The Grid: A ‘family-centric’ atmosphere at Open Outcry Brewing Co.

SHARE The Grid: A ‘family-centric’ atmosphere at Open Outcry Brewing Co.
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On a stretch of Western Avenue between Morgan Park and Beverly, one stylish, contemporary storefront sticks out from the older, weathered buildings.

Open Outcry Brewing Co.’s exterior gives off a modern vibe with floor-to-ceiling glass panes accented with reclaimed wood and a matching glass garage door that rolls open in warmer weather for an instant al fresco vibe.

Inside, a food-truck-shaped order counter, a large communal table, smaller private tables and barstools evoke a casual ambiance in a minimalist, warehouse-style setting.

The food counter at Open Outcry Brewing Co. | Ji Suk Yi/Sun-Times

The food counter at Open Outcry Brewing Co. | Ji Suk Yi/Sun-Times

Since summer of 2017, Open Outcry has been a welcome addition for residents who have seen a throng of new businesses that make it easier to shop, dine and imbibe without traveling too far.

“I wanted to [open] in this neighborhood, because I live here,” Open Outcry’s owner John Brand said. “This is where I raise my kids. I love this community and I love my neighbors. It’s a very family-centric neighborhood, so we designed this place in mind of serving our community, which is mainly families.”

Brand’s interest in home-brewing piqued nearly 14 years ago when his wife presented him with a gift certificate to a class. His hobby soon grew into a passion, prompting Brand to leave his job in the futures market and open the microbrewery.

The name of the establishment pays tribute to Brand’s former day job: Open Outcry refers to a method of communication on the trading floor of stock and futures exchanges.

The beer names also refer back to Brand’s old gig. An American porter is called “Paper Trade Porter;” a black IPA, “Bitcoin.”

Open Outcry carries between 8 to 12 different draughts, encompassing beer styles across the spectrum, in addition to select beers aged in Journeyman Distillery barrels. A notable favorite and best seller is the “Speculator” cream ale, a once near extinct style that originated before Prohibition to compete with lagers.

“The first thing that people notice when they order a beer here is that the bartender will pour the beer right off the tank,” Brand said. In order to make this work, Brand had to work with a designer fabricator commissioning specialized faucets and chilling systems for the brite tanks.

The holding tanks of beer directly behind the bar. | Ji Suk Yi/Sun-Times

The holding tanks of beer directly behind the bar. | Ji Suk Yi/Sun-Times

Open Outcry hired Will Turner as the head of brewery operations in late 2018. Turner has over 30 years experience as a brewer. Locally, he worked with Goose Island and most recently was the lead brewer at Revolution Brewing.

Chef Cesar Lopez has created a menu with a dozen Neapolitan-style pizzas prepared in a wood-fire pizza oven along with a variety of burgers, salads and appetizers. Best-selling pizzas include the Arugula & Prosciutto (with lemon dressing and fresh mozzarella), Sweet n’ Spicy (pepperoni with red pepper flakes and honey) and Chi Town (an ode to the Italian beef sandwich).

Ji Suk Yi at Open Outcry Brewing Co.. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Ji Suk Yi at Open Outcry Brewing Co.. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

On my latest visit, the brewery was packed with customers of all ages, singles and families. In addition to the sprawling space on the first floor, there is also a roof deck that’s even accessible in the winter with cozy heated dome-shaped tents.

Brand said the support from residents in a “throwback neighborhood that doesn’t really exist anymore” has been humbling.

It’s the type of neighborhood “where everyone knows each other, talks to each other and if your kid’s acting like a jerk, the neighbor down the street will grab him by the ear and bring him home…. Everyone gets along. It’s a great place,” Brand said.

Open Outcry staff also has a special camaraderie with the nearby brewpub Horse Thief Hollow and Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery.

The businesses get along so well, Open Outcry purchases honey from Greg Fischer’s meadery and bought six of its holding tanks from Neil Byers’ Horse Thief Hollow. In fact, the first beer brewing class (via the gift from his wife) Brand went to was taught by Fischer.

“We all help each other out,” Brand said.

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