By: Marty Nachel

 

Depending on your personal taste in beer styles, you either love the name of this brewery, or you…don’t give it much consideration. Hops seem to be the main attraction in craft beer these days, so it’s not surprising that a small brewery would co-opt that into their brand identity. With DryHop Brewers, however, the name is totally legit.

“Dry-hopping” is a means of infusing beer with a lot of hop aroma by adding them directly to the beer after it’s already been brewed. This method allows the all-important volatile and aromatic hop oils to seep into the beer without adding any bitterness. At DryHop, as much as 85-90% of their beers are, indeed, “dry hopped.”

That little statistical tidbit of information was shared with me by Brant Dubovick, Head Brewer at DryHop. Dubovick is an important cog in the wheel that makes DryHop Brewers roll. Other essential cogs include owner Greg Shuff, Chef Joel Pillar, and Communications Director, Eileen Garrity. I had the pleasure of meeting three of these four fine folks on a recent steamy June morning.

Greg Shuff, all of 25-years-old at the time he opened DryHop in Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 3.33.18 AM copy2013, started getting into good beer while still living on a college student’s budget (perhaps that’s why he took up homebrewing in his Senior year?). In reality, Shuff admits, it started out as a project on sustainability, but he didn’t think writing a paper on the topic of brewing was legitimate without actually brewing beer himself. By 2010, his project had spiraled out of control. He spent the next three years carefully planning and executing his vision for DryHop Brewers.

Part of that planning was comprised of further schooling that included certificate programs at World Brewing Academy (both Siebel Institute in Chicago and Doemens Academy in Munich). Shuff did a brief stint at Schlafly Brewing in St. Louis before taking subsequent trips to Europe. Travelling throughout Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and the Czech Republic allowed Greg to collect native beer and food knowledge to bring back home to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. This lends substantial credence to the brewpub’s role as a “European-inspired gastropub.”

In executing his vision, Shuff actually utilized more of his college education; he has a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management. He relates that this was invaluable to the process as he masterminded the construction and layout of the entire operation.

Speaking of brewery layout, DryHop Brewers is shoehorned into a fairly small place where space is at a premium. There is seating for 75 indoor at tables and at the bar, and another 24 “fair weather” seats available out on the sidewalk patio in front.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 3.33.02 AM copyOne thing that is notable is the stacked tanks located behind the bar. According to Shuff, this is derivative of the way that many German brewers stack their lagering vessels for space-saving purposes. The tanks at DryHop had to be retrofitted in order to be placed one on top of the other in this fashion.

The interior of the dining area is clean and uncluttered and the vibe is best described as rustic and laid-back. The theme is a bit unusual; it’s evocative of a (tidy) carpenter’s workshop. The tables are a bit like sawhorses, the bar’s façade looks like stacks of wood, and a couple dozen old carpenter’s clamps adorn the entry wall. My favorite addition to the room is the 45 foot long bar top that is crafted from thick planks of wood cut from a huge white oak tree that was felled by a bolt of lightning on Chicago’s north side. Between the excellent start-up process and the great establishment, DryHop Brewers is rapidly becoming a very successful business. In a later edition, you will also be introduced to the staff that made it all possible.

DryHop Video Link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-QFTNNcQ7s