Welcome to On Tap, a weekly column that explores the brews and beer trends that are currently being served at restaurants and bars across the country.
This week, we’re chatting with Mike Karberg, the bar manager of the newly opened Fulton Galley in Chicago. As the newest iteration of Galley Group’s chef incubator food halls, Fulton Galley provides aspiring restaurateurs with a platform to showcase their concepts at low-risk and low-cost. Each Galley also has a bar, and the Chicago location boasts one of the best new tap selections in the city. We chatted with Karberg to find out what’s on tap this season and how to pair some of the beers with the diverse variety of dishes served at the food hall.
When choosing beers for your on-tap program, do you always go to the same brands, or are you constantly looking for new breweries to feature?
The short answer is yes, we are always on the lookout for new breweries and brands to feature at Fulton Galley. We like to stay as local as possible when selecting our beer. Chicago and the surrounding area has so many great breweries, we will probably never run out of beer options to choose from, and hope to have them all featured at one point or another. However, there are a handful of breweries that have become so popular within the city, such as Maplewood, Pipeworks or Noon Whistle, we like to keep those brands in the mix at all times while rotating through their various offerings.
How often do you rotate your tap selections and why?
We rotate sometimes once per week, and others every two months or so. A common trend we see is that some breweries, while extremely popular, only make very small batches of a particular beer. So, while we want to have that brewery on tap at all times, we simply can’t keep the same style of beer in rotation for more than a week or so. With other local breweries like 18th Street, our guests have embraced their beer so much it really makes me think twice before changing out their products! Outside of that, we are trying to feature products that are very much in season while always having a healthy mix of the more popular styles like lagers, pilsners and IPAs.
What is your favorite beer that’s being served on tap right now?
It’s so hard to choose just one! All of the beers we feature at Fulton Galley are excellent and with a constant rotation, it’s almost impossible to pick just one. However, I really, really enjoy the Festbier from Hofbrauhaus-Freising. Though it’s not local, I love having a very traditional German beer on tap this time of year. And not to be left out, Spiteful Brewery’s Oktoberfest is outstanding! The team atSpiteful are wonderful people, and we as a newer venue in Chicago are extremely excited to be able to feature their beer.
There’s something for every appetite at Fulton Galley and a beer to drink with every dish. Here, Karberg talks about his current favorite food and beer pairings.
Noon Whistle Brewing Freshman @ Life Kolsch with Appetizers
This beer is clean and crisp, so it pairs well with a range of appetizers like modern Jewish deli Steingold’s Latke Tots, served with sour cream and applesauce, or Italienette’s seasonal Italian starters like the Heirloom Tomato with avocado, basil, black pepper, lemon and olive oil.
18th Street Brewery The Disciple’s Revenge IPA with Spicy Food
This pairs well with spicy dishes like Northern Thai concept Pink Salt’s Larb Gai, a sautéed minced chicken salad tossed with fresh mint, shallots, toasted rice and roasted chilies.
On Tour Brewing Half Step American Pale Ale with Chicken
A pint is the perfect complement to chicken offerings like the Marinated Chicken Tacos—seared chicken thighs, onions, cilantro and Valentina aioli—from Mexican street food concept Taco Mucho, or the rotisserie Half Chicken from Fairview’s lineup of spit-roasted meats, fish and vegetables.