What’s Up on Malt Row? Brewery Puzzle Pre-Order, FoBAB To-Go & 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 bewries this winter? Let us know by emailing info@ravenswoodchicago.org with “Malt Row Ideas” in the subject.


Patios are warm in the glow of heaters and smiles, and all sorts of delicious new seasonal beers are out. Some of our favorite recent releases include Dovetail Brewery’s Czech Dark Lager, Spiteful Brewing’s Spiteful IPA w/ Tangerine, and the Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged G.O.A.T. Doppelbock that just dropped at Urban Brew Labs. Aside from those picks, we’ve got the scoop on some truly special releases below; including a couple of FoBAB beers.

Malt Row Gets Made into a Puzzle for the Holidays!

The Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) has collaborated with three local artists to create a series of Ravenswood-inspired puzzles- including one for Malt Row! In other words, your holiday shopping just got a little easier.

"Malt Row Tasting Notes" a digital illustration by Jessica Licklider
Malt Row Tasting Notes by Jessica Licklider, 500pcs – 19″ x 19″

Got a craft beer nerd you need a holiday gift for? They’ll love this brewery-inspired puzzle set from Jessica Licklider. Her first commercially-available work, Malt Row Tasting Notes celebrates the cornucopia of flavors you’ll find along Malt Row. This limited run of puzzle sets is now available for pre-order, with pickup and shipping in time for the holidays.

The Ravenswood Artist Puzzle Series (more info here) also includes Cape Horn Illustration’s iconic Bird’s Eye View: Ravenswood and Emily Rapport’s oil painting homage to the beloved Shelly’s Freeze (RIP).

These 500pc puzzles are a perfect date night or family activity and look great when completed and displayed. Only 75 of each puzzle were made for this limited run. Proceeds from support the GRCC, a non-profit organization devoted to serving neighborhood small businesses.

New Barrel Aged Beers & Specials from Empirical Brewery

A photo of six bottles of wine barrel aged beers from Empirical Brewery
Six out-of-this-world Golden Ales aged in Cab Sauv barrels

Empirical Brewery (1801 W Foster Ave) just released their latest series of barrel-aged beers, each named for one of the brightest stars in the sky.

The series features 6 different barrel blends of a Mixed Fermentation Golden Ale, aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for three years. Rigel, Sirius, and Vega showcase different blends of different barrels, without added flavors. As a result, these unique batches share a slightly tart, juicy-wine like mouthfeel with a hint of hay at the finish.

The other variants include a mix of complimentary fruits; Capella (passionfruit and guava), Spica (blackberries), and Arcturus (peaches). Snag any 4 of these current barrel-aged bottles for $50, excluding Rigel.

For the holidays, Empirical is running a growler special! That means you get fills of Gamma Ray Ginger WheatPrairie Pollinator Honey Wheat, and Neutronium Imperial Rye Stout for only 10 bucks (each).

See Empirical’s full beer list here. For more details, visit empiricalbrewery.com.

Virtual Thanksgiving Cocktail Class from KOVAL Distillery on Nov 18

A sage-infused KOVAL cocktail
We’re not drooling, you’re drooling…

Looking to change your home cocktail game up in advance of the holidays? Then join KOVAL, Malt Row’s world-famous organic distillery, for some delicious cocktail menu prep and gather ideas for your new signature drink! Learn to make Thanksgiving-themed cocktails like a Cranberry Gin Side Dish and Bourbon Pumpkin Smash. In addition to those recipes, you’ll also get to explore sage-spirit infusions! The virtual workshop takes place on Thursday, November 18th at 6:30pm.

Class will be conducted via Zoom. Once you’re signed up, Shop and prep lists, as well as spirit substitutes, are emailed upon registration. Learn more about KOVAL at koval-distillery.com.

FoBAB Beers To-Go from Smylie Bros.

A freshly-canned 2-pack of beer guaranteed to warm you up

FoBAB might be different this year, but it’s still happening! Smylie Brothers. Brewing Co.’s 2020 FoBAB beers are now available for purchase at both their Malt Row brewery (5435 N Wolcott) and Evanston brewpub (1615 Oak Ave). The annual Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers has rebranded as FoBAB at Home for this year, with a live stream event planned for 11/14. More info at fobab.com.

As a part of the festivities, Smylie is offering mixed 2-packs of their Rum Barrel Belgian Strong and I want to Ride My Kveik-Cycle, plus 2-packs of RBBS. No growlers, howlers or crowlers at this time. Kveik-Cycle, an 11.6% barleywine, is only available via this mixed 2-pack.

Supply is very limited so get ’em while you can! Order from Wolcott | Order from Evanston

KOVAL Distillery Sanitizer Project

KOVAL owner Sonat Birnecker Hart showing off a gallon of KOVAL Sanitizer
KOVAL wants to keep you safe!

In the early stages of Chicago’s response to the pandemic, KOVAL contacted city and state officials, as well as medical professionals, to offer their services in producing hand sanitizer. In anticipation of the need, they had already ordered the necessary ingredients (as recommended by the W.H.O.).

Next, some laws needed changing. At the time, it was actually a federal offense for distilleries that produce spirits to manufacture hand sanitizer. Thanks to proactive outreach from KOVAL and other members of the craft spirits community, all such federal restrictions were released.

After that, KOVAL focused their efforts on providing sanitizer in bulk to the medical community, retirement homes, and those on the front lines in the fight against COVID. The project was assisted by donations from the community to their GoFundMe, as well as donations of beer and wine to distill from locals like Begyle Brewing, Urban Brew Labs, Vin312, Metropolitan Brewing and more.

As a result of their hard work, KOVAL Distillery has donated over 6,000 gallons (over $170,000 worth) of locally-made sanitizer to hospitals, nursing homes, and first responders. In addition, KOVAL Hand Sanitizer is now available to the public for purchase in single gallon and bulk orders .

Delivery and Pickup Options Along Malt Row

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!

Related Links

Associate Director, Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce | View Bio

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Accessibility Statement

All content © 2021 Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce and Ravenswood Community Council.
GRCC (501c6) and RCC (501c3) are Not-For-Profit Organizations.

Made by Always Open Design.