If you haven’t heard of 4 Paws, that’s okay, it’s hard to keep track of the dozen-or-so start-up breweries blanketing the Chicago area. But I’ll happily be one of the first, and probably not the last, to tell you by the end of next year you’ll know exactly who 4 Paws is.
Matt Gebhardt is the man behind the dog and Chicago themed beers. We sampled his Pupkin as part of our pumpkin beer roundup last year, and were pleasantly surprised he could pack so much pumpkin-y flavors in to a low ABV beer. This time around I got my hands on his amber ale named Atlas Bone.
Atlas Bone is a throwback to a brewery that once was in Chicago; Atlas Prager. The brewery was located on Blue Island Avenue on the Southside. They brewed beer for Chicago and were proud of that. So proud, in fact, that in the 1940’s they launched an advertising campaign to combat big beer entitled; “Be a Chicago Booster, Consume Chicago Beers.”
An amber ale seems to be the perfect style to pay homage to a likely forgotten brewery that brewed beer for Chicagoans. Amber ale’s, traditionally, aren’t very flashy. They show up, do their job, and clock out. Much like hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans do each and every day. The amber ale is the, “hard hat, lunch bucket, blue-collar,” beer of the beer world and I could think of no better example of that than Atlas Bone.
Pouring a cloudy, apple cider-ish in color with a creamy, sandpaper colored head — Atlas Bone gives off a nose of chewy caramel, chocolate malt balls and a distinct nuttiness. Essentially it smells like the candy case at a movie theater; Whoppers, Rolo’s and a Baby Ruth.
Take a sip and you’ll find a malt forward amber ale that is nutty with a few splashes of apple cider and a mild hop bitterness that trails away on the finish.
The body of this beer is remarkably balanced with an almost-too-lively carbonation muted by a touch of creamy-ness.
Atlas Bone finishes like an amber ale should; clean, crisp and dry.
Atlas Bone is one of six beers that will be part of 4 Paws everyday lineup. The other five include the aforementioned Pupkin, Pioneer Red (red ale), Kilted Pup (low ABV scotch ale), Brown Dog Stout and Blueberry Lou (brewed with honey and blueberries).
Before writing this I checked in with Matt to see how his brewery plans were coming along. Right now he is still in the fundraising stage, which is about 75-percent complete, and hopes to have a facility locked up by January of 2013.
As for production, well, like many of the new Chicago breweries 4 Paws will start small with an expected 750 barrels in its first year and 1,000 barrels in its second. Much like the breweries 4 Paws’ beers pay tribute to once did, Matt intends to keep his beer local focusing on neighborhood bars and beer stores.
And while you can’t find Matt’s beers on store shelves or on tap — yet — you can find him at festivals around the city hawking 4 Paws swag.