BRIDGEPORT — Two pieces of welcome news for the Harbor Country vacation crowd:
And there will be beer — Pleasant House beer.
The new Pleasant House Brewing Co., operating out of the Three Oaks location, is the latest in a series of very deliberate moves by owners Chelsea and Art Jackson to expand the business beyond their small Bridgeport restaurant at 964 W. 31st St. and those beloved Royal Pies.
"Art and I have a pretty solid long-term plan about where we'd like to go," Chelsea Jackson said. "We take a pragmatic approach, and when the time is right, we jump on something."
For Pleasant House Three Oaks, the Jacksons have brought on 27-year-old Amanda Bates as brewer.
The Northwestern University graduate got a thorough introduction to craft beer while living and working in Eugene, Ore. Upon moving back to Chicago in 2011, she took a job at a home brew shop in the West Loop. The Jacksons were customers. They all clicked.
"They're artisans in everything they do," Bates said. "They take a lot of care and have a lot of focus on how they prepare all their products, and where they source their ingredients from, and that's something that's very important for me. I knew there would be a lot of confluence between us."
Bates, a San Francisco native, now calls Three Oaks home. For the past three weeks, she has been on site developing recipes for English-style and specialty beers and honing what she says will be the flagship beer — a "malt-forward," easy-drinking ESB, or Extra Special Bitter.
With only four taps, the Pleasant House brewery is running on a nano-scale. First up: that ESB, plus an English IPA, a Belgian pale ale and a English pale mild ale, "a craft beer version of a Boddingtons," Bates said.
The Pleasant House brews will only be available in Three Oaks, though Bates said the plan is to eventually bottle the beers for retail and supply the Chicago location with kegs.
Other dishes exclusive to the Three Oaks menu include a charcuterie plate and some salads and sides, Chelsea Jackson said.
There's yet more brewing back at the Bridgeport mother ship.
The Jacksons have begun bottling their Royal Ginger Fizz, a homemade ginger soda based on a recipe from Art Jackson's grandmother. It's hand-pressed ginger juice, lemon juice and cane sugar — nothing more.
Also new to their retail lineup are Royal Bangers, until now a Wednesday-only special. The sausages are made with pork from heritage breed pigs. (Check the Pleasant House website and Facebook page for stores that carry the soda and bangers.)
For those dining in, there is ice cream — some with summer fruit, some with specialty drafts from Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar next door.
"We will use our own [beer] once we can," Chelsea Jackson said.