LAKEVIEW — Evanston-based Smylie Brothers Brewing Company recently opened a 10,000-square-foot brewery in Lakeview.
The restaurant and brewery, which serves everything from Texas-style barbecue to pizza, quietly opened at 3827 N. Broadway in September. The company waited until recently to promote the new place so managers could hire a full staff.
“We didn’t really put it out there and had a monthlong soft opening, which really helped us find personnel,” owner Michael Smylie said. “We were concerned we weren’t going to have enough staff.”
Smylie started the business about eight years ago in Evanston, and he said he’s worked for a few years to bring Smylie Brothers to Chicago.
Construction on the restaurant, which transformed a large industrial space into a sprawling dining room, started two years ago, but it was halted halfway through because of the coronavirus pandemic, Smylie said.
The restaurant’s interior features three bars and hundreds of seats around a mix of wooden tables and leather booths. Smylie said he softened the space’s industrial feel by tinting its concrete flooring, installing a reclaimed cypress wall and making sure visitors get a view of its brewhouse, which sits behind the main bar.
“Part of it is a show. We want to give people something to see, so we’ve got a 40-foot bar that lets you see the inner workings of how we brew beer,” Smylie said.
Smylie Brothers has a wide-ranging beer menu that covers everything from classic European styles to American beers that are popular, Smylie said. One of the brewery’s bestselling beers is helles-style lager, which Smylie described as “bright and clean.”
“We also do our Farmhouse, which is a Belgian saison, so it’s another dry, bright beer that’s really popular and pairs well with food,” Smylie said. “And then we do our Wolcott IPA, which is an American IPA that’s citrusy and tropical.”
The brewery has a full bar, so it serves wines and cocktails, including rosé and margaritas on tap, Smylie said.
Smylie got into craft beers while attending Colorado State University in the ’90s. He started brewing his own beers at home after graduating, he said.
“When I got back to Chicago, there was really nothing here besides Goose Island,” Smylie said. “I got this beer-making kit as a holiday gift and got my start trying to recreate some of the beers I really enjoyed out West.”
Smylie Brothers’ food draws inspiration from family recipes Smylie picked up from his dad, who was from San Antonio.
“What I love about barbecue is it’s typically shared with a group of family or friends, and that’s what I wanted to bring to this community,” Smylie said.
Menu items like the chili, which uses leftover brisket; ribs; and smoked chicken are recipes that Smylie uses at home, he said.
The new restaurant also has exclusive menu items, Smylie said. The Evanston location only serves baby-back ribs, but people can order a sampler of baby-back and spare ribs in Lakeview.
The Lakeview restaurant also serves chicken wings, which are tossed in a hot caramel sauce, Smylie said.
The brewery and restaurant just introduced occasional trivia nights and a happy hour 4-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. The business will also start hosting live music soon, Smylie said.
Smylie Brothers Lakeview is open 4-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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