Breweries in Chicago have become a neighborhood fixture now that they're ubiquitous, a focal point for your evening, or a place to stop along the way. That's exactly how I stumbled back upon Vice District Brewing's South Loop taproom. I knew of the brewery, had seen the names around, and even noticed recently that one of the founders took dabbling in politics to a new level, by winning the primary for the 25th district's state representative. It made sense to step out of my car and realize they were two blocks from the evening's activities. Time permitted a stop, and though some confusion
seemed to hang over the taproom, I found myself with a rather enjoyable pint of Vice District's Habitual Black IPA, a style that combines my former hop-head status (2004 - 2011) with my love of things roasted malt.
Black IPA, American Black Ale, or also Cascadian Dark Ale, combines the smooth roast character of debittered black malt with the hop levels of a traditional IPA. Some other malts, often chocolate, vienna, munich, or caramel malts, round out the bill. The trick is using enough of the darker malts to indeed make a black beer, but with the heavy lifting being done by the debittered black. That keeps the astringency and roast character from overwhelming and clashing with the hops. Habitual, a year-round offering, hits all those notes for me, with fresh pine, citrus, and even some hints of spice, floating over a smooth mocaccino body. The head lingered beautifully and expressively, and pulled me back into my glass. Easy beer to savor and enjoy and dwell on, but just as easy to quaff a few if you're into hops and darker malts.
This happened to be the only Vice District beer still on tap at 6pm on a Friday, so I must have caught them at an odd time, between kegs being tapped, etc.
Taproom Info for Vice District:
(312) 291 - 9022
Tues-Thurs: 4PM-11PM Friday: 4PM-1AM Saturday: 2PM-1AM Sunday: 2PM-9PM