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Dovetail Brewery Tour (Issue 30)

Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink of Dovetail Brewery
Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink of Dovetail Brewery

Chicago’s Dovetail Brewery features a slogan that excellently encapsulates their ethos: We Brew Like Monks (Minus the Vows).

As an American craft brewery, celibacy is not a requirement – unlike the Benedictine and Trappist monks whose styles have influenced the entirety of modern craft beer with their flavor, dedication to high-quality ingredients, exacting brewing standards and devotion to the craft.  Just like their century-old brethren, the main focus of Dovetail is on all-natural, high-quality ingredients.

For Dovetail Brewing Company’s founders, owners and brewers Hagen Dost (not to be confused with the similarly monikered ice cream brand) and Bill Wesselink, they want to express the power of the natural world in order to create wonderful, exciting flavors with just four ingredients.

By celebrating the history and craftsmanship of monastic brewing history, Hagen and Bill are flying in the face of the direction modern craft beer is taking, as the ancient German beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot is being made almost completely obsolete due to crazy ingredients being used in more and more complex and highfalutin beers.


Dovetail's founder and brewers Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink want to express the power of the natural world by making beers using only four ingredients: barley, hops, water and yeast.


But Dovetail downplays this obsession with overstuffed ingredient lists and mysterious “natural flavorings,” with brewer Wesselink proclaiming that “nature is what created beer in the first place.”

The brewers are proud that their beers feature the Reinhetsgebot stamp of approval on ingredient lists for their beers; only including barley, hops, water and yeast, just like the Benedictine masters of yesteryear.

Highlighting their focus on all-natural ingredients and harkening back to the monks who inspired them, Dovetail’s delicious beer offerings underscore the focus on a wide range of styles using only a narrow avenue of natural ingredients.

Dovetail’s impressive craft creations showcase the heritage and history of their inspirational continental European styles, offering numerous stellar brews of various styles. Notably absent from the brewery’s oeuvre is the omnipresent and vociferously adored American IPA. Because this bitter, hoppy beer is a far more modern invention, Dovetail’s focus on the historically significant and technically challenging Trappist styles eschews this traditional American craft brewery powerhouse.

Dovetail’s website highlights only four styles, but all four are Reinheitsgebot-approved and technically complex creations. With no catchy names or gimmicky ingredient lists, Dovetail lets its beers do the talking, starting with its Hefeweizen.

Described as a “rich, yolky-orange wheat beer, featuring the aroma of clove and fruit in perfect balance,” on Dovetail’s website, the Hefeweizen is a refreshing, zingy wheat beer with citrusy, mandarin-like acidity, excellent balance and a frothy, effervescent head that leaves (fittingly for a European-inspired brewery) beautiful lacing along the sides of the glass.

A popular style for many beer connoisseurs, Dovetail Brewing’s Rauchbier is a smoky, rich and flavorful bacon-esque dark beer. Dovetail’s stellar online encapsulation captures the spirit of the beer well: “As you bring it to your nose, you feel like you are eating a bar of chocolate in a smokehouse, full and rich with generous hopping to balance the flavor of beechwood smoked bacon.”


Dovetail Brewing’s Rauchbier is a smoky, rich and flavorful bacon-esque dark beer.


Rounding out Dovetail’s offerings are a pair of easy-to-drink but hard-to-brew lagers: one simply called Lager and the other being a Vienna Lager.

The Vienna clocks in with a slightly heavier, malty body and the regular Lager is a more creamier, swift-sipping offering. Both of these beers hover around the 5 percent ABV mark, making for excellent warm-weather quaffing.

Chicago is a burgeoning craft beer hotspot, with various popular breweries popping up regularly. Most rely on the modern craft beer drinker’s insatiable desire for lupulin-laden IPAs, but in the Windy City, only Dovetail trumpets the cause of Reinheitsgebot-approved lagers and flawlessly-crafted brews featuring only the finest natural ingredients.

Comments

dtstahl's picture
First of all, kudos to these gentlemen for their efforts to brew true to style & technique. What jumped out at me in this article was the continuous reference to the Trappists and Dovetail's efforts to embrace and reflect their brewing practices. Nice thought (hype?), but these guys are GERMAN influenced brewing in compliance with the ancient GERMAN beer purity law. Their beer styles are Germanic. This platform, albeit wonderful, has absolutely nothing to do with the Trappist breweries/practices which are quintessentially BELGIAN (with a few monastic brewing outposts in USA, NE and CH). If you aren't brewing Paters, Doubles, Tripels or Quads, you aren't aspiring to Trappist brewing. Bier aficionados understand the distinct and substantial difference between these realms.
valgalder's picture
You do know they have a traditional lambic style program going right?

Comments

dtstahl's picture
First of all, kudos to these gentlemen for their efforts to brew true to style & technique. What jumped out at me in this article was the continuous reference to the Trappists and Dovetail's efforts to embrace and reflect their brewing practices. Nice thought (hype?), but these guys are GERMAN influenced brewing in compliance with the ancient GERMAN beer purity law. Their beer styles are Germanic. This platform, albeit wonderful, has absolutely nothing to do with the Trappist breweries/practices which are quintessentially BELGIAN (with a few monastic brewing outposts in USA, NE and CH). If you aren't brewing Paters, Doubles, Tripels or Quads, you aren't aspiring to Trappist brewing. Bier aficionados understand the distinct and substantial difference between these realms.
valgalder's picture
You do know they have a traditional lambic style program going right?

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