Aaron Zacharias began his career in foodservice at the age of 15, working his way up from bus boy to bartender to wine seller, and ultimately, to restaurateur. At Fountainhead, his second venture since opening The Bar on Buena in 2003, Aaron teams up with certified Cicerone beer guide Phil Kuhl to curate a collection of delicious brews, whiskies, and wines. The duo constructs and reconstructs their menu around the beverages on hand, ensuring delicious pairings for small plates such as crab and polenta, which mingle flavors with 21 craft beers on tap and a wine list featuring varietals from all over the world. Scottish whiskies form their own course between appetizers and entrées such as the pork sausage ragout. Inside the dining room, gentle lighting illuminates handcrafted mahogany woodwork and an asymmetrical bar cuts the space into two intimate rooms, one of which features a crackling fireplace. When the weather warms, the restaurant's rooftop garden opens to reveal a landscaped terrace accompanied by a truncated menu of drinks available on the rooftop taps.
For the night owls of Chicago, just because it?s after midnight doesn?t mean that no one?s hungry. The folks at Jefferson Tap & Grille understand that, supplementing their bevy of beverages with an extensive menu available until the wee hours. Open for lunch and until at least 2 a.m. every night of the week?and until 4 a.m. Thursday?Friday and 5 a.m. on Saturday? they fuel after-hours revelry with hearty sandwiches and burgers, thin-crust pizzas with homemade sauce, and a respectable selection of gourmet appetizers. Classic brews stand ready to wash down each bite, the taps flowing with an ever-growing craft beer selection.
If you've ever raised a glass of Belgian-style Sofie or gotten lost in the oaky, chocolatey flavors of Bourbon County Stout, you may think that you know Goose Island's beers. But you haven't tasted the whole story unless you've visited one of Goose Island's two Chicago brewpubs.
That's because the brewpubs?both of which are independently owned by Goose Island founder John Hall, despite Anheuser-Busch's 2011 acquisition of the larger company?specialize in small-batch beers that showcase the creativity and prowess of its brewers. Most of these beers are produced only once and can't be found in any beer store, corner shop, or on your roommate's side of the refrigerator. When guests visit the pubs, they have the chance to sip artful ales, imperial stouts, and IPAs that might never again be tasted once the keg runs dry.
Brewmaster Nicholas Barron talked to us about the creative brews he's currently working on and what to expect during a tour of the brewpub.
On the Exclusive Brews You'll Taste:
"We?re able to create new batches very frequently?we have at least one new beer a week, if not two. We do a lot of small batches, one-off beers, exploring different flavors?99% of everything we make here is just for the pub [not the mass market]."
On His Summery Farmers' Market Beers:
"Once a week, we go to Green City Market, buy fresh local produce, and incorporate that into our new beers. . . you can follow how things ripen as the season goes on. We just did a strawberry imperial wheatwine. Next week, a hopfenweizen with sweet basil, mint and lemon balm."
On the Double Life of the Brewpub's Tour Guides
Typically, tour groups stand on the brewery platform so they can get a view of the brewpub's inner workings. The tour guides also provide a glimpse behind-the-scenes. "A lot of our tour guides are brewers and are excited about sharing. Bring questions.?
Scroll through the slideshow at the top of the page to watch a video interview with one of Goose Island's passionate tour guides.
Toeing the line between corner bar and gourmet grill, The Point serves old-fashioned comfort food alongside vegan and gluten-free fare. The eclectic menu matches the decor, which effortlessly blends exposed brick and timeworn racing photos with sleek chrome light fixtures and sentient bar stools. Diners can plumb new depths with intriguing menu items such as the crab cake with caper remoulade, the vegan mushroom broth risotto, and the tilapia ceviche with orange and lime. Or they can rely on old standards such as the Point burger with cheddar and bacon or the chicken wings, which come in chipotle barbecue or gorgonzola-bacon. It's not all rib-sticking entrees, either. In her glowing review, the Chicago Reader's Julia Thiel praised the lineup of libations as well, saying, "The drinks menu is just as impressive as the food, offering a dozen beers on tap... another 20-odd in bottles and cans, plus a dozen wines by the glass, the same number of cocktails, and a good selection of spirits, particularly whiskey and tequila."
Inspired by the ales and eats of Britain, the chefs of Owen & Engine pair organic pub fare sourced from local growers with beers from across the pond. Inside the kitchen, chefs cure humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, layering it onto slices of marbled rye with pickled cabbage. Every morning, trucks deliver fresh haddock flown in directly from the North Atlantic. The staff toss the sea-salted fish in the fryer, paring it with house-cut chips and malt-vinegar aioli. Young's double chocolate stout or JW Lees's English barley wine wash down meals in waves of fermented, hoppy flavor.