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IPA Gummy Bears? Old Irving Brewing Gets Creative For Craft Beer Week

 Gummy Beer Bears
Gummy Beer Bears
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OLD IRVING PARK — "Chewy" isn't a word we'd typically associate with beer.

But that's the sensation Old Irving Brewing, 4419 W. Montrose Ave., is aiming for with a decidedly atypical Craft Beer Week release.

Gummy Beers are one of the unusual concoctions patrons will find on tap during Wednesday's "Molecular Beer-stronomy" event, a showcase for the bar team's trippier creations.

"I think I just got drunk and said, 'I want to make gummy bears out of beer,'" Matt Greene, Old Irving's bar manager, said by way of an origin story.

If the idea for the gummies was spontaneously generated, producing them was anything but.

Greene has devoted most of his recent waking hours to filling tiny gummy bear molds with mixtures of sugar, gelatin and beer — including Old Irving's Trendi Double IPA and a new coconut milk stout — waiting for the gummies to set, and then repeating the process over and over.

Old Irving's alcohol-infused Gummy Beers. [All photos DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]

The whimsical alcohol-infused candies will join a slate of innovative beer cocktails on Wednesday's menu, which was inspired by the years head brewer Trevor Rose-Hamblin spent at Moto and iNG restaurants, pioneers in the molecular gastronomy movement. 

Though beer cocktails aren't new at Old Irving, Greene is gradually transitioning his creations from approachable — e.g., a Moscow Mule topped with an IPA — to adventurous as the brewery becomes more established in the neighborhood.

"It's fun to give someone something they haven't had before and watch them enjoy it for the first time," Greene said.

For Molecular Beer-stronomy, he incorporated Old Irving brews into classics like the French 75 and Manhattan, often using unconventional techniques.

His Pisco Sour, for example, replaces the traditional egg white foam with a whipped Scentinel IPA syrup, dispensed from a nitrous oxide charger.

Old Irving's Guten Tag kolsch plays a supporting role in the French 75, which stars another of Greene's creations: "caviar" balls that are actually droplets of artichoke-based Cynar liqueur gelatinized through a process known as cold oil spherification.

The Old Fashioned "Inception" — the name's a nod to the 2010 brain scrambler of a movie — is "an Old Fashioned in an Old Fashioned in an Old Fashioned," Greene said.

For the cocktail, Greene swapped out the usual simple syrup for a reduction of Old Irving's Rat Pack Belgian Dubbel — a beer brewed to mimic an Old Fashioned in the first place.

When, not if, the Beer-stronomy cocktails prove a hit with patrons, Old Irving will likely add an entire list of beer cocktails to the drinks side of its menu, general manager Rich Ness said.

"We make cocktail-focused beer and beer-focused cocktails. This bar program is about doing things with hops that change perception," Ness said.

"We want to be seen as a brewery primarily, but also someone who can compete seriously in a cocktail space," he said.

When its food, beer and cocktail menus are firing on all cylinders, Old Irving has the potential to play in the same sandbox as Ravenswood's Michelin-starred Band of Bohemia brewpub, Ness said.

"My goal is to be the best brewpub in Chicago," he said.

Old Irving Brewing is open 5-11 p.m. Wednesday.

Old Fashioned Inception (with bonus Gummy Beers).

Pisco Sour, with Scentinel IPA foam instead of whipped egg whites.

"Caviar" balls in Old Irving's French 75 are a trick of molecular beer-stronomy.