The Big Star restaurant in Wrigleyville kicked off the baseball season with a new pineapple Radler, made in collaboration with Revolution Brewing. But they've waited until summer to have the official launch party for the brew: July 14 at 5 pm, at 3640 N Clark St., across from Wrigley Field.
Laurent Lebec, Bar Manager for the Wrigleyville Big Star, explained that this was their second collaboration with Revolution, and the first one turned out rather well: "This all began three or four years ago when we were doing events with Revolution at our Wicker Park location (1531 N Damen Ave.). We had talked about doing collaborations, and we wanted to do something crushable and fun. Our first collaboration with Revolution was Fist City, which we named for a Loretta Lynn song, and which was originally exclusive to Big Star. Then it went out to the rest of the world.
"I'd always felt that the Revolution team spoke the same language for Chicago, and for the community, as we did. When we opened our Wrigleyville location, we wanted to do something light and approachable that would be easy to drink, and that would play to our food."
Lebec said they decided on a beer that would be a match for their al pastor tacos, which are made with pineapple. That led to the decision to make a Radler, a summertime beer blended with fruit juice. "We wanted to do something like a Stiegl, that you would equate with Summer. Something light and drinkable. No matter how hot it gets out, you can have maybe three of them and then still get on your bicycle."
The collaboration was based on Revolutions Pils. The pineapple was sourced through a local supplier for our pineapple so it was super fresh. "It's a lot like a cocktail just for being super fresh and juicy but just not as alcoholic," Lebec notes.
"We did not want to just name this "pineapple Radler," but Big Star Radler. I hope that perhaps next year, we could do more radlers; my goal would be to make one with blood orange, which I thought would be cool."
Lebec said the Wrigleyville Big Star started pouring the Radler when they opened, the week before Cubs' opening day. "But wanted to pick a hot summer day for the official launch. Now it looks like the weather next weekend will be much more enjoyable, so we'll be happy to get a lot of people out for the launch on July 14th, which also happens to be the day of the Def Leppard and Journey concert at Wrigley Field. We are really excited about this beer. It's a new one for the Big Star team, we wanted something special and this is what we've got."
I asked Lebec how Big Star was contributing to the beer culture around Wrigleyville. "On our menu, we also have some sour beers, gose's and we've tried to introduce other styles. People are still gravitating to the hop forward beers, they have a lot of loyalty to three Floyds, Half Acre, and Revolution. People are also discovering Off Color, which deliberately does not have a lot of hop forward beers. Our staff will definitely steer people to things they think they'll like so all of the beer styles we carry are doing really well."