Illinois Brewing Insider: Timothy Ficken from Midwest Coast Brewing on the lagers and hefeweizens and Dovetail and Metropolitan, the return of his own Friendsgiving spiced strong ale, and hidden gem bars like Tuman’s Tap
Brewery manager at Midwest Coast Brewing in Chicago’s West Loop
Favorite breweries: The first one I always think of is Hopewell. Everything they do is just awesome. Little Buddy is great, Ride or Die, their First Pils too.
I love going to Metropolitan as far as taproom and outdoor spaces on the Chicago River are concerned. Their good ol’ German lagers are great. I really like the Solemn Oath off the beaten path on Armitage in Chicago’s Logan Square. It’s a really cool spot, and my girlfriend likes their seltzers. We brought our dog there a few times, which is cool. Every time I go there I want to try something different, but I end up drinking their Lü (kolsch-style ale).
Drinking tendencies: First and foremost, I kind of lean amber to brown depending on the country of origin. That’s the area I find myself most of the time. I would drink fall beers year round if I could. We like to keep our Oktoberfest on tap through October on purpose. I love a good German pilsner and dunkel, but you just don’t see them around as much.
Recent beers that have caught your eye: I had Alter Brewing’s Alterado Mexican lager during the Craft Brewers Guild golf outing, and it goes down really well, especially in the summer.
I’m excited to see a couple new canned options from us, including Peremoha, which is our award winning Ukrainian golden ale, and Shiloh Rae, our triple IPA made with wildflower honey.
What are you looking forward to enjoying on draft this fall: I’m looking forward to all of the Oktoberfests and Festbiers, followed by any new ambers or brown ales that may hit the market. I’m excited to see a couple new canned options from us, including Peremoha, which is our award winning Ukrainian golden ale, and Shiloh Rae, our triple IPA made with wildflower honey. We also have the limited-time return of Friendsgiving, our strong ale spiced with orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg.
As for other breweries, Great Central Brewing Company here in the West Loop and Dovetail in Lakeview make some seriously good hefeweizens. Dovetail and Metropolitan are hard for me to go to because I want to try everything on the menu.
Favorite beer bar in Illinois: I’d have to say Tuman’s Tap in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. They have a great draft and whiskey list. It’s a great corner bar where you’re not sure what to expect when you walk in the first time, but everything on the menu is awesome. Been around forever too. A lot of people know it if you’ve lived in the area, but if you’re not from around here, you’ve probably never heard of it.
Secret beer spot: I really like The Charleston (in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood). They have a smaller tap list, but always something that will catch your eye. It’s a hole in the wall, cool little neighborhood bar with some great craft options rotating in and out.
Best brewery you’ve hit on vacation: I really like Green Man Brewery down in Asheville. They have a really good ESB there, and their barrel-aged program is solid too. I’ve been to Asheville a few times now, and it’s a must stop for me.