For the past 10 months, the tanks that Open Outcry Brewing Co.’s John Brand will fill with beer have sat dormant in a garage. But soon, hopefully Memorial Day Weekend, Brand will open his new brewpub serving both Morgan Park and Beverly inside the former O’Brien’s Pub at 10934 S. Western Ave.
Brand has been busy developing relationships with the community, and that includes Horse Thief Hollow Brewery, located less than a mile north from Open Outcry. When Brand first came up with the idea for his brewpub, he approached Horse Thief Hollow’s Neil Byers. He didn’t want to compete with him and Brand wanted Open Outcry to complement the established brewery.
“I didn’t want to be the jerk perceived as worming into somebody else’s territory,” Brand said.
An avid home brewer, Brand didn’t want to ask for Horse Thief’s permission, but he did want to foster a rapport, and he did. As Horse Thief Hollow’s business grew, they needed larger tanks. That provided Open Outcry with a chance to buy Horse Thief Hollow’s old tanks. Brand is borrowing Hollow Thief’s forklift to move the brewing system next week.
The tanks will be more important for Open Outcry compared to other brewpubs. They sit behind the bar and they’ve installed faucets on six of them—Brand calls them “goosenecks”—so bartenders can directly pour beer in glass without a line. Not only does this provide the freshest beer possible, but it also decreases the chance of contamination. Bacteria have a nasty habit of infesting beer lines. Brand said they’ll provide a taste that’s cleaner. These “goosenecks” have been used at other breweries, but Brand doesn’t know of any in the Chicago area. Brand doesn’t want his brewery to be beholden to a single style of beer: “We’ll brew everything in between,” he said, although he’s fond of a cream ale that’s been perfecting for years. The taps—12 in all—will rotate with a focus on seasonality.
As a homebrewer, Brand didn’t know much about running a restaurant, but that’s changing. While O’Briens was a traditional South Side Irish bar, Open Outcry is more modern. Before closing the space for renovations after purchasing the space, Brand took over the bar and ran it so he could solicit feedback from regulars. Their No. 1 desire? They wanted more food. That led Brand to hire Cesar Lopez, a chef who worked at Fuller House in suburban Hinsdale. Lopez’s menu will center around Neapolitan pies from a wood-fired pizza oven. They’ll also have salads, sliders and other sandwiches. They plan on serving lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Brand, a South Side native, is excited about the 19th Ward where Open Outcry stands. Along with Horse Thief Hollow, he’s eager to the ranks of bars including join Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery, Cork and Kerry, and Barney Callahan’s Pub. He wants his 4,000-square-foot space, with room for 110, to showcase Beverly.
“What I’ve seen is that if you invest in the neighborhood, locals are fiercely loyal to those businesses,” Brand said.
The opening has been delayed some, but Memorial Day is on May 29. If everything holds true, that means Open Outcry is at least a month a way from opening. Come back for more information in the coming weeks.