In case you’re wondering whether or not the interest in craft beer in Chicago is beginning to wane, the answer is a resounding “no” based on the impressive turnout to Dryhop Brewers’ first growler-filling afternoon.
We were there as the doors opened this Saturday, as Lakeview’s first brewpub made itself available for 2 hours only (okay, probably give or take a few minutes). They opened for growler fills of two beers — Batch 001, a Chicago Common, and Shark Meets Hipster, the Solemn-Oath-meets-Pipeworks-style-named IPA — and samples of two others, the Judge APA and the Angry Samoan coconut stout.
We reached out to Creative/Comms Manager Eileen Garrity for some numbers to add a bit of perspective to Day One. If you were among the hundreds who stopped by on Saturday, you’ll recognize her as the woman handing out tickets for sample pours while regularly exclaiming, “this is so awesome!”
Here’s how Saturday afternoon broke down.
- Number of estimated visitors: 400
- Number of approximate 4-pour sample sets: 300
- Number of growlers poured: Another 300
Let’s break down that last number briefly. Assuming a strict 2-hour window of time (just for fun), that’s 300 growlers over 120 minutes. That breaks down to about 2.5 growlers every minute, or about a growler every 25 seconds.
Naturally the event lasted a little longer than that, in order to accommodate those in line at the 3pm cutoff time. But still, even if you drag that out — even through another couple hours — you’re looking at better than a growler every minute for a full afternoon. Damned impressive.
As for the beer itself, you ask? Well, based on the samples we tasted, these guys don’t have much to worry about. This Chicago Common we’re sippin’ on is a damn solid beer, while hopheads will find lots to like in the Judge and the Shark vs. Hipster (my slight edge goes to the Judge, based on a 4oz. sample size of both, your mileage may vary). The Angry Samoan was smooth, refined and light, even if coconut isn’t my favorite flavor to bring to a beer.
A few brief thoughts about the business side of things, if you’ll allow us.
Using a brief window of time as a growler pour, strictly looking at this as a marketing effort combined with a “soft open” style idea is really quite ingenious. It lets the staff get comfortable with the system while working with customers, giving everyone a couple hours to get settled in to the space and see if there are any other kinks to work out before beginning food service.
Additionally, it has the double benefit of getting your product out into the market along with a natural built-in marketing device — you couldn’t leave the place without a big brown bottle that hollers “DRYHOP” on the side in big white lettering. If nearby residents didn’t know about the place before yesterday, the sight of dozens of people wandering the streets with huge honkin’ buckets of beer probably was a good indication that someone new was in town.
Some other random thoughts: It’s certainly a smaller space than we expected, all but ensuring a wait in alcohol-enthusiastic Lakeview. It was fun watching brewer Brant Dubovick hanging out in the brewhouse with chef Pete Repak tweaking, talking and observing. Also fun was running into 4 Paws’ Matt and Meghan Gebhardt in line right in front of us to be among the first to Dryhop it up as well, in advance of their own beer release event at the Green Lady later that day.
These guys have the chops. They have the enthusiasm. They’ve got the gear. Now they just need to let us in. For a transient stretch of Broadway in an otherwise mostly-mediocre neighborhood as far as drinking and dining is concerned (yes, we love Friar Tuck’s too), these guys are going to do just fine.