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All Together Now: Chicago Brewers Unite To Create Rare, Barrel-Aged Beer To Support Ravenswood Businesses

Only 150 bottles of All Together Now will be available from Empirical Brewery’s taproom starting Friday.

Left to right: Jack LaGrow, Brad Pulver, Julia Astrid Davis, James Moriarty, Gene Wagendorf III, and Jacob Huston together on March 13, 2020 to plan the Malt Row collaboration.
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RAVENSWOOD —  Malt Row brewers and distillers collaborated on a small batch, barrel-aged beer being released Friday to help raise funds for the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. 

All Together Now is a farmhouse ale, barrel aged for three months in KOVAL cranberry gin barrels featuring French Barbe Rouge hops, pilsner malt, flaked wheat and dextrose.

Its brewers said the beer features juniper botanicals and oak, a heavy mouthfeel with slight fruitiness and a warming finish. Weighing in at 7.5 percent ABV/IBU, there are only 150 bottles of this unique, one-off beer available. 

All Together Now is available Friday at Empirical Brewery’s taproom, 1801 W. Foster Ave. It will be sold in 500ml bottles for $16 each and limited to four bottles per person.

The special beer initially was going to be released during this summer’s Ravenswood on Tap street festival, which was canceled due to the pandemic. 

“Ravenswood on Tap provides critical revenue for the chamber,” said Gene Wagendorf III, associate director of the chamber. “We already had this beer in the works, the question was what to do with it.”

The team of brewers included:

  • Brian Schnell from Band of Bohemia
  • Jacob Huston and Julia Astride Davis from Empirical Brewery
  • Matt Young from Half Acre Beer Co.
  • Jack LaGrow from LaGrow Organic Beer Co.
  • Brad Pulver from Smylie Brothers Brewing
  • James Moriarty from Urban Brew Labs
  • Mitch Conti and Abby Boler from KOVAL Distillery

The group first met in March to discuss the recipe for their collaboration. 

“The gin barrels Mitch brought smelled so much like cranberry, we had to double-check they hadn’t been holding KOVAL’s Cranberry Gin,” Wagendorf said. 

The barrel’s aroma inspired the brewers to come up with a recipe tailored for aging the beer in KOVAL’s gin barrels, he said.

About a week after their meeting, Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order went into effect to help slow the spread of the virus. While the brewers couldn’t meet in person for months, they continued to collaborate on the beer and decided to release it to help raise money for the chamber to help struggling businesses.

“We are grateful that the participating businesses came up with the idea to make it a means to fundraise for the chamber. Besides, it’s a collaboration we’ve all been eagerly waiting for,” Wagendorf said.

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