What’s Up on Malt Row? Beer & Cheese Pairings, International Whiskey Day, Patio Updates & More

With so many incredible local, independent craft breweries in the ‘hood- plus Chicago’s first post-prohibition distillery- it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Read on to find out What’s Up on Malt Row?!

Have thoughts on things you’d like to see from your local breweries this spring? Let us know by emailing info@ravenswoodchicago.org with “Malt Row Ideas” in the subject.

The river has been dyed green, the mountains of brown slush have (mostly) melted, and only a handful of neighbors are still guarding parking spots with lawn chairs. That means it’s almost spring in Chicago, one of our four favorite seasons for a drink! There’s lots happening around Malt Row, from virtual tours and tastings to open patios for old-fashioned, in-person drinking buddies.

Celebrate International Whiskey Day: The Art & Science of Distilling with Dr. Robert Birnecker on March 27

KOVAL co-founder Dr. Robert Birnecker
KOVAL co-founder Dr. Robert Birnecker

What better way to celebrate this very important holiday than by tasting three delicious whiskeys from the expert who crafted them? On International Whiskey Day, join the Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST) and KOVAL Distillery (4241 N Ravenswood Ave) for a special tasting event led by Dr. Robert Birnecker.

One of America’s top distilling experts and an internationally-renowned consultant, Dr. Robert Birnecker serves as the CEO and Master Distiller of KOVAL Distillery. An Austrian native and third generation distiller, Robert’s love for traditional craft spirits was born out of helping his grandparents at their award-winning distillery and winery. He went on to receive numerous certificates from Austria’s leading distilling program, Höhere Bundeslehranstalt und Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau Klosterneuburg, and further honed his skills alongside Europe’s foremost spirits expert, Dr. Klaus Hagmann.

Through his work with Kothe Distilling Technologies, Robert has educated over 3,500 people in the art of distilling and has helped to set up 190+ craft distilleries throughout the world.

This remarkably unique tasting, talk and Q&A kicks off at 5pm on Saturday, March 27. You can register here to watch on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. KOVAL has created a special C2ST Virtual Tasting Kit for the event, which includes three 200ml bottles of whiskey (Bourbon, Rye and Four Grain), a Glencairn tasting glass, KOVAL coaster, recipe card, and C2ST swag. Purchase your tasting kits at koval-distillery.com.

Chicago Patio Season is Here!

Patio season is already in-swing at Empirical Brewery (1801 W Foster Ave), where their sunny, dog-friendly front patio is open Thursday through Sunday. There’s no better space to enjoy a draft Cold Fusion Cream Ale or Symbiotic Kettle Sour.

Empirical’s indoor/outdoor Beer Garden & Brewer’s Bar is safely distanced and open air, and their taproom is now open for limited indoor service. Find more information at empiricalbrewery.com.

Begyle’s front patio just opened this week, with seating available in 90 minute windows to allow for proper sanitizing. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis Wednesday through Sunday. Check out patio hours and guidelines at begylebrewing.com/curbside-front-patio.

A little birdie told us that draft techs just paid a visit to Dovetail Brewery (1800 W Belle Plaine Ave) to get their lines ready for pouring beer again. While there haven’t been any updates on when the taproom will open for indoor service, Dovetail’s popular sidewalk patio is set to reopen on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Tell the winter where to stick it by enjoying an ice cold Hefeweizen. Check out dovetailbrewery.com for a beer list, hours, and the latest updates from Malt Row’s favorite monks.

Half Acre x Cara Chicago Professional Clothing Drive

Beginning March 10th through March 28th, Half Acre Beer Co. (2050 W Balmoral Ave) is accepting professional attire at their “Take Away Cafe” to benefit job seekers through Cara Chicago. Suggested donations include attire you might wear to a job interview: suits, dresses, pants, shirts, blouses, overcoats, etc. Swing by with your donations during regular business hours. Don’t worry about dry cleaning- CD One Price Cleaners has offered to clean and press all donated clothing at no cost. For more information on this and Cara Chicago, visit carachicago.org/clothing.

Take Home Beer & Cheese Pairing from Begyle Brewing and L&M Fine Foods

Two Ravenswood favorites are offering a special beer and cheese pairing and tasting experience that you can enjoy from the comfort of home. Five beers from Begyle Brewing (1800 W Cuyler Ave) are paired with a sampling of cheeses from local grocer L&M Fine Foods (4363 N Lincoln Ave). The package also includes tasting notes and a pre-recorded, guided tasting video. Each paring kit serves two people (but I’m confident I’ll be able to finish it on my own). Begyle is accepting orders placed online through Tuesday, March 23, with pickup available on March 26 and 27. Click here to place your order.

Delivery and Pickup Options Along Malt Row

A brewer from Smylie outdoor, wearing a mask and gloves, dropping a beer order onto a to-go pickup station

Neighborhood breweries are taking the safety of their customers and employees incredibly seriously. In order to make it easy to get all your favorite beers, we’ve got a list of direct links for online ordering. Home delivery is up and running around the ‘hood, and kegs, growlers, crowlers, bottles and cans are available for pick up. That means it’s actually easier than it ever has been to shop small and drink local!

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