Dovetail Brewery Review - A Fine Chicago Addition to a Great Return of German and Belgian Beer

Dovetail Brewery, recently opened June 11th of this year in Chicago’s quaint Ravenswood neighborhood. The brand new brewery hosted a media open house, with tasting and tour, on Monday, October 11th, 2016, to showcase the brewery’s new facility.

 

Dovetail's awesome bartender, Shane

 

Dovetail Brewery is a 22,000 square foot craft brewery with an attractive and lively taproom, located at 1800 W. Belle Plaine (at the intersection of North Ravenswood). They specialize in delicious, balanced beers brewed using traditional German and Belgian brewing methods. Signature beers include unfiltered German-style lagers, traditional Hefeweizen, Rauchbier and Lambic-style sour beers. Dovetail also produces a variety of special seasonal beers, including a dark, smoky Rauchweizen, which was just released for the fall of 2016.

 

Dovetail entrance on Bell Plaine and Ravenswood

 

At Dovetail, the co-owners, longtime friends, Bill Wesselink and Hagen Dost, (who met at the famed Doemens Akademie in Munich, Germany) pride themselves on designing their beers for all of the senses. In addition to having great flavor, body, aroma, and aftertaste, they also carefully choose the glassware and design their beers for a large, lasting foam-stand with beautiful lacing after every tip. They also strongly recommend serving their beers in their own glassware (simplistic genius using chemistry measuring beakers), and utilizing a flow control faucet in order to present the beer in its best form. Dovetail is their way of replicating these beer making methods that are nearly forgotten in today's commercial breweries.

 

 

Dovetail co-owners Bill Wesselink and Hagen Dost

 

My sample of the Dovetail Rauchbier

 

Initially, the brewery is self-distributing its beer in kegs, focusing on major beer venues in Chicago and other locations in the immediate vicinity within two miles of the brewery. There is a tap room on-premises where guests can sample and purchase the beers. To start, the tap room will be open Fridays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

The bar part of the taproom

 

Dovetail tap handles

 

Owner Hagen Dost serving a customer

 

Dovetail beer can be found on tap at Chicago bars and pubs such as my personal favorites, Hopleaf, Fountainhead, as well as Paddy Long's, Kaiser Tiger and the Long Room. The brewery also will produce Lambic-style sour beer, brewed using the traditional mashing and spontaneous fermentation methods of the Lambic brewers of the Pajottenland, Belgium. The first of the Lambic-style beers is being brewed now and will not be available until Spring 2018.

 

Wesselink shows us the barrels aging the 2018 Lambic beers

 

My friend bends down to take a sniff of the Lambic beer that's currently brewing

 

Dost and Wesselink believe that there are three keys to making sublime, delightful beer: old-school methods, patience & brewing expertise.  To this end, Dovetail is equipped with authentic old style brewing and fermenting apparatus that is rarely seen in modern breweries. The coolship and cold fermentation processes are a return to the small batch foundations upon which great German and Belgian beers have been produced for centuries.

 

The actual media house was quite the event! Dozens of writers and publicists were there to learn more about Dovetail, taste the beer selections, and attend the brewery tour. The interior entrance greets you with brick wall and t-shirts for purchase. I loved the rustic, laid back atmosphere inside: brick walls, contemporary hanging lamp lights, a variety of tap handles lined against the wall at the bar, and a lot of open space.

 

T-shirts for sale

 

Beer glasses for sale

 

The taproom sells smoked sausage and think, fluffy pretzels with mustard!

 

 

My friend and I promptly sat down and sampled Dovetail’s fantastic selection of beers which included my personal favorite, the Rauchbier (dark, rocky foam, chocolate, hoppy, and beechwood-smoked malt), the Hefewiezen (a lovely, easy-drinking beer with a rich orange wheat taste, cloves, fruit, and a hint of mandarin-orange-like acidity and pleasant aftertaste), the Lager (golden, malty, rich hops and creamy), the Grodziskie (a nice summer beer with 100% smoked wheat with citrus overtones), and their special Festbier (nicey sour and crisp) which was not on the menu.

 

Beer flight in chemistry beer beakers!

 

The highlight of the evening was the tour of the brewery itself. We learned how beer is brewed, the origin of ingredients, the containers beer is aged and produced in, and the overall process. I especially loved the 110 year-old copper brew kettle the owners found in a barn in Germany. Other things I had never experienced during a brewery tour included tasting the delicious wheat and barley used to brew their beer, and rubbing hops in our hands to smell their potency. We also sampled different kinds of water and able to “understand” why Dovetail prefers to brew their beer with the Chicago neighborhood Pilsens’ water. (It percolates through a granite basin and produces a distinct taste). A bonus part of the tour was being able to get a sneak peak of the aroma of the currently aging Lambic beers in Woodford Reserve bourbon whisky barrels. The fruity scents were intoxicating.

 

Brew tanks in the warehouse

 

Dost explains the process of cleaning out a beer barrel

 

Warehouse brewing tanks

 

The 110 year-old German copper brew kettle

 

The brewing water comparison

 

Brewing hops

 

Rubbing and smelling hops in our hands

 

More warehouse tanks...

 

*Dovetail and Begyle Brewery will also be hosting Oktoberfestiversary on Saturday, October 15th. It will be a neighborhood block party celebrating Begyle’s fourth anniversary and Dovetail’s first Oktoberfest. The event begins at noon and concludes at 9pm (1800 Block of W. Belle Plaine from Ravenswood to the Alley) featuring live music, games, a variety of food trucks, and Chicago’s finest craft beers. There will also be a doggie food truck, so bring your furry best friend! (Dovetail’s taproom is also dog-friendly). Dovetail will introduce the delicious Festbier beer that my friend and I sampled at the media house tour. Food trucks will include Bop Bar Truck (11am-8pm), Bruges Brothers (1-8pm), Chicago Pizza Boss (2-9pm), and La Cocinita (1-4pm).

 

 

 

Photos: Jennifer Lunz

 

 

For more information about Dovetail Brewery, please visit the brewery's website  (under construction), their newsroom, or contact Bill Wesselink by email at [email protected] or Hagen Dost by email at [email protected] .

 

 

For additional information, call 773-683-1414.

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