Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City

Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City
Brewing Up Chicago exhibit at the Field Museum. Collage by Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

“Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City,” a new exhibit opening today at the Field Museum takes a look back nearly 200 years to Chicago’s rich beer history, focusing on the immigrant communities (mostly German) that established the city’s first breweries.

Visitors to the exhibit created by The Chicago Brewseum--a museum dedicated to beer--will travel through time, learning about Chicago’s founding in 1833, the 1855 Lager Beer Riot, the Great Chicago Fire,  the World’s Columbian Exposition and more along the way.

Top Wolf Point 1833. Bottom Wolf Point 2018--River North home to luxury condos and high rises.

Top Wolf Point 1833. Bottom Wolf Point 2018--River North home to luxury condos and high rises.

They'll come face to face with the beer barons of the times, the breweries, saloons, and the culture getting a unique perspective of the past vs. the present with graphics including a look at the Wolf Point of 1833 and the Wolf Point of today.

They’ll also come to understand how the German-American community evolved during that period, from first being perceived as strange outsiders to becoming respected Chicagoans.

“Chicago’s early beer industry relied heavily on the immigrant communities who built our city,” says Liz Garibay, Founder and Executive Director of The Chicago Brewseum. “Germans founded some of the earliest breweries, eventually introduced lager beer, and provided a cultural foundation upon which the whole city could enjoy—and respect—beer."

In addition to learning about diverse beer styles, visitors will experience the sights and sounds of a 19th-century gathering place like the Sauganash Tavern, an early Chicago saloon—they’ll even be able to smell the whiskey and bacon on offer there.

Field Bistro bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Field Bistro bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Other highlights of the exhibition include: an original Pabst blue ribbon, a 19th-century brewmaster’s kettle and original illustrations of the grand Schlitz Pavilion at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893

Those, 21 and older, looking for a taste of beer after viewing the exhibition, can head to the Field Bistro where they can partake in a taste of "Pseudo Sue," a single-hop pale ale brewed in partnership with the Field Museum and Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. ($9.25) or select one of the other beers  available at the bar.

The exhibition, presented in both English and Spanish, is included with basic admission to the Field Museum and will run through January 5, 2020.

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Filed under: Chicago History, Chicago Museums, Field Museum.

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