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Where the Weiss Things Are

Put down the heavy brews and pick up a spring-friendly beer that’s citrusy and sweet.
Wednesday May 21, 2008.     By Karl Klockars
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

courtesy of Bridget Montgomery
Though it might not always feel like it, spring has sprung—which means it's time to dive headfirst into weiss (or wheat) beers. These light, sweet, citrusy brews, made from wheat in addition to the normal barley/hops mix, are perfect for the bright and breezy days we should be enjoying right about now. So forget about those heavy sweaters and even heavier stouts, and grab a tall glass with a slice of orange or lemon. Here's where to go to put a little spring in your step.

Julius Echter Hefeweiss at Huettenbar
German brewers have mastered the art of the hefeweizen, the true wheat beer. At this tiny Lincoln Square watering hole, with front windows that swing open, you can master the art of enjoying one by relaxing with a nice, light Julius Echter.

No, not Julius Meinl; that's the coffee place just down the road. It's Julius Echter, served with a lemon wedge and poured in a tall glass. Light and yellow with a cloudy consistency, this German wheat beer blows your Becks out of the water. Looking to give it a shot before you stop in for spaetzle at the Chicago Brauhaus across the street? Tell the host at the Haus that you'll be at the Huett; he'll take your cell phone number and call you when your table is ready.

Konig Ludwig at Resi's Bierstube
We're going to try to get out of the Lincoln Square/North Center/St. Ben's area after this, but it's impossible to avoid a stop at Resi's. This German restaurant and drinking establishment is rougher around the edges than the squared-away Huettenbar, but it's still a fine locale for a pre-dinner brew before heading over to Laschet's Inn across the street. Or, you can chow down at Resi's and grab a huge stein at Laschet's after.

A couple potato pancakes will provide a nice base for powering down some wheat beers in Resi's well-hidden beer garden out back; it's not huge, but it is a nice little slice of leafy escapism in the middle of the urban jungle. An order of potato salad and a couple thuringer (German sausage) will keep you going into the evening, giving you plenty of time to try one of the 30 weiss beers available. The Konig Ludwig, a hard-to-find weiss that tastes light and has a yeasty, spicy flavor with hints of tart fruit, stands out among the offerings.

Hofbrau Munchner Kindl Weissbiers at Uberstein
Located a couple blocks from Wrigley Field in the old Heaven on Seven space, Uberstein offers a killer street-facing bier garden and a menu full of German food, making it a great place to stop by to refuel before or after a Cubs game. First priority: grabbing a gargantuan stein of Hofbrau's weissbier. The springy brew is miles away from the bland domestics that you'll find in the bleachers. Light with a hint of lemon and banana, it's the perfect beer for a hot summer's day. Pair it with the bar's signature Schnitzelwich (hand-pounded pork loin breaded, pan-fried and topped with Swiss cheese, mayo, tomato and grilled onions), and you won't even bother grabbing a dog at the ballpark.

Uberstein's environs, outfitted with spartan tile floors, blue-and-white tablecloths and wood-trimmed walls, don't exactly scream "party," but a group of people slamming steins certainly does, as do the revelers who opt to get their drunk on via shots sucked out of a ski.

Blue Moon at Plymouth Restaurant and Bar
OK, we know that Blue Moon isn't the coolest or rarest beer in the world. In fact, if you need a beer that's just a step above your average Bud/Miller product, Blue Moon is kind of a so-so go-to choice. (Blue Moon is even made by Coors.) Still, the wheat brew, accompanied by a slice of orange, tastes mighty refreshing on a warm spring day, especially when you're drinking it at a place like this.

The owners of the White Palace and Hollywood Grill opened up Plymouth in the old Binyon's Restaurant building right by the Harold Washington Library. Its rooftop bar area just might be the best drinking location in the Loop; the space has an almost tropical feel, thanks to the ferns, plants, lanterns and wooden boardwalk-style deck. Stay there long enough with a cool brew in your hand, and you may even start to imagine the sand between your toes; those summer ales are only a month away.


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