The Maxwell Street Polish sausage is underrated in the world of encased meats, habitually living in the shadow of the Chicago-style hot dog. Marz Community Brewing hopes to put more of the spotlight on the iconic Chicago, having brewed a special beer to pair with the Polish. Maxwell Street Lager will make a special appearance on Sunday, August 4 at the market as part of a family-focused event thrown by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
The event’s called the Big Deal and will feature music, exhibitions and more from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market dates back to the mid-19th Century and is an integral part of the city’s history. Some locals know it for street eats like tacos and Polishes. Others may know the market for its importance as the birthplace of Chicago blues music. It’s currently located at 800 S. Desplaines Street. Marz brewery founder Ed Marszewski noted at one time it was the largest open-air market in the world.
“Maxwell has been a hub for small businesses and entrepreneurs, regular old flea market vendors, amateur collectors of things and historically some nefarious dealers of mysterious goods for over a century,” Marszewski texted. “It was the first business incubator I can think of. Maxwell also was a birthplace for blues musicians in Chicago. Their free performances amongst the hustle and bustle of the market remains one of my fondest memories.”
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The beer’s not made with meat. It’s a lager brewed with Grüngeist, the American-grown version of Callista, a German hop. Marszewski said it tastes dry and refreshing, like a “beautiful summer day,” and the hops and pilsner malts go well with the market’s street food. The bottle label features art from Jeff Zimmermann. He’s known for his Chicago-style hot dog paintings.
For the those who don’t know, a Maxwell Street Polish is a grilled or fried Polish sausage variant that’s scored and served with grilled onions and sport peppers.
This isn’t the first time alcohol has been available at the market. A city spokesperson said the market sold beer a few years ago for an opening day promotion. Alternatively, if fans aren’t free on August 4, they can also try the beer at Marz’s Bridgeport brewpub where it’s available now.