nice, light Pilsner refreshes the palate and warms the belly. At 6 percent, The III Peripheral isn’t light by Pilsner standards, but it’s golden and slightly floral and scrumptious.
My Favorite: Just say it out loud — “Midway ChiPA.” It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Similar to Triple Citra, this imperial has a very New England-y consistency, which helps explain why I crushed it so quickly. Can’t get enough of those hazy IPAs of late.
Fun, communal, creative and off-the-beaten-path — many of the same traits that endear so many small breweries to their communities make this new South Side taproom a must-visit for beer lovers.
Similar to its brews, the food menu at Marz is anything but run-of-the-mill. You can opt for a mushroom melt, a citra-hopped pasta, an oven-roasted ham or even coffee or tea if you need a jolt of caffeine.
And when you head down there, make sure to stop off at Maria’s Packaged Goods, especially if you’ve never been. There’s a reason it’s a Bridgeport institution.
- Tour the taproom and peruse the menu via Chicago Eater.
- A more in-depth look from the Chicago Tribune on the brains behind the whole operation, their methods to the madness, and plans for the future.
Photos via facebook.com/MarzCommunityBrewing