In honor of Evanston Entrepreneurship week, join Downtown Evanston and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, November 20 for a tour of Evanston’s many craft beer and spirits establishments.
Travel to Evanston’s distillery and breweries throughout the evening to sip craft brews and spirits, network, and see why beer means business. The tour includes stops at Smylie Brothers, Temperance, Peckish Pig, Few and Sketchbook.
Click here for tickets, and check out all the other great events going on during Evanston Entrepreneurship Week.
Smylie Bros review is featured in this week's Chicago Reader:
Smylie Brothers Brewing Company: Steinbier
Steinbier is more a method than a style, and as a method it dates back millennia—basically you drop screaming-hot stones directly into your future beer, rather than applying heat to the brewing vessel. When such vessels were made of wood this was a handy way to avoid setting them on fire, but the technique persisted as technology advanced—especially among farmers in Germany and Austria. When that part of Europe discovered lagering, most Steinbiers became lagers as well.
When I visited Smylie Brothers in Evanston this summer, head brewer Brad Pulver told me he planned to make a Steinbier, and since then he has—twice, in fact. His version is a rustic Vienna lager, brewed with German Polaris and Tettnang hops and fermented with a San Francisco lager yeast.
The six grapefruit-size chunks of granite Pulver used, looped with stainless-steel wire so he could carry them to the brew kettle, reached almost 800 degrees Fahrenheit in the restaurant's brick pizza oven—he had to put on heavy leather work gloves over the elbow-length nitrile gloves he always wears. Still, he didn't boil the wort with just the stones, like a brewer would have back in the day—the kettle's steam jacket did most of the work. Traditionally the stones would be transferred to the fermenter, to let their burnt shells of malt sugar diffuse into the beer over time. Pulver instead left them in the kettle for the whole boil: "The caramel coating on the stones dissolved into the wort," he says, "like deglazing a pan."
Smylie Brothers' Steinbier is a lovely chestnut color, on the dark side for a Vienna lager; the flavor is toasty and nutty, rounded out by toffee and creme brulee. It's fruitier than you might expect from the style, with a touch of baked pear and red plum—Pulver fermented it warmer than a typical lager. The burnt sugar cuts through the creamy mouthfeel with a faint, almost smoky astringency—it reminds me of the crisp black skin on a campout marshmallow that's briefly caught fire, and it dovetails nicely with the soft herbal bitterness of the noble hops. The Steinbier will almost certainly be gone by the time you read this, but Pulver plans to brew it again—and double the number of stones. —Philip Montoro