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Demo Brewing Opens Up in Chicago’s Malt Row

Demo Brewing Opens Up in Chicago’s Malt Row
Emma Wargolet

For any beer nerd that is visiting Chicago, the Ravenswood/Andersonville area is an obvious choice; you are within walking distance to Hop Butcher for the World, Dovetail, Half Acre and more. You would think that there are maybe enough breweries for us. That would not be the case. This area is always looking to add another locally owned business, and when it’s a brewery, everyone is even more excited. After the loss of both Empirical Brewery and Urban Brew Labs in 2022, Demo Brewing Company is a great addition to the community.

Owners Lucas Irvine and Jeff Borders have been working toward opening the newest taproom to join the Ravenswood ranks for over five years now, with Borders having homebrewed for the past ten years. They purchased their 7BBL production equipment at the end of 2019, but with the pandemic, taproom plans were put on hold for a while. After finding the perfect space in mid-2021, they have spent the last couple of years renovating the space and getting it ready for beer lovers to come and enjoy their brews.

Photo courtesy of Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The concept behind Demo Brewing stems from wanting to constantly experiment with their recipes and the beers they are making. While neither Irvine nor Borders had worked at a brewery previously, they certainly have a deep love of breweries and craft beer. Not wanting to be pigeon-holed into a specific type of style, the pilot system allows them to have a lot of creativity in their beers (though a pumpkin beer will never cross the threshold of Demo, something I was happy to hear). Irvine and Borders focused on the ability to pilot multiple recipes without losing a lot of capital on something that could be improved.

The first batch (or second, or third) is done in their one barrel, where they can test it and have a short run of it available at the taproom. This allows them to get feedback from not only the Demo team, but from their customers as well. After making tweaks, they can brew another batch in the one barrel, or when the recipe is ready to be moved to higher production, they have their five-barrel ready to go.

Photo courtesy of Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The breweries in this neighborhood are pretty well-established, so you don’t get to see a lot of this type of testing going on directly in the taproom. Personally, I am very excited to try out different beers from them each time I go in, and that will definitely be a big draw for those in the neighborhood as well. While the focus has been testing out beers and getting the taproom ready, Irvine and Borders are excited to see what is to come, especially in the summer. And with one beer on tap called “Porch Drinkin’”, you know we’ll be there with bells on!

Demo Brewing is opening on Friday, March 29 from 4pm-10pm. At the time of publication, they’ll be open Tuesdays-Fridays from 4pm-10pm and on Saturdays from noon to 10pm. Be sure to check them out on Instagram and stay up to date on their ever-evolving menu!

Featured image courtesy of Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

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