Throwback Thursday: Revisiting Middle Brow Beer Co.

Throwback Thursday: Revisiting Middle Brow Beer Co.
Photo Credit:

In February of this year, I wrote an article for a brewery whose beer is not only delicious, but helps support numerous local causes. Much of Middle Brow’s profits go directly towards helping the Chicago community. The article I wrote was published in a now defunct publication, so I want to republish it here, as well as update it.

Part I: The Original Article: 


“Community” is the quintessential term that captures the spirit of the craft brewing industry. However, few embrace a commitment to their community more than Chicago’s Middle Brow Beer Company.

By donating half of their profits to charitable causes, they have found a way simultaneously to brew beer and help thy neighbor.

Middle Brow Beer’s Peter Ternes explained, “My partner Nick [Burica] and I were desk jockeys back in 2011. We found ourselves looking around at the city around us, the people. It’s a luxury we have with money we spend on craft beer and restaurants, but at the same time, we see people starving outside in the freezing, cold winter. We hit a tipping point and wanted to do something. Nick emailed me and said ‘let’s put our money where our mouth is.’” After they had bounced a few ideas around, an email arrived in Ternes’ inbox suggesting they brew beer. Ternes was instantly on board; Middle Brow Brewing was born. Ternes explained, “Since people are already willing to spend money on craft beer, let’s’ let the money that’s spent on beer go to helping people who really need it.”

The next step involved finding the right cause to support. Ternes explained, “We paused and thought the most important one, the one we focused on, was the gun violence problem in our city. We wanted to find a charity and organization that fought against violence in the city.” As a result, they developed a relationship with Cure Violence (locally known as Ceasefire) .These are people that hit the streets, protect people, and assist in obtaining perpetrators. Additionally, they fund the Greater Chicago Food Depository ( and the Immigrant Youth Justice League.

Middle Brow Beer Co

Photo Credit: – via Facebook.


Of course, good intentions only go so far. The beer needs to be good enough to generate a profit because fifty percent of nothing helps no one. Rest easy, because the beer is good – really good. Middle Brow brews fresh, vibrant beer involving and an array of ingredients, such as lemon, lime, vanilla, cinnamon, and…popcorn. Yes, popcorn. It may sound odd, but adding gobs of popcorn to the mash provides for nice, creamy ale.

Ternes talked about Middle Brow’s brewing profile, “You could say we are partial to Belgian styles, Saisons and things like that. But, in reality, it’s more accurate to say we focus on European batches, Scotch ales, and other varieties. We love IPA and stouts. Our imperial milk stout has done very well for us. We’re stoked at how it has turned out and we also have our take on an IPA. But, so many other killer brewers already have done their take on IPA. For us, we have had a lot of fun experimenting with yeast. Our longer term goal was to acquire a facility that would allow us to brew some really cool sours.”

Of course, when you donate half of your profits to great causes, obtaining larger brewing facilities is not that easy. Nevertheless, Peter explained, “Yes, we are growing very slowly. But, we stay really true to our objective, and we feel that if we do that and brew great beer, we’ll succeed, and things will eventually grow as a business, and we can also make huge donations. That’s the goal!”

Part II – The Update

The following beers now listed on the Middle Brow Beer. Co site shows how many of the beers are connected to local causes.

ROBYN (6.9% ABV)

cure violence | a gun violence prevention organization / GLIDE memorial church

Robyn is a farmhouse blonde ale made with our proprietary yeast blend. Part belgian saison yeast, part belgian abbey yeast, this beer has a nose that’s not unlike a hefeweizen. Starts sweet, finishes with a spice-kick.

clove | bubblegum | banana | vanilla | black pepper.


trilogy behavioral healthcare | a mental health care and addiction treatment organization / GLIDE memorial church

White Light is a belgian witbier brewed with apricot and cardamom. Apricot and cardamom really are a match made in heaven, as it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Finishes with crisp wheat.

apricot | cardamom | wheat | coriander.


trilogy behavioral healthcare | a mental healthcare and addiction treatment organization / GLIDE memorial church

White Heat is a classic belgian witbier with coriander, sweet orange peel and the flesh of ancho chile peppers. This kind of heat doesn’t kick you in the mouth, but its subtleties betray a perfect, complex pairing of pepper and yeast. One discovers something new for every sip.

coriander | pepper | orange peel | wheat | oat.


cure violence | a gun violence prevention organization / GLIDE memorial church

Ad Astra is a salted caramel scotch ale. This beer is a collaboration between Middle Brow Beer Co. and members of the indie rock band, deerhunter. Everyone loves a pinch of salt with the rich flavors of caramel and chocolate. Add to that a slight roastiness on the finish and you have the perfect accompaniment to those jarringly cool july nights.

caramel | salt | roast | chocolate.

KARIN (6.4% ABV)

various LGBT groups in chicago and SF.

Karin, our farmhouse-blended IPA, continues the theme of cooperation. We grabbed a few barrels of our farmhouse blonde, Robyn, and blended them back into a belgian IPA. Karin and Robyn make music together, literally and figuratively. dry-hopped with equinox and citra hops.

citrus | papaya | mango | cedar | honey | vanilla.

LOW (4.0% ABV)

cure violence | a gun violence prevention organization / GLIDE memorial church

Low is a low abv answer to our salted caramel scotch ale, Ad Astra. A traditional gose adds coriander and salt to a tart wheat ale. we turned that salt pink (as we’re wont to do), and those grains dark for a sweeter, caramel-y take on the classic german style. enhance your sound and vision with Low.

salt | wheat | caramel | cinnamon | tart.

MINER (5.2 % ABV)

WINGS Metro | a domestic violence prevention organization / GLIDE memorial church

Miner is a grisette-style ale made with wheat and sweet orange peel. While farmers’ wives once served their farmhand husband’s saison’s in the belgian countryside, coalminers’ wives did the same for their husbands–in their “gris” smocks. Wouldn’t we all love to see our wonderfully talented wives standing outside our proverbial coal mines with a small, sweet, refreshing beer.

wheat | citrus | sweet | wallonia.


WINGS Metro | a domestic violence prevention organization / GLIDE memorial church

Clava is a belgian table beer made with and for Fox Bar at Soho House Chicago. In an attempt to make something that could be drunk all day and night, in the summer or winter, near some mahogany and leather or on a rooftop pool, we settled on a belgian table beer with an old world, western yeast and an old world, eastern spice.

light | grains of paradise | strawberry | crisp.


friends and neighbors with large healthcare bills

The Milk Eyed Mender is a imperial milk stout spiced with three kinds of peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and sweet orange peel. We challenged ourselves to brew a beer with three kinds of peppers while upholding our inclination to extract subtle, fleshy flavors, instead of mouth ravaging heat, from them. You’ll notice raisins, dark fruit, something-like-chocolate, light spice and earth–all from the peppers alone! add to that the richness of cacao-vanilla, the warmth of cinnamon, and the subtle sweetness of milk sugar, and you have a block buster beer.

chocolate | vanilla | raisin | pepper | cinnamon | orange | night.

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