Review: Driehaus Prost! Beer Culture and Chicago’s German Immigrants

Cover image: Metropolitan Brewery at the Driehause © Spirikal for WhereNYC

“It’s more fun to look at history through a lens of alcohol,” Liz Garibay, found of the Chicago Brewseum said raising her beer bottle to the audience.

Beer lecture and tasting at the Driehaus Museum © Spirikal for WhereNYC

We’re at the Driehaus Museum in River North for a lecture with Liz and Doug Hurst of local based- Metropolitan Brewery on the beer legacy of the German immigrants in Chicago. Their introduction of cold, crisp lagers and pilsners forever changed the industry.

For those unfamiliar with the Driehaus mansion on Erie and Wabash, its history dates back to the 19th century and is one of Chicago’s best museums devoted to exhibits revolving around the Victorian, Edwardian and Gilded ages.

The history of Chicago is “rooted in beer” explains Hurst. And the brewing industry dates back to the 1830s when Chicago was a fledgling township. There were only three main bars that stood by the forks of the Chicago River, and everyone drank British-style porters and ales.

The city of Chicago began to take shape. Waves of immigrants from Europe and elsewhere arrived including the Germans, among whom opened Chicago’s first brewery.  In the beginning, they produced mainly British ales, but by the 1840s, the demand for refreshing lagers grew as more Germans arrived.

Beer gardens began to spring up and cold lagers overtook the room temperature ales and porters. Chicago would even eventually open its first brewery school in 1872, a year after the Chicago Fire.

Pretzels, cheese et cured meats served for guests made a tantalizing display © Spirikal for WhereNYC

The city was seemingly on the cusp of a golden beer age with nearly 2,400 brewery projects. However, cruel backlash fueled by an unlikely alliance of the puritanical Temperance Movement and the anti-immigrant American, or “Know Nothing” Party, set forth to crush the brewing industry.  The city’s nationalist Mayor Levi Boone raised brewery licensing fees and restricted sales. The Germans along with other minority groups rioted.

Although Boone later lost in the next election, the beer industry never quite recovered because a series of setbacks. The second major blow was Prohibition. And even after 1933, the number of breweries continued to drop. The third, according to Hurst, was refrigeration and pasteurization, which the final coup de grâce to local  breweries as it became easier to transport cheaper, mass-produced beers from elsewhere. It wasn’t until the 1980s, when the craft beer revolution began with breweries such as Goose Island who introduced big, bold flavors.

As Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery once said, “Craft Beer is truth.” And more and more artisanal breweries began to surface, driven by a passion for genuine flavors. Today, there are 86 breweries in city, over a hundred in the Chicagoland area. While some have unfairly targeted lager as the watered-down enemy, Metropolitan Brewery has brought back robust German style beer with its Kölsch-style Krankshaft and Magnetron – an unusual dark lager.

While some Chicago breweries such Half Acre have gone the IPA route, Metropolitan has chosen to resurrect the city’s Germanic roots. And the region’s beer makers owe a lot to the German immigrant community. As Hurst put it, “Whenever you drink a Chicago beer, realize you’re drinking a lot of history.”

Visit the Chicago Brewmuseum exhibition at the Field Museum through January 5, 2020.

Don’t miss Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare’s upcoming exhibit at the Driehaus Museum, which opens March 2nd through September 29th, 2019.

Review: Arran Whisky Burn Nights Event

Whiskey is water from the gods! So good, so tasty. I’m always trying to broaden my horizons with whiskey since I’ve acquired a taste for it over the past two years.  A new one came past my desk recently, Arran Whisky. I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to their Burns Night Event.

Bagpiper © Alyssa Tognetti for WHERENYC

Upon my arrival at Scottish gastro-pub Highlands NYC, I knew this would be fun. From the tartan lampshades to the buck head trophies on the walls.  I sat a long table with some of the most sought-after NYC spirit writers and bloggers with an array of beautiful brown whiskys. We were greeted with Rabbie Burns cocktail and appetizers of blood sausages, Eventually, our Scottish brand ambassador David Ferguson explained the whiskeys to us. One by one, we sipped their single malt, 10 year old malt, 21 year old malt, and machrie moor. Each whisky had their own distinct flavor from being spicy to peety. After the tasting was over, we had a traditional bagpiper play in front of us. It was so amazing to have him play familiar Scottish tunes in such an intimate space.

A welcomed  apéritif  © Alyssa Tognetti for WHERENYC

Then the owner of the Highlands NYC, took out the much-anticipated haggis. Yes, haggis, a traditional burn night’s dish. Everyone received a small piece of haggis with mashed potatoes and turnip. I actually, really enjoyed it, despite the bad rap on this side of the Atlantic.

Haggis © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

We enjoyed our food and our drams. If you are looking for fine scotch, Arran Whiskey is a definite must on your shopping list.

Review: Caravan Studio at the Gregory Hotel

On December 13th, I entered the Gregory Hotel searching for the Caravan Studio. After the kind concierge showed me the tucked away entrance, I knew this would be an experience of a lifetime.  Up the windy stairs, I found a secret salon known as Caravan Style Studios, a place that VIP’s and celebrities know fondly about. Cutely decorated, I found myself looking at La Hive beautiful collection of couture and eying their wall of air plants (my fave).

The Coffee Table Books (c) Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

As I sat in the chair to get my hair did, I spoke to the stylist about cosmetics I reviewed and some of my favorite products, and not to mention how people mess up a good ole fashioned cocktail. As we spoke, she curled my hair so wildly that it reminded me of my senior prom, but now at this age, I had more appreciation for. I wore my hair wildly and fierce. After I got out of the chair, I tried one of LaHive’s beautiful white dresses that made the look.

My gorgeous hair (c) Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Caravan Studio is open select time of the year and for VIP’s. The products they carry are the Gregory Hotel..  If you have a chance to get your hair and makeup done there, it’s truly magical. They partner with Sheree Cosmetics, Will Lane, LAHIVE and KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE to totally give your do the complete look. Plus, having a can of rosé during your appointment never hurts…

If you ever have a chance to get your hair or makeup done by Caravan Studio, I highly recommend. You’ll remember it from years to come.