It has taken Evanston a long time to live down its teetotaling reputation. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union has been headquartered in Evanston since 1910, and the town was dry from 1858 to 1972. So perhaps it’s appropriate that the aptly named Temperance Beer Company has become the first craft brewery in Evanston’s history.
Opened in 2013, Temperance is the most obvious example of the city of Evanston moving beyond those prohibition days to welcome the craft beer movement to the city. In fact, according to founder Josh Gilbert, getting permission to open a brewery in Evanston is easier than expected.
“Dealing with permits of any kind is way more difficult in Chicago than in Evanston,” Gilbert said. “Here, there was no pushback. Everyone was helpful and in favor of the project.”
Gilbert, who grew up in Evanston, was working as an architect when he decided to turn his passion for craft beer into his profession. He met brewer Claudia Jendron at a bowling party hosted by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. She was working for Goose Island at the time, but the duo found that they had similar tastes and ideas on how a local craft brewery should operate. And soon the Temperance Beer Company was born. The company now has more than a dozen offerings, a taproom for tastings and its Gatecrasher English-style IPA will be hitting the shelves of Binny’s and Whole Foods this spring.
But the brewery’s Tap Room is what’s getting the most attention. The beautifully designed space (Gilbert was an architect after all), is open Tuesday to Sunday for tastings, and features an outdoor beer garden once the weather starts to cooperate.
Most of their selections are available in flights of 4-ounce tasters, half pints, and pints. They also offer 64-ounce growlers, which you can bring back into the taproom to be refilled.
They don’t make their food on the premises, but they do offer pasties from Peckish Pig and gourmet snacks fromBee’s Knees &Popcorn Asylum. You also are welcome to bring your own food or order in. (They have menus from local restaurants behind the bar.) The Tap Room welcomes families until 8:30 p.m., when it switches to a 21 and over spot.
And how about that beer that’s drawing rave reviews?
The Gatecrasher English is one of three offerings that are brewed year-round. It’s a little less bitter than a traditional IPA, with “bountiful aromatic hops and a touch of malt sweetness,” according to Gilbert.
The other two are the Smittytown (which will also be bottled for wholesale shortly), which is an Extra Special Bitter with refined English malts, and Restless Year, a rye pale ale. But you’ve can choose from more than a dozen seasonal beers on tap, now including Greenwood Beach, a blonde ale with pineapple, and the Might Meets Right, which is an Imperial Stout with Coffee. It’s safe to say any beer drinker will be able to find something to enjoy.
So while it may have taken a while for the craft-brew movement to officially reach Evanston—it’s now here in force. Perhaps it isn’t long that Temperance brings up a new connotation when it comes to Evanston.