Spotlight on Une Année/Hubbard’s Cave Brewery: This Niles taproom is known for its variety of quality beer and sun-filled patio, but wait till you try their BBQ
By Trent Modglin
Une Année and Hubbard’s Cave
6543 Gross Point Road in Niles
The history: Born on the near west side of downtown Chicago in 2013, this independent craft brewery was founded by Chicago native Jerry Nelson. Une Année — which means “One Year” in French — set out on a quest to make fine Belgian-inspired ales. Soon, with the help of Jerry’s brother David, they expanded to include sours and then, in 2015 with the launch of a sister brewery called Hubbard’s Cave (which pays homage to the traffic tunnel on 90/94 where they first started making beer), American-style ales, imperial stouts and a host of IPAs followed.
In 2020, they moved into their current location in Niles. Plenty of brewers from around the globe make it a point to stop in to see their setup when visiting the Chicago area.
The scene: This is a sleek, cavernous, industrial-style taproom with garage doors opening to the outside and plenty of space to enjoy the working brewery that lies just a few feet away. When Une Année moved to its new location a couple years ago, the focus was on creating a kitchen that specializes in homemade barbecue.
As the pandemic took over, Une Année shifted to a tableside QR code for an easy, socially-distanced menu, and they’ve found that placing orders this way is so efficient, it’s a trend that will stick around post-Covid. “We’ve had customers who didn’t believe that it was their beer that was being dropped off at the table because of how swift the process is” says co-owner Jennifer Nelson.
The brewery becomes an even more sought-after destination when the weather is nice, as fire pits, tents and string lights adorn the spacious adjoining patio and yard.
The brewery becomes an even more sought-after destination when the weather is nice, as fire pits, tents and string lights adorn the spacious adjoining patio and yard. They even have ingredients for s’mores if your sweet tooth is calling.
Who they’re catering to: It’s family friendly for sure, but it can also be a great spot for catching up with friends, post-golf beers, a tasting event or private party. Trivia is held Monday nights at 7 p.m., and they host live music Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Sundays 3-6 p.m.
Menu expectations: The menu is barbecue-centric for sure, but they’re in the process of adding other concepts to round out the menu. But let’s get back to the BBQ. Because, quite simply, it’s fantastic.
It doesn’t take long to realize the Texas-born, Kansas-raised chef, Brett Deppeler, knows what he’s doing. Using a wood-fired smoker — and only hickory logs — the focus here is Southern-style barbecue. “We take a lot of pride in the process,” Deppeler says, “and I think it shows.”
We’d be remiss not to highlight the Cave Monster sandwich, as it is one seriously unique and delicious creation. A mountain of pulled pork is topped by two crispy slabs of sliced brisket (grilled for a few minutes to crisp things up a bit) and a melty tandem of habanero jack and mozzarella and then finished off with a muffuletta-giardinera mix and crispy onion jalapeño crisps. Talk about a perfect balance of flavors. Sweet with a little crunchy kick.
“We take a lot of pride in the Southern-style barbecue process, and I think it shows.” — Texas-born chef Brett Deppeler
The Texas-style hot link is popular as well, split down the middle and lightly slathered with a delightful pimento cheese spread, peche-pickled jalapeños and vinegar-based cider slaw. Half pounds of brisket, burnt ends and pulled pork sliders are available, as are tender, Memphis-style ribs, veggie chili, creamy mac & cheese, buttermilk grilled chicken sandwiches, loaded nachos and giant warm pretzels served with beer cheese dipping sauce.
So many items are shareable, so sampling several items off the menu is not only possible, but highly recommended.
Craft beer options: With 24 beers on draft and a lot of creativity, there’s something for everyone here, regardless of whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or a complete novice. Une Année focuses on Belgian and European-style lagers, sours and farmhouse ales. On the Hubbard’s Cave front, expect more IPAs, American-style ales and some hearty, flavorful barrel-aged stouts.
Some of our favorites include the the Coffee and Cakes imperial stout (made with coffee, maple syrup and hazelnut), the Le Seul XVI (American wild ale with blackberry and lemon), the German-style pilsner and their One Hop Citra hazy imperial IPA.
If you don’t have time to sit and toast a pint or sample a flight, a lot of their beers are available to go in cans and bottles — and available for pre-purchase online.
Next time: A flight will definitely be in the plans to try any additions to the draft list, which is constantly changing with new creations and seasonal favorites. Also, weekday happy hour is 2:30-5:30 p.m. (half off appetizers and $4 select drafts), and a picnic table on that patio will be calling our name as soon the weather breaks.