Chicago's First Asian Brewpub Makes Beer With Lemongrass, and Sichuan Peppercorns
Read Bixi Beer’s first beer list in Logan Square
by Ashok Selvam
Bixi Beer takes a few cues from America’s only Michelin-starred brewpub, Band of Bohemia in Ravenswood. When it opened, Band of Bohemia’s owners described itself as a “culinary brewpub” with low-ABV beers to complement its upscale cuisine. Bixi hopes to take that formula and explore Asia brewing beer using ingredients used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food.

Bo Fowler (Owen & Engine) hired Brazilian Eymard Freire as Bixi’s head brewer. Freire’s worked at Floosmoor Station and Prairie Krafts Brewing in suburban Buffalo Grove. Using ingredients like lemongrass and Sichuan peppercorns don’t necessarily come natural to Freire, who’s a fan of classical German beers. While developing the beer list, there was some work find a happy medium. Freire didn’t want to use exotic ingredients as a novelty. For instance, Unspoken Rule is a golden ale using Emperor’s Jasmine Pearls from Rare Tea Cellars.

“I didn’t want anything fake,” Freire said, who preferred clean flavors without artificial ingredients. He turned to Rare Tea’s Rodrick Markus for inspiration. Markus supplied him with freeze-dried cucumbers and other treats. Freire’s using the cucumbers in Sanchez Therapy, a farmhouse ale with melon. Other beers will use seasonal fruits. The Sunsinger uses strawberries and lemongrass. It’s nice for a hot day on the second-floor patio.

Fowler is fan of the post-shift PBR for her workers. Bixi won’t have PBR, but they’re embracing that tradition with a special beer. “Shifites” is a light lager that uses puffed jasmine rice. Overall, Bixi will have 10 taps with two guest taps. Pipeworks and Off Color will open as the first two guests. Bixi will also have growlers to go. Eventually, Bixi will host beer pairing dinners. Fowler and Freire are an odd pairing. But Fowler’s invested heavy into Freire over the last few years.

“Bo finds classical beers boring and I find them exciting,” Freire said. “Right there there’s a big clash.”

But the conflict has produced some tasty beer. Check out the full beer list and photos below. Fowler (Owen & Engine) and her crew hope to open later this week at 2515 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Stay tuned for updates.

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