ROGERS PARK — Come Tuesday, North Side Beer-lovers will have another place to imbibe on locally-made pints with the opening of Empirical Brewery's new Rogers Park brewpub.
The Ravenswood-based beer company replaces the former Act One Pub inside the Mayne Stage at 1330 W. Morse Ave. and after a soft opening this week will officially open its doors for beer-heavy drink and dining menus.
As cooks prepped food and the restaurant's staff readied the dining room, General Manager Steve Milford said his staff was excited and ready to go.
"The food is ready and the beer is good, now all we have to do is run a few credit cards to make sure everything works," Milford joked.
Not only will the brewpub serve its flagship beers like its Double Helix Imperial IPA, Gamma-Ray Ginger Wheat and Infinity IPA, but it will also play with cold-fused, Nitrogen-carbonated beers, like with Empirical's popular Cream Ale.
New to Empirical's drink repertoire are beer cocktails, like the Beergarita (Cold Fusion Cream Ale, tequila and lime cordial), The Morse (Infinity IPA, gin, St. Germaine and grapefruit) and the Gamma-Ray Ginger Mule (Gamma-Ray Ginger Wheat, lime cordial and vodka).
Soon the bar will also offer wine and cider straight from the tap.
Owner Bill Hurley said he's working with a wine maker to hopefully come up with a signature house blend served only at the brew pub.
Just there for something to eat?
The food itself might call for a designated driver — 70 percent of it is infused with beer.
The house burger is smothered with Kölsch cheese sauce and fried onion strings, a juicy, grilled half-chicken is marinated in an Infinity IPA brine and pickled jalapeño, and desserts like the stout-infused milkshake with beer whipped cream serve as a nightcap.
Not even the salads are safe from Chef Timothy Fink's boozy vision. A warm Brussel leaves salad is tossed with pancetta and parmesan before being drizzled with a Cream Ale vinaigrette.
Though the Spent Grain Burger isn't made with finished beer, its patty is made with a blend of the spent grains used to make it — topped with Swiss, garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato, and sandwiched between a hearty pretzel bun. Fink said the creation is his take on a veggie burger.
The menu took six months of collaboration, creativity and taste tests, but was "probably the most fun" Fink said he's had working on such a project in his 17 years as a chef.
Not all the flavor is reserved for the beer, however.
Items like a seasoned pickle jar, Shepherd's pie wontons and a rotating list of house-made sausages all make Fink's suggestion list.
Down the road, an adjacent storefront will serve as a brewing component, where Empirical can make beer on site, including creating a brew specifically for Rogers Park.
Empirical's brewpub will be closed Mondays and open from noon-10 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, noon-midnight Thursdays-Saturdays and noon-8 p.m. Sundays. In July, the pub will also add a weekend brunch menu that will be served from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Check out pictures from inside Empirical's new brew pub before its official opening. Photos by DNAinfo/Linze Rice.