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Haymarket Brewery’s Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale to be sold in cans

In March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the city, craft beer makers Jay Westbrook and Sam Ross created one of Haymarket Brewing’s best-selling beers.

Sam Ross (left) and Jay Westbrook (right) enjoy a Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale at Haymarket Brewing in 2020.
Sam Ross (left) and Jay Westbrook (right) enjoy a Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale at Haymarket Brewing in 2020.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

A Haymarket Brewery beverage named after the year Chicago elected its first Black mayor, Harold Washington will be available in cans as soon as next week.

Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale, a draft beer consisting of Zuper Saazer hops, Vienna malt and clover honey, made its debut in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic becoming one of Haymarket’s best-selling beers.

Starting next Monday, expect to see the popular beer at Blue Island’s Rock Island Public House and Wrigleyville’s Nisei Lounge, and on the shelves of the Black-owned liquor stores Hyde Park’s Kimbark Beverage Shoppe and Chatham’s D&J Liquors.

Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale will soon be available in cans.
Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale will soon be available in cans.
John Airo

The beer’s iteration will continue to be served on tap at Haymarket (cases for sale on Feb. 9), and also at “Harold’s #88 Chicken Meets Beer” South Loop location (1450 S. Michigan Ave), where cases will available for Super Bowl LV weekend.

The magnitude of expanding the options of getting a beer created by two Black men — during Black History Month — isn’t lost on Harold’s ‘83 co-founder Jay Westbrook.

“This is legitimate Black history,” said Westbrook. “To take a step back and look at it from the outside, and realize the scope and the magnitude of what we’re attempting to do — what we’ve done already. I’m grateful and I’m blessed, but how the hell did this happen in a year? During a pandemic.”

The can’s image design is a collaboration between Westbrook and graphic designer Sarah VonderHaar, while the artwork was created by frequent Haymarket can designer, artist John Airo.

“I’m not artistically inclined at all; I can barely draw a stick figure,” said Westbrook. “[Airo] came to me with four different sketches and the one that’s on the can. I said: ‘This is an absolute home run.’ This is exactly what I wanted the can to look like, and he was able to knock it out.”

The back of the Harold’s ‘83 Honey Ale beer can features an inspiring message.
The back of the Harold’s ‘83 Honey Ale beer can features an inspiring message.
Sarah VonderHaar and Jay Westbrook

Since Harold’s ‘83 initial launch, Westbrook, and business partner, Sam Ross, he says, aim to remain steadfast in their pursuit to create spaces for Black people who want to enter the craft beer industry — an area dominated by affluent white people.

“I’ve gotten correspondence from people; it’s not just the booze industry,” said Westbrook. “To hear your story, and hear that you basically came from nothing with all the know how, but none of the experience, to your name on the side of a beer can the first time out.

“To know I’m supplying inspiration and motivation to people outside of the scope of the alcohol and hospitality industry, the sense of pride that gives me is insane.”