Brewer’s Choice: Old Irving Brewing’s Trevor Rose-Hamblin on discovering Pipeworks’ dortmunder, growing his own lager series, and a delightful cocktail-inspired sour from MORE Brewing
Director of brewing operations/co-founder at Old Irving Brewing Co.
4419 W. Montrose Ave. in Chicago, IL
The last really good beer I drank was… in a non-traditional drinking establishment. Pipeworks Brewing was kind enough to allow me to wash kegs for a few hours since our keg washer was down. They have a small walk-in cooler where they will store rejects from the canning line, and other assortments of beer for the brewers. After a couple of hours of keg cleaning, I developed a mighty thirst, so I ventured into their beer cave and found that Pipeworks makes a dortmunder!
Due to the nature of the day’s work, this dortmunder hit all of the notes — from the cracker-like taste of the malt to the clean and refreshing noble hop bite at the end. It was the kind of beer that, just as you get to know one sip, you are already diving back in for another, larger pull. Stylistically, it was perfect, and I was so sad that I didn’t know it existed until that very moment. I will be seeking it out again.
What fellow Illinois breweries and specific beers have impressed you lately?
The one thing that has really impressed me with many Illinois breweries is their absolute grasp and adoration for classic styles. Especially at the breweries who are known for their hazy IPAs, barrel-aged stouts and massively fruited sours. MORE, Maplewood, Phase Three, Pipeworks, Mikerphone, Alarmist and Noon Whistle are just a few examples of breweries that, on top of their aforementioned strengths, are also putting out beautiful representations of European lagers, traditional seasonal ales, rauchbier and even ESBs and milds. I have had transcendent lager experiences at each of those breweries. A couple have even invested in horizontal lager tanks to keep with traditional lager brewing practices.
There is one beer that is not so traditional that broke my brain this year, though. It’s a rum barrel-aged, Zombie cocktail-inspired sour from David Ziebell at MORE Brewing. Its name is Lucky Bamboo, made with pineapple, passionfruit, lemon, lime and bitters. It was named after a Chinese restaurant from his youth that used to serve up the boozy Zombie tiki cocktail. He nailed the cocktail flavor, acidity, and even got the rum flavor perfectly represented. It was so well done, and you could tell he spent a lot of time dialing in those flavors to make sure it was just right.
I have a massively talented group of truly down-to-earth, good people working with me at Old Irving these days. Their dedication to their craft knows no bounds.
What are you most proud of at Old Irving?
First, and foremost, my team. From the restaurant side to brewing, packaging, marketing and sales, my team is firing on all cylinders. I have a massively talented group of truly down-to-earth, good people working with me these days. Their dedication to their craft knows no bounds, and I couldn’t be more proud to work with them day in and day out.
Beer-wise, we are always looking to improve on our current beer lineups. We are extremely proud of our core brands like Beezer, Della, Scentinel and our new hoppy lager entry (to be re-named soon.) We put a lot of time and energy into our lager series: Sonne helles, Til Death pilsner, Oktoberfest, Lifesblood dark bock, Ursa Major Baltic porter and Goat Destroyer Maibock. These brands continue to be the ones we really fawn over. We are also expanding our barrel-aged program and are excited to show some new techniques in the next couple of years.
What do you have happening now and coming up that people should know about?
Released in July is our Cushy Island (sour ale) and Til Death pilsner, and we also have Migration (barrel-aged stout conditioned on coconut, cocoa nibs and vanilla — a collaboration with Phase Three Brewing) and Mechophant (barrel-aged barleywine collaboration with MORE Brewing).
Still out now is Sonne, our helles lager, which is a favorite of the brewers, as well as our Goat Destroyer Maibock and the Triple Beezer hazy triple IPA. Most importantly, our new production facility is under construction in the West Loop and should be in full operation in just a few short months!