New cider brewery bubbles up in Old Irving Park

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago has seen an explosion in the number of breweries opening up recently. There are now several dozen in the city alone.

One of the latest focuses on cider production. The Hungry Hound visited the brewery at its beautifully restored building on the city's Northwest Side.

Hayley Shine spends a lot of her time in a basement blending different varieties of apple juice that have been combined with brewer's yeast to create lean, crisp, dry ciders. As Head Brewer and Cidermaker at Eris Brewery, in a restored church in Old Irving Park, she is charged with creating a half dozen beers and a half dozen ciders.

"There's a little fine art of blending in cider making. It's wine-making essentially," Shine said. "We receive a tanker of juice, ferment it."

But a brewer must make multiple decisions along the way, beginning with what type of yeast to use.

"Champagne yeast. It ferments all the way dry, then from the base dry cider I create blends to produce different products," she said.

Shine showed off her downstairs office, which is divided pretty intentionally between beer and cider. She showed off a sample from one tank of the latter.

"So Van Van Mojo is a blueberry mosaic dry-hopped cider," she said.

The Van Van Mojo is a result of blending; in this case, blueberry puree that's been measured then added in small amounts. The result is easy to see in the glass, as is the "blush," which contains both dark cherries as well as tart, sweet ones.

"This is a beautiful cider," she said.

The straightforward "Pedestrian" is a great entrypoint for a newcomer.

"The nice thing about being in a pub like this is being able to blend really small batches and see what people like and just to create small batch blends," Shine said. "I hope to experiment with other apples and other yeast strains in the future, maybe some barrel aging, but for now just creating different modern cider blends."

Eris started with a half dozen ciders on tap and a half dozen beers on tap, but since they're able to do such small-batch brewing, chances are pretty good you're going to see new flavors in and out almost every week. Cheers to that.

In Steve's "Extra Course" video, he takes a look at two of the brewery's IPAs they're currently brewing.

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In Steve?s ?Extra Course? video, he takes a look at two of the brewery?s IPAs they?re currently brewing.

4240 W. Irving Park Rd.
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