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Arcade Brewery takes a crowdsourced approach to craft beer

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(Arcade Brewery/Flickr)

(Arcade Brewery/Flickr)

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]mid the boom of beercades and craft breweries in Chicago, one new upstart is further merging old-school gaming, art, and beer.

Arcade Brewery is making its official debut next week, appropriately at Logan Arcade, a space newly converted into a beercade itself. But co-owner and brewer Chris Tourre says that this initial partnership isn’t just because of their namesake, but speaks to the experience that the company seeks to create.

“We are a brewery focused on great beer and art around the brand,” Tourre said. “We don’t want to limit ourselves to just arcade bars, but places that understand the total experience we want to deliver to our community.”

The brewery spawned from Tourre’s art and beer project called Public Brewery, which was a open space for people to experiment in homebrewing. Co-owner and Threadless director Lance Curran joined Tourre in 2011, and the two launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project a year later.

Likewise, much of Arcade Brewery focus is  on merging art and beer in a crowdsourced environment. In addition to their year-round lineup, the brewery will announce seasonal beers and challenge local artists to design a label and create a name. Tourre said that occasionally they work first with artists to create a label that will inspire a specific beer.

Curran says that arcades, likewise, are also meant to be collaborative and social spaces. “Beer is social. The idea of an arcade is social. We want to bring our passion to our beer and it involves community, art, and collaboration,” he said.

For now patrons can save the bottle caps, designed like arcade tokens, to redeem for various rewards, such as gameplay tokens and print artwork.

Though many craft breweries, like mainstays Revolution and Half Acre, began by brewing straightforward IPAs or pale ales, Arcade Brewery is shuttling into the scene with a more creative flourish. Their initial lineup features William Wallace Wrestle Fest scotch ale, a Grapefruit IPA, and Mega Milk Stout.

“Traditional pale ales and IPAs are usually the first beers from breweries because they are easy to sell,” said Tourre. “Perhaps we are taking a chance with our first beer being a scotch ale followed by the Grapefruit IPA and Mega Milk Stout, but we believe great beers find their way to beer drinkers in the market.”

The Grapefruit IPA is not as sweet and fruity as its name suggests. Poured from a 22oz bottle, it is a dark pinkish and slightly ambery in color. The subtle initial sweetness of the grapefruit flavor certainly blends well with the bitter hops, but the aftertaste is that of a bitter grapefruit in need of a dash of sugar. It quashes the IPA’s well-rounded bitter quality to make way for a more sticky and puckery flavor.

While it is certainly not the best ale in town – I’ll save that designation for a brewery like Revolution or Pipeworks – it is an interesting twist that deserves a sip. Still, it will be interesting to watch the city’s “first crowdsourced brewery” grow with the local community of artists.

“The participation and interaction with the beer community is what we are all about,” Curran said.

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Arcade Brewery takes a crowdsourced approach to craft beer