Chicago (Irving Park), Illinois:
Eris Brewery and Cider House
Visited on: Wednesday 20th June 2018
The first thing Linda and I noticed as we approached the building of this brew-pub is that it was once a masonic temple. The square and compasses were prominent in bas-relief above the entrance door. Research reveals it to have been built around 1910. In the early 1970s the Masons gave it up and it became a Korean Bethel Presbyterian Church.
It had been disused for some time when it was purchased to become a pub and brewery in 2014. It is now under the ownership of Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza. Michelle had been a brewer for over ten years with Revolution and Goose Island. In 2012 she went to Virtue Cider of Fennville, Michigan, an area of many cider makers and vineyards. After that she then moved to Wandering Aengus, a cider maker based in Salem, Oregon. So it’s no wonder Eris makes cider along with brewing beer.
The husband of her partner Katy Pizza Nunzino, established Hop Head Farms, also in Michigan.
A lot of hard work was put into creating what we see today and it finally opened on 2nd February 2018, less than five months before we visited.
The co-owners recruited Hayley Shine as a brewer. She had over ten years’ experience working for Rogue and Rock Bottom breweries. By the way, Eris is the Greek god of chaos.
The brewery and cider making equipment are located at ground level with the main room being one storey up, although there are mezzanine floors above and below it. The large wooden tables and fitted benches were made by Michael Jones of wood reclaimed from the temple. The previously bricked-up windows were opened up and with a seventeen foot height, let in a lot of light. Most of the lighting is original, as used in the temple.
The total area of public space is over 20,000 square feet and seats 130 customer plus another 40 on the mezzanine level. There is a long bar with many stools. It was reclaimed from a nearby bank. Down below there are five 1,000 gallon fermentation tanks for cider. The apples used are culinary varieties from Peterson Farms of Shelby, Michigan and are fermented using champagne yeast. For the maturation of the beer there are three 15 barrel (bbls) and two 30 barrel (bbls) vessels.
We tried one cider and three beers and this is our impressions of them. Pedestrian Cider (5.7%) was a medium version with a slight effervescence. It was actually better than we thought it would be.
PodgeHodge (5.3%) was a good stab at a German Pilsner, just a little sweet. Snarky Haiko (6.0%) was an IPA with some body taste with medium bitterness but little after taste. Finally we tasted Self Portrait (5.5%) an ESB with a malty brown ale type flavour yet not very hoppy as described on the menu.
This is a very good pub in a very interesting building.
Eris Brewery and Cider House, 4240 West Irving Park Road, Chicago 60641. Tel: 773 9436200
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11.00-24.00; Friday-Saturday: 11.00-02.00
This pub is easy to get to from down town Chicago (“The Loop”). Irving Park has a station on the CTA.
Take a Blue Line train in the direction of O’ Hare Airport and alight at Irving Park. Walk down to the street.
This is West Irving Park Road. Turn left and walk from under the metro, expressway and railroad bridges.
One more block and you’re at North Tripp Avenue. Eris is on the corner diagonally opposite.
There is also a railroad station at Irving Park, served by Metra trains, on the Union Pacific-Northwest line.
The trains leave the city centre from the Ogilvie transportation Centre (formerly the Northwestern station).
You need to get one in the direction of Harvard. At Irving Park the exit leads to North Avondale Avenue.
Turn right and walk down to West Irving Park Road. There, turn left and follow the directions given above.