About Us

We are craft beer geeks and bartenders who enjoy drinking and talking about beer. We want to share our joy and knowledge of beer as a way to promote the beers we love. Our goals are to give our audience a sense of what’s available in this ever-expandable market (we will certainly fail to cover every new brewery or beer) while providing information about beers so that people can decide for themselves what to drink.

We all met each other because of the Hopleaf. For some of us (Mark and Pitt), Hopleaf was our local bar during the mid and late 1990s. Mighty Slim has worked at the Hopleaf almost since it first opened its doors in 1992. Then came the new millenium, and with it an explosion in craft beer. By 2003-2004, Hopleaf needed more staff to deal with the ridiculous surge in customers; we answered the call and have been serving an ever-expanding menu of craft beer to our customers ever since.

And what an expansion it has been! From our vantage point behind the bar at Hopleaf, we have witnessed a seismic transformation in the craft beer industry. The customer demographic has shifted and grown dramatically over the past two decades. And the number of breweries and beers appearing on the scene has been overwhelming. We watched the Hopleaf evolve from a great neighborhood bar with a cutting-edge beer menu into a world-class craft beer venue and Chicago institution.

Here we are, in 2014. Chicago is experiencing its 4th (or is it 5th?) wave of emergent craft breweries. Some might consider this to be a passing fad, or a bubble reminiscent of the 1990s. Call it what you will, but I for one think that there is plenty of room in the Chicago market for new breweries and drinking establishments, so long as they are adding something qualitative and new to the existing beer scene. There's already a lot of good stuff out there, and even more to come over the next few years. Whether or not it lasts--I think that the truly good breweries will stick around--we are in the midst of great times for lovers of great beer.

Mark Bullock is a recovering academic who walked into the Hopleaf in July 1996 and entered a magical world of discovery. He started working at Hopleaf in 2003 to help make ends meet while pursuing a Ph.D. in history (I know, right?) and to recuperate all the money he had dumped into the place over the years. Somewhere along the way, he decided he preferred the world of beer more than academia, and left a decaying profession for a much more vibrant industrial sector. If you need some solid teen counseling, you can find Mark in the Hopleaf's upstairs bar most Friday and Saturday nights, and in the regular bar Sunday afternoons. His tastes in beer are a bit eclectic, so it's very hard to pin him down on a favorite brewery or beer. But, if he had to pick one "local-ish" brewery, it would have to be Wisconsin's New Glarus.

Great beer was revealed to Charitianne Williams 15 years ago during a brief stint as a "wanderer" in the American West--after moving to Chicago for graduate school, she truly learned to love all things Art of Beer as a regular at the Hopleaf. An excellent student, she became a bartender at said establishment within a few short years, and has since lived happily ever after. Her tastes tend toward all things sour, funky, and aged. Her favorite brewery is Jolly Pumpkin. Favorite beer: Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait or Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono.

No comments: