Lakeview is getting a new spot next month to try local craft beer. It's called Bitter Pops, and it's a beer store with a 900-square-foot tasting room that seats about 40 at 3345 N. Lincoln Ave. But the owners don't consider their new project a bar, a place to pound beers. They see it as a place for meetings or a space for brewers to connect with their customers and savor beer samples.
Owner Michael Jordnt grew up in Northbrook, and originally used the name "Bitter Pops" as the title for a blog he wrote while exiled in Arkansas for two years from about 2009 to 2011. They'll have eight taps inside the tasting room, and won't serve hard liquor — at least at first. Eventually they might serve cocktails, as Jordnt wants to support local distilleries in the same manner he hopes to represent local beer makers.
He doesn't want the space to be pretentious, and while not a huge fan of the American macro-breweries —like Bud and Miller— he'll find room for them. "Being as close to Wrigley as we are, and knowing that folks are hanging out on their back porches, and they're entertaining folks who may or may not be craft beer people, we don't want to be in the way of what they're putting together for the afternoon or evening," Jordnt said.
Besides the taps, they'll have a rotating selection of 20 bottles and cans to drink onsite. There's no food, but they'll encourage customers to bring food in from restaurants. Much like Beermiscuous over in Lincoln Park, Bitter Pops will allow customers to drink selected beer purchased in the retail space. There's also a beer cellar for vintage beer lovers. Jordnt sees his customers as folks having an after-work beer, craft beer enthusiasts and business meetings for two to four people. They'll also host beer events, hopefully connecting local brewers with their adoring public.
Jordnt is particularly proud of how his tasting room will serve beer. There's two sizes: A 16-ounce mini-growler/pitcher or a 5-ounce glass. The smaller size is a no-brainer; they want customers to have the chance to sample a variety of beer. The 16-ounce size is a bit more of a novelty. Instead of sharing beer from the same glass with friends, the smaller pitcher allows friends to pour beer and share. The pitcher will also help simulate that hoppy, aromatic taste from a drinker's first sip coming off of a tap.
While the eight taps will focus on beer, there's room for ciders, too. The grand opening is scheduled for April 15, but keep an eye out for a soft opening "when we're ready," said Jordnt. His time spent in Seattle and San Diego convinced Jordnt that he wanted to work in the beer industry, but he wasn't sure how. After being away from Chicago for 20 years, he returned to see how much the city embraced craft beer, and then developed his plan for Bitter Pops. He wants Bitter Pops to marry the tradition of European beer with the revolution started by American craft breweries. Beer nerds will have to wait until next month see if he can accomplish that goal.