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Review: Revolution Brewing

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 19, 2010 4:00PM

A rising tide floats all boats: our classical music correspondent Alex Hough asked me the other day if there was any rhyme or reason behind all the recent brewery and brewpub openings, or if it was just a coincidence. I allowed that it was a bit of both. Craft beer sales increased last year by 7.2 percent in volume and 10.3 percent in sales dollars. While Chicago has lagged in other areas of the country as a craft beer community, the learning curve for consumers has been fast and they've coalesced around the new openings. It doesn't hurt that the established breweries and brewpubs in the area produce an overall high quality product.

For Revolution Brewing owner Josh Deth, this was the perfect storm that awaited him as the highly anticipated Logan Square brewpub opened last month. The crowds — a mixture of hipster chic, burly and surly hop heads, and folks always looking for the new hot opening — were five deep around Revolution's gorgeous round bar on opening night, and the crowds haven't subsided. Over 500 people have become Revolution "Members of the Party," hauling the beer out in growlers faster than brewer Jim Cibak can brew it, allowing Deth to fast track Revolution's growler program and announce that construction on a second-floor meeting space is slated for completion by year's end.

Revolution's brews offer something for everyone, matching the populist theme of the brewery. For the novice beer drinker or session beer enthusiast there's the 3.5 percent Workingman Mild or the Bottom's Up Wit that floored guests at Hot Chocolate's 5th anniversary dinner last month when paired with Paul Virant's cooking. Beer drinkers weaned on the "hoppier is better" aesthetic of Beer Advocate won't get their fill of the Iron Fist Pale or Anti-Hero IPA. Belgian-style advocates can embrace the Cross of Gold Ale. Extreme stout enthusiasts have Black Power oatmeal stout. There's not a bad beer in the bunch and the addition yesterday of a saison dry-hopped with liberal amounts of Spalt hops called Coup D'Etat only strengthens a solid beer menu.

I wished the same could be said for the food. With all that drinking, there's got to be some eating to balance the scales. Give credit to Deth and chef de cuisine Jason Petrie for not attempting some ill-fitting, high concept marriage of food and beer, like Goose Island's short but incomplete John Manion experiment. But Petrie's execution of Revolution's simple pub grub menu doesn't match the conception. Burgers are super-sized and topped with left field additions like pulled pork in a time when places like Edzo's and DMK Burger Bar are earning raves for their simplicity. Pizzas have an imbalance: crispy on the outside and too much toppings near the center. The charcuterie plate could use some tweaking from the Ruhlman ratio method. Drowning them in truffle oil, with its strong flavor masking the flavor of the cuts and sausages, defeats the purpose of curing meat. "Bacon fat popcorn" is nothing more than popcorn topped with torn chunks of bacon, crispy sage and Parmesan. What they do get right they get right well, like sweet potato cakes served with a ginger infused yogurt that pairs well with both the Workingman and Anti-Hero IPA.

It would be easy to brush off the inconsistency in the food with the rush of crowds Revolution has had since they opened, but I've visited Revolution during peak and non-peak hours for this review and found the same problems with the menu throughout. The food at Revolution is still slightly better than at other local brewpubs, aside from Piece. Here's hoping they're merely working through the initial jitters.

Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-227-2739. Open 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. 7 days a week.