You are not going to go to Empirical Brewery (1801 W. Foster Ave., Ravenswood, 773-654-3104) for its aesthetic appeal. The place is more or less a garage with bright overhead lighting, a handful of bulbs artistically dangling from the ceiling, and a few framed photos of Chicago on the walls. But give the team behind it some time—the taproom is brand-new, and more furniture is on the way to go with the admittedly great-looking bar. And you can distract yourself in the interim with some surprising brews.
There are two sets of beers here, one standard and approachable, the other more experimental (there's a serious science-nerd side to the team here, hence the name). If you order something they're playing around with, you'll be encouraged to leave feedback or participate in a blind taste-test while they perfect the recipe. The crowd of twenty- and thirty-somethings seemed happy to sip on whatever was handed to them, including the nine percent ABV Chromatic Imperial Red.
Here's what we saw when we stopped in.