That was the connection that led you to name the beer Eliot Ness Amber Lager.
It was the connection with our mother, but also with the Market Tavern. It’s one of the oldest bars in the city: it’s been there since the 1860s. A 38-caliber bullet is still lodged in one of the columns.
No souvenir hunter has tried to pull it out with a penknife?
No, we’d shoot ‘em.
How has the city changed, and how have you changed since opening?
We are absolutely part of the urban renewal that took place in this neighborhood. This was a rough neighborhood when we came in over two decades ago, and now it’s going through another renaissance. It’s being touted as an area for organic and craft products, and some of the high-end restaurants have popped up here. There’s another brewery, with another one being planned.
Right across the street from us is the century-old West Side Market, an indoor-outdoor market that has great fresh sausages. At any point you can walk over there and the guy comes by in a white jacket with a side of beef over his shoulder. There’s only a couple of these open-air markets left in the entire country: Pike Place in Seattle would be another one, also Philadelphia has one, and Detroit, but there’s not many left and that just adds to the tone and tenor of the neighborhood.
How many beers do you distribute?
We have five year-round and five seasonals, and the four high-gravities. And then we have a handful of one-offs.
And the Christmas Ale that everyone fights to get ahold of.
Yeah, the Christmas Ale has a real cult following. It’s an enormously expensive beer to make. We’ll spend close to a half a million dollars just on honey just to make that beer. We’ll probably get over 20 semis of honey, and we sell every drop. —Julie Johnson