Illinois Brewing Insider Samantha Lee, co-owner of Hopewell Brewing, on collaborating with Goldfinger, her own Outside Voice session IPA, and the quality BBQ and beer list at Green Street Smoked Meats
Co-owner of Hopewell Brewing
2760 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago
Favorite Illinois breweries: I live in Logan Square, and we make it over to Middle Brow quite a bit. The folks there are really friendly, they have great food and are the very definition of a neighborhood spot. So unpretentious and welcoming, but doing it with a high level of quality all along the way. They’re true to their vision in how they operate and how they built their menu. Really the whole vibe of the place is great.
We’re working on a collaboration with Goldfinger Brewing right now. I’ve always enjoyed what they have coming out on the lager front. Hopewell doesn’t make one style… we definitely dabble in sours, lagers, pale ales and mixed fermentations — so we like to work with different breweries who operate on a different size, scale and vision from us. With Goldfinger in the past we’ve created a lupo lager called Not That Far, and now this new one. I love having the space to really pontificate with them because they create such great interpretations of one of our favorite styles.
I love having the space to really pontificate with Goldfinger because they create such great interpretations of one of our favorite styles.
Drinking tendencies: My husband and I definitely like to dabble in lots of things from wine to beer or even an occasional cocktail when we’re out. We don’t go out that much anymore with our baby, but we like to try everything.
When it comes to having a shifty (industry lingo for a post-work beer), I prefer something tried and true and comforting like our Ride or Die pale ale. One of those beers you can sit down with and think about the hop build and flavor profile or just relax and enjoy it. It’s a really good chameleon in that regard.
I definitely lean toward the easier drinking styles and lower ABVs because I’m not as young as I used to be and I still usually need to go about my day, make dinner and read bedtime stories.
Recent beers that have caught your eye: We were just in Minneapolis for a collaboration with Fair State Brewing, and they’re great. Really friendly folks. We are doing a rice lager with them using rice flour for the first time. They are similar to us with their variety of styles. Big Doinks IPA by them is really good and entering the Chicago market. Expanding our colleague base and seeing how they operate was great.
Also, Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis had a hefeweizen — which is generally out of my comfort zone — called Ewald the Golden, and it was great. It’s everything you can imagine, almost as if you were in Bavaria during peak season. My husband, our friend (Hopewell co-owner Jonathan Fritz) and I were all there, and it was fun to be in this beautiful beer hall drinking this style that we don’t have very often.
Every summer I always get excited about Outside Voice, our session IPA that we’ve made forever. On a hot day it’s so refreshing and hits all the right notes. It’s lean and bright with tropical citrus notes, but not too much, and not too bitter.
What are you looking forward to enjoying on draft this spring/early summer?
I always get excited about Outside Voice, our session IPA that we’ve made forever. On a really hot day it’s so refreshing and hits all of the right notes. It’s lean and bright with tropical citrus notes, but not too much, and not too bitter. Lower ABV too. I love that beer. It’s easy on the tongue and a fun one to have when you’re out at a park or having a backyard BBQ.
Favorite beer bar in Illinois: To me, it’s Beer Temple. They are super nice people and a great neighborhood spot. They’ve always been great supporters of ours, and are really knowledgeable and curate a great draft list and collection at the store. They even opened a kitchen now too.
I think what Green Street Smoked Meats in the West Loop has been able to do is worth mentioning. … It’s nice to be at an age in craft beer where even BBQ spots and restaurants can have a solid list.
Best brewery you’ve hit on vacation: I haven’t really been on vacation in a while, but we go to Michigan quite a lot in the summer and Seedz Brewery is in Union Pier, right off the highway with a simple, small taproom and outdoor space. We had a really good kellerbier while we were there. They actually have a lot of good stuff.
Secret beer spot: It may not be such a secret, but I think what Green Street Smoked Meats in the West Loop has been able to do is worth mentioning. Their beer buyer is knowledgeable and they’ve curated a good list. It’s nice to be at an age in craft beer where even BBQ spots and restaurants can have a solid list. It’s a special treat to be able to have a really good craft beer while you’re waiting in line for BBQ.