September 27, 2016

Logan Square’s Newest Brewery has an Inviting Vibe and Beers to Match

When friends Stephen Bossu, Jonathan Fritz, and Samantha Lee opened Hopewell Brewing Company at 2760 N. Milwaukee Avenue in February of 2016, they intended to create a friendly and welcoming environment in their taproom with accessible beers to match that vibe.

“We have a pretty specific vision [for] all of our beers,” says Fritz. “We like beer to be inviting.”

Five of Hopewell’s ten taps are dedicated to the brewery’s core lineup: First Lager, Endgrain Lager, Farm and Family Saison, Swift IPA, and 24:37 Red IPA. The remaining five taps are reserved for specialty beers, such as seasonal offerings like Field Day, and inventive beers, including Off-Black Pils, a black pilsner.

When the team brainstorms about new beers, Bossu, the head brewer, jokes that there is “lots of yelling and conflict.” According to Lee, “We really look at our lineup and see [where there is a] hole.” “Designing a new recipe generally [involves] the three of us talking about ideas for the future,” continues Fritz. “Stephen will be the one to go in and execute the recipe. He will take in what we talked about, what we like about certain styles, and what we want out of it.”

The look and feel of the taproom are the result of a similar collaborative process. The interior is clean, open, and inviting, just like the beer. Hopewell’s bright space features white walls and oak tables. Board and card games are available to patrons.

The taproom is not just a place to enjoy a beer. The space doubles as an event space for weddings, birthday parties and special events—even a Magic: The Gathering tournament was once held in the taproom. Once a month, Hopewell offers a monthly class called “Beer Study.” The class covers all aspects of beer, from malt to fermentation. It meets in the taproom so that attendees can be among the tanks and brewing equipment.

Hopewell’s owners have enjoyed the positive feelings generated by their patrons. “I think what’s been most fun, I think for all of us, is seeing people make the space their own,” says Bossu. “People stick around here for hours. Ordering pizza, playing their games. They bring their dog and their baby in a stroller. It’s pretty astounding,” observes Lee.

So where do Hopewell’s owners like to go in Logan Square? “We love Longman and Eagle,” says Fritz. “Fat Rice and the Fat Rice Bakery,” Bossu chimes in. “The farmer’s market is awesome,” adds Lee. “Rocking Horse and Crown [Liquors],” says Fritz. “I go there on a regular basis. That’s the great thing about Milwaukee Avenue. There’s a shift from being just beer bars that have beer, to every bar has a great craft selection.”

On the whole, they believe that residents of Logan Square value small businesses, and generally prefer the local coffee shop to a national chain, just as they choose a local beer over a national, mainstream brand. “I know we enjoy plurality in life,” says Bossu. “It’s a fun challenge to keep it that way with everything we make too.” 

In Chicago, our homes extend beyond the walls of our apartments and into the neighborhoods where we live. Through conversations with local business owners, this series explores the institutions that give each neighborhood its unique character with the goal of helping renters find a place that feels like home.​

Ben Kramer is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. He has written primarily about beer and alcohol for the ChicagoistRedEye, and Newcity. When not writing, he’s either busy being a barista or listening to Marvin Gaye.

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