Last night Ale Syndicate held a small event for some media and beer bloggers at Troy Mediterranean Restaurant. My initial thoughts about this event was great, I can’t wait to finally try Ale Syndicate beers. Then I was a bit confused, why is this at a Mediterranean restaurant… do they even have beer? Turns out no, but it is BYOB which is why it was picked. Gotta love a good BYOB spot! Ale Syndicate was able to bring in some of their beer, talk about them and allow everyone to enjoy a causal dinner.
Still not familiar with Ale Syndicate? Well, that’s going to change fast but you might know them as New Chicago Beer Company. New Chicago Beer Company was the brewery project that Jesse Edwin Evans and Samuel Evans founded after selling their successful Lucky Hand Brewing in Oakland, California in 2009.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding New Chicago Beer Company last year and their plans to open up a brewery in a building that would create its own energy and produce no waste. After New Chicago Beer Company left the brewing deal at The Plant in the Back Of Yards, I sort of lost track of them and I think everyone else may have too.
This month or rather this coming Monday, they rollout with three inaugural beers; Municipal India Pale Ale, Richie Imperial Porter and Sunday Session. Municipal is an all-Cascade hop ale with a tangy aroma and citrusy flavor. Richie Imperial Porter is an 8.5 % ABV named after Richie Daley, yep these beers are “distinctly Chicago”. Richie has roasted barley and chocolate malts, balancing sharper flavors with a clean, semi-sweet finish. Sunday Session is a mellow ale that uses wheat to complement a blend of Cascade, Crystal and Centennial hops for a deliciously drinkable brew.
These beers sound great but if these guys are so distinctly Chicago, why the name change to Ale Syndicate? I asked Jesse and he said that “as we developed a team of people working on the brewery along with Samuel and I, we realized that there might be a better name out there to reflect what we want to do with this project. We spent a lot of time thinking of possible names and really fell in love with this one, as it truly expresses our intents to make this brewery a collaborative project. A syndicate is a group of people coming together around something they believe in. That’s exactly what our brewery is all about.”
That seems clear as I hear about their plans for the brewery. Soon they’ll be installing a 5-barrel system on which they’ll brew pilot batches and special beers just for the tap. Shortly after that is installed they will also install a 30-barrel system. It’s once that 30-barrel is installed that the idea of people coming together really comes into play. At night for the next year or so Arcade Brewery will be brewing beers at the Green Exchange where Ale Syndicate’s brewery will be. Arcade Brewery will have their own fermenters and be in charge of ordering their own ingredients. Of course you can count on an Ale Syndicate and an Arcade Brewery collaboration in the future, as well as other collaborations too as Ale Syndicate invites home brewers and smaller brewers into the space to brew. You could think of it like an incubator for breweries. Ale Syndicate has the space and the equipment and then new younger breweries can come in there and grow and mature.
It was a fantastic night learning about the beers and the team behind Ale Syndicate. But the night wouldn’t have been complete without getting to taste the beer. Both the Municipal India Pale Ale and the Richie Imperial Porter were being poured. My favorite of the night was the Porter, which had such amazing flavor from the malts; I could have sworn that there was coffee in the beer. Jesse told me that he was inspired by “Death & Taxes by Moonlight Brewing Co. (a dark lager made by Brian Hunt in Northern California). It’s almost perfect, it’s dark and roasty and delicious. Even though we are focusing on ales, I was thinking of that taste profile as we started to develop the recipe for Richie.” Yes Richie accomplishes just that, roasty and delicious. I don’t think I’m alone in loving the beer either, it sounds like most bar owners and beer buyers are choosing it as well. Which makes sense to me, I’m sure every bar already has an IPA on draft but a great Porter isn’t something they might have. With the weather still being chilly in Chicago, I’m all for a tasty Porter.
Even though it was BYOB and all the beer was brought in bottled, it’s going to be awhile before bottles start hitting the shelves. For right now, it will be draft only.
Be sure to keep an eye out Monday as Ale Syndicate starts showing up on drafts around the city and if you’re out drinking you might even see Jesse & Samuel around too. No matter how many times they’ve drank their own beers it’s a totally different feeling when you can order it at bar. Cheers guys and welcome to the scene!