There is Nothing Cut & Paste About Metropolitan Brewing
From the tasting room to the beers, Metropolitan is doing everything on their terms. Founded in 2008 by then husband and wife, Doug and Tracy Hurst, Metropolitan was at the forefront of the Chicago brewing scene. Doug and Tracy still run the brewery, although they are no longer married. Metropolitan has stayed committed to brewing German Style Lagers. Their current setup will allow them to produce up to 7,500 barrels. Right now, you will find Metropolitan beers in Illinois and Wisconsin. No plans of massive expansion, but according to co-founder Tracy Hurst, they plan to grow a little deeper and cover more of the Midwest.
The Tasting Room
Parking, let’s just say it’s a bit of a challenge. But this often a sign of good beer things to come, right? Finding the tasting room, that takes a bit of faith. After meandering your way through an active construction site, trusting some modest signs and convincing yourself that there is indeed beer at the end of the tunnel. You arrive in an oasis that bares no resemblance to anything you could expected on the walk in and totally worth the journey.
Imagine sitting at a beautifully constructed bar with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the North Branch of the Chicago River, drinking a well-crafted beer and watching kayakers and rowing teams go by. Dreaming? Nope, this is no fantasy beer spot, this is real people. Located in the Avondale neighborhood, Metropolitan’s new home is within a 100+ year-old building. This shared space has not been fully redeveloped, but in addition to Metropolitan it does currently house Metropolis Coffee and event space. When I visited, a parking lot was under construction, and there were some rumors of a few food spots that might be on the way. Metropolitan is leasing their space, and doesn’t know all the details of future neighbors, but it looks to me that developer has some big plans to make this an incredibly cool complex.
Known as the Rockwell Tap Room, it opened on September 29th, 2017. This is truly a killer spot to drink beer. The place just feels right. The right place to hang and the right place to enjoy a beer. The staff is more than just welcoming, but insightful and friendly. The tasting room is both kid and dog friendly. If you read the fine print, freaks are also allowed, if not encouraged.
What to Drink?
Krankshaft Kolsch and Flywheel Pilsner, two of the core beers can be found quite easily around town. I decided to try a few beers that were not on my radar.
Jet Stream Wheat Bier 5.7% ABV
Heliostat Zwickelbier 5.2% ABV
Magnetron Schwarzbier 5.2% ABV
Nitro Grindamo 5.6% ABV
All fantastic offerings, but after sampling, I needed a pint of the Jet Stream. This beer is both simple and memorable. After you’ve had your fill of hazy, where flavors and aromas are huge but muddled, it’s fantastic to have a beer that works perfectly on all levels. Metropolitan clearly states “this is not a Hefeweizen,” and I couldn’t agree more. They described this beer as a Kolsch that uses Wheat malt instead of Pilsner malt. A touch of tartness from the added Acidulated Malt. This beer screams Summer! Citrus notes from the hops and a higher level of carbonation give this beer a clean, crushable finish. If I lived anywhere near Chicago, this beer would be on tap at the house all summer. Since I don’t, this beer has moved to the top of my MUST BREW homebrew list. Now let’s see if I can do it any justice.
Great lagers take time, so currently, the brewing team is getting ready for the next big release. Afterburner Oktoberfest, is a 6.1% ABV Marzen. I bet after a long hot and steamy Chicago summer, this beer will pair nicely with a crisp fall day and a beanie.
Metropolitan is not brewing IPAs for the sake of brewing IPAs. In fact, they don’t even brew Ales let alone IPAs. Why should they, this is a true lager house that is excited about their beer. Staying true to their vision. Brewing beautiful, clean and ultra-drinkable German style beers.
Metropolitan may not be the most well-known or over hyped Chicago brewery, but It’s very clear that they are going in a direction that works for them. By the size of the crowd in the tasting room, I would say it’s working very well for Chicago as well.
Rockwell Tap Room
3057 N. Rockwell St.
Chicago, IL 60618
For more info, please visit http://metrobrewing.com/
Robert French is a Southern California native who recently relocated to Sacramento. Loves all things fermented. He has been homebrewing for over 20 years and spends as much time as possible traveling for beer. When not drinking beer he can often be found at a winery. Food and cooking is also a passion and sometimes blogs at www.threefrenchs.com and can be found on twitter and Instagram both @threefrenchs. Also on Facebook.