RANCH TRIANGLE — Goose Island beer geeks are used to waiting an entire year for a new edition of Bourbon County Stout, so by that standard 10 months for an entirely renovated sleek and stylish new brewpub seems more than reasonable.
The Goose Island Brewhouse reopens soon at 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. It's the same old digs as the original Goose Island flagship brewpub, but with a new, airier space, including an expanded on-site brewery, and a new name to go with it.
"It's way more open," said Daria Olechowski, Brewhouse general manager.
Goose Island closed its original brewpub shortly into the new year, and it should now be opening 10 months later. Goose Island President Ken Stout said at the time it was a "well-deserved facelift," and new President Todd Ahsmann echoed that Wednesday at a media preview.
Ahsmann said he'd started out in the business as a bartender there in the original brewpub, which opened in 1988, adding, "Even for me, who sort of grew up in this place, it felt like it needed refreshing."
Goose Island's loyal customers will ultimately determine the success of the rehab, but the initial results are impressive. The old multilevel design has been simplified, with everything on the ground floor (unless you count the few steps down to what's called the break room, at the back of the building off the main bar).
There's a private dining room off to the side, with what's called the Vintage Ale Bar opposite: a warm and woody space of barstools, booths and tables, so traditional it doesn't even have TVs.
But the main bar remains the centerpiece, and it is now much more open and sleek, including an open view of the kitchen.
Chef Marcus Rasmussen, an alum of Lincoln Park's Perennial Virant, which also closed this year (only to reopen as the entirely different Kennison), was brought in to rethink a "more elevated menu," according to Olechowski.
The house-cured meats include bacon, pork loin and pork villettes, as well as a house-made charcuterie. Mussels, a brewpub staple, are $16, with main courses now including a hanger steak ($18), roasted half chicken ($26) and chicken pot pie ($14).
But the old standbys are still around as well, including fish & chips battered with Goose Island IPA ($21), burgers ($16) and a Cuban sandwich ($14).
Desserts include a smoky chocolate molten cake ($9) and house-made ice cream ($6).
Of course, ultimately, it's all about the beer, and house brewer Jon Naghski said the expanded capacity would allow him, at least at first, to make all the Goose Island brews on site.
The kitchen is open to view, and so is the actual brewery, with windows looking down on the vats.
"No hiding for you," Ahsmann told Naghski.
"Yeah," he replied, "I've got to keep my shirt on."