Maplewood founders Ari Megalis and Adam Cieslak are trailblazers. While the number of craft breweries and distilleries in Chicago continues to grow, Maplewood Beer and Spirits is the first to brew and distill all under one roof. We needed to check it out for ourselves, so we headed to Logan Square to have a look at our new neighbor’s facility (in case you haven’t heard, we just opened our doors in Logan Square)! Here are two solid new brews from Maplewood as well as a tried and true favorite that is not to be missed.
Are you a fan of old school Belgian Saison like those brewed by Fantome? Time to check out Maplewood’s Mandarina Saison, a wonderful mix of old and new world craft. Spicy, peppery but without any residual sweetness, the combination of traditional Belgian yeast and fruity Mandarina Hops works marvelously.
Gose is a unique German style of beer famous for being brewed with salt. Maplewood cleverly designed their Gose to emulate another drink which also incorporates salt into the mix. Brewed with oranges and lime, Maplewood’s Margarita Gose is citrusy, fresh and fragrant. Tangy like a fresh margarita, this is a perfect brew as summer winds to a close.
Fat Pug is one of Maplewood’s first brews and still one of the best. Sweet but balanced, built upon layers of chocolately roasted malt complexity. Amazingly creamy mouthfeel with a long and satisfying finish, this is a wonderful example of the style.
While on our visit we sampled Juice Pants, which holds true to its name. This unfiltered IPA is packed with juicy tropical fruit flavor, but with hardly any bitterness on the finish. This is one of the first “New England” style IPAs we’ve seen brewed here in Chicago.
As brewer Adam Smith explained, aggressive dry hopping allows this unfiltered ale to have plenty of hop aroma and flavor without the bitterness. Juice Pants also gets some of its lovely fruity character from a unique strain of yeast known as Conan. (Conan is famously used to brew Heady Topper, one of the most sought after and highly rated IPAs in the world). Maplewood assured us they plan to bottle some Juice Pants sometime in the near future.
Maplewood plans to open a tap room in the future but still has some red tape to wade through. Luckily, they’re pumping out more beer than ever, ensuring a nice steady supply on the shelves of your local Binny’s.
Our visit wasn’t complete without a stop at Maplewood’s shiny copper still. Maplewood is currently aging a few different whiskies and we had the chance to try two of them uncut straight from the barrel. One was a 100% rye whiskey which was surprisingly tempered given its strength and mash bill. It had a lovely earthiness as well as a touch of mint, with a finish reminiscent of sasparilla.
The second whisky was created with Maplewood’s Fat Pug Milk Stout in mind and featured bold cocoa notes on both the nose and the finish. You can expect limited of both whiskies to arrive at Binny’s sometime later this year.
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