Along Chicago’s youthful northwest Lincoln Park section, brown-wood-paneled gastropub, ATLAS BREWING COMPANY, opened in June 2012. Brotherly brewers’ John and Ben Saller took the Atlas moniker from a pre-prohibition brewery specializing in diverse ales.
Competing with established local competitors such as Revolution and Piece, this laid-back modern Industrial lounge features one large community table, several booths, overhead Edison bulb lighting and black tin tiling. Glass-encased stainless steel brew tanks at the rear hold the soft-toned liquid gold soon to be consumed. And at the 15-stool right side bar, glass mosaic-tiled tap handles serve the nine hand-crafted brews to be had on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, July ’14.
Since the eight-tabled front deck is completely full, my small coterie decides to sit inside at a booth to quaff a few five-ounce samplers. Alongside the lightest fare, I munched on the outstanding cheese-sauced mussels and duck confit. Though diacetyl buttering disrupted corn-malted perfume-hopped Prager Pilsner, moderate flagship offering, Diversey Pale Ale brought decisive IPA-like fruiting (yellow grapefruit, orange rind, pineapple and mango) plus floral-perfumed hop bittering to bark-dried wood tones.
Belgian saison yeast spiced up yellow-fruited Farmhouse Wheat Ale, a light-bodied nicety gathering lemony Bartlett pear, banana, plantain, grapefruit and pineapple briskness for its sweet lychee-spiked wheat base. In a similar vein, mild tropical-fruited Two-Headed Boy Belgian Pale Wheat covered its sugary bubblegum yeast with dry-hopped grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering.
A limited edition collaboration with nearby Une Annee Brewery, Raspberry Brown Saison, brought sweet ‘n sour raspberry tartness to zesty lemon, oaken cherry and vinous grape notions, finishing dry (with a nutty quirk).
More adventurous fare included Americanized Belgian pale ale, Archaeopteryx Dreamcoat, a ‘juicy citra-hopped’ moderation with yellow and pink grapefruit tartness, lemon rot souring, green apple pucker and advertised orange-blossomed blueberry subtleties. Just as pleasurably hybridized, floral-bound Rookery Rye IPA used grapefruit and gooseberry flavors to advance its rye-dried multi-grain breaded appeal.
On the dark side, chocolate-sugared Invincible Armor Robust Porter possessed a smooth dark-roasted mocha malting and dried cherry tang while lightly creamed Freight Handler Milk Stout plied smoked black chocolate to lactic cocoa-dried Baker’s chocolate and cacao nibs snips.