You won’t find it nestled among other taprooms within craft beer havens like the Chicago Brewing District or Malt Row, and it doesn’t occupy a commodious former warehouse or factory-style space like so many of its contemporaries.
DryHop Brewers, founded in 2013, became a pillar of the local beer scene the old-fashioned way — meeting demand by way of a clear strategy and an outstanding product.
Located just off the corner of Belmont and Broadway, DryHop doesn’t have to worry about falling victim to a lack of foot traffic. A mile southeast of Wrigley Field, the inviting taproom likely benefits from its proximity to the Laugh Factory comedy hall and an array of bars, restaurants and shops in the bustling East Lakeview community.
It also can’t hurt that craft beer lovers in this area of the city are relatively underserved, especially when compared to neighborhoods like West Town, Bucktown, Logan Square, Avondale, Ravenswood, Pilsen and the South Loop.
My girlfriend and I had a taste for beer and burgers, and I yearned for a comfortable space where I could wash the foul taste of a pathetic debacle of a Bears game out of my mouth. Plus, it had been at least three years since my last visit (which is downright criminal), making it a worthwhile Sunday afternoon stop.
Atmosphere and Staff
Having visited Corridor Brewery (opened by the DryHop team in West Lakeview nearly three years ago to the day) a mere two weeks ago, it was impossible not to notice the near identical setup and décor shared by the sister brewpubs.
Inside, a long, L-shaped wooden bar separates drinkers from a row of tappers dispensing house and guest brews alike, while the rest of the space is filled with rustic furnishings and several tables. When I discovered the outdoor seating, it pained me to realize that I overlooked this spot during my summer hunt for the best brewery patio — Sunday was a bit too chilly for us, but several adventurous souls braved the briskness in hoodies and coats.
Service at the bar was solid. A few minutes after our burger arrived, one of the staff hurried over to check whether we indeed orders grilled onions — we did not, but as it was the best burger I’ve devoured in months (maybe years), the oversight only gives them bonus points in my opinion.
It bears reiterating that my three-year lapse between visits to DryHop is deplorable; the beers alone make regular trips worthwhile. They focus on hop-centric brews, an approach that elicits no complaints from me.
Styles Available: IPAs, baby: wheat, New England, and West Coast to be specific. A hoppy red, a seasonally appropriate Dampfbier, and a Belgian Golden Ale rounded out the draft list.
For the Hop Heads: Straight Outta Hopton, while one of my least favorites, packs a nice punch of bitterness. For some reason, my taste for West Coast IPAs seems to have an inverse relationship with my growing affinity for their Northeast counterparts.
For the Dark Beer Folks: The closest thing to a dark on the list, the Wheatless in Seattle Dampfbier has a sweet, malty feel with hints of coffee. I loved it — excellent fall beer.
For the Serious Snobs: The offerings were fairly straightforward, which makes this categorization tough, but the Blockbuster Hoppy Red Ale, while not for everyone, certainly hit the spot for me. A balanced, bitter alternative to an endless stream of IPAs.
For the People Who Are Going to Ask “What Tastes the Most like Bud Light?”: Its name alone is enough to earn the Stay Gold Ponyboy its place here. Unfortunately, I just can’t get on board with Belgians...but you can’t argue with the light body and drinkability of this one.
My Favorite: The menu featured two NEIPAs, but as one was sold out, that left us with the Bong Rattling Haze Double Dry Hopped. It hit the sweet spot in terms of ABV (6.7 percent), subtle fruity flavors and smooth finish.
Cubs season is mercifully over, but that’s no excuse to stay away from East Lakeview and DryHop. With outdoor seating, a constantly rotating menu (including guest drafts), and an impressive menu of tasty food, it’s worth multiple visits a year.
If you happen to live in the neighborhood, I’m jealous. As the brewery doesn’t distribute, it looks like I’ll have to create some new excuses to head a few miles northeast several times this winter.
- DryHop collaborated with Lincoln Park Zoo to brew a Coconut Milk Stout to help raise funds for Puerto Rican parrot conservation after the species’ habitat was negatively impacted by Hurricane Maria.
- Earlier I raved about the burger, and I’m not alone: Chicago’s Best TV ran a segment on it, and now I’m starving again.
Most photos courtesy of Facebook.com/dryhopbistro