About Art History Brewing & Hopleaf—Michael writes…
It should be no surprise to know that I am a big fan of Art History Brewing. Of the 250 or so breweries in the Chicago Metro area, I chose them to brew our house beers. How did that come about? It is a pretty good story and I like telling stories.
Nearly every day, an owner, brewer or sales person from some hopeful new brewery comes to Hopleaf with some samples of their beer, hoping that we’ll add their beer to our offerings. With nearly 10,000 American craft breweries, it has become a bit overwhelming for us and challenging for them. Of course Hopleaf is one of the places that is particularly meaningful for a brewery to have its beers on tap. It actually helps them sell there beer elsewhere.
For us, it means that our “sample cooler” near the office is often overflowing with samples, sometimes with a note or business card taped to the can or bottle. It is very hard for a new brewery to stand out these days. The competition is brutal and there is a likely shake up coming in which many breweries won’t make the cut.
Occasionally, I’ll clean out the cooler by bringing a box of assorted samples down to the bar for a trial where the jury is an informal group of longtime regulars. Two summers ago, I gathered up some beer, including a mixed 4 pack of beer from the then unheard of Art History Brewing. We gathered our panel of experts on the patio and began cracking open bottles and cans randomly. The first few were duds. A couple were just okay. I then opened the first or the Art History beers, commenting that I thought that the brewery name was a bit strange. Expectations were low. I loved the beer. We all tried it and the other three and knew there was something special going on in Geneva. I particularly liked that all four beers were classic styles done very well. No imperial mango hazy saison among them.
I went upstairs to get my laptop. I googled Art History and had an epiphany moment. Their brewer is Greg Browne! Of course the beer is great. Greg has been brewing great beer for years in and around Chicago. He hosted the beer school at the Map Room years ago. I knew right then and there that Art History Brewing would be the best choice to brew Hopleaf’s “house beers”. I drove out to ( for me ) far off Geneva to meet with Tom, Cindy and Greg and in time for our 30th anniversary on February 15th, 2022, we had our pale and dark house beers on tap. Those beers have been our best selling beers ever since and we now offer them to go in cans. We are delighted about the relationship we have with Art History Brewing and tonight , Feb 23, we’ll be showing off on tap many of their great beers.