Chicago’s brewing industry is now bursting at the seams. There are nanos, micros, and production breweries opening up in almost every neighborhood, and the suburbs are experiencing their own boon as prospective brewers look for the spaces that fit the perfect balance between low overhead and access to market. But in the early days, getting a craft brewery up and running in Chicago was still a pretty crazy idea. And no one knows that time period better than Tracy Hurst of Metropolitan Brewing.
Her and Doug Hurst, the brewmaster, started a lager-based brewery in Chicago in 2008, long before most of the bars, let alone the breweries you love were even conceived. But perhaps the most important part of the Metropolitan legacy is their role in helping other brewers start up around them. In Chicago, most of the brewers I know have Tracy’s number in their favorites list, and solve their technical and business problems one text message at a time. Her and Doug have seen it all in their day, and mostly had to figure it out themselves. And they pass on that knowledge on to everyone that comes through their door.
Chicago brewers always love to talk about how collaborative and helpful the brewing scene is here. But I’d wager that it wouldn’t be that way at all if these two hadn’t set the tone from day one.