Moody Tongue Brewing offers the finer side of beer tasting in the South Loop

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago brewery's recent move from Pilsen to the South Loop has not only beer fans excited, but also serious food lovers.

That's because Moody Tongue Brewing took over a massive space near McCormick Place, offering both a bar menu and a more formal dining room, and in both cases, they've released a slew of new styles of beer, all of which are designed specifically to go with food.

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ABC7's Hungry Hound takes a look at two of the desserts available at Moody Tongue, including the most decadent chocolate layer cake in the city.

A delicate piece of Maine lobster is set over chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard, while tiny bits of Asian pear and butternut squash add crunch, as a deeply rich consomme is spooned over the top. Finally, some black Perigord truffle is shaved over it for earthiness. This is about as far from bar food as you can get. But when the team from Moody Tongue moved into the former Baderbrau space, tucked between Chinatown and McCormick Place, they had an opportunity to get really creative.

"I've always wanted to pair beer with food, and working with Chef Jared allows me to do so on the fine-dining side and also on the bar side too," Brewmaster and Owner Jared Rouben said.

Rouben is talking about Jared Wentworth, a journeyman of several local restaurants. To go with that chawanmushi, Rouben pairs a pressed Asian pear saison; the juice came from an orchard in Winslow; it was fermented a year in chardonnay barrels.

"When I build beer recipes, it's the exact same way we build food recipes. You layer flavors, using the best possible ingredients, and then highlight aromatic taste and flavor," Rouben said.

Another dish from the dining room includes King Crab with Chinese noodles, peanuts, scallions and XO sauce. The pairing might be a sour watermelon saison in that case. The dining room is a 12-course experience with beers to match each one of them. But in the more casual bar area, you've got about 16 beers to choose from, and a menu that tries a lot harder than wings and fried Brussels sprouts. Consider the beet tartar, capped with pine-infused ricotta, speckled with dollops of egg yolk jam, mustard seeds and edible flowers. To pair with this dish, Rouben recommends a cold-pressed paw paw pale ale.

"Paw paws are one of the few indigenous ingredients you can get in America. We get ours from Oriana's Orchard out in Winslow Illinois, and it gives the aromatics of mango and pineapple, which pair really well with the beet dish because it provides additional sugar and then a little tropical fruit note. We also have the aperitif pilsner served in a frozen mug, which pairs really well with the burger," he said.

That's not just any burger, but a Slagel Farm beauty, topped with pimento cheese and served with beef fat fries. And forget fish tacos or fish sticks, here, Wentworth opts for pan-seared striped bass. It's set over a bed of leeks, potatoes and salsify, a cousin to the parsnip, and served with cockles, a bivalve that resemble clams.
"We also have the steeped Emperor's Lemon Saison with the striped bass, and that beer was designed for every time you have a seafood dish, you're slicing lemon, you're squeezing it right on top of it," Rouben said.
So if you come to sit on the side of Moody Tongue in the bar, you can get 16 types of beer; that's completely separate from the tasting room, where you have a 12-course meal, with 13 different beers.

Moody Tongue Brewing
2515 S. Wabash Ave.
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