Hofbräuhaus Chicago served 217,637 liters of freshly brewed beer in its first year, and gave the Windy City a taste of eating and partying with German gusto.
Rob Hunter thought he knew beer—he grew up on the American classics—but then the Air Force sent him to Germany, and he discovered a whole new world. Now, Hunter is Hofbräuhaus Chicago’s brewmaster, making the same recipes he fell in love with.
Hunter joined Hofbräuhaus Chicago in December, 11 months after the restaurant opened, and oversees the crafting of the restaurant’s four mainstay beers that are carried year-round: a light lager (unique to the U.S. market), the Hofbräuhaus original lager, a dunkel (dark beer), and wheat beer. He also oversees the creation of the restaurant’s monthly beer specials, exclusive to the Chicago market.
“I’m drinking and making my favorite beers,” Hunter says—and Windy City beer aficionados seem equally pleased. In its first year, guests enjoyed 217,637 liters of Hofbräuhaus Chicago’s freshly brewed beers, the best-seller being the original lager.
As a licensed affiliate of the Munich Hofbräuhaus and the newest of four U.S. locations, Hofbräuhaus Chicago is the only German microbrewery in the Windy City and is held to high standards. Its authentic German beers and food captivate Chicago residents’ taste buds, while celebrations like Oktoberfest transform it into a dining destination with a memorable experience.
The microbrewery follows the Bavarian purity law of 1516 that demands only four ingredients be used to make beer. “It’s not a restriction, it’s a guarantee,” Hunter explains.
But how do you communicate the value of authentic German beer to a customer who has never experienced anything like it? “Mainly through the servers,” Hunter says. “All of the Hofbräuhaus servers are properly educated and speak intelligently about the beer and what makes it special.”
Additionally, once a month Hofbräuhaus Chicago opens the brewery for tours, which is Hunter’s opportunity to engage with customers and beer enthusiasts to educate them on the brewing process.
“What we’re doing here is really different than the power house breweries and other microbreweries,” Hunter says. He has worked with a Nashville brewery, Bohemian Brewing Company, and Emmett’s Brewing Company, but describes the Hofbräuhaus Chicago equipment as the most advanced he’s ever used.