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July 4- The Brewpub will be closed all day

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Mon-Tues / Closed
Wed-Thurs / 12-10pm
Fri-Sat / 12-Midnight
Sun / 11-10pm
Kitchen / Service stops 30 min prior closing

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2323 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

773-227-2739

Taproom + Production Brewery

Upcoming Closures

May 26 — Closed for a Private Event

Hours

Mon-Tue / Closed
Wed-Thu / 2-9pm
Fri / 2-10pm
Sat / 12-10pm
Sun / 12-6pm

Address

3340 N. Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

773-588-2267

A League of Its Own

04.21.24   |   Beer

A lot of different factors go into the success of a brewery. And not to put too fine a point on it, but for Revolution, years of sky-high growth were driven by the simple notion that comic book fans love craft beer.

Back in 2012, Revolution Brewing was a young brewery riding high on Anti-Hero IPA. And when you’re in uncharted territory, there’s always the question of “what’s next?” At the same time, the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo was in need of a convention-themed beer. A few calls, a brew sheet, and the very first -Hero extension later, Galaxy-Hero debuted and would set the tone for years to come.

Origin and Evolution

The first issue of the League of Heroes hit in winter 2017 with an initial lineup of Anti-Hero, Galaxy-Hero, Mosaic-Hero, and Armadillo-Hero. That first foray into the League dropped at a time when beer fans were craving bigger, bolder, and more hop-focused IPAs.

Drinkers used to a longtime lager monoculture were waking up to the bracing bitterness and fresh aromas of hop-focused beers. Then-novel varieties like Galaxy and Mosaic opened a lot of eyes to the possibilities of IPA as not just a style, but a spectrum of flavors. Citra was prized by drinkers and its supply coveted by brewers hungry for acreage.

The League brought into widespread use another aspect of craft beer that fans might take for granted now – variety packs. Take a walk down any well-stocked beer aisle today and you’ll see it’s one of the country’s best-selling concepts. But back then, variety packs, where they existed, tended to mix styles. And they weren’t necessarily brewed and packaged in tight coordination.

“The IPA variety pack concept was innovative at the time, brewing them all in the same week and packaging them within a day of each other,” Brewmaster Jim Cibak said. “Everything was together at the same level of freshness. That was challenging for us to make sure they’re all ready at the same time, and brewed at similar yield and volume.”

The challenge of keeping Hero IPAs grouped, coordinated, and changing multiple times a year presented an enormous logistics task to the production staff at Revolution, as well as a sales team that had to communicate each new issue’s changes to retailers and distributors. Even small changes can lead to challenges at retail, and the success of the League of Heroes hinged almost entirely on continual change.

A similar challenge was presented in creating new Heroes using the uncompromising template of Anti-Hero. Access to new and compelling hops necessitated forming and maintaining relationships with the most cutting-edge hop breeders and purveyors. Each new Hero brew, contrary to what customers assumed, required an individual recipe, not just a swap of the namesake hop dropped into an identical brew sheet.

“There have been so many different Heroes over the years, but Anti-Hero was really precedent-setting in how we approach IPA,” Cibak said. “As the League 12-pack took off, we were suddenly always on the search for innovative new hop varieties, experimenting with different yeast strains, creating new grain bills to highlight different flavor and aroma experiences.”

Through the run of the League of Heroes, 34 Hero IPAs served their time defending the world, representing 39 separate hops and over 15 million cans of IPA.

Extended Universe

Unlike Cibak, Mighty Few principal and longtime Rev designer Ian Law didn’t have to worry about what went into the fermenting takes and through the canning line. But the challenge presented to him was equally complex. Anti-Hero was well established, and Galaxy-Hero created a naming convention that sticks to this day. But otherwise, it was up to his agency to create a design system that could scale across a comic-themed universe.

There’s so much inspiration in the world for Heroes. The challenge was taking inspiration from somewhere and adding our own spin,” Law said. “How many different IPAs have existed? How many heroes have existed? Both are just unlimited variety on both ends, and that relationship was where we started from. You’re creating worlds within worlds, expanding and adding to a story you’re telling”

And just like with Cibak’s IPAs, the hop turned out to be the key to everything.

“In design, having a consistent element opens up creativity. You draw the diversity of the rest of the design from a single element that opens up all those possibilities,” Law said. “Taking the hop head from Anti-Hero and applying it to every Hero IPA was a decision at one point that we just went with and said we’d see what happens. The direction wasn’t overthought, and that ended up being a great decision.”

Hero IPAs have been classic heroic archetypes, roguish wild cards, dark and conflicted outsiders, and everything in between. Nelson-Hero is a world-champion wrestler. Jukebox-Hero is a classic 80s rock star, Northeast-Hero is both Revolution’s first Hazy IPA and a hop who thinks he’s a Founding Father. Anyone can be a Hero.

Four Stars

As Issue 20 (Hydra-Hero, Medusa-Hero, Cashmere-Hero, and Infinity-Hero) draws to a close, the next chapter of Hero IPA begins. The Hero IPA Variety Pack, drawing on a run of issues even longer than Watchmen got, presents four focused, diverse representations of IPA that speak to the League’s years of pushing the boundaries on hops, experimenting with techniques, and mapping out the ever-evolving nuances of IPA style.

“The League has always afforded the chance to try something new and use what we learn to create what’s next. We’ve taken what we can borrow from one style to make another style more interesting,” Cibak said. “We think a lot about the effect of water chemistry in these beers. The proper amount of tank conditioning time. We’ve learned to centrifuge not to clarify but to separate hop material and avoid the burn some Hazy IPAs can show. We’ve had the opportunity to use a lot of hop varieties that don’t even have a name by the time we have beers featuring them canned and on the shelf. These are all crucial in bringing something truly new to life.”

The Hero IPA Variety Pack lineup, in moving to a permanent roster, represents the ideal intersection of style, hop exploration, and brewing techniques perfected over 20 issues of the League of Heroes.

The League of Heroes is transitioning out, but its influence on the Hero IPAs that Revolution creates lives on in not just the new Variety Pack, but the small batch and DDH Heroes that carry the torch for hop exploration and innovative new flavors. And as a final flourish of welcoming a new Hero to each 12-pack, we’ve created a permanent home for West Coast-Hero, our most popular Small Batch beer and the most-revisited brew in that program. Long live the Heroes.

Anti-Hero (Classic IPA, 6.7% ABV)
The supremely aromatic American hop assault that built the Revolution. Originally created at a neighborhood brewpub, embraced by beer fans, and embraced by drinkers who made it the top-selling IPA in Illinois. A carefully chosen blend of Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Cascade, and Crystal hops pour with massive citrus, floral, and pine aromas and build to a bright, crisp finish.

Dry Hop: Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Crystal, Cascade
Tasting Notes: Citrus, grapefruit, light floral/pine


Infinity-Hero (Juicy IPA, 7% ABV)

The universe has long been at odds between the Classic and Hazy IPA styles. Infinity-Hero sets out to unite these dimensions by weaving the best of both worlds into an extremely drinkable, forward-looking IPA. A next-gen dry hop including Nectaron, Strata, HBC #586, and HBC #1019 provides a glimpse into the future of hop innovation with seemingly endless juicy, citrus character.

Dry Hop: HBC 586, Nectaron, HBC 1019, Strata
Tasting Notes: Clementine orange, mango, stonefruit, tropical juice


Hazy-Hero (Hazy IPA, 7.3% ABV)

Gaze deeply into the haze and discover the tropical aura of Hazy IPA and the transcendental supremacy of American hops. Hazy-Hero uses a purpose-built yeast to capture and amplify the mango, pineapple, and citrus notes of modern hops while minimizing bitterness. Soft and aromatic on the palate, Hazy-Hero is a fuzzy velvet expression of everything a Hazy IPA can be.

Dry Hop: Citra, Mosaic, Amarillo, Idaho 7, Sultana, Cashmere, Centennial
Tasting Notes: Mango, pineapple, passionfruit, citrus


West Coast-Hero (West Coast Double IPA, 8% ABV)

Good vibes saturate a crystal-clear Double IPA rocking dank, resinous waves of powerful hops long into the endless sunset. Bright beachside refreshment for champions of the West Coast Form

Dry Hop: Simcoe, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Cascade
Tasting Notes: Citrus, resin, floral, pine





Hall of Heroes