Illinois Brewing Insider Eric Farrell from Bottle Theory in Elmhurst on Hop Butcher’s small-batch offerings, Goldfinger’s stellar Mexican lager and his own easy-drinking collaboration with Riverlands
Owner of Bottle Theory Taproom and Bottle Shop
542 Spring Rd in Elmhurst, IL
Favorite breweries: This feels like a loaded question. Illinois is littered with top-tier breweries, which makes it very hard to choose. I normally gravitate towards breweries that are versatile enough to brew an array of styles at a high level. My top tier, in no particular order, would be Half Acre, Hop Butcher for the World, Phase Three, Revolution, Goldfinger, Riverlands and Maplewood.
Drinking tendencies: Hazies, lagers and stouts are the styles I drink the most. I’m no different than a lot of craft beer lovers in today’s market. The explosion of the hazy IPA is what roped me into the culture and made me a fan. They opened my curiosity and became my gateway into exploring other styles.
And as my palate evolved, I have gained a huge appreciation for well-made lagers. Their versatility is second to none, and nothing pairs better with food.
I’ve been really impressed with the small-batch offerings Hop Butcher has been pumping out since they opened their tap room in Chicago. Everyone knows their hazy IPAs, but they have created some incredible clear, hoppy ales that stand up with the best.
Recent beers that have caught your eye: I’ll give you a few: 1.) Phase Three reformulated their P3 Pils recipe, and it’s become a fantastic every-day go-to.
2.) I’ve been really impressed with the small-batch offerings Hop Butcher has been pumping out since they opened their tap room on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Everyone knows about their hazy IPAs, but they have created some incredible clear, hoppy ales that stand up with the best. Inscription Rock was their latest, and it was a very well done clear pale ale.
3.) The Goldfinger lager train has been really, really impressive. I’m absolutely obsessed with the recent dortmunder lager they just released.
4.) In March we did a collaboration with Riverlands Brewing Company called Theoretical Light. It’s a very unique, easy-drinking blonde ale that uses a kviek yeast with fresh lime added in. It drinks more like a Mexican lager than it does your typical blonde ale. This may seem like a shameless plug, but it instantly became our No. 1 seller the week we brought it in. It went so well that we blew through 12 barrels way faster than we imagined. We’re ramping up to do another batch with them in July.
We did a collaboration with Riverlands called Theoretical Light. It’s a very unique, easy-drinking blonde ale that uses a kviek yeast with fresh lime added in. It drinks more like a Mexican lager than your typical blonde ale … and instantly became our No. 1 seller.
What are you looking forward to enjoying on draft this summer: I’m a huge Mexican lager fan. Most breweries are making their own version, and I pretty much guarantee you that any time I see one on draft, I’m going to try it. Goldfinger’s Chela Chido Mexican lager is a personal favorite.
Favorite beer bar: I’m a big, big fan of Maplewood‘s taproom in Chicago’s Logan Square. I love how small and intimate it is, and the libations are fantastic. Not only do they brew world-class beer, they also have a top-notch cocktail program using the spirits they distill in house. The spruce gin is a favorite of mine.
Secret beer spot: I have in-laws and family friends in Sarasota, Florida, so we’re down that way pretty frequently. In the heart of downtown Sarasota there’s a really cool bottle shop and taproom called 99 Bottles. The Florida beer scene is pretty dynamic, so there’s no shortage of cool stuff to try there.
Best brewery you’ve hit on vacation: My wife and I were in L.A. for a wedding a couple years ago, and we made a stop at The Propagator (Firestone Walker’s Venice location). It was a fabulous experience. They do a lot of R&D at that location, so there were a ton of limited, small-batch brews to choose from. The ambiance and vibe were great, the service was on point and the food was top notch.