Temperance Beer in the city of temperance
Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve been MIA on The Local Beet for a while (and I don’t mean I’ve been in Miami, although that would’ve been nice). Personal stuff. Get over it.
Helping me get over it was a trip (or several) down the street from my house to Temperance Brewing.
The Temperance Tap Room is not easy to find. It has a rather insignificant light blue sign on the south side of Dempster Street in Evanston, about a block west of Dodge, or a few blocks east of McCormick. (Or about three miles west of the Dempster East exit on the Edens Expressway, exit 37b). Make the turn at 2000 West Dempster Street in Evanston, and you’ll find yourself in a large, wide parking lot shared by many businesses. But the sharp-eyed among us might recognize the wooden deck and stairway, and the large garage doors with Temperance logos on them. Slightly to the south is Temperance’s Tap Room entrance, and an outdoor deck, which overlooks the awkwardly – designed parking lot, and beyond that, a beautiful view of the backside of a somewhat empty strip mall that virtually no one would describe as successful.
A rather small sign
Temperance is worth searching out.
Why? Well … quick quiz … what do an architect and a marine biologist have in common?
Answer … they make beer … excellent beer … in a part of a large, semi-industrial, cream-colored brick building in West Evanston.
Owner Josh Gilbert was an architect (http://www.gkad.com), and also a home brewer.
Claudia Jendron, the former marine biologist, was one of the first women to be a brewmaster in the Chicago area. (My research says she was the second, with her friend Hayley Shine at Rock Bottom Chicago as the first, but if anyone has additional perspective on this, well, that’s what the comments section is for.) But Claudia doesn’t go by the title brewmaster … her biz card says she’s the Brewster. After getting tired of seas and animals, she got a job at Goose Island, and she’s now the person who runs the beer operations at Temperance.
It’s only fair. After all, centuries ago, virtually all beer brewing was done by women.
Temperance, of course, is a wry reference to Evanston’s long history of being a dry town (the name of their rye beer, Restless Years, may also be a tenuous reference to Evanston’s dry history).
Evanston is still home to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union http://www.wctu.org/, which was one of the key forces in getting laws supporting prohibition passed in 1920. And flouting the principles of the WCTU isn’t a first for Temperance; Paul Hletko’s FEW distillery is named after the initials of the WCTU’s long-time president, Francis Elizabeth Willard. (Paul might dispute that, but we know better.)
Temperance beers are starting to show up in cans on retail shelves, as well as at on tap some of the better beer bars in the area. But the best place to enjoy their stuff is at the source. The interior of the taproom features walls made from strips of wood, along with multicolored cinder block walls, and a single shuffleboard table. But, obviously, the reason to visit the taproom is for the beers (I was wondering if I’d ever get around to their beers).
It’s almost a law these days that any brewery must put out an IPA. Temperance does it right. Their Gatecrashrer English IPA features Falconer’s flight blend of hops, both traditionally hopped and dry hopped. The dry hopping is what contributes such impressive citrus aromas, according to Claudia. And it’s also what led Gatecrasher to a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the English-style IPA category. It’s now available at select retail establishments in cans.
But Temperance also occasionally has another IPA, Threeway, only available in three places – the taproom, and at Evanston’s Union Pizza and SPACE music venue (both in the same building). Very citrus-y aroma, well worth seeking out.
Temperance also goes beyond the usual assortment of beer styles. For example, their Might Meets Right Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout won a bronze medal in last week’s FoBab (Festival of Barrel Aged Beer) in the experimental beer category.
Perhaps my favorite Temperance beer, though, is the Root Down Robust Porter. It’s not as popular a style as an IPA, and may be better suited for cooler temperatures, but dang it’s tasty, with roasted malt notes, a touch of smoke, and a slight bit of licorice flavor.
Temperance is also an important part of its Evanston neighborhood. Its beer is going into locally-produced brats from Homestead Meats (1305 Chicago, Evanston) and its spent grains are going into breads made down the street from Temperance at Hewn Bakery (810 Dempster, Evanston). (I’ll be having those brats for dinner tonight.)
Over a year ago, I tried to write an article highlighting all the new breweries in the Chicago area. There are even more now. I couldn’t keep up. (I do have a real job.) But I will do my best to keep up with the breweries in my hometown, Evanston. Look for coming notes on Evanston brewpubs Smylie Bros. and Peckish Pig, and Evanston’s newest brewery, Sketchbook.
More junk about local beer can be found here.