There are casual beer drinkers, and then there are Beer Snobs. I fall squarely into the first category, which means my inaugural visit to Logan Square’s new Revolution Brewing was an exercise in intimidation. I had imagined strolling into the brewpub alone on a Thursday night, posting up on an empty stool, and calmly making new friends while jotting coherent thoughts in my notebook.
“Sorry; this is insane!” shouted the manager over the din, rushing past to handle a broken glass situation and noticing my distress as I angled for a spot, any spot, within ten feet of the bar. “It hasn’t stopped. We already have 2,000 fans on Facebook.” It was the pub’s first week in business, and there were two-hour waits for tables. Those who had seats were avoiding eye contact with those who didn’t. (Revolution’s owner, Josh Deth, has been blogging about the spot’s progress since May 2007, giving locals plenty of time to foam at the mouth in anticipation.) Lacking both height and a bullhorn, it took me 20 minutes to order a beer, which I then tried sipping while leaning near the server station. No dice. Giving up, I vowed to arrive earlier next time.
A 6:30 p.m. start, a lanky companion, and a few well-placed elbows led to a small victory that Friday: two bar stools. “Things have improved!” I said to my date. We ordered a pair of Revolution brews, a plate of wings, and a pulled pork sandwich before striking up a conversation with a nearby couple, Lee and Rudi of the West Loop. “I’m really into beer,” Lee said. “This is my second night here.” They were drinking Revolution’s Eugene (a porter; $6) and Workingman Mild (a toffee-flavored ale; $5) and bemoaning the lack of coat hooks—which led to my favorite bar pastime: dissecting the crowd and décor. Taking in the gleaming pressed-tin ceiling, the large panels of stained glass, and the massive wooden fists holding up the bar (part of Revolution’s activist theme), we attempted to sum up the look. “It’s a lot of layers,” my date offered.
“It’s all the brewery-type people,” Lee added, noting the male-centric crowd. “It’s the Chicago winter-beard group,” Rudi quipped. It was all so big, so bustling. Was this really Logan Square?
“I live in the neighborhood,” piped up Mike, a silver-stubbled solo drinker seated next to us. “I may not fit the rubric of the 24- to 30-year-old artist or musician, but this place has something from every local brewery, and that’s what I like about it. I’m going to try them all and then go home.” Later, as he gathered his jacket to do just that, Mike leaned in and pointed across the bar: “See those guys in the Blackhawks jerseys? They’re definitely not from around here.” Infiltrators? In the land of individualistic cool? Well, that’s to be expected when there’s a revolution under way.
GO: REVOLUTION BREWING
2323 N. Milwaukee Ave. revbrew.com
Photograph: Chris Guillen