Dovetail Brewery taps into Old World brewing

Dovetail Brewery taps into Old World brewing

The best of two worlds have just dovetailed at Chicago’s newest brewery, Dovetail.

The 22,000 square-foot three floor brewery in the Ravenswood Corridor is brewing up some very sublime beers by melding Old World styles with new world techniques.

Dovetail Brewery, the brainchild of certified master brewers Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink, officially hopped onto Chicago’s rapidly expanding craft beer landscape yesterday. The pair, who share a passion for traditional German and Belgian-style small batch beers, began to formulate their idea for Dovetail Brewery at the famed Doemens Akademie in Munich where they met while working in master brewing classes.

(l to r.)Dost and Wesselink

(l to r.)Dost and Wesselink

From there their passion grew evolving into serious business discussions, and then into a detailed business plan…and voila the Dovetail Brewery!

“It was very clear that we were of the same mind when it came to brewing methods, philosophy and tastes,” said Wesselink. “We spent a great deal of time researching the business, sourcing equipment and ingredients, and developing a solid plan.”

So what can Chicago’s Craft Beer fans expect…and when and where can they get a taste?

For starters there is a Hefeweizen (German-style wheat beer), a Lager, and a Franconian-style Rauchbier. Down the line, the partners are developing  a Belgian-style lambic, which will take two to three years to ferment.

At Wednesday’s late afternoon tasting and tour of the brewery guests were shown the beer-making process. Although most visitors, I’m pretty sure, were looking forward to tasting beer, instead we started the afternoon with water.

The group participates in a water tasting.

The group participates in a water tasting.

The type of water used in the brewing process can significantly effect the taste.


Dovetail’s water purifier.

It seems that water is a big deal in the brewing of craft beer which makes sense because the final product is comprised of  approximately 90% water.



We were first treated to Chicago tap water. Not surprisingly, the water emitted a slight chlorine essence.

We then tasted a purified water and finally the water that is used in the Dovetail brewing process–that is charcoal filtered and softened to provide clean malt and hop flavor.

Next we learned about the malt that is sourced from specialty masters in Franconia. We were able to taste the malt which has a nut-like texture.

Dovetail produces their beer using traditional processes on German-made equipment. Their authentic old style brewing and fermenting apparatus–which have produced great German and Belgian beers for centuries–are rarely seen in modern breweries.dovetail9

We were given a tour of Dovetail Brewery’s barrel aging room where beers are aged naturally making their own yeast.

Dovetail Brewery's barrel aging room

Dovetail Brewery’s barrel aging room

Another piece of equipment not seen in a lot of modern breweries is an open coolship for cooling beers that is especially critical for Lambic beers to achieve higher clarity while maintaining flavor complexity.

An open coolship

An open coolship

We were able to taste three beers:

A Lager (4.8% ABV)

An unfiltered, golden, malty, rich, creamy and complex beer with an aroma of malt and fresh hops. The full-bodied brew offered a lingering pleasant after-taste and a broad foam that stands like a cloud above the rim of the glass. The lager is produced using cool fermentation temperatures and a patient 4-to-5-week cold maturation.

A Franconian-style Rauchbier Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

A Franconian-style Rauchbier Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Dovetail’s Rauchbier (5.3% ABV)

The Rauchbier, perhaps my favorite, is a dark beer with reddish tones that definitely has a smokey “nose.” It has an off-white head with a rocky foam standing above the rim of the glass. Produced using 95% beechwood-smoked malt it gives the impression of eating a bar of chocolate in a smokehouse, full and rich with generous hopping to balance the flavor of beechwood smoked bacon.

Dovetail’s Hefeweizen (4.8% ABV)

The easy to drink Hefeweizen, perhaps the crowd favorite, leaves a lingering, pleasant aftertaste. A rich, yolky-orange wheat beer, features the aroma of clove and fruit in perfect balance with a hint of mandarin-orange-like acidity and a huge effervescent head.

The three beers will be available by the end of May when Dovetail Brewery’s Tap Room, inside the brewery, opens at 1800 W. Belle Plaine. The beers will also be available at local pubs including: Hopleaf, Fountainhead, Long Room and Brownstone.

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