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Good Beer Hunting

Apr 24, 2022

Today’s guest has been a bit of a ghost int he GBH machine for more than a decade - since our founding really - and he’s someone I think about every time someone asks me how GBH got started - and as you’ll discover shortly, he had no idea. 

Greg Browne was the brewer at a brewpub in Chicago’s NW suburbs - a place called Mickey Finn’s. He was known for brewing a hefeweizen - a recipe he inherited from his predecessor when he took over as head brewer. 

More importantly, for me, he was the host of a weekly Beer School at The Map Room in Chicago - a midday gathering on Saturday’s where guests would enjoy some bread and cheese and learn about beers in a thematic way - and the themes were whatever happened to be on Greg’s mind that week. 

It’s an incredible memory for me - from a time when I’d only had a smattering of craft beer experiences to rely on - and I hardly considered myself a fan of beer in any particular way. It was just causal and sometimes interesting fun. Most of my bar experiencers a the time involved $1 off specials of Blue Moon and some Golden Tee. Not exactly sophisticated stuff - but it was kind of the Chicago way. 

Map Room - and Greg Browne’s beer school painted an entirely different picture however. And I’m forever indebted to that moment when he served me my first Saison Dupont. That’s the beer that inspired GBH - and Greg is the one who created that moment, unbeknownst to him. 

But that’s not the real reason we’re talking today - that’s a story we could have shared at any point in in past decade really. Today I’m talking to Greg because for the first time in a long time, I saw his name pop up as part of a new brewing project called Art History, and it recently started supplying two fantastic beers to Chicago’s Hopleaf Bar. As far as I know the sis the first time Hopleaf has ever had a house beer. The venerated tap list there is a target for anyone trying to make a name for themselves in Chicago’s beer scene. Brewers host parties just to celebrate getting on tao there for the first time if they’re lucky enough to make the list at all. So for Greg to have a new gig - and so quickly become a mainstay on that list as a pair of house beers - is an unprecedented achievement. 

And for this episode, I reached out to Michael Roper of Hopleaf for his perspective on all that. 

It was a sign for me that it was finally time to get Greg on the podcast, share this story with him, and hear so much more about his own. It takes us deep into Chicago’s craft brewing past - and paints pa picture of the future that I’m very excited about.