Metropolitan Brewing isn’t just another craft brewery in town; it’s an institution. Metro first put beers in people’s hands in 2009 — the first brewery to open in the city (of Chicago) after a decade-long hiatus. At the time, many associated craft beer with ales and macro beer with lagers — piss poor, terrible macro examples of lagers. In one swift move, Metro’s arrival helped make craft lagers cool, helped forge a path for future Chicago breweries and also helped provide Chicago with a unique brewing identity. The city now has several lager-centric breweries, and I, for one, am thankful. Meanwhile, The Metro folks have finally moved into a large taproom this year — a stunning, malty palace befitting its place among Chicago’s craft-beer royalty
Metro’s arrival allowed beer lovers located in the nation’s third-biggest city to quickly learn that craft brewers could also lager like their macro brethren, but instead of solely creating yellowish-clear, poor quality brews, Metropolitan introduced customers to funny-named beers like Schwarzbier, Alt bier and Zwickel. Yes, beers CAN be dark, yet light bodied. Beer CAN be boldly golden instead of golden-tinted.
Over time, Metro found a way to appeal to the average Joe and Jane Six Pack as well as to snooty beer aficionados (or snobs like me, you might say). Exceedingly friendly, the Metro crew proved to be ultra-inclusive. They made you want to drink their beer. Though they enjoyed no real home, interacting with the fine Metro folks at festivals or bars reminded one of making a new friend at a Chicago corner bar. Of course, even if the crew acted like jerks you’d probably drink the beer anyway — it’s delicious.
But, you know how Chicagoans hate stories of people that possess skill; build a business from the ground-up; work hard and endure many trials, and then finally realize success. Right? Hardly.
Metro’s story is so “Chicago” it should be narrated by Carl Sandburg.
Metropolitan Brewing resembles Chicago in numerous ways. The skill and creativity necessary to produce beers that draw on youthful lager-beer memories while also enticing the curiosities of beer-geeks resonate with a city that has loved an array of artisans. German bakers, Blues musicians, improvisational comedians; famous architects; ironworkers; poets; artists; chefs; and of course brewers fill Chicago-history books.
Chicago residents also tend to gravitate to people and businesses that do things the “Chicago Way.” Chicago-style hot dogs, deep dish or “box-cut” thin pizza, (perceived) blue-collar athletes…you name it. Chicagoans aren’t fond of emulating other cities or following national trends. Chicago had Metropolitan Brewing, and they did things the Chicago way.
It’s not to say everyone loves Metro’s beer because all beer is subjective, but one would be hard-pressed to find someone that didn’t respect the brewery.
And yes, several breweries around Chicago’s metro area predated Metropolitan’s arrival, such as the well-respected Two Brothers Brewing (a brewery with whom Metro recently engaged in a great collaboration, I might add). Nevertheless, Metro came into a city at a time when craft beer barely registered a pulse: Leine’s here, Guinness there, Miller Lite and Old Style everywhere. They didn’t win points with the fruits of Yakima Valley but instead with the malts of Europe. And it wasn’t marketing that won the city over; it was the beer.
Today, other fine breweries such as Dovetail, Motor Row, Church Street and Kinslahger — to name a few — are spitting out plenty of lagers. Heck, I don’t know if any brewery refrains from making a Pilsner or Kolsch-Style beer these days. Lagers, it seems, are trending more and more popular. But, well before it was the norm, Metro not only produced lagers, they built an entire business model on it…and succeeded.
Go and visit the new taproom that fittingly hugs the Chicago River. Take your first beer there and toast to the brewery that served you. They earned it.
Details regarding the opening party, on Nov 4 can be found here. Otherwise, visit any day of the year!
Metropolitan 3057 is found at 3057 N Rockwell.
It’s self described as dog-friendly, kid-friendly and freak-friendly.
Monday 4p – 10p | Tuesday – Thursday 4p – 11p | Friday 4p – 12a
Saturday 12p – 12a | Sunday 12p – 10p